The Predicament

I used to bike at least 2 times a week just around the FTI area where I live (one loop around the three parallel buildings equal more than 3 km). I usually do an hour and a half up to two hours of stitching my way through this 4 lane cemented road together with FTI bikers and runners from 6 in the morning until 8 when I go home a prepare for work. My distance goes from 40km to slightly more than 50km on average.

Then my family’s real estate corporation (joke only), the Ayala Land, brought this factory enclave for a whooping P21B and closed the entire area for demolition and eventual condo/commercial building construction. With it went my biking and running playground. Unlike with running which I can manage to change route at whim, with biking it is a totally different matter. I am hesitant to go through vehicular traffic just to proceed with some pedaling exercises to some area like SM MOA, a good distance away from home. The bike handling skills and agility I have at present is not giving me enough confidence to maneuver through blind ten wheelers and puj’s aggressively hustling for road infrastructure. In short, my biking took a back seat to my running and my newly reacquainted sport of swimming.

This cannot go on while the entire FTI is being transformed into ARCA South! This would take no less than 3 years!

 

 

The Solution

I found the solution to this predicament via bike trainer Minoura B60-D. I bought mine in one of the Cartimar bike shops for P4, 300. A dash of patience and perseverance though would have earned me a P300 discount at a store nearby! I got the one without the remote for I know I am not fond of always tinkering with the adjustments while aboard my bike. It is much cheaper too. This holds true for my shifting style – using the front shifters most of the time and ignoring the back ones. I was not trained properly by a professional coach so this might not be a good practice.

I mounted my bike immediately after arriving home with my purchase. Can’t wait to spin once again! The back wheel tire was changed to one that had seen better days so that my relatively newer one would not wear out fast turning and heating up against the spinner connected to the magnetic rotor. (A Facebook group mate told me about the Minoura Dualist tire that is made specifically for trainers.) Models that are more expensive use hydraulic rather than magnetic resistance for a much quieter and smoother feel. This one would suffice though since I do all my training with an accompanying bike training video shown below. I realized after my initial test ride that I could not spin for more than 30 minutes. I cannot control my spin speed! Neither do I know when to gear up for more challenging spin and gear down to recover. (I use the gear to change the tension and had the trainer rotor setting fixed to mid strength.) This is where the video is most helpful as it contains warm up, effort intervals, recoveries and cool downs. I was surprised when I managed to complete the whole one hour thirty minute session after three dismal workout days with it.

 
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 My humble home set-up.

 

 

Bike Trainer Workout Videos

I downloaded two bike trainer workout videos from CTXC. They contain intervals that require varying degrees of effort from level 3 being the recovery level and level 6 being the all-out level. What I do is that I use the small crank gear for recovery level 3 and spin at a comfortable pace. When the video calls for level 5 exertion level, I simply shift to the big gear and pick up the pace a little bit. For the all-out level 6, using the same gear, I try to quicken the pace to equate to that of the music in the video. The accompanying sound is a fast-paced music with tempo ranging somewhere from 140-160-bpm.
 
 

This 1 hour 30 minute video has hill climbing segments after the 30-minute mark. These are 2-minute segments of level 6 max effort followed by recovery segments. Some shorter pick up all out segments are inputted somewhere with 10 minute left in the workout. It tells you when to get ready for more challenging segments and to gear up before the start of level 5 or 6 intervals.
 
 

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In this 45-minute workout video, intervals are more manageable than the longer video with shorter all out segments around the 35-minute mark. Be attentive to the effort levels indicated in the video in these max effort segments since one or two quick level 5 decelerations are inserted. Same with the 90-minute video, it will prompt you to get ready and to gear up with each effort intervals.
 
 

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My Trainer Experience

If you ask me if it is worth the purchase, my answer would be a definite yes. Early morning is most convenient for me to ride my steed. However, I cannot ride much earlier than sunrise for visibility and by this time, traffic (and pollution!) already builds up. I do not do night bike outs either. Therefore, in my case, it was trainer or bust. There was just no contest to its usefulness and practicality. Of course it is no replacement for the real experience of road biking. If a long and winding road is conveniently at your reach, then by all means. Otherwise, get a trainer!

Here are the benefits that a relatively newbie rider like me will get from using the trainer:

  1. Strength and cardio exercise for the pedaling muscles, heart and lungs that road biking brings. The trainer though provides a slightly much heavier resistance than the road so train conservatively.
  2. With good bike trainer video exercises, you can effect interval and speed training while in the comfort of your room and without having to worry about road distractions and infrastructures.
  3. Getting used to aero riding position by utilizing the drops or the aero bars (I had mine installed with a clip on for the very first time).  I even placed a mirror beside me just to check how I look in those positions.
  4. Getting your butt accustomed to the pressure and friction of riding as a newbie rider like me.
  5. You can observe how your body feels and reacts to your current bike positioning. Any adjustment needs will be properly addressed and reassessed while in a stationary bike.
  6. Gear shifting will be practiced and perfected. With crank shifting, sometimes a single shift will not suffice. A readjustment shift is usually needed to totally free the chain.
  7. Getting used to and practicing the use of cleat shoes, how it feels to cleat on, pedaling with it and uncleating afterwards to dismount.
  8. Hydration bottle placing, getting from the cradle and drinking on while pedaling will also be familiarized with. The real practice and application will be during road biking though. This will just give you some degree of familiarization with the motions. Same is true with cleat shoes.
  9. Confidence in your leg strength despite not hitting the road for a succession of days.  Personally, I have this phobia whenever I set out to bike after a long hiatus that I cannot pedal my way from a standstill to effect balance or through small spaces in between vehicles in a very slow traffic.
  10. Sitting on your bike while in the trainer feeds your eagerness to hit the road!

 

Things you will not get while in the trainer are:

  1. Bike handling skills including curving, downhill, and uphill handling, etc.
  2. Traffic maneuvering and peloton biking skills.
  3. The things that you get accustomed to and familiar with during trainer exercises like aero positioning, cleating, shifting, bottle drinking, etc. will only be put to real practice while on the road. These you will only perfect when doing them while maneuvering your bike simultaneously.
  4. The experience of riding outside and the fellow bikers you interact with.

 

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Slowly getting used to this scenery. So what’s your plan?