Guest poster Don Blount rides in bad weather — indoors, on his rollers. He discusses some of their pros and cons.
Where I live now in Northern California, the rains have settled in. Other parts of the country are dealing with snow or high winds during winter. Out here we get rain, fog, wind and much lower temperatures. I’ll ride in cold weather. I’ll ride in the dark, in fog and other inclement weather. But I have my limits. And although I’ve gotten caught in the rain, I won’t go out for a ride in the rain. I’m not that hard core, or crazy. But instead of curling up next to the fireplace with a good book or the television, I’ll still ride. Instead of riding outdoors or in a spin class or a stationary trainer, I’ll ride on my bike rollers.
I purchased these rollers in the fall of 2008 for a few reasons: 1) To ride when the weather was too bad to go on the road. 2) To practice technique and handling skills.
I’ll admit that I didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into. It took me some time to get used to the rollers. I started out riding in a doorway and took my share of tumbles before being able to move to less confined places. One fall caused my wife to come rushing out to the garage to see what the problem was. I fell in the opposite direction what I had to grab onto. It is a sinking feeling to see something that could save you from going down slowly float out of your grasp. Fortunately by the time my wife arrived I was on my feet, with some of my dignity, claiming that nothing had happened. Later I found that I had bent my derailleur hanger.
What I’ve found that makes rollers most awkward (aside from learning to balance) is getting on and off. The rollers elevate you several inches off the ground, so getting on, moreso off, can be challenging because you just have this little skinny rail to balance your foot on. Miss that and whoosh, slipsville. I’m considering building a small platform to solve that problem.
I can now ride with a chair or counter, something that I can use to steady myself, next to me. And I have gotten proficient enough that I can stand and pedal. I have begun working on clipping in and out of the pedals, although I won’t be doing anything close to what this guy does.
What I like about rollers is that I can still ride without going out in inclement weather. It helps conditioning, technique and handling skills. If your pedal stroke isn’t smooth while riding rollers, you’ll know because you’ll bounce around. Sprints, intervals, cadence work, all can be done on rollers.
What I don’t like about rollers is that they can be incredibly boring. Even wearing headphones and listening to music or watching television. Then again that just provides more incentive to ride outside once the weather calms. And after a few sessions on the rollers I can do that while working on my handling skills, technique and without losing too much conditioning.