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Indoor Trainer Discomfort (newbie questions)

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Indoor Trainer Discomfort (newbie questions)

Old 04-23-20, 10:06 PM
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mattscq
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Indoor Trainer Discomfort (newbie questions)

So I got an indoor trainer a few weeks ago and have been using it with Zwift and RGT since my city's been on soft lockdown (you could go out for exercise but it feels safer indoors with pretty much everybody who hasn't exercised since mandatory phys. ed. is now training for a marathon in the park).

I've noticed a few things and I wonder if they're typical for an indoor newbie. Also keep in mind that I only began to cycle more as a sport (rather than just as a commuter) since about fall 2019.

A) My cadence seems to be higher on the trainer than outside. I suspect some of this may have to do with there being more hazards outside so I don't go as hard/fast as I do indoors when out.
B) Somehow the fit indoors seems a little off. I feel a little more stretched out indoors than outdoors. I comfortably ride on the hoods outside but inside, they seem just a tad bit further away and I find I'm on the tops a lot more (guess it helps you don't really have to brake or steer indoors).
B.2) Related to B, I find that after a longer (>1hr) training session, I'm starting to feel a lot more pressure in my perineum and sometimes experience some tingles/light temporary numbing in that region. This has never really been an issue when I'm outdoors but I suspect it may be because when outdoors, I'll occasionally stand up for a second or coast a bit while training, it's just sitting down and spinning to power on ERG mode, only standing up on occasion when promoted to.

To note, I've never had a proper bike fit except I got my seat height dialed in pretty closely after somebody suggested I drop it a bit and I did following some videos using the heel/pedal method and also a fit calculator suggested a dimension within a few mm of where I settled on.

Ideas?
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Old 04-24-20, 05:57 AM
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Originally Posted by mattscq View Post
So I got an indoor trainer a few weeks ago and have been using it with Zwift and RGT since my city's been on soft lockdown (you could go out for exercise but it feels safer indoors with pretty much everybody who hasn't exercised since mandatory phys. ed. is now training for a marathon in the park).

I've noticed a few things and I wonder if they're typical for an indoor newbie. Also keep in mind that I only began to cycle more as a sport (rather than just as a commuter) since about fall 2019.

A) My cadence seems to be higher on the trainer than outside. I suspect some of this may have to do with there being more hazards outside so I don't go as hard/fast as I do indoors when out.
B) Somehow the fit indoors seems a little off. I feel a little more stretched out indoors than outdoors. I comfortably ride on the hoods outside but inside, they seem just a tad bit further away and I find I'm on the tops a lot more (guess it helps you don't really have to brake or steer indoors).
B.2) Related to B, I find that after a longer (>1hr) training session, I'm starting to feel a lot more pressure in my perineum and sometimes experience some tingles/light temporary numbing in that region. This has never really been an issue when I'm outdoors but I suspect it may be because when outdoors, I'll occasionally stand up for a second or coast a bit while training, it's just sitting down and spinning to power on ERG mode, only standing up on occasion when promoted to.

To note, I've never had a proper bike fit except I got my seat height dialed in pretty closely after somebody suggested I drop it a bit and I did following some videos using the heel/pedal method and also a fit calculator suggested a dimension within a few mm of where I settled on.

Ideas?
The increased cadence might be related to the absence of wind to slow you down on the trainer. It could also be the default perceived difficulty level setting defaulting to 50% in Zwift. And it could be because thereís nothing to do but peddle. On outdoor rides, thereís steering to do, missing obstacles, and slowing and stopping for traffic lights and what not. Lots to do other that causes you to peddle more slowly or not at all. If youíre like me, outside you stand up to coast every few miles. That reduces your average cadence too.

I found the same discomfort. At the 1 hour mark, my saddle is getting pretty uncomfortable. You can stand up and cost on down hill sections just like you might do on the road. I also have also tried to use the need to get blood flowing in the back side to work on riding out of the saddle. Especially on climbs. Iíve noticed my legs are stronger for climbing out of the saddle in real life after a few months on the trainer.
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Old 04-24-20, 06:23 AM
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Trainers are relentless and they highlight fit inadequacies that are masked on the road by those little breaks from starting/stopping/out-of-saddle. It wasn't until I got on a trainer that I discovered how bad my saddle was for me. In my case, I needed something slightly wider, firmer and with a larger cutout - that got rid of tingling/numbness and an hour plus is no longer a problem (IME, if numbness is going to pop up, it'll happen within an hour, YMMV).

