Do I need a turbo trainer to perform well?

I’m staring out the window at what looks like a passably sunny January day here in London and regretting not going out for a ride first thing – I’m on a late shift this week and that’s about the only perceivable benefit.

I have weighed myself this morning and I’m still somewhere between 75 and 78kg (12 stone plus). I’ve still got the last snotty trails of a cold that won’t shift. I’ve not ridden properly since perhaps the week before Christmas and got a little hot and breathless on my commute home last night.

All this is making me feel a bit down about this year as I really want to do more and achieve more this year. I’ve not got a training plan as such but I know what has worked for me in the past. I might follow the seven-hour training plan that came with The Guardian a few weeks ago.

The Guardian's seven-hour training plan for cyclists

I looked at the 12-hour plan and discounted it immediately. I like doing things other than cycling, I don’t have to sacrifice that much of my week to it. I’ve got goals but, ever since I completed the Etape in 2007, I ride my bike primarily for enjoyment and secondly for “achievement”.

So why am I asking if I need a turbo trainer if I really don’t care? Well, it’s that old double bind: I’d like to enjoy my riding more and the best way to do that is to be fitter and stronger so it’s less stress and strain.

I’ve been reading about how getting a power meter is the future for improving your training and making it more focused (see February’s Procycling – the print version). It’s expensive, I’m a hobbyist and you probably are as well. Would you rather spend the money on a trip to the Alps this year or on knowing that you’ve managed to eek out an extra 5 watts?

OK, that’s overly simplistic and a bit cynical, but it’s a real world question that it feels like a lot of people don’t bother to ask it when eulogising the technology. I’d actually be keen to try the tech and see if it does make a difference before writing it off but ultimately what am I achieving here?

If you’re wondering where I’m coming from, it was Jez Hastings on u2needyourheadsfixed

“i have read and read and read loads of training ideas and programmes but they all seem to ignore that most of us are not full time sponsored riders – either attached to a pro team or as a privateer funded by the dhss. fortunately or unfortunately, david harmon and i have business/work/families/ homeschools to run.

turbo training is about as exciting as watching varnish dry, but with more wetness and discomfort. however, being on the outer edge, sometimes one does not have a choice of how to get the hours/ miles in.”

So do I get one and admit that the only way I’m going to get the hours in until the weather and motivation improve is on a turbo trainer in the kitchen? This doesn’t account for my kitchen being open plan and space limited which obviously count against the idea. Or the paint drying aspect.


Can’t there be a simpler way to get things going?

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