Want to ride Indoors? This is what you need to know!

Many of us choose to do some or most of our cycling training indoors for various reasons. Some ride indoors due to the bad weather, maybe it is too cold or too hot to go outside, or raining, snowing, etc. Some prefer the indoors for convenience and time efficiency; no need to ride some distance to find a suitable road to do intervals or steady rides. Others live in areas that are dangerous to ride outside because of the lack of infrastructure or have dangerous roads with high traffic.

When Indoor Riding is better than Outdoors

Riding indoors is not something to do only when you cannot go outside. For some kind of training, it is preferable to train inside. Riding inside is riding in a controlled environment where you can follow more specific workouts. You can push as much as you want, for as much you want. In hard intervals, you can give your full effort without worrying about collapsing on the road. You can simulate hills with any gradient and distance. You can also work on specific pedaling skills, such as when to push in the pedal cycle. Using cycling apps you can ride or even race with people from around the world and find other cyclists at your level.

Essential Equipment

Whatever the reason, it is advisable to have the right equipment and gear for a more efficient and enjoyable ride. If you are a beginner, this is what you need to know.

For starters, you will need something to ride on, such as a bicycle on a trainer or rollers, or an indoor bike. The most budget-friendly approach is to use what you have, that is the bike, and use an entry-level trainer that holds the bicycle securely and provides resistance to pedaling by pressing the rear wheel. These trainers are categorized as “Wheel On”. On the other hand “Wheel Off” trainers use direct drive to provide resistance and are quieter, more accurate, and more expensive. These usually are smart trainers and provide the best indoor experience, as they can automatically control the resistance, based on the specific workout, or the virtual route if connected to an indoor cycling app.

There are a number of cycling apps that can connect to your bike computer, or smart trainer, and make indoor cycling more realistic and enjoyable. Choosing a cycling app depends on the style of training you prefer. Some apps use an on-bike video from around the world, whereas others transfer you into virtual worlds, connect you with other rides and provide a video game experience. In order to use an indoor training app you will need a device (smartphone, tablet, or computer) and either a smart trainer or an entry-level trainer with a speed/cadence sensor. A power meter is great for more accurate data.

Now you are ready to go! No wait…! There are some things that will make life easier!

Don’t Forget These

One of the most important factors that influences our indoor ride is the room temperature, and the airflow that affects how our body is cooling down during our ride. Outdoors, the natural wind flow helps with the cooling of our bodies. Not having sufficient cooling during our ride, can cause a significant drop in our performance and enjoyment of the ride. In addition to opening doors and windows, the easiest way to move air around the body is to use a fan. The fan should be pointing at the head and torso. If a second fan is available a better option is to have one for the head and one for the torso, and if a third fan is available, it can be used to cool down your back area, an area that usually is neglected. Fans come in all kinds of sizes and costs, with the higher-level fans that are able to adjust their power in relation to your heart rate. A good value-for-money option is to find a remote-controlled fan, or use a smart plug to switch on and off the fan using a remote.

Don’t forget hydration and nutrition. Even with the fans, you will lose a lot of liquids by sweating, and you still need to rehydrate as you would at an outdoor ride. Plan to have at least 500ml of liquid for each hour of riding, and have sufficient fuel for your ride.

Another essential piece of “equipment”, is a tall desk that will hold everything you need during the ride so that you can ride without interruptions to get a drink or a snack, get a towel, or start the video on the computer. You can be creative with other pieces of furniture, like Jack Haig (Australian professional road racing cyclist) who used an iron board to hold his laptop, fan, and other essentials. So use what you have to have everything you need during the ride in reach.

Without music, life would be a mistake – Nietzsche. This could be said for training as well. Music can make us dig deeper into those hard efforts, such as an FTP test or rides with long intervals. So crank up the volume, put that heavy metal you like, and crank it! Best to use it with earphones, so you don’t wake up the family… or the neighbors!

Beware of sweat! Protect your bike using a sweat catcher or a towel on top of your bike. Sweat can be corrosive on the metal parts of the bike. Also, protect the flooring with a mat or another towel. And after each session, clean your bike and trainer to keep them in good condition for a long time.

Now you are ready to enjoy an indoor ride and benefit from all the advantages that indoor training has to offer!

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