Trainer Blues

My homemade “work” station

The trainer is evil. Unfortunately, it is a necessary evil, especially if one has aspirations of riding all over the French Alps.

Coach Bobby has prescribed a healthy dose of riding. Given my busy schedule, the weather, sunlight, and many other factors, I simply cannot do it all on the road. The problem is, I hate the trainer. What’s worse is I’m a total wimp. As soon as I get on, I want to get right off.

On the few occasions where I’ve used the trainer, I’ve spent about half the prescribed time. My logic is that the trainer is more efficient than the road. Even though I am not riding as long, I am getting the same fitness benefit.

I asked Bobby about this. He debunked my logic. There is more consistent pedaling on the trainer, but definitely not a 2:1 ratio. He wanted me to try and use all of my training time, whether on the road or the bike trainer. His advice was to set my goal for a longer duration. That way I can bow out early if I get too tired. He also said to put in a good movie and zone out.

Bobby had prescribed 2.5-3 hours of riding for Sunday, but it was going to be a busy day. I had an idea. I would just do it all on the trainer with the proper distraction.

Sunday’s 1-4pm NFL Red Zone package is probably the most immersive, action-packed three hours of television all week. There are usually 7-8 games, which they flip between to show suspenseful situations, and they show all the touchdowns, all teams threatening to score, and more importantly, no commercials. For an NFL nut like myself, it is cannot miss television. If I was going to be distracted by something for three hours, this was it.

I gave it a go. The first hour went by swimmingly. Sure, it was tough, but the action on the screen kept me captivated. I took a 5-minute break after the first hour, then went back on for 30 minutes. After another break, I got back on for another 30 minutes, churning the pedals as I watched the gridiron action.

By this point, I was already tired, drenched in sweat, and developing some saddle soreness. Another short break, and I willed myself back on. The next 30 minutes went by with a struggle.

Phew. I was tired, but I was almost done. I took a little longer break, then jumped back on again. Fortunately, this was toward the end of the games. Even though there weren’t as many close games as usual on this Sunday, the ones remaining were pretty exciting. However tired I was, the last 30 minutes went by faster than the rest.

Test passed. I can ride three hours on a trainer. Now that I have, I never will again, but at least I know my limits.


8 responses to “Trainer Blues

  • Robert Armstrong

    Hi Aaron, you must be on my training program. I rode four hours straight on Saturday! I stopped once at the two hour mark to refill my water bottles with my new electrolyte, “Skratch” I’m testing out for Haute Route. The ride went well, as I was able to hold a 90 to 95 cadence in a 53/19 for the full 4 hours. Thank goodness for the weekend long James Bond marathon on TV. I figure Haute Route requires equal measures of physical and mental toughness, and there’s nothing like riding the dreaded indoor trainer to harden the mind.

    • aaronwest

      Let me know what you think of Skratch. I have yet to try it. Right now I’m using some special fuel made by my nutritionist. 4 hours is insane! I probably won’t do 3 again, at least not anytime soon, but I won’t complain as much about 1.5.

  • Gerry Patterson

    I feel your pain, Aaron, but luckily it’s a faded memory still. Haven’t made my way to the cellar to find the dreaded trainer yet. Good on you for surviving so long. I never thought I’d see the use for TV, but I think I’ve found one now.

  • Nanc Johnson

    The Skratchlabs.com stuff is interesting – thanks!!

  • Douglas Smith

    Like you i hate riding on a trainer, I much rather ride on the road. I seem to get tired much faster on the trainer or maybe that is just boredom.. This year I took a number of videos of my bike rides. Now when I am on the trainer I have it setup where I can watch my videos while on the trainer. It feels almost like I am riding for real. I find my self leaning on a curvy road and trying to steer the bike thru the curves. It has so far made riding on the trainer more fun but wish I had been able to video some rides that I did before getting the camera to watch when I on the trainer. When I get tired of watching y videos i log on YouTube and watch other cyclist who have video there rides. It makes being on the trainer less boring..

    Time to get on the trainer and ride up Highway 276 to the Parkway.

    • aaronwest

      That is brilliant. I wish I had the technology for that. A friend of mine swears by riding to Tour de France videos, although I doubt that’ll get the same “feels like your out there” sensation as watching yourself. I’m in for a lot of trainer time, so I’ll try to mix it up.

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