Let’s face it. We would all prefer to ride outdoors. However, depending on your climate, your schedule, or your neighborhood sometimes it just isn’t possible to always train outdoors on the road. So rather than miss a workout or put yourself in an unsafe environment, MCC athletes need to equip themselves with some form of indoor or backyard training. And, frankly, some athletes swear that their best training comes while doing hard intervals on an indoor trainer. For example, if you are doing long time trial intervals or super hard power intervals, you do not have to worry about traffic, stop lights, or road surfaces when you do them on a trainer. Trainer workout have the advantage of a controlled environment with no distracting or dangerous variables, allowing for all your effort and concentration to be focused on the task you need to perform.

The simplest stationary trainer is one where the rear wheel of your road bike locks into a mechanism that spins a drum that offers resistance against the turning wheel. You pedal and shift as you would on the road; your computer picks up the same kind of data; but you stay put, pedaling into nowhere.

A good trainer is smooth, quiet, and tries to reproduce the same resistance as riding on the road. Your front wheel rests in a block that holds it in place and at the same level as the rear wheel. If you want more resistance, simply shift up into a harder gear.

Simple stationary trainers come in several varieties: Magnetic trainers employ a magnetic flywheel to create resistance for the drum that contacts the wheel. Turbo trainers employ fans and air resistance. Fluid trainers are magnetic trainers whose internal mechanism is surrounded by resistance liquids sealed in drums. And some trainers have adjustable resistance via a handlebar control attached to the trainer by a cable. Having tried all of these, I prefer a simple fluid trainer. Fluid trainers are quieter and smoother. The cable on adjustable trainers is annoying when you want to transport the trainer to a race to use in warming up, which you will commonly do.

The best form of indoor training, however, is made possible with “Smart Trainers” that connect to phones, tablets, computers, and the Internet. Smart trainers can give you video readouts of your cadence, speed, and power, all while simulating a video ride through the Alps or against your training partner connected to you over the Internet. You can connect a smart trainer to Internet-based apps such as Swift or FulGaz that will communicate with your trainer, changing the resistance as you go uphill or downhill, and giving you an immersive virtual cycling experience.

This Wahoo KICKR is an example of a “Smart Trainer” that connects directly to your cassette, so no rear wheel is needed. Resistance and power wattage can be controlled from your computer or mobile device.

The Wahoo KICKR BIKE (below) is one of the most advanced smart trainers. A complete bike, it is fully adjustable and can be used as a shared, multi-user machine. Unlike a “spin bike” it does a superior job of emulating the feel and performance of world-class road bike that is actually been ridden on the road.