There used to be a great Cervelo blog post, titled something along the lines of "the four and a half rules of saddle selection," but quick searches haven't turned it up recently. If you can find it with a little more digging, it's worth the read.
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Old 04-24-20, 06:32 AM
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I use rollers at home to train. 50 minutes into my 1 hour session yesterday, I had to stop and remove my el cheapo carbon saddle and replace it with one that had more padding.
On the road, I get to take breaks. Stop lights, rolling through rough pavement, out of the saddle for hills. On my rollers, my seat bones take more abuse.

As far as cadence, use it to your advantage. Get used to doing 95-105rpm on the roads. Rollers have helped me to do this, and my now average speeds are up a 1/2 mph this year compared to last. Shorter gear, more cadence is the key.
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Old 04-24-20, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
There used to be a great Cervelo blog post, titled something along the lines of "the four and a half rules of saddle selection," but quick searches haven't turned it up recently. If you can find it with a little more digging, it's worth the read.
Is it this: https://web.archive.org/web/20141015...-saddles-.html?
I'll definitely give that a read, thanks!

I'm not actually concerned about the cadence. My average outdoor cadence had always seemed kinda low to me. I seem to like to grind at 60-80 rpm on a high gear and never quite understood why more experienced riders tend to be in the 80-100 range (I also noted that in the past in the park, other riders would be in much lower gear configurations than me doing the same speeds) until I really got a sense of what it felt like on a trainer. It was just an interesting observation.

I am a little more worried about fit though. I suppose I can try to tilt my saddle forward a tiny bit or maybe raise my bars up 5mm.

Here's a non-fit issue that I just remembered that I'd like to get everyone's ideas on as well: I think my apartment floors (I live in an old building) are slightly uneven (maybe a 1 degree tilt) and I find that throughout a 1-2 hour session, my trainer and bike likes to migrate forward a few inches, especially if I'm standing up). This is a bit of a problem since my bike will eventually bump into the desk holding my computer (and the training software) so I find that every once in awhile, I have to get up, push the trainer back, and get back on. Ideas on how to fix this if you've had similar trainer-migration issues?
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Old 04-24-20, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by mattscq View Post
Is it this: https://web.archive.org/web/20141015...-saddles-.html?
I'll definitely give that a read, thanks!
Nice work - that's the one.
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Old 04-24-20, 03:23 PM
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On long road rides, I try to stand for a bit every 10 minutes. Try that on your trainer. Erg mode is neat that way because it increases resistance without your having to shift, though I usually go a little faster up than seated. You might try kicking the power up a notch when you stand.

I tend to ride a bit more on the tops indoors also. I think that's because being aero is not a factor and thus one gets a little power advantage from improved breathing. Outdoors one doesn't get that because the increase in air resistance is greater than the slight increase in power and one notices that speed drops.

Saddle - maybe could be changed out to advantage. I think it's rare for riders to be able to sit continuously for an hour without getting a little numb. Obviously some can, I'm one, but many can't and hard to know if there's always a saddle solution. Standing more works for sure.
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Old 04-24-20, 03:35 PM
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I use a rubber mat under the trainer and bike, and then a cheap little rug extra on top of that. It keeps the bike from moving and absorbs the sweat and oil that fall off instead of them hitting the floor.
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Old 04-24-20, 04:13 PM
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Depending on what trainer you have and the tilt of your floor, you may need a riser block or something to raise the front of your bike.

I also had an issue with my setup moving on its own, so I splurged on a Wahoo trainer mat. Problem solved.

Standing up regularly is highly recommended.
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Old 04-24-20, 04:39 PM
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After we move, I'm going to splurge on a rocker plate of some sort. It's looking like a lot of trainer in my future.
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Old 04-24-20, 04:50 PM
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I use the same old school steel road bike on my old Cycleops trainer (magnetic, I think) that I ride outdoors with. So the fit should be the same. But...

