Cycling at Home

For those rainy days when you're missing the saddle

Living in the UK comes with its advantages and its disadvantages. The rubbish weather may be considered to be one of the latter. On such rainy days it can be difficult to find the time to get out for that 10k ride. So there must be another solution? Something which allows us to still cycle, but keep us safe, dry and warm at the same time?

There is… the turbo trainer.

Turbo trainers hold the back end of the bike off the floor, allowing you to use your favourite road bike from the comfort of your own front room. With a resistance unit connected at the back, the intensity can usually be adjusted to your liking or will increase if you pedal faster, helping you to prepare for those strenuous uphill climbs.

These machines are the cause of much mixed opinion among cyclists, with some users opting to use them in order to capitalise on their training, others however would rather endure the weather than sit inside training. Below are some of the pros and cons of these nifty little devices.

Pros

  • Cycling on the road you’ll come across all kinds of defects and debris, especially in winter! Riding over these can take its toll on the body, in particular the knee and hip joints. So the turbo trainer is a static, low impact way to get in those midday miles on a weekend.
  • As resistance can be set, or increases as you pedal along, you can increase your muscular endurance over a long period of time.
  • Research has shown that regular exercise can have a positive affect on both stress levels and the immune system, which can be vital in the colder seasons. Not only could using a turbo trainer help you stave off that winter cold, you will no longer have to deal with the stress of not being able to cycle.
  • Potholes and debris are among the least of a cyclists worries. Other road users often contribute to the danger a cyclist faces on our roads. A turbo trainer is safer, more convenient and allows you unrestricted visibility, so you won’t have to worry about any errant road users.
  • On top of all this, when you don’t have the chance to get out on your bike, a turbo trainer is a good way to make sure you maintain your weekly exercise goals. Cardiovascular benefits with every ride, you can reduce your risk of chronic illnesses and keep your weight under control at the same time.

Cons

  • Cost is a big factor to take into account when considering training at home. Turbo trainers can range from £50 to £1,000, with the best ones falling between £180 and £450. This can be quite a lot of money, especially if you have already spent a couple of grand on your bike – which lets face it, you didn’t spend just to ride it indoors.
  • We all know that it can be tough to find the space to store a bike, let alone ride it on the rollers. So when you do finally find the space, it can feel constricting – there’s nothing like the freedom you feel at the saddle when you’re cycling outdoors.
  • To add to the claustrophobia, cycling indoors means that you lack a healthy intake of fresh air. Furthermore, it can get rather hot when cycling indoors, sweat can build up and you don’t have the benefit of a breeze to cool you down.
  • Where this may be a good way to avoid any inclement weather, it may become irritating to other family members if you don’t have your own private space for the set up.
  • If you use a turbo trainer you may find that it becomes boring quickly or that you get easily distracted from your training goals. It’s a catch 22! You put a box set on the TV, or turn the radio on to stop you getting bored only to have it distract you from your training regimen.

Turbo trainers can be useful if you want to avoid any rough weather, but they can be costly and you may become bored very quickly. They may be useful for a one-off training sesh, but not as a long term method of training.

What are your views? Would you rather ride on the rollers or brave the elements?

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