For most people in Europe and Northern America January means one thing: Winter has come! And although there are many cyclists, who just don’t care whether it’s 20°C or 2°C outside, many cyclists, myself included, are struggling to keep on cycling outdoors.
However, if you don’t want to lose all the progress you’ve made over the last year, indoor cycling on a smart trainer is a great way to keep on cycling and stay fit and strong, in times when it’s impossible for you to ride outside.
This is my second winter on an indoor trainer and there are a lot of things I’ve learned and changed compared to my rookie indoor season. You’ll probably discover most of these things for yourself in time, just like I did. However, the following advices may still help you getting started on an indoor trainer even better:
#1. A fan is a must have, it’ll keep your sweat output under control and prevents you from overheating. Don’t forget about getting some fresh oxygen though and open your window!
#2. However, you’re going to sweat … a lot!
Sweat bands on wrists and head will help you stop dripping sweat all over the place! It’s hard to hold on to your bars with sweaty hands, plus the smell is going to stick in your room forever. Just put on some sweat bands and you’ll get the 80’s fitness workout look on top … for free!
#3. Don’t forget to clean your bike after every session or the sweat will eat up your bike! Sweat is full of salt and this salt is going to destroy your bike’s painting, bottom bracket, chain and possibly everything. Just clean your bike after every ride to make it last longer and have a nice looking fresh bicycle to start the season in spring!
#4. Put a cover on the ground and under your smart trainer.
It will protect the ground below and may even reduce the noise of the trainer a bit. When your neighbors start asking, why you keep washing your clothes every single day … in your living room, it’s time to use a noise reducing cover on your floor. I’m using the thickest pvc carpet I’ve found on the floor and it worked out great. However, I’m also thinking about a nice turf carpet to create an outside feeling for the next indoor session.
#5. Make sure your Zwift device is not mounted on your bars!
This advice is for everyone, who can’t afford a brand new laptop, screen or whatever to run Zwift on. I’m using Zwift on my smartphone and it works just fine. However, when I started to train indoor last January, I used to mount the smartphone on top of my bars, because it was the first and easiest idea that I’ve got. Zwift may run just fine on a smartphone that is mounted like this, some things will start annoying you in time for sure though:
First thing you’ll recognize is, that the screen will start rotating, everytime you sprint and shift, due to the vibrations, that are transmitted through the bike’s frame or the slightest movement of your bars. And before you start asking … a locked up screen, won’t fix this problem…
Next thing you’ll recognize is, that the position of your neck and head is not ideal compared to riding bicycles outside. Usually, you’re looking straight ahead to things that are in front of you. With a Zwift device mounted to your bars, you’ll be looking down to your screen most of the time. This position didn’t cause pain or anything, it just didn’t feel naturally and won’t simulate riding outside in a good way.
This year, I placed the bike stand in front of my roadbike and mounted old MTB bars on it, to put the smartphone on them instead of the bars on my roadbike. Pull the bike stand up high as possible and the smartphone will be placed right in front of your head. Personally I think, this is the best and cheapest solution for that problem and it works just fine.
These are the top 5 things I’ve learned during my time on an indoor trainer and probably the most important one’s and I hope they will help anyone who is just getting started on indoor cycling. Make sure to let me know what you think about it, in the comments below!