Indoor cycling becomes more popular as the temperatures start to drop. Now with improved fitness technology readily available, this type of training has entered a whole new era.
Let's take a closer look at the newest indoor cycling technology to see how they stack up against real outdoor cycling.
No More "Riding Solo"
While your turbo trainer or indoor cycle can give you the “on the road” feeling during the winter months, it can't replicate the social interaction and camaraderie found in a chain gang. That is, until now.
Recently, technology has tapped into the indoor cycling market. Whether you have chosen to go for an indoor cycle or a turbo trainer, there are now programmes available that introduce virtual, online races and rides to replicate the competitiveness and community feel real cycling gives you.
So unless you prefer to ride solo, the programmes below could be ideal for you.
First of all, you will most likely require some compatible equipment to take advantage of this technology. This means that, if you have chosen to go for an indoor cycle for your winter training, you will want one that has built-in performance measuring capabilities. These would include the Stages SC3, Wattbike and Schwinn cycles with the Echelon power meter displays.
If you prefer training indoors with a Turbo Trainer, you will want to opt a model that had a computerised resistance adjustment system. This way, the computer on the turbo trainer has the ability to communicate with your virtual reality software to auto-adjust the resistance to reflect terrain and conditions.
Keep an eye out for the power meter on these as well, as this is required to provide the data to a lot of software in order to accurately track your performance against your opponents.
Compatible brands include Wahoo, Elite, Bkool (this has its own VR options), CycleOps and Tacx but be sure to fully read the product description to find out their compatibility with your preferred riding app.
Whether you are training on an indoor cycle or a turbo trainer, the principle remains the same: You create an account on your phone, tablet or smart TV, choose a route/race and start cycling. Others with the same software will then join you, often visibly on the screen, and together you ride.
The advantages of these types of software are the same as those for all group exercises; motivation, healthy competition, sharing PB’s and general social interaction to help get the most from your sessions.
Some of the most popular apps available today are Zwift, Sufferfest, TrainerRoad and Kinomap. Each of these differs slightly in their offering. Kinomap allows individuals to “create” new routes by running, cycling or even rowing them with a camera. By logging in to the app at home, you can also relive any route the other athletes have created.
Sufferfest on the other hand is created solely for cycling and relies on official race footage to create your workout. It suggests cadence and resistances catered to you to create a realistic representation of the race you are performing.
Zwift however is completely virtual, and allows people from around the world to cycle side by side in a computer generated environment. By adjusting the terrain and measuring your power, you can see how well you performed against your opponents as well as yourself if you have chosen the same route before.
Once you have chosen your preferred indoor cycling tools and have found a compatible app, you will likely find other apps that catch your attention, so it will largely depend on personal preference.
The only way to find which one is right for you, is to go out and try them.We are sure you will find the perfect outdoor cycling substitute to get you through those cold winter months.