Riding Indoors - Getting Started with Stationary Trainers

Why Ride Indoors?

Having access to an indoor bicycle trainer is a great way to maintain your fitness through winter while catching up on your favorite show or audiobook. Why wait until spring to get into decent riding shape? Instead, ride in comfort through the rainy months and be ready for some great adventures early next year. Here's some info that will help you pick the indoor bike trainer that best fits you.

Stationary bike trainers come in four basic types, ignoring the fancy computer controlled models.

  1. The basic magnetic resistance line. These trainers are cheap, ranging from $100 to $200 new. You can find a high quality magnetic resistance trainer, however the bulk of them are cheap and fairly disposable. They offer a flat resistance curve, so unlike a real road ride, the effort required does not increase as you increase speed. These units can be quiet, but are very unsatisfactory to the seasoned rider looking for a realistic feel.

  2. The basic wind resistance models, from $100 to $300. These are decent entry level trainers, designed for a smaller budget. They don't offer as realistic of a resistance curve as a fluid filled, however they do have more progressive resistance compared to the magnetic style. Additionally, they tend to be noisy as they are nothing but a fan, so they aren't a great fit if you share common space with other people. If you are budget conscious and don't know if you'll fully commit to the indoor trainer, this is a good place to start, however we recommend stepping up to the fluid filled.

  3. Fluid filled trainers are a bit more expensive than the wind resistance models, from $200 to $600, but you get a more realistic resistance curve that feels like an actual ride. Additionally, they tend to be more quiet than the wind resistance models. These trainers are ideal if you want to be courteous to your house mates. With that being said, they are by no means silent, so living room rides at 6am might still annoy your cohabitants. One important note: only buy a fluid filled trainer that is well reviewed, has a strong warranty, and preferably comes from one of the recognized brands. We recommend Cycleops or Kurt Kinetic. The reason is that cheaper fluid filled trainers can leak, ruining your floors. The more expensive models from the before mentioned brands have 100% sealed units with no chance of leaks, due to an innovative magnetic coupling design. The actual resistance unit is 100% sealed, and the force is transferred from the roller to the resistance unit using strong magnets, leaving no shaft seal to leak.

  4. Finally, for the committed or adventurous rider you can't beat the fun of rollers. Bike rollers are a much larger investment, not necessarily financially but in time and commitment. Unlike the stationary types listed above, where you actually clamp your bike into place and can sit on it without it falling over, the rollers have no support. Instead, you only have a set of front and rear rollers which your wheels rest on, and you rely on the gyroscopic forces of the bike's rear spinning wheel to maintain your balance. Believe it or not, you don't have to actually have any forward velocity to maintain your balance when riding your bike. As long as the rear wheel is spinning, you will stay upright. Of course, this is all fine on paper, but reality is drastically different. Getting used to riding on rollers takes time, concentration and commitment. It's definitely not compatible with the "catch up on your TV show" mindset of the regular stationary trainer. Instead, the rollers invite you to stay connected with your ride, work on your form, pedal stroke and balance. Regularly riding a set of rollers over the winter means you'll jump into the spring riding season able to maintain perfect form without blinking an eye.

Now that you have a basic understanding of various indoor trainer types, I'd like to recommend you check out the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine. It's the trainer of choice here at RWGPS, and we and have put thousands of trouble free miles on them. Another great quality trainer is the CycleOps Fluid2. You can't go wrong with either as both are well respected fluid filled designs with excellent warranties. You can find either for $250-$350 depending on the time of year and the location. Of course craigslist is the place to find cheap, hardly used trainers, so definitely give it a scan before heading down to your local shop.

We would love to hear from you about your trainer and why you love it. So please leave comments below, and if you want to be able to view your stationary rides on Ride With GPS and aren’t a Premium Member yet, Upgrade Your Account!

