General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Why is the trainer so different & unpleasant? Rss Feed  
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2005-10-19 8:49 PM

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Champion
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Subject: Why is the trainer so different & unpleasant?

Last year I bought my bike October 31st and only rode it outside once before the nasty weather came to MA. I then rode my bike on a trainer all winter..I adjusted and actually enjoyed it as the winter progressed.

Now after spring, summer and fall of riding outside...riding the trainer is so unpleasant. Why does it feel so different than riding outside? Riding in aero on the trainer is uncomfortable but not outside. I keep my cadence up 90-100 outside on the road normally but struggle to get it up to 90 inside. I don't understand why my bike feels like it possessed and I have a fake imitation bike while riding on the trainer. After 9 days of rain and being unable to ride outside for 2 weeks, I brought my bike out today and it was like heaven and my bike was back to being perfect, comfortable and lots more fun!

Help me understand what it is about riding on the trainer that makes everything feel off? less comfortable? less fun?



2005-10-19 11:45 PM
in reply to: #268726

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Expert
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Subject: RE: Why is the trainer so different & unpleasant?
I think part of it is that the trainer provides a constant resistance, while out on the road you have hills, ups and downs that cause the resistance level to constantly change. In a trainer you tend to be in one position, using one set of muscles the entire time, while on the road you tend to use different muscle groups during the course of a ride. Air flow outside helps cool you more efficiently than indoor riding, also.

but for me, the biggest difference it that it's simply more fun to be outside in fresh air, enjoying the scenery and the feeling that you are 40 miles from home with nothing but a couple power bars and some accelerade.

When I train on my trainer I use the Spinervals dvds to give my mind something to focus on besides the discomfort. I also became a convert to the indoor spin classes at my local club for aerobic maintenance.
2005-10-20 6:58 AM
in reply to: #268726

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Veteran
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West Henrietta, NY
Subject: RE: Why is the trainer so different & unpleasant?

It's really because your bike has it's own spirit.  It's like a child, tell it to do its homework and it'll move slow and difficult because it doesn't really like homework.  Well, the bike would much rather be outside playing than inside all hot in one spot basically getting nowhere.  Thus, it makes it much more difficult for us poor folks that have no choice but to move inside when the weather gets terrible.

Chris.

PS:  I guess it could really be the steady resistance, no wind to cool you off, and all that other stuff as well.

2005-10-20 7:33 AM
in reply to: #268726

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Champion
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Subject: RE: Why is the trainer so different & unpleasant?

I think that the bigg est thing that makes the trainer harder than outside is the lack of momentum. When you are on the road you can coast briefly and not lose speed. you have the chance to ride the ups and downs of the terrain. This is lacking on the trainer.

Also, because there is no wind blowing over you, thr trainer is hotter. Not only is it hotter, but sweat tends to pool up around you rather than evaporate off into the atmosphere.

2005-10-20 8:41 AM
in reply to: #268726

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Master
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Ellsworth, WI
Subject: RE: Why is the trainer so different & unpleasant?

I don't know the answer, but I totally agree that the trainer experience is highly unpleasant!! I hate that thing! I was just on mine last night and couldn't manage more than about 13.5 mph and 85 rpm. I feel totally sluggish when I'm on the trainer. (Not that I'm any kind of speed demon outside, either, but it at least feels a lot better.)

So, sorry no answers, but plenty of sympathy.

2005-10-20 9:00 AM
in reply to: #268861

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Elite
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Subject: RE: Why is the trainer so different & unpleasant?
b/c of comments like these I've decided to save the $$ and hit the spin classes and weight room over the winter. Know your misery hasn't been a complete waste. thnx!


2005-10-20 10:11 AM
in reply to: #268875

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Extreme Veteran
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Subject: RE: Why is the trainer so different & unpleasant?

Ah, but just because it's hard and unpleasant doesn't mean that it's not good!!  Heck, nobody ever said training was going to be easy!!

I have a 5-hour trainer ride on my schedule in the next few weeks for my IM at the end of November.  It hurts just to think about that!!

2005-10-20 10:21 AM
in reply to: #268726

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Master
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Subject: RE: Why is the trainer so different & unpleasant?
Trainer is to biking, what the dreadmill is to running. Indoors, no breeze, monotonous...
2005-10-20 7:46 PM
in reply to: #268726

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Subject: RE: Why is the trainer so different & unpleasant?
I know this might be a bit off topic but since I don't think I'll have the cash for a trainer this winter and really need to improve my cycling performance, do you think I can get some good progress using a stationary bike from the gym?

I will try and ride my bike outdoors as long as I can but after that, can a season of stationary bike and leg strenghtening give good results?

