As summer turns into winter, daylight hours shrink, temperatures drop and weather becomes wetter. It gets harder and harder to get outside to ride your bike. Before long, it’s time to dust off your indoor trainer.
Riding inside is a good way to maintain your fitness during the off-season and even work on your weaknesses ahead of next season. Below we share some tips that will help you stick to your indoor training routine.
Tip #1 – Make It Easy to Start
Set up a designated space in which you do your indoor training. If possible, leave your trainer and bike set up between sessions. Take it one step further and have your kit and towels all ready to go, especially if you’re pressed for time to squeeze in your workouts before or after work. It’s all about removing obstacles that might derail your best intentions or serve as excuses not to ride.
Tip #2 – Make It More Comfortable
Indoor training is inherently hot and sweaty, but you can make it more comfortable by turning on one or more fans to blow over you and keep you cooler as you pedal. Also place some towels within easy reach to mop up sweat as needed.
Be sure that you’ve got your bike set up properly – you may need to put a prop under the front wheel so that your bike stays level and you’re not angled downward and thus putting too much pressure on your hands and wrists. A rubber mat under your bike and trainer can keep the trainer from slipping, protect your floors from dripping sweat and shield downstairs neighbors from the noise that some trainers produce.
Tip #3 – Stay Hydrated
Because indoor training can be so sweaty, you may lose significant fluids during any given workout. Fill your water bottle before your session and put it in your bike’s cage so that you can drink as you ride. If you’re still thirsty afterward, continue to drink until you feel replenished – just like you would after any outdoor ride.
Tip #4 – Keep It Short, Sweet and Diverse
Burnout is a real problem that comes along with regular indoor training. Rather than pedalling mind-numbing hours inside and without purpose, start each session with a clear plan. Keep it to between 30 and 60 minutes in total. Switch out trainer workouts so that you’re not doing the same thing every time.
Not sure what to do on your trainer? Try some of these workouts [link to https://www.bicycling.com/training/fitness/how-ride-inside-indoor-trainer-workouts-cyclists or link to a similar article with specific workouts in Spanish], or hire a coach who can help you work on your weaknesses and keep your indoor training fresh and interesting.
Tip #5 – Share the Pain
Why suffer alone when you can share the pain with others? Recruit a friend to join you, participate in trainer night at your local bike shop, or sign up for a local spin class. Just like riding a bike outside, riding a bike inside is more fun with company. Plus, if you’ve told someone that you will be somewhere to ride at a certain time, you are much more likely to actually do it.
Tip #6 – Get Inspired
Maybe training with others isn’t an option? That means you’ll have to find your own inspiration. Try doing your workouts while pedaling to your favorite music, streaming some fun shows or watching some pro race footage as you pedal.
Tip #7 – Mix It Up
Indoor trainers are great for prescribed cycling intervals and workouts, but it’s also a good idea to mix up your indoor training time by varying your indoor activities. For example, sometimes ride your rollers instead of your trainer. They will help you improve your balance and bike handling skills.
Or take your workout off the bike altogether: go to a yoga class, do a gym workout or participate in other indoor sports. The more variety you have in your indoor workouts, the more likely they are to remain interesting over time.
Not long ago, there was just one standard mountain bike wheel size: 26”. Then, the 29” wheel was introduced and eventually also the 27.5” wheel size. And while most companies have been phasing out their 26” wheeled bike, cyclists continue to have plenty of bike choices between bikes with wheels that are either 27.5” or 29”. Which is best for you? The answer is that it depends.
29” Wheel Advantages
Great rollover is what makes many mountain bikers fall in love with 29” wheels. Rocks and roots just seem smaller and thus easier to roll over when you have a wheel with a relatively larger diameter. If you regularly ride technical terrain, 29” wheels will help you cruise over it with conspicuously less effort.
29” wheels often feel smoother to ride due to the higher air volume in their larger tires. The extra air volume acts as additional suspension – some say that it feels like having an extra inch of travel to ride the bigger wheels.