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Winter Cycling - How to Prepare Your Body for a Cold Ride

As we ease our way into November the days are getting shorter and colder! As riders who love gear, we tend to focus heavily on our bikes. To counter this, we decided it's a good time to turn our attention to taking care of our bodies through the cold months. Our friend Mattew Gibble, Massage Therapist and Owner of Raining Faith Massage has graciously shared some tips. Here's his advice:

One of the more challenging aspects of winter riding is adequately preparing for a cold weather ride. In stark contrast to the summer months, getting properly dressed and warmed up for a cold ride takes extra time and consideration. Here are some helpful tips that will make transitioning from your house to the open road easier and safer.

Cold Winter Cycling

Try to avoid jumping right onto your bike and hitting the cold air. It’s a shock to your central nervous system; your musculature likes to adapt more slowly and intentionally to changes in temperature. Give yourself fifteen extra minutes to warm up before getting on the bike the body. But warming up before a ride doesn’t mean stretching! There’s a difference between stretching and warming up muscle tissue. This article explains the difference between the two: Injury Prevention

I like to incorporate movements that involve extension and rotation of the spine into my warm up. Cyclists move in a single sagittal plane on the bike, so it is always good to incorporate other planes of movement when you are off the bike. (On a bike we only move in one plane, the sagittal plane, which is why cyclists tend to be big-muscle-dominant but have trouble firing muscles that work in the two other Planes of Movement.)

Anatomy of the Body's Muscles

Always be sure to have some warming embrocation on hand to help warm up your leg muscles. Massage the embrocation into your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. Be sure to adequately work your tendons since they’re not as vascular as muscle bellies. This includes your hamstrings, the Patellar tendon just below the kneecap, and your Achilles tendon. I go by an old rule of thumb: if it’s cooler than 68⁰F (20⁰C), wear leg warmers. You can always peel your leg warmers off as it warms up. Remember, it’s better to peel down than get caught out there without adequate clothing.

If, like me, you live in a dry climate such as Colorado, it can be nice to use a nasal rinse before riding so that you can lubricate the sensitive membranes of your nose. The cold, dry air can be irritating to some. Another way to reduce nasal irritation is applying a light layer of petroleum jelly to your nostrils, which acts as a lubricant.

Once you’re out the door, allow your body to warm up slowly before getting into any hard efforts. Do this by breathing only through your nose for the first ten minutes of the ride. Feel your lungs fill with air, expanding your rib cage. Feel your abdominal wall move three dimensionally like a cylinder as you inhale, and contract your abdominal wall--drawing your navel toward your spine--as you exhale. Find a nice rhythm and focus on the movement of your breath. This will warm the core of your body and, if you have lubricated your nasal passages as mentioned above, will make breathing in the cold air more comfortable.

Super Cold Winter Cycling

Once you return home, get out of your clothes and into a hot shower as soon as possible! I cannot stress this enough . After you’ve changed and warmed up, take ten minutes to unwind from the flexed position you were in during your ride. Explore what feels tight or congested and move in a way that helps to open these constricted areas. Once again, extension and rotational movement will help remind your body that it moves in more than just a sagittal plane.

To finish off, instead of just plopping down on the couch, I like to do a little self-massage to assist in the recovery process so I can do it all over again the next day. (For more information on self-massage, view all of Matt's Self Massage resources on his website rainingfaith.com)

Incorporating some good habits like these into your routine will increase your chances of staying healthy and injury-free during the colder months.

Matthew Gibble's Bio

In June of 2002 Matthew received an Associate Degree in Occupational Studies and his education consists of over 1300 hours of supervised training and direction at the Boulder College of Massage Therapy, (BCMT), located in Boulder, Colorado. As well as being an honors graduate from BCMT he is a current member of the American Massage Therapy Association, (AMTA).

Matthew’s background before his education entailed nine years as an elite amateur cyclist and two years as the manager of an elite amateur cycling team. He culminated his association with cycling by overseeing four of the team’s rider’s make the 1992 Olympic team.

You can follow Raining Faith Massage on Twitter at @RainingFaithM and on Facebook Raining Faith Massage Fan Page.

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Your Ride As Art

Brian Le Gros of Canada has launched an interesting Kickstarter for his service, which aims to turn GPS data into physical art. Using his site Tracks Edge you can take any GPS file, and have it turned into a framed print, or a free standing sculpture. Check out this great example:

GPS Art Sculpture

To support his project, head over to his kickstarter page, http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1937465901/your-most-memorable-adventure-displayed-as-persona

What do you think? Is this a service you are interested? Share in the comments below.

