5 Ways to Survive Riding Your Bike Inside

ride indoor cycling tips

Before I retired, the winter months were always the time when I was forced to figure out how to ride even though the weather outside was terrible. Snow, rain, below zero temperatures—here in Berlin we always have it all.

Of course that’s where the indoor stationary trainer comes in. Now it might seem like an impossible task to ride indoors for hours on a trainer, but it’s not! Back in my amateur days my team sometimes had four or five hour non-stop sessions. The whole group of us would be on indoor trainers with our coach watching. It was super noisy because we had old trainers—leftover machines from East German production that were reliable but primitive. I don’t like remembering those days; they were no fun. But now that most of us don’t have an East German coach with a stopwatch and a whistle standing next to us yelling, we can find ways to make it through hometrainer sessions. Here are some suggestions.

5 Ways to Make Riding Inside More Fun

Go outside. Kind of.
If you have a terrace or balcony, set up your hometrainer there. Fresh air will make you feel better and might even trick you into believing you’re actually riding outdoors instead of just spinning in place. This even works if it’s snowing or raining. Just make sure you’re dressed appropriately and stay dry.

Entertain yourself.
If you don’t have outdoor space, place your trainer in front of a TV and watch a movie. If that means you have to set up in the livingroom, please don’t forget to put some old towels down to catch your sweatdrops. Otherwise you might face a divorce when your partner comes home and sees a lake of sweat on the carpet, and we don’t want that, right?

Many indoor trainer companies also have their own entertainment systems. Some show video footage of Tour de France stages or something similar that you can watch on your laptop or TV. Others let you track your progress via an avatar. There are even programs that let you build your own workout, so you can repeat it later and see how much stronger you’ve become.

Move to music.
If you’re stuck in the garage or basement without a TV, prepare a playlist. A good song to start with is “Here Comes The Pain” by Farmer Boys. In the middle “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath. And of course the last song on your playlist should be “The Final Countdown” by Europe. But of course this is just my personal taste and choice. You could also ride at your local gym or indoor cycling center for a hardcore session timed to techno music.

Break up your workout.
Have a long ride on tap? Split it in two. Do two hours in the morning and another two hours in the afternoon. Or take an hour break halfway through your ride to refill your water bottles and mentally recharge.

Doing intervals is also a great way to to break a long ride into smaller, more manageable pieces. Here is one way to work them into a one-hour workout:

15 minutes: warm-up

5 minutes: moderate-intensity interval
5 minutes: easy pedaling

40 seconds: pedal at 80 rpms (this is your cadence) in your peak heart rate zone
20 seconds: 80 rpms in the smallest gear possible

5 minutes: easy pedaling

40 seconds: pedal at 80 rpms (this is your cadence) in your peak heart rate zone

20 seconds: pedal at 80 rpms in the smallest gear possible

10 minutes: cooldown

One hour done. Easy peasy, right? It’s a tough, but very effective workout.

Recruit a training partner.

Set up a second trainer next to yours so your partner, friends, or even your kids can ride with you. The more the merrier, right? When you have someone to talk to, a two-hour hometrainer workout flys by.

I use a Wahoo Kickr and connect it to Zwift, a virtual-ride program. Now I must say that Zwift is my partner and therefore I am maybe not completely neutral here, but I love riding with the Zwift system. Besides its cool graphics and virtual-reality riding course, Zwift is also live online so I can call Bobby Julich in South Carolina and Andy Schleck in Luxembourg and Michael Mathews in Australia and we can all agree on a time and course and meet on Zwift. We all sit on separate continents but our avatars ride on our laptops or TV screens right next to each other. We’re even able to chat a little. It’s a pretty smart and cool program.

As you can see there lots of ways to spice up a normally not-so-exiting hometrainer session. Quitting or being lazy is no longer an option. You just have to find what works best for you. There are plenty of ways to ride indoors—and still have fun!

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  • Similar to your suggestions about biking in front of a TV, you can do it in front of a computer monitor or TV connected to the internet. Go to Youtube, and search for “indoor bicycling videos”. Pick one and crank the volume. You’ll be biking through the Alps or in Mallorca or through Germany or along the Pacific Coastal Highway. There are tons of free videos to allow you to bike indoors while sightseeing all over the world.

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