Gone are the days when hooking up your bike to a stationary trainer was seen as a boring alternative to riding outside, or simply as something to help you warm up before the start of a race. Today’s stationary trainers are more advanced than ever before, with technologies and accessories that make the experience feel similar to riding outside, and cause less wear and tear on your bike’s components. If you live in a region that sees plenty of snow in winter, riding indoors may be your only cycling option. Wherever you live, though, riding on an indoor trainer frees up your focus from navigating rough roads and hazards, as well as stop lights and questionable terrain, to concentrate solely on your effort and workout.
Best of all, there’s a whole new world of virtual riding—and even racing—enthusiasts waiting for you to join in the fun. Zwift has become a leader in this virtual riding segment by gamifying the indoor riding experience and making it easy to race your friends within a fun and interactive digital environment. We’ve longed supported the TWENTY24 Pro Cycling team, and its riders have become some of the most ardent fans of Zwift and virtual racing. Modern bike racing is continuing to undergo some radical and exciting changes, and virtual racing is at the forefront.
But even if you’re not quite ready to take the immersive plunge in cycling via Zwift, there’s no reason you shouldn’t take advantage of the benefits of riding indoors. Here are some tips from the athletes of TWENTY24 Pro Cycling on making sure your indoor cycling setup is dialed-in from the get-go.
“Where you live might influence where you set up your ‘pain cave,’” says Jasmin Duehring. “While the garage often seems the most logical spot in terms of space, keep in mind that it may not be air-conditioned and/or heated, so you could see large temperature fluctuations. I created a space in my house for my indoor trainer set-up, and even though it probably won't help me win any interior design awards, it is quite functional.”
Take some time to plan out where you’ll be setting up your indoor cycling zone. You’ll obviously need enough space to house your bike and trainer. But also pay attention to things like the floor. Make sure you’re setting up on a smooth, flat surface that’s tacky enough to hold everything in place, so that you don’t risk the trainer sliding or tipping over. Also, intense trainer workouts can cause some stress on floorboards, carpet, or other ground coverings. So make sure you’re protecting the floor surface appropriately.
When you ride your bike outside, the wind will blow in your face, cool your body down, and wick sweat away from you. This occurs naturally as you and your bike fly through the atmosphere. But when you’re riding on a stationary trainer, you’re—as the name implies—stationary. Proper ventilation is vital to making sure you enjoy a safe and efficient indoor cycling workout. The best investment you can make? Get yourself a reliable fan. Each of the TWENTY24 athletes we consulted on indoor cycling noted the importance of having at least one fan to keep you cool and comfortable.
“I have slowly been building my setup through the years, and I’ve found that there are a few must-haves for the ultimate indoor cycling setup,” says Charlotte Backus. “I would say have multiple fans! I have happily added the new fan model from Wahoo, and it has been a game-changer. Also, have a couple of other fans nearby for the quickest cooling action possible, as riding indoors can get hotter than you think.”
Regardless of where you’ll be riding on your stationary trainer and the number of fans you have at your disposal, expect to sweat during your workout—mostly likely even more than you would riding outdoors. Or, at least, you’ll be noticing how much you’re sweating a lot more. Get yourself a collection of towels to keep your sweat off your bike, other gear and accessories, and even your floor.
“Every time I ride on Zwift, I have at least two towels,” says Amanda Coker. “One goes across my handlebars to catch the sweat from getting on my bars, and the other is ready to grab and wipe my face. I also use a mat underneath the trainer to catch sweat droplets.”
Most cyclists who have ridden indoors at one time or another will probably agree that the experience is inherently a bit more boring than riding outdoors on the road. But this needn’t be the case. Even if you’re not taking advantage of modern virtual riding apps like Zwift, you can still keep yourself entertained. Set yourself a structured workout so that you can focus on some hard efforts, and push yourself to see some fitness gains. Listen to some music or turn on a nearby television—you’ll be amazed at how a little external stimuli will make the stationary miles tick away.
“When I am training or doing long rides, I’ll put on some music from my TWENTY24 Spotify playlist, or listen to podcasts,” says Charlotte Backus. “I love me some podcasting!”
“Training and competing on Zwift has been a blast,” says Shayna Powless. “The workouts are very straight forward and time efficient, and I love how I can download my coach's workouts from Training Peaks directly into the Zwift app. It's certainly been a game changer in my training. I also love how hard and competitive the races are on the Zwift platform. In many ways, I think virtual racing is harder than racing in real life due to the fact that the races are usually pretty short and are super high-paced from start to finish.”
“I've really enjoyed using Zwift as a training tool.,” says Jasmin Duehring. “I live in Southern California, and although we have great weather year-round, there isn't a lot of variety near my home, and the roads can get pretty busy, too. Zwift allows me to get my workouts done without any excuses. If I am targeting specific efforts I don't need to worry about traffic or construction, or getting a mechanical out on the road. I feel like it's a great way to break up a typical training week, and I have found that I enjoy longer road rides so much more because it's not the fifth time I've ridden the same route that week.”
“Racing on Zwift is on a whole other level,” says Amanda Coker. “Compared to outdoor racing, there really is nowhere to ‘hide’ in the pack to rest. You're always on and have to be ready to go full force at any moment. It's exciting, challenging, and definitely an adrenaline rush! I find that racing and training on Zwift has best prepared me for not just traditional road races, but also time trials and ultra cycling races. The Zwift platform is so versatile in offering workouts, rides, races to fit your needs, you just have to be ready to put in the hard work!”
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