Intro to Cyclocross - Part 1

It's fall and the booming sport of Cyclocross's season just started. For part 1 of our series on Cyclocross we're focusing on providing some tips on how to train for Cross Races. To do so, we reached out to Grant Holicky who coaches for APEX Coaching, and here's what he had to say:

Training for Cyclocross

The growth of Cyclocross in America has enticed many of us to postpone our off season and play in the mud for a few weeks each fall. Easy to get to venues, laid back racing atmospheres and quick 45-60 minute races make this type of bike racing convenient and a lot of fun. So how do you translate your road fitness to the cyclocross course? It's far easier than you think, but it is a different style of racing all together, so there are some simple things that will make a big difference.

There are two pieces to a successful cross racer. The first key is physiological. Racing cross is about being able to deliver huge power efforts and then to recover from those efforts while going pretty hard.

photo credit: Dejan Smaic

Sprint Power

Cross starts with an all out sprint to the hole shot. This high end sprint power is essential for a couple reasons in 'Cross. High end power is about speed but it is also a demonstration of strength. You will need this strength repeatedly in the fall, so train for it. We like to take one of our base days each week and include a set of all out 5-10 second sprints. Alternating between standing and seated, take full recovery in between and you will see the overall strength on the bike rise. This will lead to better starts and stronger transitions throughout the race.

Recovering During the Race

Recovery from these efforts is crucial as well and the ability to recover while still going fairly hard is a secret weapon. Most crossers focus on the short VO2 max efforts in their training and while there is a time and a place, without training at or just below your threshold, you will not be able to recover out of that red zone of pain during a race. Be sure to include some longer sub threshold sessions in your training throughout the season. 20, 10 and 5 min threshold intervals are key elements in any cyclocross racer's training plan.

The second piece to cross is skills based. Many a large engine has been taken down by a set of barriers or an off camber turn. While your road or mountain bike skills will translate, there are definitely some 'Cross specific skills that require some practice.

photo credit: EVOL Foods Elite Racing - Plains to Peaks

On and Off

Mounting and dismounting are great places to gain time in a cross race, but they take a committed approach to learn. Find a grass park and get to work. Start very slowly with both the mount and dismount. Begin each practice at half or quarter speed working on the specific actions of the move. As you dial in the details, crank up the speed to race pace. Practice isn't the key to this skill, focused practice, however, is.

Trials Skills

The skills that we typically attribute to trials riding are a big help when maneuvering a 'cross bike around the course. Hopping, track stands and riding tight lines will all serve you well. Take a day each week and just work on your bike handling skills. practicing your bunny hopping or railing some corners while counter-steering brings us back to our younger days of playing on our bikes. It is also a great way to make an easy training day to get faster as a cyclocrosser. In Boulder, we have the luxury of the Valmont Bike Park that is playground for cyclists. Hit up your local bike park or find your own playground.

The key to Cyclocross is a great attitude. Things are going to go wrong, you are going to get dirty and in many cases you will spend some time rolling in the mud. The more you smile and roll with the punches, the more success you are going to have. Happy barrier hopping!

Author Bio

Grant Holicky is a coach for APEX Coaching in Boulder, CO and an avid 'crosser on the Evol Elite Racing team. You can follow Grant on twitter at @grantholicky. He is currently the Director of Aquatics at Rallysport Health and Fitness and is head coach of Rallysport Aquatics (RACE) in Boulder, CO. He is a retired professional triathlete and ASCA Level IV swim coach and has coached multiple Olympic Trials swimmers and a national champion.

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Riding in the Catskill Mountains

Here's a guest post from John Ferguson, a long-time Ride With GPS user, avid long-distance cyclist, and recent transplant from New York City to the Catskill Mountains.

Where can you get isolation, killer climbs, beautiful scenery, and polite drivers, all within a few hours of New York city? The answer, of course, is the Catskill Mountains, easily accessible by a short 1.5-hour train ride from Grand Central Station.

