Not your dad’s indoor training

October 29th, 2018 by / In Apparel and Gear

I’m no expert when it comes to training on a bike or indoors, but I do both. In Montana, for a lot of the year, riding indoors is the only option unless you are really hard-core. For years, I just blew off the winter and did a little running, Nordic skiing, fat biking, or, more often, nothing at all. Then, last year, I got a smart trainer, and it changed my world.
When I was younger and wanted to compete, I’d train through the winter months on a stationary trainer or rollers. I hated it and would sit on the bike suffering and watching the clock. There was no real structure to what I was doing. I figured it was better than nothing, but there was no specific goal or purpose. As a result, I didn’t ride much and looked for other things to do. Then came the smart trainer.
In case you can’t tell from my job, you should know that I’m a geek. If there is gear, data, an app, or other technology, I’m all in. So, needless to say, when I saw what I can only refer to as a revolution in indoor riding, I had to learn more. I contacted my pal Eric Stobin at Wahoo, got myself a Wahoo Kickr smart trainer, and started to find out what this smart training was all about.
A smart trainer is a trainer that provides variable resistance based on a computer program. That program can be set from stock patterns, created from scratch, taken from a route in your Garmin, or based on a virtual route generated by an app like Zwift.
One of the most important features of smart trainers is that they collect data in the same way as a real ride. You can collect distance, speed, elevation, power, and, of course, the averages of each. You can upload the stats to your Strava or other apps which allow you to analyze your performance. This data provides seamless feedback between real and virtual rides.
Another benefit is year-round control over your training. If the weather is really bad, you don’t miss a day. Or, you can do FTP tests throughout the year in identical conditions. There are also built-in training plans available, making it easier to create a program, set goals, and measure results. If you really want to have some fun, join Zwift and get out there (figuratively) with other riders for group rides, races, or just comparative pacing.
I’m not saying it’s as much fun as getting out on a bike; not even close. But, it is fun in its own way and that makes it a lot easier to get on the bike than anything we’ve had up until now. If you work a lot, live in a place with tough weather, or need to pack a lot of structured training into a small amount of time, I recommend you look into a smart trainer.