I tend to sit heavily in the saddle on the trainer, so my butt gets tired more easily. Outdoors I'm using my arms and legs to cushion against the chipseal and rough pavement. But that took a few years of core and limb work to get comfortable with.

A resistance trainer feels almost nothing like riding on the road. I've heard the same comment from folks with newer smart trainers who've been indoors for months, between winter and now the pandemic. They adapt but I don't know anyone who actually likes the way a typical trainer feels, compared with riding outside.

Ditto, simulating climbing. A trainer feels almost nothing like an actual climb. It's more like climbing into a relentless headwind, on hot, sticky molasses tarry roads, while your coach is pulling back on a bungee cord attached to your seat post. Sucks. Good training, I guess, but not enjoyable.

Last year I deliberately changed my cadence from around 90 rpm to slower old school cadence. Took awhile to adapt, mostly strengthening my legs, but now it feels natural at around 75 rpm. I have to force myself to spin occasionally, so I'll use the trainer for that. Spinning is more aerobically demanding on me and my HR spikes. Increasing gearing or resistance and mashing to reach the same speed works the legs a bit more but my HR stays around 10 bpm lower.

So I use the trainer to work both, which I tend to avoid outdoors. Outdoors I just ride and try not to think consciously about style or methodology.
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Old 04-24-20, 08:33 PM
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I think you've highlighted some of the issues with using a trainer. I love the smart trainer technology, but more than an hour on a trainer can be unbearable. I think it's the fact that you simply aren't changing position or engaging with your bike as you would need to on the road. As a result, I also tend to sit heavy in the saddle and feel far from my hoods. I find the CycleOps does a reasonably good job of simulating the road, but I tend to echo canklecat's feelings on how they feel. I really don't like resistance trainers at all. Smart Trainers are a big upgrade. But nothing yet developed feels like the real thing. Riding the trainer is simply a different discipline, in my book.

Zwift's default setting on climbs is 50% of the actual force required for a given grade. After I set it to 100%, steep grades feel unnaturally difficult.

Anyway, I think what you're finding is normal. You simply don't move around on a trainer, so fatigue sets in quickly.
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Old 04-24-20, 09:22 PM
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Originally Posted by mattscq View Post
B) Somehow the fit indoors seems a little off. I feel a little more stretched out indoors than outdoors. I comfortably ride on the hoods outside but inside, they seem just a tad bit further away and I find I'm on the tops a lot more (guess it helps you don't really have to brake or steer indoors).
Sounds like the front wheel is a little low. Does your trainer require a wheel block? This is a thing that goes under the front wheel to level it with the rear. Usually they're needed for wheel-driven trainers, while rarely needed for direct drive trainers (the trainer replaces the rear wheel and has the correct height for a regular 700c road wheel).

Increased cadence can be the result of a more forward saddle position, which can follow if the bike is tilted forward.
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Old 04-24-20, 09:52 PM
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I definitely understand what everyone here is saying, but I think it comes down to personal preference. For instance, I have a really hard time standing and pedaling properly on the trainer, but outside where I can rock the bike it's like second nature. Also, I have no issues riding for a long period of time on the trainer. I am a slow (weak) rider, and I did a 100k ride on Zwift the other day. Took me over 3 1/2 hours, and honestly, other than some slight issues in my foot, I felt fine. I stood up every once in a while and even took 3 short breaks at the 40, 60, and 80k mark. Maybe 2 minutes each at most. Just enough to go to the bathroom, and/or move everything around a bit. I definitely move around in my saddle a LOT more on Zwift though. Like, I'm constantly adjusting myself on the saddle and sliding my bibs back into the proper position. I find I slide forward on my saddle more indoors than outdoors.

Overall, I think bib choice has been the best thing I've found so far. Slight discomfort after a couple of hours? Sure...but nothing to the point where I'm wondering if I'm going to be able to walk or feeling like a portion of my body is missing. Best of luck to ya OP, I hope you get it all sorted.
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Old 04-24-20, 10:23 PM
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There are two decent solutions to being bored out of your skull on the trainer:

1) Get a set of resistance rollers instead of a trainer. You don't get bored or distracted - or else you're on the floor. The concentration required makes the time go by more easily.

2) On whatever indoor contraption you're using, simply increase the resistance so that at about an hour, the pain in your legs becomes unbearable and you stop. Works great.

