Icy roads, biting winds, pouring rain, traffic – nasty weather and poor road conditions does not mean cycling comes to a screeching halt; it just means you need to move indoors. There are times that weather and other conditions put a stop to outdoor riding, even for the most dedicated cyclists.
Staying conditioned in the off-season can seem daunting, but it does not need to be. If you already have a power meter on your bike, you can use any trainer or roller to make sure you stay in peak riding condition.
There are many options for getting your bike set up on a trainer. The top three options are rear wheel resistance, direct drive, or rollers. Each option comes with its own set of pros and cons but a little bit of research will help you determine which is right for you.
When you hop on your trainer and start powering through a workout, you may notice a difference in your power output. This is normal for indoor riding.
The main reason is that you are riding in a fixed position. When you are outside, your body is constantly shifting and adjusting to compensate for changes in road conditions, elevation, terrain, and even temperature. The ability to maneuver the bike back and forth is mostly non-existent on an indoor trainer. As a result, different muscle groups are utilized at a more sustained rate. You may notice soreness in these other muscle groups for the first few weeks.
The lack of wind also impacts the indoor riding experience. Wind can be annoying when riding outdoors, but it does serve a purpose. It helps to keep the body cool. When riding indoors, regulating body temperature becomes much more challenging. As a result, your body works harder and more strain is placed on your cardiovascular system. The extra strain makes it harder to increase your FTP. Drinking plenty of water and riding with a fan will help alleviate the strain.
Riding outside is exhilarating; the scenery is constantly changing, there are new roads to explore, and the world is happening around you. When you are on an indoor trainer, the scene stays the same. This can create a mental challenge and make it hard to stay motivated. Using a training program such as Zwift can help keep indoor riding fun. Group rides and races add an extra element of entertainment during your ride and give you the motivation needed to keep working toward your goals.
Better weather is around the corner, and you will be riding outside in no time. Maintaining your cycling routine indoors will maintain your fitness for outdoor riding. So grab your shoes and power meter, find a great Zwift ride, and get to work!