For many of us older cyclist, the mere mention of indoor cycling was usually met with severe post-traumatic stress reactions as memories of hour after boring hour spent on the 'turbo' or rollers came flooding back.
The sessions were hard and monotonous and the rider usually finished drenched in sweat and spent. Not to mention bored out of their mind.
Now there is nothing wrong with hard training, and training alone, but we ride our bikes for fun right?
Enter the smart trainer revolution.
As little as ten years ago the choices of indoor training platforms were limited. The cyclist looking to escape the weather, the traffic or the dark had few options available to make their time on the bike enjoyable.
But, fun wasn't the point was it. It was how long could you suffer.
Fast forward to today and the options available to the modern cyclist are phenomenal. The suffering remains but the fun is definitely there in spades as well. Indoor cycling is on the rise.
All you need is the space and a smart trainer and you could be doing lactate threshold intervals around London in no time.
What is a smart trainer?
Without getting too technical, think of a smart trainer as an indoor training platform that has the capacity, via software loaded or downloaded to a computer or tablet, to provide real-time ride data and replicate road feel.
A smart trainer can track your heart rate and power while simultaneously adjusting the resistance to simulate a climb. In short a real-time road riding simulation.
The options for indoor riding are really unlimited nowadays. Companies such as Zwift and Trainer road offer a variety of packages that offer guided training and coaching, free riding through virtual worlds as well as regular online racing.
Where's the fun
Honestly, it is what you make of it. The suffering and the sweat remain but now you can join virtual 'bunch rides' with people all over the world. You can join teams and clubs and race just like in real life.
You can immerse yourself as much or as little as you like. It will be up to you where you find the fun. For me, it's achieving fitness and riding goals. Hitting PBs on a route I've previously ridden. Even, dare I say it, taking a few Zwift KOMs or sprinting Jerseys here or there.
While indoor training shouldn't completely replace your outdoor cycling it is becoming a more than decent replacement. If you want to escape the traffic, the dark or cold or just ride when you want too not when you can then indoor cycling works.
I think the future is unlimited really. In my opinion here is what I think we will see in the indoor cycling space very soon:
- New players, like VirtuGo, entering the market.
- The price of Smart Trainers will fall as uptake increases
- An improvement in platforms as competition and consumer demand drives innovation
- Real routes - simulated rides of the iconic and classic routes of cycling's history.
- Online responsive and tailored real-time coaching platforms.
- Online "pro cyclist' where riders race for virtual prizes and prize money
- Online ' pro teams'
- Online doping...don't laugh it already happens now.
While that list is small there is no doubt that the future is very bright for the smart trainer industry and we as cyclists will benefit greatly.
Before I go I want to be clear that I am not suggesting that indoor cycling is going to overtake outdoor cycling anytime soon. What I will say though, is for many cyclists out there it is becoming more and more popular.
Riding indoors means no worries about traffic or belligerent drivers. For those of you riding in colder climates no need to delay or cancel your rides due to weather. And for the more serious rider among us a more detailed and specific platform where real training can be conducted with as close to real life conditions as possible.
The indoor cycling revolution is most definitely among us. It is up to you if you join in but if you do, and you are on Zwift, look out for Darren OCGA on the road and flick me a ride on.
Until next time,
Stay safe and upright.