When the weather turns cold and snow starts to fall some cyclists are forced to train indoors. Let's face the facts: For many cyclists, training indoors is like running in circles around a jail cell. There is no way to truly replicate the feeling of charging up your favorite climb. However, indoor training doesn't have to be a complete downer. There are a few things you can do to keep the boredom factor to a minimum.
First off, cycling classes are very popular. If you already belong to a gym there is a good bet that they offer some form of cycling or Spin® class. The biggest benefit of these classes is that they provide a lot of motivation that can be lacking when it comes to indoor training. Yeah, it is a lot like cheerleading meets bicycling, but it works for many people so it's worth a try.
If you aren't into classes then some cycling clubs offer weekly indoor training sessions where a number of cyclists meet at a bike shop or other communal location one to two times a week to pedal together. Check your local bike shop to see if there is a team training together in your area.
Most of us end up training in our own homes. You can either hitch your bike up to a stationary trainer or you can buy a specific indoor trainer much like those you see at health clubs. Regardless of the indoor trainer you use, the key factor is to make the riding as comfortable as possible. By that I mean you need to create an environment that makes riding tolerable if not fun.
I used to train indoors with a friend. We set our bikes up in his basement and met each Tuesday and Thursday evening for some serious workouts. Having a firm commitment to train was good motivation to making it happen and helped us get the most out of the workouts.
Indoor training means that you will be trying to make an effort while on the bike. Effort means work and work means sweat. I strongly suggest setting up a fan so that when you start cranking up the watts you will not be dripping in sweat. Sweat can corrode your bike components so if you do sweat on your bike, make sure to wipe it down after your ride.
Also, having a TV which can show some cycling-related DVD's not only helps relieve boredom, but it can also provide some much-needed motivation. I suggest watching bike racing DVDs, the Tour de France is my favorite. However, everyone's tastes are a bit different. The key here is to generate some motivation to work hard and not just pedal easily.
As far as workouts go there are many different options. If your bike is rigged with a power meter or your stationary trainer has a power readout then you can set goals coupled with time. If power is not available then use the gears on your bike coupled with time. The bigger or more difficult the gear, the harder you'll work. You get the idea. Be sure to both warm up and cool down properly.
So, if you have to train indoors there are a number of options to ease the pain. Just remember that you should try to set a schedule so you will train regularly and create an environment that makes those sessions as enjoyable as possible.
Workouts for the Indoor Trainer