It's not necessary to totally overdo it in this way. Some days, spin steadily at the highest cadence you can maintain for say 1/2 hour or the highest rpm you can turn and not bounce in the saddle and in a very low gear, so relatively low power. Say 120 cadence - or faster, whatever.

Another nice hour's workout is one-legged pedaling, 2 minutes each leg, one set 50-55 cadence big gear, one set 80-85 cadence, small gear. Do sets of this until you can't maintain a taut chain all the way around. Use enough resistance that you're crying for your mommy the last 15" of each interval. Do 2' of legs together, zone 2, after having done both legs OLP, each set. Fix you right up.

It's a trainer, right? So train on it, don't ride it like you do outdoors. I did a set of 3 X 15' X 5' sweet spot, 95% of FTP on my rollers this afternoon. Yeah, fixed me right up in only 1:15 counting warmup and cool down.

Another good hour's workout is 4-8 reps of 1' max effort, 5' easy. Good warmup and cool down, takes about an hour. Max effort is the most power or speed you can hold steadily for a minute. Speed work.
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Old 04-24-20, 10:47 PM
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I don't really have a problem with trainer motivation, just comfort. I suppose it's reassuring to hear that these problems aren't unique to me and I think it might be that I'm just sat down more when indoors than out but SHOULD I be feeling discomfort at all? Like is the discomfort a function of poor fit or is it just the nature of trying to pedal hard for 1+ hrs nonstop?

As for Zwift's default resistance, I have it set to 100% but I'm mostly feeling discomfort when doing their longer structured workouts which are on ERG mode anyway. As for the trainer type, I have a direct drive smart trainer so I shouldn't have to raise my wheel but I might experiment with it if it helps with comfort or from the entire setup sliding forward.
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Old 04-24-20, 11:49 PM
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Iíve spent a lot of time with fitters trying to dial in or out this or that nuisance. Theyíre helpful, but nothing replaces sheer miles in the saddle. If your fit is reasonably close to correct, youíll adapt over time if you maintain good overall fitness and flexibility. We like to think that thereís a ďfitĒ solution to any discomfort problem on the bike, but they can only go so far. At a certain point, mileage, fitness, and flexibility become key to overall comfort.

So I would say if your setup works well on the road, donít mess with the setup for a trainer. You should be able to adjust. The trainer isnít going to be as comfortable, in my experience. But if itís so uncomfortable that you really hate doing it, I might consider using an old beater bike as a trainer bike and dialing it in. I use my beloved old Cervelo for my trainer. Not because it has any special setup, but because I had a spare 10 speed cassette laying around for the direct drive and didnít feel like spending money on a 12 speed adapter. You donít need a real high performer for the trainer.
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Old 04-25-20, 05:37 AM
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If your junk is going numb, it's not something that you get used to with miles/hours in the saddle and it's not something that you learn to live with. If you're at all fond of its various functionality, it's a problem that you address and make right sooner rather than later. If adjusting your current saddle doesn't do it, find another saddle that does by providing proper support to the sit bones and proper relief to the soft tissues.
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Old 04-25-20, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by mattscq View Post
As for Zwift's default resistance, I have it set to 100% but I'm mostly feeling discomfort when doing their longer structured workouts which are on ERG mode anyway. As for the trainer type, I have a direct drive smart trainer so I shouldn't have to raise my wheel but I might experiment with it if it helps with comfort or from the entire setup sliding forward.
Maybe this is the case for some trainers, but I do know that for a level bike, I need a riser wheel block at about 3cm or thereabouts (Elite Direto). Easy to tell for me since my bike's top tube is horizontal.

Thinking about it a bit, if a number of the DD trainers out there are also supposedly compatible with 29er MTB bikes and their potentially >2" tires etc, they probably are built to need a riser for a road tire.

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Old 04-25-20, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by mattscq View Post
I don't really have a problem with trainer motivation, just comfort. I suppose it's reassuring to hear that these problems aren't unique to me and I think it might be that I'm just sat down more when indoors than out but SHOULD I be feeling discomfort at all? Like is the discomfort a function of poor fit or is it just the nature of trying to pedal hard for 1+ hrs nonstop?

