Turbo Time

I have something of a love / hate relationship with my turbo trainer.

I hate the turbo:

  • To me, cycling is all about freedom. There is nothing free about riding to nowhere in the garage.
  • It can be oh so boring.
  • When I am on the turbo, I can always be called back into the house to deal with children refusing to go to bed or fighting over nonsense.

I love the turbo:

  • The turbo allows me to keep training all through winter. It doesn’t matter if it’s pouring with rain, sheets of ice or three feet of snow, I can still ride.
  • It is a really effective use of very limited time. Riding on the turbo is as hard as I choose to make it. If I make a session fairly hard, an hour on the turbo is the equivalent of about two hours on the road.
  • I struggle with the routes and the discipline needed to do a proper interval training session on the road. There always seems to be a junction or a set of traffic lights in just the wrong place. There is no traffic to get in the way on the turbo.
  • On the turbo in the middle of winter I just need shorts and a jersey. On the road in the middle of winter I need thermals, longs, jersey, long sleeved jersey, jacket, overshoes, gloves and earwarmers. That’s a lot of kit to get on and a lot of kit to wash afterwards.
  • After a winter on the turbo, I am pretty fit. This means that when I hit the roads, I feel great. Without it I would struggle to maintain my fitness other than that which I have from the cargo bike.
  • The low light in the winter often makes me nervous, especially as I tend to ride early in the morning. I am not convinced that other road users can see me as well as I would like.
  • I really hate cleaning road grot off my bike after a winter ride outside.

I have to admit that the love it list is definitely longer than the hate it list.

Part of the battle for me is to get back into the routine of training on the turbo. So, with the Christmas holidays upon us and the kids and my husband at home, I am going to use the extra time and help to try and get back into the habit of training on the turbo. My hope is that I will then be motivated to continue with it when we go back to the normal routine. Normal routine means going out to the garage to ride after the kids are in bed and sometimes the sofa seems so much more appealing.

I use the cargo bike for transport with my children at least five days out of seven during term time and this clocks up around 70 miles a week. This means that I have a reasonably good level of base fitness. For me, the turbo is about refining that base fitness. It is about being able to stand and climb to the top of a hill without struggling. It is about being able to put my head down and up the speed just because I want to.

Without the turbo I would hit the spring perfectly able to go out and ride fifty miles or so. With the turbo, I can go out and ride 50 miles feeling strong and confident.

Over the next few weeks, I am planning to add more about using a turbo trainer covering what you need and what to do. Check the ‘Active Cycle Coaching’ section of the website for this. If you are thinking of getting started with a turbo trainer and you have any questions, post them below or email me and I will do my best to help.


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