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Making The Most Of Indoor Bike Sessions

05 October, 2018

For cyclists in Florida or southern California, indoor cycling is a seriously vague notion, but to the rest of us, the realities of cold, snow, slush, rain, and wind are all too obvious. Even hardcore riders can get shut down during the off season, so having a killer bike trainer is the best way to stay cycle fit and strong during the cold winter months.

Riding inside can be tough on the psyche. I quickly learned that during winter, you have to be creative in finding what makes you focused, motivated, and fit. I also learned a few new things to help me improve my indoor training experience that may help you learn to enjoy a good indoor sweat session too. Her are a few things to keep in mind when taking on the new off season of indoor bike sessions.

Set Up 
Having a proper set up with a fan, floor mat, tv/computer, water bottle, bike computer, and towel will help you keep you at comfort levels. You don't want to have to get off your bike every time you need to cool down or get a drink of water so keep these reachable or on your bike and body as you spin.

Bike Comfort
When setting up your indoor trainer, it may also be a good time to find your most optimal comfort on your bike giving you plenty of trial and error to find what works best. Either way, it's important to ensure your fit to get the most out of your training. You can read more about Bike Fitting Basics here.

In addition to bike fit, you also want to make sure the gear you wear isn't falling apart, old, or uncomfortable. Having proper kit for indoor sessions is key to ensuring your comfort. Indoor training is so unlike riding on the road. Shifting positions, standing out of the saddle to climb, or freewheeling is completely different from constant pedaling and moving very little so you want to make sure your cycling shorts are comfortable too.

Set Goals
Any inspiration to keep pedaling or to squeezing in a few more miles or watts of effort is great motivation but you must remind yourself why you are working out. Are you preparing for a race, ride, or weight loss? Setting goals will help you focus on achieving outcomes. Last year, I got myself a bike computer to log miles on Strava to keep me motivated. Never thought I'd get technical about the data but comparing efforts helped me to see improvement.

Plan Sessions
Indoor trainers are best for shorter, high intensity sessions. Although an average training session is about an average of 90mins, I find that I can put in 60 mins at full turbo if I do it right. But doing these sessions means I have to plan my session with intervals of charging and recovering. If broken up into manageable chunks of time, it works well. Training indoors is also a great time to work on skills or techniques you want to master such as pedaling drill for strength and smoothness.

If you need help planning workouts, platforms like Trainer Road and Zwift have lots of workouts to offer. You don't need a smart trainer to use them either. And if you want the camaraderie, you can ride virtually with other cycling friends via Zwift.

Entertainment is King when it comes to being stationary on a bike as it can get pretty mentally boring. Although pedaling in a fixed position allows you to focus your attention into effort, it's nice to have a distraction with music or a show in the back ground. However when you're trying to hammer it down, you can't beat watching a cycling race or listening to some good old tunes. Putting together a playlist on Spotify or watching a race or training session on Youtube can be effective too.

I can speak for the community and highly recommend Zwift to be virtually connected with other cyclist. Having structured rides with online friends can give you plenty of focus and motivation to improve your FTP, cadence, and weight loss.

If you live in climates that keep you from riding outdoors, you can count on the next couple of months of riding indoors that will help you stay happy and healthy.

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