To say that this winter weather in the Northeast hasn’t been conducive to outdoor sports training is a bit of an understatement. Invites have landed in my inbox from people that were riding well into January and in hindsight calling it quits on riding back in November might have been a mistake. It remains to be seen how long it will be until the road shoulder is visible, let alone clean enough to ride on, and hence the potential magnitude of this mistake has not been established. This past weekend marks the one-year anniversary of the first time I ventured forth after an eleven-month break from riding (not training, riding) and I went on to have my best-ever season in terms of conditioning and mileage. My hopes are still high for this year and delaying my start outdoors by a few weeks won’t affect the ultimate outcome. Meanwhile, I am rediscovering the joys of indoor training.
There are a variety of ways to work on your cycling fitness when you’d rather not ride outdoors, under either time or weather constraints. At one end of the spectrum is your typical spinning class stationary bike, while the other end would be “rollers,” a setup of which aims to replicate the feeling of the moving road under your road bike. The middle ground is occupied by cycle trainers, which typically provide resistance by pressing against the rear wheel of the bike while the front is stationary. Each model attempts to replicate the feeling of the road by providing resistance proportional to the speed at which one attempts to ride. These cycle trainers are the most popular way to train indoors as they combine the control of stationary riding with the familiarity of riding your usual bike. I use a fluid cycle trainer during the winter, probably not as much as I should, since I have an irrational fear of falling on my face that has led me to never even try rollers. Someday.
Here most people would share workout plans and tips, but I have precious few of either. What’s worked for me is finding music to match vague ideas like pushing my anaerobic threshold for a few minutes or doing repeated sprint drills. These are separated by cool-down songs to vaguely approximate doing intervals. There are some intense workout plans I’ve read but fortunately I don’t need to compete at a high level the instant I start riding outside again so I can just do the bare minimum to stay in shape and see how it pans out once the snow goes away. Doing the minimum necessary also reduces wear on your gear, which I find to be lower than a lot of people report. Oh, and you get to be lazy.
On the gear side, I finally caved and went in to Landry’s for what ended up being one of their more thorough tune-up packages. I’ve had this CAAD10 since 2012 so I figured the cables and drivetrain were getting pretty long in the tooth, plus I’d changed over the wheelset without bothering to true it with any precision. Fixes to all were completed with a brisk turnaround. I’d already changed its chain the previous fall and did somewhat of a drivetrain cleaning, but the promised ultrasonic cleaning has restored my cassette to an embarrassingly prominent sheen. I’m “road-ready” and looking forward to what 2015 might bring.