The madness of winter training

Most people who get to know even a little about me think I’m mad; for cycling to work in heavy rain / snow / gale force winds, for riding a CX bike round the 7 Stanes forests (red loops), for racing 3 Peaks less than 4 months after breaking my collar bone, for naming each and every one of my bikes and holding conversations with them, or for taking my cuddly zebra (Zeb) with me everywhere I go!  The thing that throws even hardened cyclists is my winter-long love affair with my turbo trainer. 

It’s not the fact that I do training on the turbo that other cyclists find mad, everyone does some turbo training right!  It’s the nature and style of the training. Working with my valued coach Garry Palmer (Sportstest) we use the turbo to increase my aerobic capacity and lose a bit of winter blubber in the process. It is completely normal for me therefore to sit myself on my saddle, set a power level that allows me to spin away in my Level 2 (fat burning) heart rate zone, and stay there for 2 hours. 

So, what motivates me to do this, when most couldn’t even contemplate it? Here’s my Top 10, building up to the big number 1!

10. There is less grotty kit to wash, as all I wear on the turbo is a sports bra, bib shorts and socks. Yes, they get sweaty, but not like cleaning muck and road grime off cycling longs.

9. It’s warm and dry, which riding on the roads in the winter often is not.  Therefore my Raynauds Syndrome doesn’t kick in!

8. For midweek evening sessions I feel safe, not having the worry of whether drivers can see me or whether my bike light batteries are going to run out.

7. I can cycle no-handed, one-handed or single-legged if I need to, so it’s adaptable round stupid injuries (broken wrists, rotator cuffs, carpal tunnel, broken collarbones just a few of the injuries I’ve trained through on the turbo). I’ve not tried any lower limb injuries yet, other than a twisted ankle.

6. It does wonders for pedalling style, as you have to concentrate on cadence and technique as there is nothing else to think about!

5. My bike(s) don’t get as trashed, as one stays on the turbo all winter (it will get its chain replaced when it comes back off to go and race TTs), and only one bike goes out for commuting purposes. Less cleaning, less maintenance. All good.

4. It’s routine. I don’t need to worry about a suitable route, which way the wind is blowing or whether my light is charged. It has a joyous simplicity to it.

3. It’s a great stress-buster that breaks the stresses of work from the stresses of domestic solitude. I’m in the zone for that period of time and my brain turns off.

2. It is the most time efficient way of training I have discovered. Every minute of my turbo time is valuable training as it is exactly in the right zone and fulfilling its purpose. Unless you are very very lucky with your local roads, there will always be inefficient minutes when you are going downhill or being blown along by the wind.

1. It is a perfect way to keep up to date on all your favourite DVD box sets! Lost is my current favourite, although I am now on Series 6. Back to Game of Thrones in the next couple of weeks!

Try it, you might just enjoy it πŸ˜€


5 thoughts on “The madness of winter training

  1. Couldn’t agree more Karen though I only wear the sports bra on a weekend. Having been benefited by being tested by Gary I’m curious – given cardiac drift of sitting on turbo do you just work on power and let HR do what it will and just assess decoupling etc afterwards? Or do you work to keep HR strictly in zone?


    1. Hi Anth, good to hear from you! It’s all about HR for me when I’m on the turbo. If I find my HR creeping up, I drop the resistance slightly. Easy to do on my fancy Tacx turbo (bought from Steve at Cowley Cycles, Northallerton) but maybe slightly more challenging on a more basic model.


  2. but you need to take account of HR drift over a long session-at a steady power reading HR gradually drifts up so by keeping a steady HR throughout you are actually riding to less power at the end of the session


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