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Variables to consider with indoor riding

Updated: Apr 10, 2020

You may have noticed that your indoor wattage to your outdoor wattage are different. As it looks like we'll all be spending a great deal on time on the indoor trainer over the next few weeks (months), there are quite a few considerations to take into account.


When riding outdoors, we are constantly moving our body on the bicycle allowing us to engage different muscle groups to keep momentum and deliver the power. We also use the environment to get micro rests and recover for the next hill or headwind section. However, the smart trainers are usually riden quite differently, you certainly don't move around as much and more often than not will be riding just that bit harder than you do on the road which can increase saddle discomfort. This can cause you to use more isolated muscles that might not be used to this effort. Personally i find that my shins get quite sore from prolonged periods on the trainer. I also use the maximum float setting on my pedals to help relieve this.


Temperature plays a huge role in the ability to produce wattage when indoors. It's very important to keep cool while riding indoors, a small change in body temperature can drastically reduce the amount of power you can produce. As you get hotter and hotter, sweating helps to cool the skin. Losing that fluid creates thickens the blood causing more resistance internally in the CV system. The result of this is that your heart has to pump faster in order to get the same amount of blood to your working muscles. This is called cardiovascular drift and while you are stressing the heart more, you are generating any more power. Aim for 1 ltr per hour of energy drink, have a large fan (or 2) blowing on you during your workout and if possible open a window.


It's going to be a tough spring for all us outdoor types, but we're in this together and there are multiple ways to keep motivated. Using a program like Zwift, TACX, TrainerRoad, or just watching some old cycling races on YouTube can really be helpful in keeping the mind focused on riding and not the fact that you are stuck indoors for the next few months. OK so it’s not as much fun as riding outside on a clear, sunny day, but it'll keep you fit until we're allowed out again!

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