Cycling on rollers: how to do it and their training benefits
Now autumn's here and the weather's turning Joe Beer explains the benefits of training indoors on rollers
Indoor riding may not provide the same thrills as outdoor riding, but it’s a solid training option for the winter period. Depending on where you are in the UK, you can lose anything from a few days of outdoor training opportunities up to several weeks in the off-season due to frost, ice and snow. Turbos and rollers are, therefore, the safest and most convenient alternative.
Using rollers as well as a turbo trainer simply increases the number of ways you can ride indoors and provides different training options, helping you to alleviate the boredom that inevitably comes from static riding.
My triathletes know me as a rollers evangelist and here’s why:
Rollers help you work on your balance.
They work your core muscles.
They help to improve bike confidence.
They keep you mentally sharp.
Even the best cyclists in the world can be seen in velodromes, riding rollers and doing various activities at the same time (for example, changing their base layer or fiddling with an MP3 player). Their pedalling is silky smooth and they react well to changes around them.
To begin your roller-riding training, start with short sessions wedged between a door frame or corridor, holding the wall and using run shoes, not bike shoes. The confidence boost you’ll experience as you master clipped-in, no-handed, aerobar-riding is second-to-none. We’ve all learned how to ride a bike, but this is almost like starting the process all over again.
To start off, I’d go for simple rollers, without resistance, to keep both the price and complexity down. Focus on smooth pedalling and don’t do the same efforts as you would on the turbo trainer.
Here's two sessions to try
Rollers 30-60mins – keep in zone one (<50% of peak power) and focus on staying in the middle 30cm of roller. Try to practise (in order of difficulty): moving hands from bends, tops, hoods, drops (or aerobars), reaching for bottle, drinking from bottle.
Mixed brick 10mins rollers warm-up, light effort; 10mins turbo (race bike) with 8sec surge every 2mins; 10mins relaxed run; 10mins turbo on aerobars; 10mins run with 15sec surge every 2mins; 10mins rollers cool-down spin.