Q&A: Turbo or Rollers?
Hi, I'm a long time cyclist but after the arrival of triplets just over 2 years ago, the time available to cycle and train properly has suffered hugely. I'm now feeling very unfit and want to get back on the bike, lose weight and plan an Etape attempt in 2014! I enjoy 'spinning' but work and baby bath times mean the sessions are not very convenient.
Consequently, I'm looking at buying some kind of indoor trainer for use at home. Not sure whether to get something I can attach one of my bikes to or a proper spin bike. What do the team recommend? And what would give the most realistic experience - irrespective of cost? I want to ensure anything I get is good quality and will last. I look forward to hearing from you.
Ken, forget the spin bike, if you're planning an Etape preparation you want to spend as much time on your own bike as possible and that narrows your options to two choices, a turbo trainer or a set of rollers. As you stipulate that you want the most realistic experience, of the two I'd definitely opt for the latter.
Rollers demand that you have to focus on balance in exactly the same way that you would when riding on the road and this alone makes indoor training far more realistic.
Some modern roller sets come with resistance units or these can be retro-fitted to give you as much resistance as turbo trainers and apart from the fact that they are a whole lot more fun than the turbo to train on, there is no set-up time involved, such as attaching your rear wheel to the unit or using the dedicated axles that some turbos require.
You just place the bike on the rollers in its standard, road-going set up and you're good to go, a valuable time saving in your current situation and unlike a turbo, they're also virtually silent when in use, which might be another consideration with a house full of triplets.
The next thing to consider is what you're going to do with them. As time is so limited you need to ensure that every minute spent on the rollers is quality training, not just turning the pedals, so invest some money in a training tool such as a heart rate monitor, and some time into learning about the various training zones that you can use in order to see the greatest fitness gains, that target the specific demands of your event.
Aerobic endurance, climbing strength and yes, even the weight loss you crave can be targeted with correct use of a set of rollers and a heart rate monitor. There are also some excellent training session guides such as Spinnervals and Sufferfest available both on DVD or for download which are a good place to start.
Huw Williams level three BC coach
This article was first published in the April 18 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!