When the weather gets sunny and the Atlanta rain is finally gone, many folks are keen to get in as much outdoor riding as possible. This is understandable, especially considering we’ve been cooped up longer this year that any other winter/spring in recent memory. That said, there are some huge benefits to making sure you’re still including some indoor riding in your routine.
Steady pressure on the pedals
One of the initial limiters with riders unaccustomed to cycling indoors is, in short, an inability to maintain constant pedaling. When riding outdoors, even with minimal stoplights and traffic obstructions, one gets dozens of micro breaks whether it’s from avoiding a pothole or coasting the downhills. Sometime, this weakness is not apparent until you’re in a race and realize you can’t maintain a constant output over the duration. Indoor cycling trains you to keep it rolling without breaks so you can stay steady and strong throughout the duration of your goal event, whether it be for minutes or hours.
Getting in a workout that will count
Group rides are fun and chasing faster folks is a great way to get faster. When it comes down to it, though, huge surges followed by lots of coasting (typical group ride) is only one piece of the training pie. The ability to stay at your zone or power target without the worry of traffic, stoplight, and terrain interruptions is a great training tool year round.
Focus your efforts with power
Anyone who’s been cycling for awhile knows that it’s not just about working hard, it’s about doing the right work to improve. If you’re serious about improving your performance you need an objective way to garner data and measure progress. Enter training with power. Power allows you to set your baseline, set up appropriate workouts, and ultimately measure the results of those workouts.
There are other, more widely used ways to quantify efforts, such as speed, rate of perceived exertion, and heart rate. But power, literally force times velocity, is the only truly objective measure. For example, let’s say you rode as hard as possible on two separate occasions. How can you compare those efforts? Heart rate, while it has value, is limited in that it tells you how hard your engine is working, not what output you’re actually getting for those efforts. The heart rate for a given effort can vary based on fatigue, dehydration and many other factors. And ultimately you want to know what working hard is getting you, not just a check on the fact that you’re putting yourself in the hurt locker! To make heart rate mean something you need to compare that input, to the actual output you’re getting for it.
The downside is that there is a also a lot of expense associated with buying a power meter. This is where the ability to use power during some of your training without incurring the expense of ownership is a huge benefit. You can make sure you’re hitting key sessions during indoor workouts and then watch that translate into improved performance on the road.
Get out of the basement
News flash: doing some of the hard, indoor rides we’ve described isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time, especially when you’re tacking them solo in your basement! That’s where the camaraderie of a dedicated studio group comes in… it brings the fun to tough trainer workouts. The addition of a dedicated group cycling alongside you, music, videos and an instructor can take the edge off the willpower required to get yourself to do the workouts solo.