Tuesday, March 13, 2018

How Do You Ride a Bike in a Blizzard?

This is going to sound a little strange, given my well-expressed distaste for treadmills, but one of my favorite pieces of work-out equipment is my bike trainer. 

I grew up riding my bike everywhere that I could -- to friends' houses, on trails (covering portions of the White Mountains, including Wildcat, with my family was one of the most fun experiences I had as a kid), and around campus as an undergrad at UConn. Partly because of this, the bike portion of triathlon training and competition has never been much of a problem for me.

However, as I started to increase my training, and as I began to set my sights on higher levels of competition, I ran into a critical New England problem.

How the hell are you supposed to ride your bike in the winter?

I tried using the stationary bikes at my local gyms, but found that it was completely non-representative of riding a road bike; despite maintaining my usual cadence and power, I would be lucky to cover 5 miles in an hour on one of those monstrosities.

So, after some sheer frustration and a fair bit of research, I settled my sights on obtaining my very own bike trainer. This is my RAD Cycle Max Racer Pro:

This is a magnetic resistance trainer, to which I have mounted my old Giant Kronos GS. There are also water and air resistance trainers, which have their own pros (quieter) and cons (significantly more expensive), but I don't have any personal experience with those. For even better training input, I affixed a small and inexpensive (about $20) CatEye bike computer to my rear wheel.

This modest addition lets me know my current pace, distance covered, and workout duration. You can reset those counters between sessions, but the lifetime odometer will continue to keep count (I've covered 110 miles so far, so I'm feeling pretty comfortable reviewing this combination of products at this time). Back to the bike trainer.

  • Relatively inexpensive (this model was under $100 including shipping)
  • Easy to assemble
  • Fits most bikes
  • Allows me to spare my competition bike
  • Closely mimics the feel of riding on a road
  • Multiple resistance settings, and you can still change gears as normal
  • Able to watch Triathlon World Series coverage while working out
  • Safer than dealing with traffic

  • A little loud (but not terrible; I'm still able to hear the TV)
  • Doesn't fully replace training outside (as much as we wish for sunny race days, that's not always the case)
  • Can't practice turns*
  • Can't practice flying mounts**

Today, despite our third Nor'Easter in ten days, I still managed to get in a 20-mile bike ride. I'd call that a success, and a rousing endorsement.

*Speaking of TWS coverage, being able to turn is important. Seeing both Jonny Brownlee and Flora Duffy wiping out on turns in the bike portions in Abu Dhabi was eye-opening.

**This isn't quite applicable to me yet. Remember from a previous entry: I am not good at jumping over things.

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