It appears that 2016 is the year of the smart trainer. Last year, smart trainers like the Wahoo Kickr have appeared on the market. These trainers connect to your computer or phone via ANT+ or Bluetooth, and allow you to control the resistance either manually, or with a software program.
Conversely, “dumb” trainers have no resistance or require that you set it manually. Having any resistance at all makes for a tough ride. Like riding uphill. Forever. Cycling is much more dynamic than that — killer hills always have the downhill on the other side to look forward to. Smart trainers bring that indoors.
The perfect combination is that there are now software apps like Zwift and TrainerRoad that bring a game like experience to these smart trainers. So it’s now not up to you to (a) force yourself into some intervals by pushing buttons, and (b) keep yourself from getting bored.
Zwift is a massive-multiplayer game that allows you to ride in real time with people all over the world in a few different locations. I’ve recently been online with over 1000 riders at once.
TrainerRoad works with videos like SufferFest and have programs that sync up with them to match the difficulty levels dictated by the program in the video.
Both services run about $10 per month. Worth it to me, though I may be wanting to suspend those memberships come spring time. Hopefully they’ll accommodate that.
Personally, I use (and love) Zwift. Here’s a screenshot of me and about 1000 of my closest friends riding into the sunset. It has great game features like KOMs and sprints. You can ride with your actual friends as a group, and even draft off each other.
It’s made all the difference in getting me on the bike this winter.
Riding with a computer brings some new requirements for equipment for your setup. Here’s what I’ve got in my basement workout station, which has two categories — things to hold the electronics, and things to contain the sweat…
1. iPhone handlebar mount – you’ll want your iPhone on your handlebar to use the Zwift companion app. This allows easy controls so you don’t have to reach over to your computer to choose turns and send “Ride on” encouragement messages to your friends. Your phone will get dripped on with sweat. Which is basically kryptonite to your phone. Protect it with a cover.
2. Blackburn Sweat Net – If you ride indoors, and work up a sweat, this is a must. It’s basically a thong-shaped towel that stretches between your handlebars and your seatpost and catches any of the sweat that is destined for your expensive bike. The first year I rode indoors, I didn’t use this, and sweat found its way into the ferrules for the shifting cables on my carbon frame and gummed them up pretty good.
3. and 4. Table created with an electronic keyboard stand and shelving. It’s helpful to be able to reach the computer to deal with problems, and start things off which is why a tall table like this that goes in front of the handlebars (out of sweat range) is great.
5. Wahoo Kickr — Smart Trainer
6. Treadmill Mat – protect your floor and carpet from bike grease and your sweat. If you don’t believe me, you will the first time you step on your sweat puddle in your stocking feet.
See below the picture for where to buy…
Are you on Zwift? It can be hard to spot friends in the crowd, but keep an eye out for me on there and give me a “Ride on!”‘