Rock a Roller Workout for Better Technique
The best piece of equipment you can buy to work on your pedalling technique is a set of rollers. Using a trainer mimics the feel of pedalling on the road but doesn’t require your body to balance and stabilize your weight on the bike as rollers do. Riding rollers on a time trial bike is a bit trickier than on a road bike, as so much more of your weight is over the front wheel, but mastering your pedalling technique on rollers is the key to higher cycling efficiency.
When I first started riding I would ride twenty minutes every morning before breakfast and every night before dinner. This was easier as a cyclist with only one sport to master. Now I like to do these small workouts after a tougher run workout, as I find this helps me to build back my leg speed on the bike after running.
A rollers workout, with some cadence and single leg pedalling drills, will be a good addition to your program to facilitate recovery and improve your technique. You must be smooth to ride comfortably and you must have a quiet upper body to stay centered on the roller and avoid falling off to the side. If you have a trainer you can still do this, but there is more advantage with rollers from the core stability you develop from riding without the support of a trainer.
Many people find it beneficial to learn to ride the rollers in a doorway. There is some added safety when you have the doorframe to lean on or grab if you are losing your balance. At the very least, set the rollers up next to a wall to make it easier to climb on your bike to get started pedalling.
Here is a 20 minute workout to add into your program either to work on pedalling technique or to speed up your recovery:
5 minute warm-up
(Ride in a very easy gear. The idea is to spin easy, not to turn these into power intervals by pushing too hard. The effort is comfortable and easy.)
10 minutes of cadence work:
Starting at 100 rpm, increase cadence by 5 rpm every minute up to 120 rpm. Stay at 120 rpm for 2 minutes, and then decrease by 5 rpm every minute down to 100 rpm. This is 10 minutes of work.
5 minutes of single-leg:
Alternate single legs every 30 seconds for 5 minutes holding cadence near 90-95 (getting in and out of your pedals on rollers for your first rides will be challenging, stay near a wall and don’t worry if you only do about 20 seconds per leg because of the fumbling)
5 minute spin warm-down accelerating to maximum cadence for 10 seconds at the start of each minute.
If you want to increase the length of this ride, you can add repetitions of the 100-120 rpm intervals, add time to the warm up and warm down, and also go from 100-130 rpm as you progress with this session to add more time to your program.
This is not a very muscular workout so you will not have to sacrifice any quality work you have in your program when you do this workout. You will likely find your legs feel better for having done this little workout, and it adds a little more cycling mileage to your week.