Dr. Frayed Laces or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bike Trainer

I live in beautiful Tucson, Arizona. That means that year-round outdoor riding is totally an option.

The past few months, I’ve been working with Laura (aka Frayed Laces). I sought her out when I still had Ironman dreams for 2014. She’s a beast at that distance, very experienced, awesome on the bike (my weakness), and had a PhD in Biology. Unfortunately for those dreams, the Army had other plans for me. Adapt, overcome, and all that 🙂

A lot of her awesomeness on the bike, and therefore, a lot of what she’s got me doing to make me awesome on the bike, is based around my bike trainer.

So, yes, I’ve passed on riding outside on quite a few beautiful 70 degree days this winter to slave away on the trainer.

And I like it.

Here’s how I’ve learned to love it:

1. Embrace the simplicity.

No toe covers, arm warmers, bike lights, windbreakers, helmets, flat kits, route planning, traffic, potholes, sunscreen, unwelcome drafters, sunglasses, etc.

2.Make it count, literally.

Chase that data. I got a PowerTap, but with about $100 or less, you can get an ANT+ stick, a  Speed/Cadence sensor, and a Heart Rate strap. You can then sync these up with free software – I use Golden Cheetah – and produce some pretty stellar virtual power numbers. For $10 a month, you can go to a more user-friendly software platform with built-in plans like TrainerRoad or PainCave – but I chose to invest about two hours into learning a bit about Golden Cheetah instead. It’s so much easier to maintain focus and discipline when you are looking at numbers representing your output.

If you’re on a tight budget, the classified section on Slowtwitch  or a trip over to eBay can generally yield a Speed/Cadence sensor and ANT+ stick for under $50 total.

3. Entertain yourself

Unless I’m cranking out a 5′ power test, ending a 20′ power test, hitting some really tough intervals, or really focusing on drills/cadence, I can generally “set it and forget it”. I broke out the old laptop, so I’ve got one screen with my data where I can keep an eye on cadence/power/heart rate, and I can entertain myself with the other.

For warm-up, cool-down, tempo and steady state intervals, I LOVE watching movies or TV shows. In fact, to make myself like the trainer MORE – I save certain shows or movies that I’m excited to see for when I’m on the trainer. When seasons 7&8 of Dexter hit Netflix, I promised myself I’d only watch them on the trainer. So, now I look forward to catching my favorites!

For harder intervals, I’ve got a playlist going on Spotify of high tempo, fun music. Current favorites are Danza Kuduro (Reggaeton Masters), Pompeii (Bastille), and On Top of the World (Imagine Dragons).

4. Set yourself up for success

I usually create my workout in Golden Cheetah, but I’ll also write it on a white board in front of my bike. Sometimes I’ll put some notes/inspiration/tough love on the board, too. I’ve got both laptops on an ironing board right in front of my handlebars. I’ll have 1-3 water bottles ready to go, and a stash of PowerBar goodies, too. And, of course, my handy can of TriSlide just in case.

I also usually give the dog a new bone, leave the door to the yard cracked for him, and top off his water dish to minimize his desire to bug me while I’m riding… though I do play tug of war sometimes during rest intervals 🙂

Now, get on that trainer and get to work!


One response to “Dr. Frayed Laces or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bike Trainer

  1. I LOVE this post! I totally agree, Laura has helped me learn to embrace the trainer and actually, dare I say, enjoy it?!?
    Even once it gets warmer here, I expect I will also forgo riding outside on gorgeous days to hit the trainer and get more out of my rides.

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