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Training on a trainer vs. IRL riding

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Training on a trainer vs. IRL riding

Old 12-13-20, 10:57 AM
  #1  
Danhedonia
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Training on a trainer vs. IRL riding

Hoping mods don't move this.

Like many, I've purchased a smart trainer and am using various software for "pain cave" sessions. As a dedicated Fred, I've noticed that trainer riding and outdoor riding are not correlative. As a guy who once used rollers, I get that - but what I am seeing in others is an increasing focus on short-ride performance.

In other words, I suspect that many who are cutting their teeth as indoor cyclists will find longer rides a challenge.

Or maybe I'm in really poor shape, or maybe I just can't be bothered to destroy myself for 35 minutes and call that "riding."

The two activities don't feel as related as I'd thought. Anyone else?
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Old 12-13-20, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Danhedonia View Post
Hoping mods don't move this.

Like many, I've purchased a smart trainer and am using various software for "pain cave" sessions. As a dedicated Fred, I've noticed that trainer riding and outdoor riding are not correlative. As a guy who once used rollers, I get that - but what I am seeing in others is an increasing focus on short-ride performance.

In other words, I suspect that many who are cutting their teeth as indoor cyclists will find longer rides a challenge.

Or maybe I'm in really poor shape, or maybe I just can't be bothered to destroy myself for 35 minutes and call that "riding."

The two activities don't feel as related as I'd thought. Anyone else?
I used an indoor trainer for a few month-long stretches when arm surgery kept me off the road. Utter purgatory. It might be different with the whole Zwift interactive setup, but I canít imagine it being more than a pale substitute for being out on the road (speaking from a place of complete ignorance re Zwift, but what do you expect from a forum &#128512. Iíll happily put in 5-6 hours on the road - couldnít imagine anything like that on a trainer
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Old 12-13-20, 12:32 PM
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Ed Wiser
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It is a build thing for me. I could t ride more than a half an hour at the beginning. Now I do hour to hour and a half rides. A couple days a week I do a morning ride workout and an early evening ride with my local club on Zwift. I ride several programs Sufferfest for workouts, Zwift for group rides and Rouvy for outdoor rides.
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Old 12-13-20, 01:02 PM
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My experience is different. Aside from 7 rides in 2020, all my stuff was done indoors. I do Trainerroad high volume programs, so I have a number of years of experience with this stuff. After doing nothing but indoor rides until July, all of them with a cap of 2hrs, I did 100 miles on the 4th of July in like 5hr20min (intensity factor 70%), I spent the following week riding outdoors and then trained indoors again the remainder of the summer and did another 100 miles on Sept 5th in 5hr14 (intensity factor for this was 72%). I have no problems with long stuff at all training nearly exclusively indoors and maintaining a high level.
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Old 12-13-20, 01:14 PM
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I am not a fan of indoor pedaling. However, during the winter of 2016-17, I was doing intervals 3 times a week for a few months. The intervals definitely improve ones strength and aerobic threshold. I was in very good shape for riding come springtime, though I did have to work on the longer rides. The intervals also helped with keeping me interested and motivated. The downside for me, I developed some bad ride positioning, which led to being uncomfortable, achy and saddle sores. I had to mentally be aware of my positioning to correct that. I am pretty sure that a big cause of all of that was not having my bikes set up as close as can be to the same way for all of them.
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Old 12-13-20, 01:45 PM
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I use a Tacx Neo 2T and the Tacx software inside and I like this setup. In particular I like the cycling "films" as it keeps me less bored. Boredom is the my biggest downfall for inside training rides and there is no way I could keep myself sitting on the trainer for more than an hour each time. Second I find inside training a lot harder than riding in the great outdoors so hour long is just fine for me. My typical rides outdoors are two hours plus, five times a week.

There is an episode in GCN where Hank rode for 24 hours on a trainer! He seems to like to suffer and it was impressive to watch. He had friends ride along with him in the virtual world which I think kept his spirits up.
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Old 12-13-20, 02:30 PM
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For me, any indoor ride longer than ~45 minutes is soul-crushing. And that's with Zwift involved. Staring into space while trying to maintain a set power/cadence is just masochistic.

I did a 45-mile route on Zwift once (The Pretzel) which took about 2.5 hours, and the soreness afterward was... unpleasant. I like riding the trainer so much I took up walking/jogging/running.

I'd rather go for a run in the rain than bolt up the trainer. Which I have. And will again.
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Old 12-13-20, 03:32 PM
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I used to climb a lot, and we'd climb in a climbing gym on weeknights. No chance at having enough time to get on a crag for a goodly portion of the year.

So I get that the experiences aren't always transferable. What weirds me out are the differences that seem at odds with each other.