29” wheels also have a larger contact patch, which means more and better traction whether you’re climbing, cornering or braking
For each pedal revolution in a given gear, a 29” wheel will cover more distance due to the wheel’s larger circumference. This is why a particular gear will feel “bigger” on a 29” wheel vs. a 26” wheel. Those who switch to a 29” wheel may want to also switch to a cassette with more teeth on its largest cost or to a smaller front chainring so they feel like they are still pedaling a similar gear in terms of effort and cadence.
Rollover and gearing effects of 29” wheels make pedalling on roads feel easier, which can be an advantage for those who mountain bike on gravel or paved roads only or for the purpose of connecting their singletrack.
Last but not least, many riders experience a more stable feeling when riding 29ers – as if they are less likely to endo. This is because of how bike designers must alter a bike’s geometry to accommodate 29” wheels.
27.5” Wheel Advantages
Smaller riders may not fit on a bike with 29” wheels either because they can’t get enough standover clearance and/or because it is difficult to lower the cockpit of the bike enough for them to feel comfortable. Different bike companies have different theories on what height is too short for riding 29ers so it’s always best to test ride bikes of both wheel sizes and see what fits and rides best.
The geometry of bikes with 27.5” wheels typically makes them better at handling tight, twisty terrain. Due to their smaller size, the smaller wheels will steer and accelerate more quickly, making a bike feel more responsive and easier to maneuver on the trail.
Because they are smaller and physically require less material to manufacture, 27.5” wheels are lighter. This means your bike will weigh less overall for a given rim width, or you can ride wider wheels on a 27.5” than you can with a 29” wheel of the same weight. This can make 27.5” bikes a better candidate for those who love Plus-size tires.
Last but not least, the geometry of 27.5” bikes leaves more room for greater amounts of suspension, which makes them a favorite among riders who like to have a lot of travel.
There’s no better way to decide what wheel size suits you best than to test ride 27.5” and 29” wheeled demo bikes. Ride as many as you can and see which ones you enjoy the most!
There’s nothing worse than riding a bike that doesn’t fit well, but nothing more satisfying than pedalling a bike that does fit well. While there is no substitute for test riding a bike to experience how it actually fits and feels, learning a bit about road bike sizing and fit will help you narrow down the range of sizes to test for the next time you’re road bike shopping.
There are three common types of road frames: traditional, compact and semi-compact. Traditional frames have a horizontal top tube and more conventional geometries. Compact frames come with a top tube that slopes downward from the headtube to the seat tube; they tend to have a smaller and thus stiffer front triangle and more standover clearance. Semi-compact frame designs fall somewhere in between traditional and compact frames.
For any of the three types, there is a wide range of frame geometries offered by different manufacturers to suit an equally wide range of riding styles and purposes.
Some road bikes are designed for riders who prefer a more aggressive racing position while others let riders pedal more casually in a more upright position. Generally speaking, racing-oriented riders will like to ride bikes with longer top tubes and more drop between the seat and handlebars while more casual riders will ride bikes with shorter top tubes and less drop to the bars.
Effective Top Tube Length
Although many measurements play a role in bike sizing, the most important measurement is effective top tube length. On a traditional frame, this will be the length of the top tube. On a compact or semi-compact frame, this will be the distance, measured horizontally, between the head tube and the seatpost; it will not be exactly the same as the top tube’s length.
Check out this BikeRadar article for a chart giving rough guidelines for sizing your bike by effective top tube length: http://www.bikeradar.com/us/beginners/gear/article/road-bike-sizing-what-size-bike-do-i-need-40459/.
Dialing In The Fit
Once you’ve used effective top tube measurement to narrow down your choices for what size road bikes may fit, it’s time to hop on them and hone your position.
First, check that you can stand comfortably straddling the top tube. For both safety and comfort, you should have several centimeters of clearance.
Next, set your seat height. It’s reasonable to start with your seat about the same height as your hip bones are when standing next to the bike. Then sit on it and pedal. Check that your hips and low back do not rock from side to side. If they do, lower your seat until there is no rocking. Typical knee angles on the extended leg side range from about 25 to 30 degrees, although exact ideal knee angle is often a matter of personal preference.
Once your seat is at the right height, adjust its fore-aft position. Put your pedals in horizontal position, then drop a plumb line from the front center of the kneecap of your forward leg. It should fall roughly over the center of the pedal axle. If your knee is in front of the axle, move your seat rearward and vice versa.
