Monday, February 13, 2017

3 Reasons To Invest In Cycling Rollers | Product Review

Indoor cycling training must be one of the most boring and mentally painful experiences ever invented, but it is a necessary evil when your goals won't wait for better weather or daylight. Sometimes the key to making indoor training work is simply having the right gear.

Staying focused on a trainer can be challenging if you aren't super motivated to follow a strict training program. I use indoor training primarily to increase the amount of time spent on a bike each week, and to focus on key objectives (interval training, increased leg speed, improved riding form, etc.).

I've found that the best way for me to commit to indoor workouts is to incorporate variety. I alternate between cycling rollers and a stationary trainer. I find rollers to be much more entertaining and mentally engaging. 

My current rollers setup comes from Cascade Bike Trainers based in Woodeville, WA, USA. There are several reasons why I like these rollers over my previously setup.

A Quality and Practical Build
Cascade Bike Rollers are quality from start to finish. They are heavy duty and will last for years. But it's the little things that make these roller perfect. They fold for easy storage (my last set didn't). The framing includes molded fittings on the ends to prevent scratching your floors and walls when tucked away for storage. The permanent velcro strap to hold it tight in the folded position is a simple addition but it makes storage so much easier and you won't hate yourself each time you lose the strap.

Adjustable Everything
If you're a cycling coach and have riders of different ages you will love this set because you can adjust the rollers to fit any wheelbase. My bikes are all the same size but this is a great feature for people who have teammates or maybe even kids who are also training indoors and need to make the adjustment. I think my favorite feature is the adjustable levelers along the bottom. This guarantees that I am always riding level. This is important because my garage floor and my back patio are not level. Also, if I travel to a race and want to warm up on the rollers I'm not guaranteed a level surface to place the rollers on. Problem solved!


A Smooth and Quiet Ride
I try to keep my bike riding smooth and quiet at all times, and I think my rollers should be the same. With Cascade Bike Rollers there is little to no noise so now I can hear my music loud and clear, which I plan on blasting to the max while I train indoors.

I don't have any complaints about these rollers whatsoever, though I would like to see a bag or box designed specifically for them. This would help keep them from getting damaged when I store them in my garage and make traveling with them to races a bit easier.

3 Reasons To Invest In Cycling Rollers

Improved Cycling Form
Poor form is a dead giveaway for new cyclists or young racers. If you're stiff and twitchy in group rides or a race you will make everybody nervous and maybe even cause a crash. You will definitely get yelled at. Spending regular time on rollers can help with this and other key areas of your form, such as holding your line while looking over your shoulder, while shifting or taking a drink, and maintaining a fluid pedal stroke for riding in a pace line and group. Once you can perform these simple tasks on rollers without wobbling like a toddler on roller skates you should be much more comfortable when riding with others.


Mental Fortitude

Spending a half hour on a stationary trainer is mind numbing due to boredom, but even outdoors, after a few hours of hard riding mental fatigue can cause you to lose focus and potentially lead to disaster. You don't need to spend endless hours on rollers, but 1 hour of focused training at a time will help condition your mind to stay focused while on the road, whether that be in a race or after many long hours in the saddle. It will also help you to enjoy that last long stretch on the bike, when you would otherwise be longing for home and ready to quit.

Trainer Relief
As I've mentioned, stationary trainers are a slow death, that's why I mix it up. I spend at least 90% of my riding time outdoors, and I split the remaining 10 between the trainer and rollers. My training plan is basically the same on them both but I do add some out-of-the-saddle work on the rollers because I can move the bike side to side, just like I do on the road. 

Just remember that indoor training isn't only for winter and bad weather, it is key to improving your overall skill set and giving you an edge above other riders. I've found that 1 hour of focused training indoors is roughly equivalent to an hour and a half outdoors. This is because when I'm indoors I focus on specific things and don't have to deal with all the distractions on the road (cars, red lights, squirrels, etc.). Just don't forget that you still need to warm up, don't just hammer from the gun.

Cautionary Note:
Crashing a stationary bike is probably not going to happen (unless you fall asleep and fall off), but crashing on rollers is more likely, and may hurt a little bit. So I suggest taking it slow at first, and if you're nervous just wear a helmet. But remember, you're not going anywhere, so its not going to be as bad as crashing on pavement.

- David West

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