Like ​​​​​delbiker1 , I get much more saddle pain inside. I wonder about that. I know that part of it is software that punishes you for taking a momentary coast (which is stupid, but not talking about software here). It means that my IRL habit of taking a moment to adjust, let the blood flow ... doesn't happen. And I definitely don't feel 'right' coming out of the saddle. Just feels unbalanced, like I'm way too far forward.

Does it help with overall fitness, and thus help my outdoor cycling? Of course. But so would any fitness-oriented activity. I actually feel like I'm picking up weird habits, both physical and psychological. It's far more tempting to push yourself to a limit inside if you know you don't have to grind 12 miles back to the car after a tough interval. I guess that's good?
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Old 12-13-20, 04:59 PM
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Yes, indoor trainer riding is different from outdoor riding.

You can't coast on a trainer. Its straight pedal the whole time. That alone makes it totally different.
Then there is the lack of wind, which again, makes it a totally different experience.

50min of zwift is exhausting compared to 50min of road riding. Im pretty sure i pedal harder on the trainer too.
Zwifters who I'm around and are on mile 84 or whatever are crazy. Cant imagine riding that long on a trainer.

No idea if new cyclists will find riding outside more difficult.
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Old 12-14-20, 12:46 AM
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Unless you live somewhere great with zero stop lights and no cars indoor trainer has to be much harder for the same giving time ridding.

I have been wanting to buy a smart trainer myself. Between the rain, time switch, sunset 5pm and on call once every month. There's plenty of times that I could use a smart trainer. I just know when I used the fake stationary fixed gear bikes at work I could not ride them for more than
15 minutes without being bored out of my head. I am going to assume a real bicycle with gears, smart trainer and zwift must be much more fun.
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Old 12-14-20, 01:36 AM
  #11  
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I dragged the old school Cycleops magnetic trainer out from under the bed, first time in months, and just finished two hours while watching a movie (30 Days of Night). I get bored with training videos so I usually watch a movie or binge watch TV series.

After a warmup I did three sets of seated intervals, 15 minutes recovery, then three sets of standing intervals, and finished with a long easy spin.

My muscles cramp easily and get sore if I'm not careful about a generous warmup and cooldown, so my trainer sessions usually go 90 minutes to 2 hours or more.

Once in awhile I'll do a marathon, either back to back movies or most of a season of whatever TV series I'm trying to catch up on. I watched all of Hannibal, Orphan Black and The Expanse that way -- usually two or three episodes at a time.

I don't often ride longer than two hours outdoors due to an old neck injury. But indoors I can change positions often since I don't need to worry about bike handling or traffic. So I'm more likely to do longer endurance sessions indoors rather than outside. Outdoors, I'll do a few metric centuries a year but my neck won't do full centuries without spasms. Kinda sucks out all the fun.

I usually do indoor sessions in bad weather. I used to ride in rain but I don't trust drivers anymore so I avoid riding in the wet unless I feel like going out after midnight when the streets are empty around here.

In 2018 I was hit by a car, then diagnosed with cancer (surgery got it, no chemo), so for about six months I mostly did indoor trainer spins. It kept me at around 75% so when I was able to resume road riding it was pretty easy to get back up to speed.

Nope, it doesn't really feel like an outdoor ride. I had to regain my instinctive balance and bike handling. Friends who have fancier trainers with rockers and stuff say it's closer to the real deal.
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Old 12-14-20, 02:34 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Friends who have fancier trainers with rockers and stuff say it's closer to the real deal.
I made very simple rockers (didn't cost me anything) for my cheap elliptical indoor trainer and it really made HUGE difference.

Dramatically improved my performance out of the saddle IRL outdoor rides. They really do work, way way better than rigid trainer and the effort level / perceived effort is pretty close too. It got me to 75% of mastering the technique which is really darn good. The rest of the 25% I worked out IRL outdoor rides up the mountains.

Ofc, I still prefer the RL outdoor training whenever possible way way more than indoor training. The ONLY good thing in indoor training is I can listen to music, something that would be very unsafe to do when training outdoors in medium to heavy traffic.
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Old 12-14-20, 03:51 AM
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A rocker would be great; I always feel like I'm going to tip over if I pedal too enthusiastically on my basic trainer.
I tend to do pretty short bursts on the trainer when I couldn't go out (weather, time) a couple of times a week and either do work meetings or watch a film to avoid the boredom setting in too badly.
I don't have any smart features so have no idea about speed or cadence on the trainer but it definitely feels like much harder work than on the road.
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Old 12-14-20, 04:58 AM
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Definitely differences but nothing you wouldn't expect if you've ever ridden on any kind of stationary bike (like in a gym) before - like the lack of coasting downhill. I mostly see the indoor trainer/Zwift rides as a replacement for the shorter loops I'd do outdoors in better weather. Those tend to be the same 15 - 25 miles I've done a million times - not really more exciting than the scenery in Watopia...