(I would love to get into a spin class but none are available in my area.)

2005-10-21 9:27 AM
in reply to: #268726

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Elite Veteran
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Subject: RE: Why is the trainer so different & unpleasant?
Kathy, I asked a similar question awhile back because of all the misery my trainer brought to me. Your post is identical to my experiences. I got some very good advice -- focus on your cadence, HR and/or RPE when you're on a trainer, NOT on the speed that the computer says you're going. Find a lower gear than what you'd use on the road, and hit your high cadence and forget what the computer says your "speed" is.

I have made my peace with trainer rides because when I get back out on the road, it feels so wonderful and fast. I never ride aero on the trainer because the bike is at a slightly unnatural angle and yeah, it is seriously uncomfortable.

Of course all of this is advice from someone who has taken 2 months entirely off of cycling. Have to start back next month tho, so I'll really be feeling your pain.
2005-10-21 11:12 AM
in reply to: #268726

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Expert
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Colchester, CT
Subject: RE: Why is the trainer so different & unpleasant?

I'm the same way kathy.  I can't set on the bike on the trainer for more than 20 min. without coming out of the aero position.  When I'm on the road, I can ride for hours aero.  Last winter I took to watching movies while I rode.  I also rode with just my HRM and disconnected by bike computer.  I was just looking at those rides as long slow rides for building base.  I didn't care how far I went, all it was, was time in the saddle.  Maybe we should all meet with our trainers and do a "group" ride.

Chris



2005-10-21 11:35 AM
in reply to: #269723

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Champion
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Subject: RE: Why is the trainer so different & unpleasant?
cdf26.2 - 2005-10-21 12:12 PM
Maybe we should all meet with our trainers and do a "group" ride.


So, when it is your turn to pull are you supposed to grab your trainer and run to the front of the group? :p

Shaun
2005-10-21 10:56 PM
in reply to: #268726

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Master
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Subject: RE: Why is the trainer so different & unpleasant?

I think the trainer hurts more because you dont get the oppertunity to coast... EVER. And as weird as it sound the vibration of the bike and the subtle changes in position when climbing, decending, or cornering really do give you some relief from the pain that would otherwise be in your rear.

Spin is good, and I have done it, but nothing is better than your own bike in my opinion.

Finally, Spinnervals ROCK!

2005-10-22 9:55 AM
in reply to: #268726

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Pro
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Subject: RE: Why is the trainer so different & unpleasant?
Came so close to buy a trainer.  After reading these posts, I guess I can save some money.  Also gives me another reason to go to spinning class. 
2005-10-22 10:36 AM
in reply to: #268726

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Expert
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Herndon VA
Subject: RE: Why is the trainer so different & unpleasant?
I don't like the trainer either and prefer spinning class but I think that you need both to have an effective winter of workouts. I find in spinning class that they don't focus on long slow rides, it's more interval training. So, I suck it up and do the trainer workouts. I've found watching movies or a football game help but I think trainers cause some kind of rip in the space time continoum that slows down time.

Ernie
2005-10-22 11:31 AM
in reply to: #268726

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Master
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Sonoma County, CA
Subject: RE: Why is the trainer so different & unpleasant?
now i know i'm not weird (or maybe I am, but not on this topic).
the trainer's in teh garage and I know I'll have to pull it out soon and just the m emory of riding in pools of sweat at dark thirty while the spinervals dude tells me to take it up another notch (or is that emeril) and that stupid little clock in the left hand corner keeps ticking down so damn slow....

sigh



2005-10-22 7:00 PM
in reply to: #268726

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Subject: RE: Why is the trainer so different & unpleasant?
[1] Trainer rides are more difficult. No rest. No momentum.

[2] I wonder if that's why everyone from McCormack to Mark Allen suggest that, for minutes spent, trainer riding is the best way to improve cycling?

[3] I love riding the trainer. Not as much as outside .... but still quite a bit. IMO, the most important thing is having structured workouts ... otherwise you tend to slow down. I really dig variable gearing ... where you ride big gear for 7min, med for 3min, so on and so on.

Trainer rides can be more boring than outside for the obvious reasons. Suggestion for trainer rides are usually shorter, more focused intensity. Also, use a fan. makes a big difference.

I'm not understaning why your bike ont eh trainer would be more uncomfortable than outside. It's the same you, on the exact same bike. The only thing removed is the scenery and the terrain.

===============================

Do spinning classes have you ride as you would on your tri-bike? Do the majority of the time aerobically? Or do they have you ride in a way that is completely different than how you would normally ride, and in zones that are counter-productive to what you're trying to accomplish? If you're only concerned with burning calories .... then do the spin classes. If you're weanting to improve your cycling, by improving your leg strength by incorporating bigger gears and by improving your neuromuscular efficiency .... then you need to ride the trainer with your normal training bike.

