The Trouble With Training

We’re now in the meaty part of the trainer season.  It’s butt-clenching cold and the snow continues to fall (despite my explicit orders to the contrary).  With this, there is much time for contemplation and reflection while the hours on the trainer tick by.

As much as anything else, cycling is a gradual process.  You need years to reach a high level of fitness and skill – not to mention building up those biker quads.  Along the way, you learn from your experiences.  How long it takes to get the engine fully warmed up.  How much Gatorade you can drink before you puke.

If there’s one thing that embodies trainer rides, it’s the desire to get as much as you can from as little as possible.  That can manifest itself in many ways, and one of them is a decided neglect of the very machines relied upon for the undertaking.  When I’m riding outdoors I will check tire pressure about every other ride, which works out to about once a week.  I can honestly say that since I started riding on the trainer this season (around Halloween) I have topped off the back tire twice.

Tire pressure while on the trainer makes a big difference.  The first ride I did after pumping up the tire on Sunday was a one hour tempo ride: a 90rpm cadence while turning a 53×14.  Normally this is an easy gear (on my trainer, anyway).  However, I felt a noticeable increase in resistance.  It turned out to be a great tempo ride and as such a signal to myself to pay better attention to the tire pressure.  I’m sure I will forget about it again in a week.

I have yet to lube the chain this season.

The other half of the equation, the trainer itself is also a point of contention.  You know you have a weak trainer when you never shift off of the big ring – ever.  When Coach Troy orders you to spin in the small (39) ring, 15-tooth cog and instead shift to the ridiculously easy 53×15/16 – you know you need more resistance.  In the three seasons I’ve had this trainer, I have adapted to different gear selections to have some sort of analog to what my workout leader is asking for.  It’s come down to the four top gears I have available – and if that’s not enough, it’s a 7 gear cog set I’m dealing with, so there’s basically no fine-tuning if the workout gets sketchy.  You either spit your lungs out or feel guilty going too easy.  ugh.

I have seen some trainers advertise a power range of 20 – 750 watts.  I don’t think I’m in danger of exceeding 750 watts, but I’ve gained too much fitness for my current one.  I saw the Cycleops Fluid 2 advertised for around 290 bucks.  I ain’t that desperate.

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