Not only are they ridiculously heavy (almost solid rubber with just a few pumps of air inside), but because it is rotating weight, they actually seem much heavier than their actual weight. By training my body to become accustomed to this extra weight, I've found I have a distinct advantage over the pack come February, when I slap on my 1,200-gram carbon tubulars.
Efficiency of Training
Unquestionably, the key to my winter training bike are the PowerCranks. We've said it before many times on Pez, but there is absolutely no better way to get more out of your daily ride than by training with PowerCranks. This winter, I'm testing out a very cool new prototype for the evil genius PC-inventor Frank Day (but you'll have to wait for another article to read about them).
After four years on the cranks, I am finally able to complete an entire base program plus a two month build period all on PowerCranks. By the end of the program I can barely walk, but after two weeks on my road bike doing high-spin intervals to get my leg speed back up, I have more power than I could ever have dreamed of. Using PowerCranks builds up such an incredible base of muscular endurance that it pretty much carries me through the entire season.
More: 4 Offseason Cycling Tips
One of the things that makes long rides on PowerCranks so challenging is the fact that your butt never gets a break from the saddle. On regular cranks, you are always applying a little more pressure to the down stroke than on the up stroke, which results in lifting your butt up off the saddle just a little on each stroke. With PowerCranks, you are always pulling up with the exact same force that you are pushing down, so you are always sitting hard in the saddle.
To combat this challenge (and being in between bike sponsors) I searched eBay for the softest ride I could find, eventually settling on a three-year-old Specialized Roubaix with the Zertz inserts on the fork, the rear triangle and the seat post. It's certainly a vertically compliant bike that's favored by some of the sponsored pros in races like its namesake. While this style of bike isn't my personal racing cup of tea, it's perfect for winter training.
To add to the comfort of this already plush ride, I installed fi'z:ik Bar Gel underneath my handlebar tape. Although it's really the butt that takes the brunt of the beating during long winter travels, it doesn't hurt to add a little comfort to the cockpit area of the bike. And speaking of the cockpit...
Pi?ce de R?sistance
Perhaps the part of my winter bike that gets the most puzzled glances is the funny little gadget attached to my stem right below my PowerTap computer: a remote control for my iPod. Although I don't recommend wearing ear buds while you ride (and I resisted the temptation myself for many years), as my rides get longer and training partners who can hang on them became scarcer, the iPod becomes my best friend.
Using this tiny little remote from iJet, I can skip through songs, turn the volume up or down or pause to hear the colorful commentary rained down on me from the redneck, pick-up driving resident of Simi Valley (no offense Simians). Aside from staving the boredom with some upbeat tunes, it's also a valuable tool in testing some new "on the bike" mental conditioning tools I am developing to complement The Ultimate Cyclist sports psychology CD.