Edited by TripleThreat 2005-10-22 7:02 PM
2005-10-22 7:54 PM
in reply to: #268726

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Master
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Subject: RE: Why is the trainer so different & unpleasant?
Maybe I was dropped head first on the ground as an infant, but I love my trainer. Even in the summer I do a couple of shorter technique rides on it during the week. I've had my trainer for almost 15 years now and really enjoy using it. Sometimes it's hard to find the right stretch of road that gives me the resistance that I want to work on what I want to, so the trainer lets me do exactly the work outs that I want to. Hopefully, some day I'll feel the same way about swimming pools and treadmills as I do my trainer... If you are just slogging through the miles on your trainer, you're definitely not getting the max benefits from it that you could be.

-Frank
2005-10-22 10:30 PM
in reply to: #268726

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Champion
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Subject: RE: Why is the trainer so different & unpleasant?

Thanks for the thoughts everyone!!

I have been riding on the trainer a lot lately. I think we have had 12 or 13 days of rain out of 18-19 days with another 4-5 days straight rain forecasted.

My coach gave me some great workouts for the trainer that really does help me work hard at things I need to work at and as I spend more time on the trainer it is getting better. My number one goal now is losing fat. My coach put my next four weeks together with that being number one. He gave me some tough bike workouts....hard gear 5 minutes at 65-70 RPM, 2.5 minutes easy 90 RPM...that will be tough for me...now my ratio has been 5 minutes with 5 minutes easy. Plus on non-bike days I am going to ride 30' at night 11-12 RPE to get excercise. I worked on one leg drills tonight. I have improved a lot since last spring when I last did them on the trainer.

Seriously though, I don't get why my bike feels less comfortable indoors....hard to stay aero...biggest difference plus my cadence seems lower by 5-10 RPM on the trainer. I do use a fan, bring a cool wet washcloth to wipe my face/neck when I get super sweaty. Perhaps I'm bumming since the outdoor riding season is dwindling here in MA.

I agree with someone said that spin classes had a different goal....and the ones I have attended were not in line with what my cycling goals are.

2005-10-22 11:01 PM
in reply to: #270503

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Subject: RE: Why is the trainer so different & unpleasant?
My number one goal now is losing fat.

That's no fun right there.

Seriously though, I don't get why my bike feels less comfortable indoors

Have you checked to see if your seat had slid down a bit? You're right ... it doesn't make sense. Perhaps without the distractions of outside, you're more aware of how you feel on the bike. Distractions removed, perhaps?

....hard to stay aero...biggest difference

That may change as trainer time increases.

plus my cadence seems lower by 5-10 RPM on the trainer.

Could be because it's non-stop pedaling. Outside, you can pedal like crazy, coast & recover, then resume pedaling like crazy. On the trainer, you stop, so does your cyclometer. You may find that changes as you get in better "trainer shape". I went through a period of adjustment. I did my shorter rides on the trainer and my longer rides outdoors (even in warmer weather). The trainer just gives another stimulus, that seems to carry-over well to outdoor riding.

Perhaps I'm bumming since the outdoor riding season is dwindling here in MA.

Understandable.
2005-10-23 7:33 AM
in reply to: #270503

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Veteran
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Shelby Twp, MI
Subject: RE: Why is the trainer so different & unpleasant?
Why not ride in the rain? With the right clothing it can be dry, warm and fun. From a safety standpoint it obviously depends on the level of traffic around where you ride. Biggest chore is cleaning the bike afterwards. But it's more fun than the trainer.


2005-10-23 8:59 AM
in reply to: #268726

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Master
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Colorado
Subject: RE: Why is the trainer so different & unpleasant?
I think there is one other reason the saddle seams more uncomfortable on a trainer. On your bike outside, you are constantly taking weight OFF your seat and using your forward movement to keep you balanced. whenn you unweight your seat on a trainer (like if you try to simulate a climb and stand up...) it's very wobbly and not as stable. At least for me I pretty much noticed that on the trainer my rear stays parked. Outside, I don't. Maybe that;s because I a Mountain Biker converted to triathlete. I also tend to use my arms a lot more when riding outdoors. You have to steer with your knees & thighs outdoors. I don't often catch myself doing that on a trainer.

Season here is getting short too. We've had 2 major snows already...
I think I'll be concentrating on running this fall and swimming. Not that I won't bike, but I definately don't enjoy that trainer as much as a good real ride.

Julia
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