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Raising the front wheel on a trainer

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Raising the front wheel on a trainer

Old 01-04-07, 10:02 AM
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Raising the front wheel on a trainer

The topic of how to simulate climbing on a trainer was fully thrashed here recently:

question about hill training on my trainer

Lots of opinion were thrown about wildly, with a few confused references to science studies on the matter thrown in.

Not satisfied with what was written, I decided to make my own casual experiment to see if raising the front wheel made any qualitative difference. After one week with the front wheel raised on a Cycleops climbing block:

I can make the following observations:

1. The hand positions are more comfortable. I found I could do hard efforts seated with my hands on the hoods or the tops. I couldn't use the hoods with the wheels level, it was too dfficult to put torque into the cranks in that position. Overall, I felt it was easier to put torque into the cranks with the raised front wheel—using either hand position. Raised bars + center of gravity farther back = more torque, who knew?

2. Standing feels more like it does when climbing. The standing position is also more comfortable, more like climbing than like sprinting. I am able to do 5-6 minute standing drills now, but they really tire my legs (Winter Legs Syndrome).

3. My knees are sore. I was doing 1.5 hours on the trainer with the wheels level, but now my knees start hurting after an hour with the front wheel raised. Also, my vastus medialis muscle (quad muscle inside of the knee) gets tired more quickly. I don't know if the knee soreness and muscle fatigue is caused by the position or by working harder now at lower cadences. I am going to take it easy until the soreness goes away.

There you have it. Nothing earth shattering, just some observations. I believed that raising the wheel would make it feel more like climbing, and my experiment confirms this. The cause of the soreness is a bit puzzling, although I have noticed sore knees before when I first start climbing in earnest. Sore muscles, too.

I intend to keep using the climbing block.
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