On September 17, 2012, I finally left New York City behind and moved to Olivebridge, New York, nestled neatly between the Catskills and the Shawangunk ridge. I had been riding up here for years, taking the train from Grand Central and then leaving from Poughkeepsie. I always had this notion that someday I’d live here. Well, now I’m here in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains, and this is the view from my window.

Living in the city had its benefits and drawbacks. The benefit, of course, was that I always had someone to ride with. The drawbacks? I lived all the way downtown, so a trip out of the city involved 10 miles on the west side bike path, followed by the squeeze over the George Washington Bridge, and then miles of suburbia before getting to the good stuff. 9W, as always, was crowded with cyclists, and for good reason—it is the only decent way out of the city.

I’ve had a chance to ride most everywhere in the Tristate area and beyond, and—take it from me—the Catskills/Shawangunk area contains some of the best riding to be found in three states, and perhaps anywhere in the US. All of it accessible by train from New York City. I mean, where else within reasonable reach of the city are you going to get roads like this:

Or this:

Or scenery like this:

And did I mention we’ve got miles and miles of gravel?

We’ve also got some of the steepest, longest climbs in 5 states. Legend has it that one, called Platte Clove Road, caused pros to get off their bikes and walk. I’m talking about extended 22% grades, and there are many more like it. The rewards for surviving these climbs are tremendous:

In terms of traffic, let me put it this way: I went for a 75-mile ride last weekend, and except for a brief 1-mile section on a busier road, I saw maybe 10 cars all day.

The only thing missing? My fellow cyclists.

In the roughly 7 months I’ve lived here, I’ve had only a few sightings of other cyclists. Part of that, perhaps, is because I ride throughout the winter, whereas most people have more sense and pack it in when the weather gets cold. Still, cyclists are few and far between. Being unfamiliar with the area, I used Ride With GPS to plot dozens of 50- to 100-mile routes, which I subsequently explored thoroughly. And since I created all those routes, I thought it would be a great thing to share.

That’s when I decided to start a blog. It’s called Riding the Catskills, and it can be found here. Its purpose is to provide guidance on the best rides in the Catskills and Shawangunk ridge region, including where to start, where to refill your water bottles and eat, and what to avoid, and it includes Ride With GPS routes to take some of the guesswork out of riding in a new area (although I’d encourage you to explore). I also talk about my bikes, post product reviews, and an occasional pet picture, although I try to limit the latter to the worst part of the winter when I’m stuck inside.

If you visit my blog, I’d recommend starting by clicking on the tag “Worth the Trip.” I’ve written up the eight biggest climbs in the Catskills here, again, complete with Ride With GPS routes. In addition, I’ve posted a spring route roundup here with multiple routes that range from easy, relatively flat 50-milers that can be completed even by inexperienced cyclists to 100-mile+ rides that will challenge even the most experienced. Of course, there’s much more beyond these few posts, including detailed ride reports and reviews. If you want to skip the reading and go right to the routes, my Ride With GPS routes are here. Using a Garmin—or at the very least a detailed cue sheet—is absolutely critical out here, as many of the best roads are unmarked.

If you’re a New York area rider, you owe it to yourself to skip 9W one weekend (or every weekend) and come out to Ulster county for a ride that will make the Bear Mountain run seem…well…kind of sad (trust me, I did it approximately one million times). It’s easy to get here by train, and when you look at it rationally, how many junk miles and how much time do you put in just getting out of suburbia? Take that time, grab your Garmin, ride to Grand Central, and get on a train!

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Enable Email+Password Login

If you initially signed up for your ridewithgps.com account using facebook, it is a good idea to edit your ridewithgps profile and add an email address plus password as a backup method of logging in. When you register through facebook, we often do not get a valid email address, and no actual password is stored on our servers. This means you will be unable to use your ridewithgps.com account with third party mobile apps, and you might miss out on important site updates via our newsletter. Adding an email address and password is simple, watch this quick video to learn how:

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Cue Sheet, A Great Android App For Navigation

One of our long time users, Geoff Matrangola, grew tired of waiting for an Android bike navigation app. For the last two years he has been tinkering with his app Cue Sheet, which provides turn guidance for pre-planned routes using the ridewithgps.com route planner. This latest update provides automatic cue advancement, many bug fixes and an updated UI. Additionally, the latest release has a premium voice guidance package available for $4.