On the vast majority of my longer outdoor rides, I have to unclip/unseat at stop signs, traffic lights, many turns, etc. On longer rides, I stop and take a break every 2 hours or so.

I don't do very many 2 hour+ rides on Zwift, but when I do I make sure to stand more often than I would IRL - the long rides I do tend to be group rides so stopping and getting off isn't really an option. I haven't really seen any difference in soreness in 1-2 hours rides.
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Old 12-14-20, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Danhedonia View Post
Like many, I've purchased a smart trainer and am using various software for "pain cave" sessions. As a dedicated Fred, I've noticed that trainer riding and outdoor riding are not correlative. As a guy who once used rollers, I get that - but what I am seeing in others is an increasing focus on short-ride performance.


In other words, I suspect that many who are cutting their teeth as indoor cyclists will find longer rides a challenge.


Or maybe I'm in really poor shape, or maybe I just can't be bothered to destroy myself for 35 minutes and call that "riding."


The two activities don't feel as related as I'd thought. Anyone else?

Clearly, smart trainers are not for everyone. It's quite an investment for those only looking to pedal solo as an exercise bike. Peloton might be a better investment or simply a cheap non-smart trainer. Those entering the smart trainer arena will get much more satisfaction if they use all of the opportunities the smart trainer provides. Of course, some do not have the muscular/skeletal makeup to endure a trainer session. Those should stay clear of this money trap. However, the hundreds of thousands that have adapted are in for a treat as the smart trainer is a great companion to ones outdoor bike.

To fully enjoy the smart trainer one needs to use the workout, custom workouts, group workouts, and understand how to introduce them into your current riding scenario along with the other areas it provides. Although it's not outdoor racing the smart trainer racing circuit is a fun and different twist that spices up indoor riding and will give you an honest look at your current condition. The Team Time Trial races are especially fun in that you work, communicate, and enjoy your teammates' company. This quickly takes away the boredom associated with pedaling while looking at a bare wall. If you own a smart trainer and you haven't participated in a TTT using Discord to communicate you are missing out on one of the smart trainers' greatest assets. There is a whole lot more including creating routes that mimick your upcoming ride/race or simply famous cycling routes. The esports community is huge and if you don't use the assets that come with it then you are missing the boat when it comes to maximizing the use of a smart trainer. Those merely riding and looking at the dinosaurs are probably better off skipping this booming new niche in cycling as this is only about 3% of what the smart trainer provides.

Last edited by La Tortue; 12-14-20 at 11:48 AM.
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Old 12-14-20, 11:40 AM
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Gave up on my fluid trainer and GCN videos due to the boredom and sore bum factors. Much more fun to get out in the cool mornings and even the wet on my 29er.
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Old 12-14-20, 11:54 AM
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Stationary and IRL riding feel very related to me. They are as sparring is to boxing, the driving range to golf, and the batting cage to baseball...abbreviations of a sport used for training and practice. One is not a substitute for the other, but rather a complement.

I find that having structured workouts are super critical to me for stationary riding, and with them, I can sit on a bike for an hour just staring at watts, cadence and time for an hour, no problem. I’ve been on Zwift since back when it was still in beta, and I like it, but I lack the discipline to be really involved with it, and prefer to do most of stationary rides at the cycling training studio I’ve been going to since ‘11. I like the structure and coached feedback and support.
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Old 12-14-20, 12:30 PM
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I've always used commuting as part of training, leaving early and riding various detours in order to do intervals. Now that I'm working from home, I'm actually spending a lot more time on the trainer. The sessions are shorter but they're a lot more focused. Instead of packing my backpack and trying to figure out what to wear on the bike, I just put on a pair of bibs, walk out to the garage, hop on the bike, and fire up the iPad. Warm-up, interval sets, cool down. Nearly every one is done in an hour. I don't race in Zwift, as those don't seem to have any relationship to real outside racing. and I hardly ever just ride around in Zwift unless it's a group meetup, and I always treat those as recovery rides.

YMMV, but if you treat it as a training tool, you can really get a lot out of your trainer.
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Old 12-14-20, 12:44 PM
  #19  
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Since the end of Daylight Savings Time, the only way for me to ride most midweek days is to ride indoors. My midweek outdoor rides are generally only 1 - 1 1/2 hours anyway, so I'm not really missing time on the bike. Plus, weather permitting, I do a 3 1/2 - 4 1/2 hour ride on Sundays. In fact recently I'm riding more days because I can start anytime.

