There’s little doubt that a new age of Ironman bike training is upon us
The days of being able to find a seldom traveled paved road for Ironman bike training are becoming a thing of the past.
It seems that every season we hear of pros who are suffering catastrophic injuries after having a run in with a motor vehicle. Unfortunately, some of these accidents are career ending, and at times, life ending.
It’s not just the pros who suffer this fate. Age-triathletes and often just groups from bike clubs out for a weekend ride have suffered the same fate.
We live in an impatient world. Motorists are so focused on getting from point A to point B that they have no tolerance for anyone on a bike who impedes their progress. Motorist and cyclist confrontations are taking place all over the world at an ever-increasing rate.
BIKING AT HOME
Of course biking at home often defeats the purpose for Sunday riders who want to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air.
It’s a different story however for those solitary triathletes spending hours in the saddle training for the next triathlon.
Just how do you get in the training required for surviving the 112-mile distance of the Ironman bike if the highways in the area where you live are not very bike friendly?
Is it possible to do most of your bike training for an Ironman in your basement or living room?
Of course it is.
HIGHWAY BIKING VS. AT HOME BIKING
At the end of my Ironman career I competed in the 2003 and 2004 Ironman Couer d’Alene races. For the first race I did pretty much all of my bike training out on a highway outside of the city.
It was also how I had trained for the previous nine Ironman races I finished. I had to drive about 30 minutes each way to find a road less traveled by vehicular traffic.
The next year I wondered what would happen if I did the majority of my bike training on my wind-trainer parked in front of the T.V. set? As an experiment, I decided to give it a try.
I even had a two-movie work out. I would watch a couple of recorded movies and when they were over about four hours later, my ride was done. I didn’t just watch T.V. I also did interval training, and simulated hill climbing by increasing the resistance and standing on the pedals.
One of the early wind-trainers.
In a nutshell, I felt pretty much the same in both races and I don’t think it made a bit of difference training inside as opposed to outside.
Lets face it. Your cardiovascular system doesn’t know the difference if you’re on a wind-trainer or on the road. You’re still working the same muscles either way and your heart has to pump just as hard to keep the blood flowing to those muscles.
Your lungs still get a workout when you do intervals on the carpet highway. Your leg muscles still burn when you stand up on the pedals and push big gears on your wind-trainer.
BALANCE INSIDE AND OUT BIKE TRAINING
The cycling purists will say that biking inside is just not the same biking indoors. What about the wind, cornering, and balance?
That’s why during the last month of bike training before the big race I hit the dusty highway to ensure my cornering, hill climbing, balance, and biking in the aero position into the wind were brushed up.
That’s why I did 90% inside and 10% outside. You can break it down any way you’re comfortable with. It could be 80%-20% or 75%-25% inside and out.
OTHER BENEFITS OF BIKING INSIDE
There’s no doubting there are numerous advantages to biking at home.
There are no potholes, dogs nipping at your heels, moronic motorists, or diving hawks.
Yes, it does really happen. There was even a race out in these parts called the Mad Hawk race.
You don’t have to worry about sudden rainstorms, gale-force winds, hail, or sunburn. Flat tire? No problem.
If you need a nature break, the bathrooms just down the hall. Need something to eat or drink. It’s not all that far to the kitchen.
All set for a spin class
One of the biggest benefits I found was the amount of time I saved. I no longer had to load my bike on a rack and spend an hour driving too and from.
Biking inside is perfect for someone short on training time. You can bike before work, after work, or at any time day or night.
Biking indoors is excellent for transition training. My favorite training scenario was a 60 minute bike followed by a one hour run. You’re off your bike, into your running shoes. and out the door in a flash. It’s ideal training for triathlon transitions for the bike to run.
A NEW AGE OF TRIATHLON BIKE TRAINING
Wind-trainers have come a long way over the years.
We’ve gone from the basic mag-turbo wind-trainers to trainers that can have you biking your favorite Ironman bike course.
There are bike spin classes in pretty much every major city.
But perhaps the biggest thing to ever appear on the indoor bike training market is the Onepeloton interactive system.
Now, indoor bike training can take on a whole new meaning. You can choose your own program and bike with large groups and world-class instructors. Sure it’s not your road bike you’re sitting on, but indoor training on a Peloton bike would be a perfect compliment to training on your triathlon bike on the open road.
What intrigues me most is the fitness level one could achieve. I don’t know about everyone else out there in the triathlon world, but it was the interval training that produced some of my best results over the years.
In fact it was not the century rides that in the early years of my Ironman career I thought I had to do over and over again in order to become a stronger cyclist.