Cue Sheet is easily the best turn guidance app for Android and using it is simple if you already have a Ride With GPS account. If you have an account on ridewithgps.com but signed up through facebook, you'll need to enabled email/password based login to the site. Instructions for doing so can be found here: Enabling email/password login. Once you install the app and input your ridewithgps email+password, you'll get a list of all your pre-planned routes from your account. Simply draw a new route using your computer, then jump on the app and refresh the route listing to see your most recent map listed.

Download Cue Sheet here

Geoff appreciates bug reports and suggestions, which can be made through at the Google Group for Cue Sheet.

We recommend picking up the pro-version of the app, available as an in-app purchase. It enables voice activated turn guidance and is currently on sale at an introductory $4 price.

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Screencast: Generating a Cue Sheet for a Trip

Step-by-Step Instructions on how to create a cue sheet from a pre-existing trip.

  1. Open up the trip page, then click the "Copy to my account" link in the right sidebar.
  2. Click the link to the new route, then click the Edit link when the route view page loads.
  3. In the right sidebar, select Add/Remove Control Points.
  4. Click along the route, on the blue ball that follows the mouse, and add points to your route.
  5. Grab and Snap the route back into place between Control Points. Cues will be generated for the section being 'snapped' to the road.
  6. Save

Tips: The more you zoom in the more control you'll have, and as always be careful to not click on intersections.

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Screencast: Splitting Up a Route

Step-by-Step Instructions on how to split up a route.

  1. If the route isn't associated with your acount, copy it to your account.
  2. Edit route
  3. Add/Remove Control Points. Remove control points that aren't necessary and add control points where you want to chop the route.
  4. Add/Remove any additiona POI's you want.
  5. Save the Route, and Update
  6. Click "Undo" until you remove the route back to your first POI.
  7. Save the route again as a New Route
  8. Continue mapping
  9. Refresh and then continue to click "Undo" until you get to the next control point.
  10. Repeat until you split the original route into as many smaller routes that you want.

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I Could Have Gone Harder

After last weeks post on Getting Ready For A Century, I decided to talk to a friend of mine who is a coach about mentally preparing for an event. Below is what he had to say.

About a month ago American super runner Galen Rupp set the second fastest American time in the indoor mile at 3:50:92, a second off of Bernard Lagat's record. This was the fifth fastest mile ever in the world and just last week set the new American indoor 3,000 meter record. Galen, by the way, also won the silver medal in the 10,000 meters in London last summer. You're probably asking what this has to do with cycling, I'll get to that.

I've been racing primarily triathlons and running races the past 9 years with an occasional bike race lightly sprinkled in, both here in the states and in Italy. In those years of racing, there have been several standout events where I can vividly remember being in absolute physical agony trying to beat someone to the finish or meet a personal goal. In my case, more often than not, this seems to happen in the final miles of the run. Without getting into a long explanation of why, I'll just say that I'm proportionately better on the bike than the swim or run. Trying to maximize my performance with a power meter against fellow age group three-sport competitors on the bike is what I usually aim for.

In 2010 I raced a sprint distance triathlon in Florida against one of my best friends who is also an excellent three-sport athlete. I remember my pre-race plan and even my recorded normalized power on the bike from that day. He's about seven inches taller (thus a great swimmer), so my plan in the swim was to attempt to draft right behind him (totally legal and sometimes encouraged in triathlon). Surprisingly, I was able to get out of the water seconds behind him then quickly chase him down getting out onto the bike course. After passing him on the bike, I kept the effort high and put some good time on him starting out onto the run. It was on the turnaround on the five kilometer run that I knew I was on borrowed time and had to push harder than ever to hold him off. As we got closer to the finish line he caught up to me with about half mile to go and stuck to me like glue. We both put small but seemingly futile surges to try to drop the other. I was in a deep dark painful place with funky abdominal noises happening and the noises of the spectators in the finishing shoot up ahead. Surprisingly, he seemed to slow for a brief moment so I put one last hard surge in - it was a bad decision. In an instant, remnants of my pre-race gel, water and stomach acid came up into my esophagus and up and out of my mouth with about 100 yards to go. Was I at my so called limit for too long? I hit the ground on my knees and kept barfing, he passed me mumbling something in concern. I got back up and tried to chase him down, but repeated the scene surrounded by friends and innocent bystanders. I could see the finish line...

