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Cycling at Turbo Speed

When the weather turns grim and ice becomes a very real danger, sometimes there is no alternative but to put your bike on an indoor trainer and fight the crushing boredom that is cycling indoors. Despite the boredom, done properly, turbo training can really boost your cycling performance particularly if, like me, you are extremely time poor.

The types of turbo trainers vary greatly and nowadays the focus is very much on the gamification of training through platforms such as Zwift. I am all for making these sessions more appealing and if money was no object then I would invest in a smart trainer. As it is I use a pretty basic turbo trainer where I simply connect my bike through the axel of the rear wheel and use the gears on the bike to adjust the resistance to the desired level.

I have seen some set-ups that people have that are positively luxurious and the complete antithesis of my set-up. No massive widescreen TV hung on the wall. No inspirational cycling posters. No soft lights. No awe-inspiring view to distract the mind. I have a garage. A garden chair to prop my laptop. An open door to get some cold, Scottish air in. I can only be thankful that it even has lights.

I try to keep my turbo training sessions short and sweet to stave off the boredom. I am yet to do anything more than an hour in my draughty garage but will happily admit that the sessions can really help dial in certain techniques and allow you to concentrate fully without the distractions of traffic and junctions. I have been known to go deep enough that I let out involuntary shouts of pain/ encouragement that can be heard throughout the house and by extension the wider street. I hope the neighbours realise what I am doing and not taking part in some sort of self-flagellation.

One day, the weather outside looked like it might be able to support life so I decided to have a break from the turbo and just have a gentle spin on the bike instead. I lifted the bike off the turbo and reconfigured it for road mode by replacing the rear quick-release skewer but something was not quite right.

My stem was stiff. It would not move left and it would not move right. Annoyingly I had a planned a route that involved turning otherwise it might have been fine. Clearly an entire winters worth of salty, sweat had precipitated in and seized all the bearings. Not to be deterred I jumped on the other bike and pootled out to see the lighthouse and the waves crashing against the rocks. Being off the turbo trainer came as a relief and I had forgotten just how enjoyable a cycle for the sake of cycling could be.

So an important lesson when going deep on the indoor trainer is to pop a towel over your bike to mop up all that lovely sweat. Don’t make the same mistake that I did.

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