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Summertime Power: Riding Inside

Coach Steve Neal leads a training session at The Cycling Gym in Toronto.
Coach Steve Neal leads a training session at The Cycling Gym in Toronto.

– By Adam Johnston

As the owner of an indoor cycling facility, I am biased towards riding indoors. But, that bias aside, there are several good reasons for you to consider performing the occasional (dare I say regular?) ride inside during the summer:

Quality Control: Indoor rising is much more controlled than outdoor riding. Intervals are controlled. Effort is controlled. Each workout has a specific focus that can be properly executed. You are not a slave to the group’s pace and distance as is the case with outdoor riding. The specificity offered by indoor riding greatly improves your cyclist fitness.

Recovery: Once athletes head outdoors for their rides, they tend to lose sight of the importance of a true recovery ride – in Zone 1 or easier – for an hour or less. Once outside, and perhaps with a group, it is very challenging to ride easy enough. That’s not the case on a trainer indoors.

The Uncontrollable: You can ride inside regardless of the conditions: weather, heat, humidity, haze, rain, daylight, etc. Whether it’s 30 degrees (or minus 30 degrees), indoor riding works.

Efficiency: There’s no coasting on an indoor trainer. Estimates of coasting outside are as high as 10 to 30 percent of your actual riding time. All riding inside is actual “turn-the-pedals” riding.

Safety: No stop lights. No dogs. No train tracks. No rough roads. No irate drivers.

Social: Ride indoors with a partner or group and you won’t get dropped, nor will you have to double back for your riding mates.

Holding Form: Regular, smart indoor riding through the summer keeps your fitness at peak level. Month after month of coin the same outdoor rides with the same groups will, more often than not, result in stagnation or regression.

Maintaining a consistent indoor ride once or twice per week, year round, while all your other riding remains outdoors is a healthy balance which will keep both you fitness level and enjoyment of cycling high.

Try this 75-minute indoor workout to keep your VO2 max well developed. Zone 5 intervals (i.e. VO2 max intervals) are, let’s face it, very rarely done during an outdoor ride. Keeping yourself honest on the trainer with this efficient workout is beneficial for all distances of racing.

Warm-up (30 minutes)

– 10 min easy cycling (Zone 1 or easier)

– 3 x (1 min at 100 rpm and 1 min at 110 rpm) all at Zone 2

– 2 min Zone 1 at 80 t0 95 rpm

– 3 x (1 min at Zone 4 at 60 rpm, 1 in at Zone 2 at 90 rpm)

– 3 min Zone 2 at 85 to 95 rpm

Main Set (40 minutes)

Repeat two times:

– 10 x (45 seconds at Zone 5 at 95 rpm, 45 seconds at Zone 1 at 80 to 90 rpm)

– 5 min Zone 2 at 85 to 95 rpm

Cool Down (5 minutes)

– 5 minutes at or less than Zone 1 at 80 t0 95 rpm

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Adam Johnston is an endurance coach and the co-owner of WattsUp Cycling in Toronto (wattsupcycling.ca).