For many athletes, staying on top of their training while traveling is one of the biggest challenges they encounter. While running and even swimming can be performed relatively easily on the road, cycling presents the greatest challenge.
Perhaps you've experienced a similar situation: You haven't been on your bike since last Sunday's ride and feel you're losing your fitness in the face of your upcoming race. You go down to the hotel gym and find one somewhat-dilapidated Lifecycle.
Is it possible to get a good workout on one of these? Will my workout remotely transfer to real road cycling?
The answer is that you can get a good workout that will transfer to road cycling. While training on a stationary bike could never fully substitute time on the road, there are many workouts you can perform to work on a piece of your cycling.
Cycling can be broken down into two basic components: leg speed and force production, both of which can be trained on a stationary bike if necessary. Some workouts are actually better performed in a controlled environment where power, cadence, and resistance can all be monitored and adjusted.
The first step is planning. If you know you'll be traveling, select the workouts that are going to be easiest to perform on the stationary bike. I consider this when building my athletes' plans by putting their long, more general road workouts on the weekends and putting the shorter, more specific workouts during the week.
The next step is choosing a hotel that has an exercise room and stationary bike. Some hotels are advertising this as a feature to attract customers. If at all possible, frequent the hotels that have raised the standard for their fitness rooms.
Many hotels have reciprocal arrangements with local gyms. In this case, a Spin? cycle would be an option. Don't assume that just because the hotel has a gym, it will have a stationary bike, or more specifically, one that's in good repair.
I've been amazed to find that some of the nicer hotels often have equipment that's in disrepair. Don't be afraid to explain when making reservations that you're training for a race and that you require an exercise bike.
You may want to explain that "the last time I was there it was broken; would you mind checking to make sure it's working properly and get back to me?" This may extreme, but it's very frustrating to prepare for a workout only to have it nixed due to factors beyond your control.
Strength training enhances your cycling and athletes often spend a portion of their season lifting weights to increase force production. Strength training performed on the bike and is even more specific. You can perform the following strength workouts on a stationary bike.
Force reps: Warm up for 10 to 15 minutes, then crank the resistance down until it's very heavy; as if you were climbing a steep hill. Drive the pedals down for 20 to 30 pedal strokes, concentrating on producing force on the down stroke. Don't increase cadence; keep cadence very slow. Recover for five minutes and repeat. You can perform four to eight force reps per workout.