Finally, you can adjust your bike’s reach by changing both the height of the handlebars and how far fore/aft they are positioned relative to the seat. Most bikes will come with spacers that you can move above or below the stem for some instantaneous bar height adjustability, but you may need to swap to an entirely different stem to achieve a significant position change reach-wise. One common rule of thumb is to pick a stem length and angle so that when you sit comfortably on the seat, with hands on the hoods, and look down toward your front wheel, the top of the handlebar line up with the front wheel axle.
Your local bike shop can help you with dialing in your bike positioning and swapping out stems.
Don’t just rely on bike sizing and fitting rules of thumbs. Take your candidate road bike(s) out for a test spin. There is no substitute for actually riding a bike to see how well it fits and handles as you pedal at speed on real roads. Your bike may technically fit “perfectly” but still not handle in a way that suits your riding preferences.
There’s nothing better than having your own bike with you to ride when you travel, and one way to do so is to bring it with you on the plane. However, flying with a bike is not simple. Read on for some tips about how to travel with your bike.
Box or Case
Before you take your bike on the plane, you will have to pack it in a cardboard box or hard or soft case. The are pros and cons to all three options.
Cardboard boxes are easy to obtain and are typically free from a local bike shop plus they often give you extra space for your cycling or other gear. But they don’t hold up as well to repeated use and will have to be frequently replaced. You also may need to call your local shop well ahead of your trip so that they can save you a box when they next get a new bike shipped to them.
Soft cases are often lightweight and easy to handle but can be expensive, and depending on their design, they may not offer as much protection as a well packed cardboard box or hard case.
Hard cases are typically the most expensive and heaviest option, but they offer the most protection for your bike en route.
To maximize the chances of your bike arriving at your destination undamaged, it’s important to pack your bike well, no matter what kind of case you use. First you’ll have to disassemble your bike, then pad all of its pieces well with foam. You must not only protect the contents inside from damaging each other, but you must also protect against external forces that may be applied as the airlines handle your bike box or case.
Searching the internet for detailed instructions on how to disassemble and pack your bike will yield lots of suggestions. One such excellent resource comes from Adventure Cycling: https://www.adventurecycling.org/resources/how-to-department/routes-maps-logistics/boxing-your-bicycle/.
Flying with your bike usually will cost you – most airlines charge for transporting your bike. Fees vary hugely by airline and may also be different depending on whether your flight is international or domestic. Contact your airline in advance to find out exactly how much it will cost you so you are not surprised with a large expense upon check-in.
Weight and Size Limits
Airlines often have strict limits on baggage size and weight, and these restrictions also vary by airline. Overweight and/or oversized bike luggage may trigger additional fees above and beyond the airline’s standard bike transport fee. Again, it’s best to contact your airline in advance to obtain a list of potential fees. Then carefully weigh and measure your packed bike before you go to the airport.
In many countries, security and/or customs personnel will insist on opening your case and box and inspecting its contents as part of the normal screening process. Do not lock your case so that security can access it.
Check the prohibited substances list before you load up your bike box or case with all the bike-related gear that you’d typically take with you when travelling by cart. Items like CO2 cartridges and chain lube are often banned. If you attempt to fly with these items, they will likely be confiscated during security inspections.
Airlines typically make you sign a waiver saying they are not responsible for damage to your bike while they are transporting it; yet incidences of such damage are common. You may want to purchase third party insurance for your bike to cover possible damage.
Other Bike Transport Options
Depending on your destination, you may be able to ship your bike there and back for less than it costs to take it on the plane. Yes, you still have to pack your bike when you ship it, but you save the hassle of dragging your bike box or case to and from the airport on either end because you can ship it directly to your destination and have it waiting for you upon arrival.
Serious cyclists are increasingly using power to gauge their training efforts, especially as power meters become not only more technically-capable but also more affordable. Learning the terminology that comes along with training with power can seem intimidating at first, but the glossary of common terms below will help speed your trip up the learning curve.
A device that measures the power you produce while riding.
How they work: A majority of available power meters use strain gauges to quantify how much your bottom bracket, crankset, freehub or pedal axles deform under the force of pedalling. Strain gauges output electrical resistance relative to the amount of mechanical deformation of the component to which they are mounted. The amount of mechanical deformation corresponds to how much torque you are applying to the pedals, and torque and pedalling cadence are used to calculate power.
