Guest post by Mike Murray of Road and Mountain Bike Reviews
The Covid 19 has had an impact on cycling. The cycling calendar has been put on hold. Riders and team members have had to follow government guideline on self-distancing and isolation. We have created a beginner’s guide to cycling indoors to help cyclists who are at home.
Cycling outdoors is amazing, however it is not always possible. There are a variety of benefits to cycling in doors.
An entry level indoor cyclist can be faced with a wide variety of fancy equipment and accessories. A new indoor cycling enthusiast can get all the necessary indoor cycling equipment without breaking the bank.
The more an individual is willing to spend on an indoor trainer, will provide the rider with a quieter and more efficient trainer. Adjustable resistance, stimulating climbing, power meters and sensors that allow the rider to have a smother rider.
Different types of Indoor Cycling?
There are many different types of bikes for tackling every kind of ride possible. Indoor cycling has four main types: Rollers, Turbo trainer, Smart trainer and Static exercise bike.
Can be thought of as a treadmill for a bike. A roller has a set of three drums fixed on to a rectangular frame that sits on the floor. The back wheel drives the pair of rollers that turn the belt. The main difference between rollers and a turbo trainer is that a rider rides on top of rollers. Rollers requires less balance and skill.
One of the main benefit of rollers is it allows riders develop a good pedalling technique. A lot of professional riders will spend the winter on rollers perfecting this technique.
A second benefit of rollers is that they help the rider improve their balance and bike handling techniques. Improving the rider’s ability to hold a line, retrieve food or a phone for a quick selfie.
Advice for Using Rollers
Shoes: Wearing flat shoes will help the rider reach their full potential when using rollers. Riders wearing cleats can sometimes lose their balance when steading themselves.
Wall: An entry level indoor cyclist may benefit from having a wall to hold on to when starting out.
Focusing on a small object: A rider may benefit from having a small object to focus on. A spot on the wall is ideal.
Gear: Being in a higher gear will help the rider reduce the friction of the bike wheels and the rollers.
Hoods: Riding on the hoods will allow the rider to keep more control over the bike.
Fun: The most important aspect of training is that you have fun.
Pushing Yourself: Don’t burn out too quickly. Build up your pace.
A set of rollers allow the rider to get a hassle-free workout. Lots of Rollers can be seen set up on many cycling events to allow the competing cyclists to warm up.
Rollers have improved massively offer the years, offering the rider a smother and more comfortable ride.
Small bearings make it easier for a cyclist to get up to a higher speed. The majority of rollers have fixed resistance. If a rider is looking to work on power. They may want to consider a turbo or a smart trainer.
A turbo trainer clamps to the rear of a bike on a static stand. Once the bike is clamped into the turbo trainer.
The dial can be adjusted to the wheel of the bike. A compound tyre is required that offers less wear and not let heat build-up from using the turbo trainer. Turbo trainers’ wheels cannot be used outside.
Turbo trainers replace the rear wheel and are driven by a cassette. Direct turbo trainers tend to be not as noisier and stable as rollers. Entry level turbo trainers tend to have fixed resistance.
As the prices increase, the rider will be able to take advantage of features such as remote resistance control, smart features and power meters.
Common Mistakes When Using A Turbo Trainer
Rather than jumping on: Get a plan. A lot of riders will just hop on the turbo trainer and hope for the best. Any plan needs the cyclist to know where they are, their goal and how they plan to achieve it.
Turbo Training is Boring: Turbo training used to be boring. No more, riders can race online and take their skills to the next level. Riders need to get out of the mindset that turbo training is boring.
Burn Out: Riders should not focus on having an intensive work out every time they step on the turbo trainer. Training needs to be enjoyable to make sure the rider is motivated to do the next workout.
A smart trainer refers to a turbo train that uses specialist software like Trainer Road or Swift. The software allows the rider to recreate rides and races from the comfort of their own home. Working with wireless Bluetooth, heart and power monitors allows the rider to see how hard they are working out.
Key Benefits of Smart Bike Trainers
One of the main benefits of a smart trainer is that it allows the rider to know how fast they are working out by seeing a power meter.
The power meter can easily be seen through the software using a smart phone, laptop or an iPad. Allowing the rider to have a good idea on their performance and allow the rider to plan their training sessions to get the most out of every session.
