Interactive indoor trainers cannot be dragged around. Anyone who now wants to buy one from a renowned brand will join the back of the queue. In some stores, the waiting time has increased to February. Increased demand for this season had been factored in, but no supplier or manufacturer had dared to think it would be so overwhelming.
The popularity can be explained, says cycling trainer Harry Dohmen of The Cycling Expert, specialized in indoor cycling. “The former roller trainers were boring. You put your racing bike on the rollers, with your rear tire rubbing against a cylinder to experience resistance. There was little to do. ”
“Now it is different with direct drive trainers. You remove the rear wheel from your racing bike and put your chain on the cassette of the trainer. You shift like you do outside. In combination with accessories, you can not only simulate the resistance, but also the gradients and air resistance. The development on the software side provides an even more experience. You cycle in virtual worlds thanks to apps such as Zwift, Rouvy, FulGaz and Sufferfest. Indoor cycling is now very close to the experience of outdoor training. ”
Dohmen sees two groups that opt for a smart trainer: those who want to keep moving during the winter and get on the trainer a few times a week for fun. In addition, the group of performance-oriented cyclists with training schedules. “There are three important elements in training: endurance, muscle strength and leg speed. You can improve all these things on a smart trainer. ”
Indoor cycling requires thorough material preparation. First of all, ventilation is important. “When you cycle outside, you are cooled by the wind. This is of course not the case with a stationary set-up. You can open a window, but that’s probably not enough. Therefore, use a fan. Or a special ventilation accessory that is linked to your heart rate. If you don’t ventilate, you will soon be driving with a high heart rate because the heart has to put in a lot of effort to cool the body. ”
You’re going to sweat anyway – and a lot. So don’t dress too warmly. Cycling shorts and baselayer regulating body temperature are often sufficient. Place a mat under your trainer. Otherwise the laminate will be back to its size by the end of winter. Put a towel over your handlebars and lubricate the bolts and nuts with a little petroleum jelly to protect against the drops of sweat ”, says Dohmen.
“Make sure you have two full water bottles within reach at the start. Because you really lose a lot of moisture, sometimes more than a liter per hour. Don’t you believe that? Then weigh yourself before and after indoor training. ”
A somewhat larger screen is required to optimize the experience in the virtual cycling world. You place it in front of the bike. With an app like FulGaz that offers true-to-life images, you can make the ascent of the Mont Ventoux look as real as possible. Especially if you use the indoor trainer and app to explore the route of the next cycling challenge, a large screen can be a plus.
At the same time, there are pitfalls, says Dohmen. “Perhaps the biggest is addiction and always cycling at high intensity and associated overtraining. Simply because you become stimulated and motivated, also by others in your virtual cycling environment. With some apps such as Zwift, you have the option to chat and meet up with each other. ”
He recommends using as much variety as possible. “If you step on your trainer three times a week and you pedal an average of 180 watts of power each time at a cadence of ninety revolutions per minute, you will not get much further. The body is lazy and gets used to it. Also do a strength or endurance training or training where the cadence increases in blocks. If you have a lot of power in your ‘legs’ and you can make many revolutions per minute, this leads to higher wattages. It is not more complicated. ”
A-brands with smart trainers do everything they can to make the indoor session look as real as possible. For example, Wahoo offers the Kickr trainer in combination with accessories. One of them is the Climb. You take the front wheel out of the bike and attach the front fork legs in the Climb holder. As soon as you start climbing during your workout, you will not only feel the resistance increase, but the bike will also come into an oblique position. The Headwind is a fan that blows harder or softer based on your speed or heart rate.
1. Zwift is perhaps the most used of all. You drive individually or together social rides and competitions in a fictional landscape, for example Watopia. If you ride together you can take advantage of the slipstream effect.
2. At the Bkool platform you will be presented with a variety of routes that you can cycle virtually. The screen can be switched between a 2D and 3D map and a real-life video of a route.
3. Sufferfest uses video images, often from cycling races. This application offers various tests to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses.
4. Rouvy’s software offers a wide range of routes with video material from all over the world. You ride these virtual reality routes or you go for a workout.
5. TrainerRoad focuses on a wide range of interval training and well-founded training schedules. The training goals are explained in text. So you don’t see any big animations.
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