Indoor training in my opinion…. There is a continuous debate on riding an indoor trainer and riding outdoors and the benefits of each. I think they both have their place… I will explain why I do what I do in the hopes it will help you figure what you want in your training.
First in foremost I truly believe training is imperative to get all you can out of your cycling. But I also believe one should train in a way that is enjoyable and/or convenient.
Time restraints are one reason for indoor training. This is the number one reason I spend countless hours on the trainer. As is the case for most cyclist and triathletes we have real jobs… Thus we must fit our training in, around our already busy schedules. Hopping on the trainer is going to save time in several ways. 1) preparation for a two hour trainer ride as compared to a two hour outdoor ride is much easier. The indoor trainer ride is simply throw on a pair of cycling shorts and hop on the bike. with your refrigerator and restroom just steps away you don’t have to worry about packing nutrition and gear, there isn’t a need for route planning and as I said the restroom is right there!! 2) You don’t have to wait for daylight to get started… This really affords one the time to make appointments or to get to work while still achieving the appropriate training for the day. 3) Finishing your ride is as simple as when your scheduled time, distance or whatever parameter you are following is met you stop, stretch and hop into the shower.
Safety is another reason for riding an indoor trainer… Back in 2015 while training for IronMan 70.3 SteelHead I was struck by a truck at the end of my last long ride. I was less than 2 miles from home when this happened. Luckily I wasn’t injured to the point of being incapacitated but my bike was not so fortunate. So in short riding the indoor trainer is certainly a much safer option than an outdoor ride.
Weather in northeast Ohio can be a cyclists worst enemy… as we all know, no matter how dedicated you are, riding in a foot of snow is near impossible. In order to continually maintain a consistent training load through the winter months an indoor trainer is an integral tool.
Form is another reason to ride an indoor trainer…. You’ll have the ability to focus on your pedal stroke and posture with out worrying about terrain, obstacles or traffic. This could also fall under safety….
Interval training is much easier on the indoor trainer. With the inception of the smart trainers and variable resistance one will adhere to the each interval and its parameters. Even on a traditional fluid or mag trainer, like I use, you can focus on the interval without worrying as much about your surroundings.
On the other hand riding outside is pretty fun!! Besides the fun aspect there are a few other reasons for riding outdoors. 1) Bike handling skills are hard to come by on the indoor trainer. Braking, balance and cornering are pretty much impossible on the indoor trainer. 2) Though you can work on pedaling technique on the indoor trainer it is difficult to replicate actual terrain. Actually seeing the terrain and reacting to it is a skill much easier obtained while actually riding outside. 3) Weather and its effect on the handling of your bike is impossible to train for on the indoor trainer. Wind, and rain could be encountered on that big ride or in that big race you’re training for so we need to be prepared for the worst. Terrain and bad road conditions are also an imperative part of cycling that we must train for and again these conditions are impossible to train for on the indoor trainer.
In Closing we all need to train to stay fit for whatever it is we are training for or striving to obtain and the indoor trainer can be a integral part of that journey as is riding outdoors. So it is my opinion that both the indoor training ride and the outdoor training ride are equally important to a balanced training schedule. Most importantly lets remember why we are doing this… FUN!!!! So please no matter what train in the manner that is most enjoyable for you.