An added benefit of a smart trainer is its ability to use software to allow the rider to take part in a tailored training program.
There may be no need to have a personal trainer. All the training can be done in real time and the rider can quickly and easily change the pace of the smart trainer to match their training goals.
One of the main features of the smart trainer is its ability to offer the rider a means of accessing an online community to compete when cycling indoors.
Advice for using Smart Trainers
Calibrate your smart trainer: A rider should get into a good habit of regularly calibrating their smart trainer. A smart trainers reading can be affected by changes in air pressure, temperature and movement.
Pedalling: Keep pedalling at all times as it will be harder to pick up the pace when the next interval begins.
Difficulty: The rider can adjust the level of difficulty in real time.
Plan your session: Smart trainers can make sure ridding more enjoyable. A rider should still plan their training session in advance to get the most out of the training session.
Different Events: A big advantage of the smart trainer is that it allows riders to train for different types of events such as sports, road races and tome trails. It’s not all about numbers. Don’t forget to focus on form and technique.
A stationary bike offers the rider with the cheapest, most stable and a no hassle way of cycling indoors. The same exercise bike found in your local gym can also be purchased for using in the home.
Advice for using a Stationary bike
Seat: One of the most common mistakes that people make is failing to adjust the seat. It only takes a few seconds. However, it can make a massive difference to a workout.
Stretching Out: Spend five minutes stretching your muscles. Cycling is a low form of exercise and an individual must make sure they are fully stretched out before beginning their workout.
Warm Up: Once an individual has spent five minutes stretching, they then need to spend five minutes warming up on the bike. After five minutes start picking up the pace for a real workout.
Riding Position: It’s vital for the cyclist to keep a good riding position. Keep the back straight and aligned with the seat.
Resistance Training: Pedalling on a bike is a really good start. However, changing the pace within the training session from hard, to medium and slow for a specific period of time will help the rider get the maximum out of the session.
Why should you Cycle Indoors?
Cycling indoors is a great way of toning the quads and glutens. Not only will cycling tone your lower body but it will also tone the upper body, if the rider starts to incorporate resistance bands or hand weights into their workout.
Cycling is a low impact sport that is ideal for individuals who want to build up their fitness levels at their own pace.
Indoor cycling is a brilliant form of exercise if someone is having trouble sleeping. Cycling can also improve breathing, that will in turn helps an individual have a better night’s sleep.
Indoor cycling is a great way of reducing stress and letting an individual forget about the stresses that life can sometimes bring.
We hope you have enjoyed Road and Mountain Bike Reviews article on indoor cycling and found it helpful and informative. Mike Murray
This book is about the epic, 6000 mile, cycle trip from New York City to Seattle and then to the Mexican border undertaken by adventurer Leon McCarron. His route takes the reader through a less touristy USA of small towns, general stores and farms. This journey is not about speed and setting records; it is about the places and people of America. It is a nicely detailed and highly readable book for anyone inspired by the idea of crossing America by bike.
Leon McCarron has done some pretty amazing things in his life. He walked across China and trekked 1000 miles through the Empty Quarter. His first experience of adventure was this bicycle trip across America, inspired, like so many others by not wanting to settle for a desk job. Leon's mind was also full of the adventures of Lewis and Clark, the men who led the first expedition across the western part of the USA in the early 1800s.
The author comes across as someone you would enjoy being friends with, a nice guy, and a great companion for a long bike trip. This is one of the things that makes this book so enjoyable because the friendly and laid back tone makes you care about Leon's journey. It is also that he is very aware of his shortcomings and not afraid to admit them, such as knowing little about how to fix bikes and carrying too much luggage. He misses his girlfriend and goes through the emotional dilemma of wanting to do the trip, but also wanting a life with her.
The other strength of the book is that the pace is slower than many similar books; there is no race against time. That means there is more detail in the descriptions of the landscapes, encounters with people and what these parts of America are really like. You get quite a vivid picture of a USA that you might not be as familiar with, largely away from the big tourist attractions. For example, Leon was quite taken by the General Stores in upstate New York. These shops are old fashioned icons in small town America. He recalls sitting on the porch of one for hours with a coffee, talking to locals. Leon even rides in the boxcar of a freight train just because it seemed like fun and it was the classic American hobo experience.
