Survival guide: indoor cycling

I always receive a lot of compliments on my indoor cycling activities. I, on the other hand, compliment those cyclists who challenge the weather conditions all year round. Once the clock is set for wintertime, indoor cycling seems much easier to me. When I get home from work and it is already dark, I don’t go out for an evening ride. When the weekend is full of rain, wind and cold temperatures, I don’t go out for a long ride. If you take the right precautionary measurements, indoor cycling is an effective and efficient alternative which can be an easy option for you too. Here are some tips & tricks:

Ensure an easy set-up

Make sure your indoor training set-up is accessed easily. I have the luxury of an extra room, my paincave, specifically set up for indoor cycling. My (indoor) bike shines here 24/7 on her Tacx, so I can hop on or off whenever I please. If you have some difficulties in getting yourself motivated for an indoor ride, preparations should not take to long. So make sure your bike is easily installed if not already standing there waiting for you.

Have your food & drinks ready

With indoor cycling I tend to get more hungry and thirsty. Perhaps because there is no distraction, I keep thinking about food or because the sessions are quite intense I burn a lot more. Anyway, I put one bar per intended hour by my side. And yes, I have put 4 bars (and some gels) by my side a couple of times for my 4 hour indoor sessions.

The thirst thing is definitely a result of not actually moving (no wind) and therefore the room can get quite warm. Hence, you sweat more, hence you get more thirsty. To avoid the thirst make sure you have enough water bottles filled with sports drink at your disposal. For a two hours indoor session I prepare 4 bottles of sports drink. To avoid becoming overheated you can open a window or use a fan, but this still means you should keep enough bottles with sports drink at hand (min 2 per hour). Another disadvantage, I feel, of not actually moving is that I need to use more chamois creme. My kit gets drenched, I stay in the saddle more and ride in a slightly different position all of which contribute to the fact that I need more chamois creme. You can get off your bike to put some extra on, but why not prepare yourself better and avoid a disruption of your training?

Choose your training program wisely

Zwift is an online indoor training tool of which most of you have probably heard. For those who didn’t: It is a virtual world filled with cycling (and sometimes running) avatars in which you can choose different training programs and different worlds. The avatars represent other members of the community with which you can compete or join group rides. There are different elements (almost like a computer game) which stimulate you to ride longer and more. I personally like the repetitive blocks with higher intensity, let’s say 3×5 and this repeated 4 times as it mentally (and physically) breaks down the training in smaller bits and pieces. A lot easier to swallow! I used to do the same, mentally, during my marathons, which is basically running 10k four times and a bit, right?

Say hello to streaming services!

I log on to Zwift via my mobile phone to have my training blocks right in front of me, helping me to work through my training schedule more easily. Zwift also provides me with data like watts, distance and speed which are automatically send to my Strava account, once my workout is finished. This leaves the TV in my paincave free for whatever I choose. As I have Apple TV I could also choose to have Zwift on the larger screen, but I noticed that with more or longer indoor sessions I love to have some other entertainment there too. Hello Netflix, Apple TV and some other national streaming services. Make sure you choose wisely to ensure you have enough seasons and episodes or a 2+ hours movie to watch. This way your training won’t be interrupted as you are looking for more entertainment.

Pick a second (outdoor) activity for the day or weekend

The mostly heard (negative) comment is that you don’t get the fresh air or oxygen needed when training indoors. Be creative. As indoor session mostly don’t take as much time as riding outdoors (they are more compact and intens) this gives you additional time to go outdoors for a walk or run (with your family?) to get some fresh air. I find these activities easier done outdoors than cycling when the weather isn’t all that good.

But ofcourse you don’t NEED to choose. There is no or or, and or, or and and. Your choice. My compliments.