Some winters I ride outside, some I don't. So this winter I'm just down in the basement on the trainer, when I can force myself.
We all hate our trainers, right? An hour outside riding is not enough - I want 2, 3, 5 hours riding. But an hour on the trainer is interminable.
Next winter I hope to go back to winterbiking, but for boring reasons, that wasn't possible this year. Even when I do bike outside in the winter, there are some days when it has to be on the trainer. After all, I do live in Minnesota. And the trainer is good for my ability, if not my soul.
Yes, the trainer is good for me, not just because of the workout. I learn a lot about my technique, or lack thereof. I can really concentrate on my pedaling stroke. A lot of the improvements in the last couple of years on my cadence and in pedaling circles comes from conscious work on the trainer. Similarly, my position on the bike - working on my core and getting low and engaging the glutes- a lot of that comes from thinking about and practicing the right position on the trainer.
Recently, I realized how much stronger my right leg is than my left, and so I'm working on making the left leg do more. OK, you think - that's something I should have realized ages ago and I shouldn't have needed the trainer. Yeah, I feel stupid not having realized it. But somehow the distractions outside keep me from concentrating on such things.
Some people like spin classes and spin bikes, but if I have to ride inside, I like actually being on my bicycles, with real pedals and gears and the right geometry and feel of a road bike.
But still, it's hard to keep going for an hour. I've heard of people who put in multiple hours on the trainer, but I can't imagine it.