As you would expect he meets a lot of people on this journey. Although he set off on his own he spends a lot of time with other long distance cyclists. There are many interesting encounters with locals. I loved when he stopped at an Irish bar in Shipton where he was bought drinks all night because it was the first time that a real Irish person had ever been in the bar!
There is one particularly shocking encounter with locals that is written so brilliantly that it had my heart racing to find out how it was going to play out. I am not going to ruin it for you by saying anything more, but it is a superb piece of dramatic travel writing.
Leon also experiences a tornado, an encounter with a bear and comes close to wild buffalo. This book pretty much covers all the possible adventures you could imagine on an American cycle trip!
This is another classic of adventure cycle writing, made all the better for the author's likability, attention to detail and good story telling.
You can purchase the book from Amazon by clicking on the image below:
I chatted with Sue Steward, the manager and owner of The Four Seasons Hotel at Loch Earn in Perthshire. Although Scotland is currently in lock down and we should absolutely not be travelling beyond our local areas there will be a time when we can travel in Scotland again. It's good for our wellbeing to dream and plan for that time, so I asked Sue about her favourite walks and cycles in the area.
Me: Once the situation we find ourselves in is over a lot of us will be desperate to get back out into Scotland's magnificent countryside. What would be your number one recommendation for a hike that shows off the beauty of your local area?
Sue: There are lots of walks to enjoy but in my opinion, you cannot beat the old railway line walk that runs parallel with Loch Earn. It heads westward and the views are breathtaking.
Me: And on the same theme is there a particular cycling route that you would recommend?
Sue: Well, the railway line is being converted into a cycle path as we speak! This will eventually join onto NCN7, parts have been completed but still some to do. It will be a great route when it is soon complete – maybe by the summer months when this madness is over?
Me: When you get a day off/morning off from your busy schedule where do you go for a walk to find a bit of peace and calm?
Sue: If my time is limited Finn (my beautiful black lab) and I head over to the golf course but if I have longer then we head a bit further afield. Either to Glen Ogle which is the forestry commission, Glen Lednock in Comrie, or to Lady Mary's walk in Crieff (the latter being a riverside walk) so it really varies. I’m so lucky to live somewhere with all these beautiful walking trails on my doorstep!
Me: From looking at a map the south road along the shore of Loch Earn looks like it would be a wonderful cycle. Would you recommend this?
Sue: Yes, this is a very popular and safe route - it is a walker/cyclist friendly road. The path is a bit up and down so is not straightforward it stays fun and interesting.
Me: The road on the north shore is the A85. Is this an okay road to cycle on?
Sue: This is a popular road too as flatter. You can in fact walk/cycle all round Loch Earn - a little over 20km
Me: Are there any secret things that readers might not have heard of, such as ruins, standing stones or beauty spots that can be found on a hike or bike ride?
Sue: Yes, we have a Fairy Stone in St Fillans! This is a large stone that, according to local folklore, has fairies living in it. Our little town made the news back in 2005 when a building developer had his plans denied so as not to disturb the fairies! There is the old Stewarts of Ardvorlich ruined cemetery in the golf course and numerous waterfalls along the way.
Me: Is there a particular food and/or drink special to the area that you would recommend trying?
Sue: Our nearest whisky distillery (Glenturret) is in Crieff so its always worth a visit – when in Scotland and all that! I would say our shortbread is to die for – but I may be biased! We also have artisan food producers in the area; Strathearn Cheese and Wildhearth Sourdough plus Comrie Butcher which is an award-winning butcher. Again, I’m so lucky to live in an area with such amazing local produce. It is usually easier to shop local than at big supermarket chains which I love.
Me: I do have a particular love of combining cycling with coffee and cake stops. Where does the best coffee and cake in your area?
Sue: If I want to treat myself then I head in to Comrie to Hansens Kitchen - all is home-made and their yummy cakes change daily… It’s definitely worth a visit. Although, as I mentioned you can get some delicious shortbread and coffee back at the hotel after a long cycle!
The Four Seasons Hotel is located in St Fillans on Loch Earn, around 12 miles west of Crieff.
My name is Colin Baird and I want to see all of Scotland by bicycle.