Indoor Cycling: What is it and how to get started? Part 2

In the first article in this 3 part blog series I wrote about the pros and cons of home training. In this article, I share some suggestions on what equipment is needed to make your training as “pleasant” as possible.

Things you can’t do without

For starters you need to have a bike, good news is the same bike you use for riding outdoors is also suitable.

Next on the list is a home trainer, today there are three types of home trainers:

  • Rollers – Pop the bike onto the rollers and start peddling
  • “Wheel On” attaches onto the rear of the bike with the wheel on and offers resistance through the back wheel
  • “Direct Drive” attaches onto the bike but offers resistance directly to your chain without the need for a rear-wheel

They all have their pros and cons, are available from a variety of manufacturers, and are both “smart” and “dumb”. Sports equipment tester and ‘youtuber‘ DC Rainmaker makes reviews of home trainers every season and offers his purchase recommendations. It’s worth reading and I believe this review will help you find the right stand for you.

Whenever budget and options allow, I recommend choosing a so-called “smart” trainer, which greatly simplifies the choice of training software and the structure of training. Of course, a “dumb” trainer can be used, but as I wrote in the first article, one of the great advantages of home training is being able to tap into the data and a smart trainer allows for more accuracy and power-based training.
Personally, I have owned and trained with all three types of home trainers and finally found the Elite Direto XR Direct Drive was the best for me.

Moving onto the third key item, Software. Avoiding going into a debate if software is needed or not, modern day software offers huge benefits to training structure and allows you to get the most out of your workout which was near impossible before.

Today, there is a wide range of software applications on the market, from the software offered by the home trainer manufacturer to specific applications: Zwift, TrainerRoad, Rouvy, SYSTM (formerly Sufferfest), etc. In terms of price, they are all in the same class (monthly subscriptions range from 11-15 €), but in terms of functionality, the differences are noticeable.

My personal preference, TrainerRoad, focuses only on power schedule and training. The main emphasis is on different training plans, there are no playful aspects, there is no so-called virtual world to move around in. In terms of interactivity, the only addition is video training while group training.

Another favourite Zwift, on the other hand, is extremely interactive – cranking together hundreds of other riders in the virtual world, you can ride in the so-called “free mode”, where the difficulty of the training depends on the chosen track or follow a training plan pre-set or selected from the catalog. However, Rouvy moves the avatar of your choice with a video recorded in the real world. FulGaz, owned by the IRONMAN group, which plans to host its IRONMAN VR series, will use videos and pre-recorded tracks for training.
Again, the selection is quite varied, but here, too, DC Rainmaker comes to the rescue with his recommendations.

Fourthly, a list of things that are not directly necessary, but if you plan to train more than once a week then you will soon be happy to have them.

  • Proper Fan – Insufficient cooling during training is one of the most common mistakes made. Aside from specific “hot workouts” designed to adapt the body to specific weather conditions, cooling the body is just as essential as drinking and regaining fluid during exercise.
  • Water bottles – for obvious reasons, indoor training makes you sweat significantly more than outdoor training. Restoring and maintaining body fluid and energy levels affect the quality of exercise and subsequent recovery from exercise.
  • A towel for wiping down sweat and keeping it off the bike. Sweat left on the bike over time will cause corrosion.
  • Cycling clothes – decent cycling shorts are even more important in indoor training than when riding outdoors. Indoor training causes the body to remain in a more fixed position with less movement in the saddle, thus it is critical that the comfort in the saddle and on the chamois will not cause friction and discomfort. To prevent sweat from flowing, it is also good to wear a undervest and cycling cap.

Home Comforts

I wrote above about things I can’t do without, now here is a list of the things that make the time spent on the home trainer easier.

  • Bike Trainer Mat – slips under the bike and trainer helping to reduce noise while also protecting the floor from damage and sweat.
  • Good Headphones (sweat resistant) – Nothing helps you to knock out those intervals like some inspirational music, just make sure the headphones you get are protcted against sweat.
  • Computer/TV – Having a monitor showing the latest sports event or a good movie is great way to help the time go faster while you pump the virtual miles!

Join us in our third instalment of this blog series where we will dive deeper into the specifics of home training.

Written by and photograpy by Rando Kall. Rando is a coach and ambassador of moomoo.