My friend ended up beating me to the line in that race. To this day we joke about the experience and cherish the memory, both good and gross. For most of us, suffering is an essential part of the sport of cycling, at least at dire moments of chasing a breakaway, surf dogging with friends, individual time trials or even sprint finishes. Achieving personal growth in our sport without some intense moments of discomfort is not as satisfying or interesting.

Last summer I, like you, watched the Tour de France. Usually for me, this is done when in Italy with a friend or two after eating the typical lunch and lieu of having a siesta. We watch in real time, so it really heats up around 2-4 pm. I remember a french rider, Thomas Voeckler, he was in the yellow jersey for over a week. He tore himself inside out trying to stay at the top into the big climbing stages but inevitably couldn't keep muscling his way to the win. After all, it's more than just pure guts that allows you to win here. My friends in Italy and I joke about Voeckler every year, as he has an almost annoying looking painful grin. We even at times mimic his face when doing group rides. However, I must give him credit for his ability to hurt and motivate his country.

So, how often do you say "I could have gone harder" after a hard effort, race or fun town line sprint? If you say it often, why? Is it because you realize you had more in the so-called tank? Maybe a better move could have opened up a cleaner line to the finish? It's easy to say, "I could have gone harder," once it's over.

Over the years I've become more interested in the role of the brain in sport. As a coach, I feel it can only help the overall goals of an athlete. It's second nature to take our mind for granted during intense moments of physical exertion and our mind doesn't receive as much recognition as it should. We can set, for example, a pre-specified power range for a time trial, but it's the empirical sensations of pain or joy that are regulated by our brain. The signs of discomfort are registered between our ears - not in our muscles. Pushing our physical boundaries alone is only part of the picture to achieve our goals. Over the years I've become a believer that there's more to fatigue than just mechanical failure of the body and that our brains could have more involvement in that process to regulate balance and act as a buffer to protect our bodies.

Two people that have sparked my interest in this area, are the sometimes controversial Tim Noakes and his Central Governor Theory and author and coach Matt Fitzgerald. Not everyone may agree with their view but I feel there's more to be learned about athletic performance than just physical stress, recovery and adaptation. In order to be a great athlete we need to manipulate our thinking, not just our muscles. We can to a point, once trained, override some of that discomfort and achieve new levels of athletic performance without jeopardizing our well being.

Back to Galen Rupp. He didn't believe he was ready for the indoor mile, as his coach Alberto Salazar told him to enter only three weeks prior. In his post race interview he was asked about how it went. During the final laps he was unable to hear his coach give him his splits due to the fact of the insanely loud cheers from the crowd, nor did he realize how close he was to the record. He was both elated and surprised at the finish. Was the atmosphere such that it played a distracting role in Galen's amazing performance for his brain to override his physical pain a bit? You be the judge.

After your next key event or breakthrough workout, take some time to reflect and ask yourself if you could have gone harder; such as my experience racing against my friend, Thomas Voeckler powering his way to hold on to the yellow jersey, Rupp's super fast mile. Was the risk of more discomfort worth the level of reward? This is individual, but I feel once you learn more about the role of the mind in sport performance the outcomes will be much more satisfying and interesting.

If you really want to feel the energy of Rupp's run and let it push you in select moments of mindful discomfort: watch the race here.

A little bit about Marco

Sports and clinical massage therapy background. Multisport coach since 2008. Certified Youth & Junior Triathlon Coach. Swim Coach at Lakeshore Athletic Club. Mentored under Bob Seebohar. Qualified and raced in two Ironman 70.3 World Championships. Qualified for two Age Group Nationals and Olympic Distance Worlds.

Feel free to email Marco regarding coaching. We invite you to comment below regarding I Could Have Gone Harder.