What I do notice is that if I'm free-riding around in Zwift, I can take a moment to stand up on the pedals, or stop and stretch. It's in the structured workouts that I find myself sitting for the whole time, which then leads to sore butt. It's a good reason to go for hillier routes, to give me an excuse to get out of the saddle.

One thing I've found is that whereas on the road, if I'm spinning along at 95 rpm, and upshift 2-3 cogs I can stand on the pedals and turn a nice, comfy 70 or so rpm, then downshift 2-3 cogs and sit down to spin. For some reason, that doesn't seem to work on the trainer. I need to experiment with it more, but there just doesn't seem to be the same resistance as I expect.
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Old 12-14-20, 01:05 PM
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Road riding makes you stop, coast, stand, sit, be entertained & other variables. Trainers are direct to the point & requires constant cranking movement. You can achieve more work done in lesser amount of time with a trainer.

In door training is boring. That will always be the case & is why outside bicycling will always be engaging.
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Old 12-14-20, 01:15 PM
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Additionally, the in door training enables interruptions that you would not otherwise deal with when out on the bicycle.

The phone rings, an email pops up, the mail truck drops off your stuff, neighbor knocks on the door holding a freshly baked pie in her hand, some yankee goes on your lawn, animal starts dropping a hot load in your shoe. All these are factors that can distract you from being a spartan on the trainer
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Old 12-14-20, 01:17 PM
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You certainly won't get the same endurance adaptions on the trainer if you do only 60 minute Z2 rides inside. If you do longer rides on the trainer, say 3 hours minimum (gross) then you'll be fine for "longer" rides when it comes to actual riding a bike outside and getting in the miles.

For the most part (bell curve average cyclists) you'll see a great benefit doing three (or only 2 age depending and training history considerations) harder interval rides (Sweet Spot and above) on the trainer for 60 minutes. As you get closer to going outside you can spend a few weeks hitting some Z5 VO2Max interval sessions and you'll be very strong. You still will have to adjust to the longer rides outside, but that's why most people ride...to be outside. I've had pretty good success getting faster on the trainer over the winter. My problem is that once I can ride outside I never get back on the trainer to keep up on the more difficult (higher zone intervals) that you need to keep your fitness going. I just keep riding outside.

tl;dr
Do 3 interval sessions a week at 60 minutes each in Sweet Spot and then hit the top end a month out from your outside riding. Once outside ride longer on the weekends to get in those adaptations for whatever your "event" or "goal race" is."They've done studies you know. Sixty percent of the time it works every time"

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Old 12-14-20, 01:40 PM
  #23  
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Iím still doing outdoor rides regularly (cold and messy but almost no one on the trails) and mix in a lot of indoor workouts on our elliptical machine and circuit training. Also will start doing more running I expect.

I donít really like indoor riding, but then all I have is a basic fluid trainer, not an interactive one. Still, I enjoy winter cycling enough not to be that interested in indoor riding. plus Iím only riding SS, which would not be that cool indoors, I reckon.

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Old 12-14-20, 02:16 PM
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genejockey - that's exactly my experience. I ride at least 60 minutes a day indoors; those who think "it's boring" are either very unusual people are have little to no experience with current training platforms. Having a random guy from Slovakia chase me through the 3rd stage of the 2014 TdF is not boring.

But the structured workouts - which are meant to legitimize smart trainers, and are effective - become "spin class like" to me. That whole bit of giving your ass a rest - doesn't work if you're on erg mode. I had a hardcore sprint section in Zwift yesterday, and coasted once past the finish line. Started to spin it out and - boom! - on screen message says "let's take this down a bit" and I almost broke the chain!

Everyone has a personal level of interest in data; my general observation is that many software programs are creating a very specific type of cycling skill. chaadster - I like the driving range / batting cage analogy (for me it's a climbing gym). But the climbing gym had a bad side to it, which was creating kids who could boulder tough problems but got outside and had no idea what to do on multi-pitch routes.

Trainers seem to me to build crit racers: hour-long sessions, total emphasis on power and managing sustained power bursts. Rouvy is really the only software I've found so far that works better with what I'd call 'more traditional' style, like coasting, taking moments to stand on the pedals, etc.
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Old 12-14-20, 02:29 PM
  #25  
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My Zwifting/Trainer efforts are typically in the winter and are dedicated to training my low cadence, out of the saddle muscles, which isn't always easy to do in the winter, since the big hills here are in the shadows of deep canyon walls, and are often wet/icy/sandy and are really sketchy to come DOWN, or require hard non-stop braking for 10's of minutes at a time, which can cramp the cold hands. Therefore it's the Zwift volcano climb for me.
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