A product of how much torque you are applying to the pedals and how fast you are pedalling. It is also defined as the rate of energy used or the amount of work done per unit of time. Power is expressed in watts (W).
For those who prefer to think in equations: Power = Work / Time = Force * Displacement / Time = Force * Velocity = Torque * Angular Velocity
The amount of power produced at any given moment.
The average amount of power produced over a given period of time, such as during any given workout or race.
The maximum amount of power produced during any given period of time, such as during any given workout or race.
A measure of power calculated using an algorithm that factors in the high and low power outputs that naturally occur when a rider is sprinting, doing intervals, climbing, descending, coasting, etc. It estimates total effort over a given period of time and is considered more accurate than average power by many experts because it better accounts for the actual physiological demands of a given ride.
The amount of power a rider can sustain for one hour. It is often calculated from the average power output measured during a 20-minute timed effort. Threshold Power is used to calculate training zones, and is sometimes called Functional Threshold Power.
The amount of force applied to the pedals. It is typically expressed in Newton meters (Nm).
How fast you are pedalling. Cadence is usually measured in revolutions per minute or RPMs and can be converted into Angular Velocity, which is usually expressed in radians/second.
The process of setting or correcting a measuring device such as a power meter so that it accurately outputs actual measurements.
Power to Weight Ratio
The amount of power you can produce divided by your weight, often measured in kilograms/watt or pounds/watt. Generally speaking, the higher the power-to-weight ratio, the better the cyclist.
Rotor INpower Powermeter
Cyclists pay attention to many different numbers as they evaluate their performance in real time. Among them are distance pedalled, speed, heart rate and power output. Another parameter – one that is often a mystery to newbie cyclists – is pedalling cadence.
What is cadence?
Cadence is defined as the number of revolutions of the crank per minute (rpm). Typical pedalling cadences for trained cyclists range from 85 to 100 rpm. An untrained, recreational cyclist is more likely to pedal at a slower cadence, such as 60 to 70 rpm.
How do I figure out my cadence?
Many bike computers come with sensors that count how many times the cranks go round and display a rider’s cadence. Such sensors are typically mounted on or near the cranks.
But even without a bike computer, you can get a quick estimate of your cadence. Simply pick an interval, such as 30 seconds, and count how many times your legs go around during that period. Then double the number to calculate your cadence.
Why is cadence important?
Power is the product of the force applied to the pedals and cadence. Thus to increase power, you can apply more force to the pedals, pedal faster or do both at the same time. This means that it’s also possible to produce the same amount of power at different cadences – you just have to apply different amounts of force. For example, you can produce a given amount of power by pedalling slowly in a bigger gear or by pedalling faster in a smaller gear.
When you pedal fast in a lower gear, you tend to need less force so it fosters more slow twitch muscle fiber recruitment. The opposite is also true: when you pedal more slowly in a higher gear, you need more force so have to recruit more fast twitch muscle fibers. Generally speaking, pedalling at lower cadences requires relatively more effort from your muscles whereas pedalling at higher cadences requires relatively more effort from your cardiovascular system.
Every cyclists has different strengths and weaknesses; thus some tend to prefer higher cadences while others prefer lower cadences.
A bit of history
Many cyclists began caring about cadence at the end of the 1990s when Lance Armstrong became famous by winning the Tour de France while pedalling at a conspicuously higher cadence than many of his peers in the pro peloton.
Pros like Armstrong found that pedalling at higher cadences like 100-110 rpm felt more efficient, often helping them with muscular recovery and endurance as well as smoothing out any dead spots in their pedal stroke.
But not every pro goes for super high cadences. Another former Tour de France winner, Jan Ullrich, was famous for his slightly slower pedalling cadence, often in the 80-90 rpm range. When racing side by side with Armstrong, Ullrich appeared to be mashing gears and pedalling slowly.
In the past two decades with the advent of drivetrains including many gear combinations spanning a much larger range, it’s now possible for cyclists to be able to almost always pick the perfect gear to enable them to pedal at their preferred personal cadence, whether they are riding at relatively slower or faster speeds.