As many of you know, our tri club spinning classes are sometimes so full that not everyone can get a spin bike. Yet, there's still room on the floor so Coach Jacklynn has been encouraging everyone who has a trainer to bring theirs and their bike.
Trainer??? You mean the "Body by Jake" guy?
No. A bike trainer, which is a piece of piping and rollers that can turn your bike into a stationary bike and give you a great indoor workout. (By the way, there are also things called rollers which some cyclists use for indoor training but unless you are quite advanced or have a death wish, we will not talk about those.)
First off, given that we live in a place that's warm enough to ride outdoors year around, why would we want to ride a bike indoors?
In short, more focused training, better use of time, more time on your bike and convenience.
On a trainer you won't have any stop signs, traffic lights, downhills, or people to draft behind so you can focus on a specific structured workout as in the spin classes or on your own, say, following a Spinerval DVD. Since you will generally pedal the entire time while on a trainer (no coasting), studies have shown that roughly 45 minutes on a trainer burns about the same amount of calories as riding a bike outside for an hour at comparable effort (although your speed will be different as you'll have to overcome air friction and wind drag when riding outdoors). Riding your own bike, versus a spin bike, you'll spend more time in your saddle (if you're new to riding, a must to either get used to it or figure out you need a new one), be able to practice using your gears, reaching for and putting back your bike bottle, clipping in/out of pedals, using aero bars if you have them, etc., all of which will help you become a better cyclist for tris. And lastly, having a trainer just makes riding more convenient, especially for folks who work full-time and can ride only certain times. Whether it's dark outside or pouring rain, you can always just put your bike on a trainer and ride!
A couple additional notes: If you decide to bring your trainer and bike to a spin class, don't forget the wheel block (the thing that goes under your front wheel to make your bike level) or else you will feel like you're riding downhill the entire time and your arms will get really tired. Also, if you ride a trainer often, check your rear tire for wear regularly as it will wear down much faster than your front tire. There are special tires for indoor training but unless you have an extra rear wheel to put it on or plan to ride on a trainer for an entire season (like folks who live in cold places do), they are not worth getting because they are not designed to be ridden outdoors and you'll have to change tires often.
Ride safe, ride hard – Dave