As for Zwift's default resistance, I have it set to 100% but I'm mostly feeling discomfort when doing their longer structured workouts which are on ERG mode anyway. As for the trainer type, I have a direct drive smart trainer so I shouldn't have to raise my wheel but I might experiment with it if it helps with comfort or from the entire setup sliding forward.
"Comfort" includes a bunch of different things. Soreness of the sit bones is normal and will go down over time as your body acclimates (though can be helped with a better saddle or shorts). Numbness though is not to be taken lightly, and will not just go away. It definitely requires a better saddle or fit, and it needs it now.
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Old 04-25-20, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Bah Humbug View Post
"Comfort" includes a bunch of different things. Soreness of the sit bones is normal and will go down over time as your body acclimates (though can be helped with a better saddle or shorts). Numbness though is not to be taken lightly, and will not just go away. It definitely requires a better saddle or fit, and it needs it now.
What baffles me is that the OP doesnít experience the same thing on the road. I have gotten numbness on my pro-fitted bike, but itís always after a long hiatus when Iím stiff and out of shape. After a couple of weeks of riding, it goes away. Of course, it doesnít hurt to have bike fit assessed by a pro, so by all means do that if itís an option. I just wouldnít underestimate the value of acclimatization.
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Old 04-25-20, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by justonwo View Post
I just wouldn’t underestimate the value of acclimatization.
With a numb ****, it's seriously dumb to overestimate it.

I mean, really - we're talking about cutting off circulation. You don't get used to that. Anecdotal horror story - a friend of mine with an improper saddle fit set out on a 10-hour ride along a mostly middle-of-nowhere bike path between two distant cities. Because there was very little crossing traffic, and because it was flat, and because he was in a small group trying to make time, they spent a lot of time in paceline, hammering away. And so he first ignored and then quickly forgot about the numbness. Afterwords, he was reminded about it daily, though - he went through three months of impotence.

As far as not happening to the OP on the road, it's because there are a ton of little rests here and there: stopping at a light, pedaling out of the saddle, etc. As far as it only happening to you when you're out of shape, it's probably because you're putting less pressure through the pedals, which means more pressure on your ass and soft bits. As you improve your fitness, you're putting less pressure on your nethers and it simply allows the stopping/standing to mask your improper saddle fit.
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Old 04-25-20, 10:57 AM
  #23  
Bah Humbug
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
With a numb ****, it's seriously dumb to overestimate it.

I mean, really - we're talking about cutting off circulation. You don't get used to that. Anecdotal horror story - a friend of mine with an improper saddle fit set out on a 10-hour ride along a mostly middle-of-nowhere bike path between two distant cities. Because there was very little crossing traffic, and because it was flat, and because he was in a small group trying to make time, they spent a lot of time in paceline, hammering away. And so he first ignored and then quickly forgot about the numbness. Afterwords, he was reminded about it daily, though - he went through three months of impotence.

As far as not happening to the OP on the road, it's because there are a ton of little rests here and there: stopping at a light, pedaling out of the saddle, etc. As far as it only happening to you when you're out of shape, it's probably because you're putting less pressure through the pedals, which means more pressure on your ass and soft bits. As you improve your fitness, you're putting less pressure on your nethers and it simply allows the stopping/standing to mask your improper saddle fit.
Yep to all. Until you try to spend a few hours on a trainer, you don't understand how different it is to be not leaning the bike in a turn, stepping off at a stop light, lifting off the saddle for a bump, or the million other little times you shift your body on the road. You can technically stand on the trainer, but it's not the same. That's part of why I'm planning on getting a rocker plate of some sort.
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Old 04-26-20, 12:56 PM
  #24  
colnago62
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Originally Posted by Bah Humbug View Post
Yep to all. Until you try to spend a few hours on a trainer, you don't understand how different it is to be not leaning the bike in a turn, stepping off at a stop light, lifting off the saddle for a bump, or the million other little times you shift your body on the road. You can technically stand on the trainer, but it's not the same. That's part of why I'm planning on getting a rocker plate of some sort.
I have a ride that I do once a year with a bunch of friends who live in the TriCities in Washington State (Atomic bomb fame). Once out of town, there are no lights, stop signs or anything. It is a 100 mile ride and I definitely feel more discomfort than I do riding in the Seattle area with lights and all.
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