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Epic tales for epicRides™ by GT in LA

Around this time of the year, not one day goes by without several tweets about how terrible cycling trainers are. People are lamenting the boredom and monotony, and I am scratching my head thinking: WHY?

I don’t mind getting on a trainer, and there are times when I really look forward to it. At times I ride for 45 minutes, sometimes an hour, and others longer, but always with a purpose. Personally, I think I get the best workout between 45 minutes to 90 minutes. There are some who told me that the reason I like the trainer is because I am fairly new to it and perhaps there is some truth to that.

However, I think my enthusiasm comes from using the epicRIDES videos as my training tool. My physical setup is fairly simple, and I use my laptop set on a table in front of my bike to watch the DVD’s, because I don’t have a TV/DVR combo in the room I have the trainer. But back to epicRides™training DVD’s.

Here are some of the reasons I get excited about getting onto the trainer, and since pictures tell a thousand words, the next segment will be augmented by some images taken from the Mt. Lemmon ride, an amazing 70 minute workout. The visual perspective of the rides is very attractive to me, because for the most part, the training ride is filmed from the riders point-of-view (exceptions are panorama views and the occasional glimpse of the group of riders in the video). Have a look:

In short, the videography is truly great, but what makes this all work for me are the tools which come with it, and right on the top of the list is the digital dashboard. It is a simple layover the ride images which keeps track of your time and indicates the position of your ride. Readouts of training zones, elevations and countdowns help in the training effort. Yet all of this has a very easy to read, and uncluttered interface.

 


Information about the next segment; Training Zone, Time and Effort


…and the fun begins


The progress bar always lets you know where you are in your ride

But, that would do nothing without the training guides, which give you a solid understanding of the TZ, training zone:


Explanation of Training Zones - TZ

A quick caption of the HUD (heads up display)



 

Easy explanation to maximize your training

And the best part, every ride comes with three different training instructions: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. Unleash the power of these training rides by following the instructions for your riding ability. Staying on point with the Mt. Lemmon ride for the last 20 minutes, here is an example for an intermediate rider:


Look at the last entry

 
I can guarantee you, if you follow the training guide, no matter what your fitness level may be, you will get a hell of a workout with no room to think that ‘trainers are boring‘!

Epic ride locations, stunning videography in wide screen format, well designed training programs for all levels, companion music mixes (free), power profiles for those who own equipment to use them, digital downloads as an alternative to DVD’s – in short – a product I love to use because of its beauty and functionality.
Most of all, it is never boring – because all you need to do to get rid of your boredom, shift into a smaller cog and try to keep up the RPM’s and scream when you get to the top.

I know there are many other products on the market and I have to admit that I don’t have knowledge about them, because I am very happy with the training scenario provided by epicRIDES I could not imagine getting onto a trainer just listening to music, or spinning away while watching a movie. However, I do look forward to getting onto my trainer with a structured workout, and epicRides™ does that for me perfectly.

GT in LA is a serious recreational road cycling in Los Angeles, CA.
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Indoor Cycling Trainer – a beginners tale by GT in LA

Ok, so by now you know that I finally got a trainer, and I had some interesting experiences, most very good, but some, not so. As with everything new in life, a trainer also has a learning curve. My friends know that I am the analytical kind of a guy, which means I did plenty of on-line and in-store research. However, some things you simply can’t research. For example, what it feels like when you sit atop your bike strapped to the trainer for the first time and start pedaling! Weird!!!

But NO, don’t get me wrong, not weird in a bad way, it is a weird as in – why am I not moving forward? Weird as in – am I doing this right? Weird as in – how does this effort translate into real riding? Weird as in – what gear should I be in? Weird as in – for how hard and how long should I pedal? Weird as in – how do I measure my effort? Weird as in – why does my Garmin Edge just cycle on and off without recording any data?

OK – by now you should have a feel for the little things I went trough as a newbie, and you rightfully ask: “so what are the answers?” In no particular order these are my ‘a-ha’ moments (I marked the things I thought you might have already with $ and those I think you might have to buy with $$$):



  • when you first get onto your new trainer, just get comfy – spin easy, and YES, you can use your shifters
  • $$$ if you own a Garmin cycling device you will need to TURN OFF GPS ( I don’t know about other brands),  and your device will become an invaluable tool to track your heart rate and cadence
  • in the first couple of sessions, keep it to 45 minutes max and just get familiar with the trainer; i.e. experiment and see the difference of spinning, lets say in the big gear and a 15 cog in the back, at 70 rpm, at 80 rpm, at 90 rpm and so on…. you will be surprised by the change of resistance (disclaimer: I have a fluid trainer, thus – the higher the cadence the more resistance)
  • $ you NEED ventilation (and lots of it – a tall fan is a perfect choice)
  • No PLAN – no WORKOUT
  • Do NOT workout hopping on a trainer just spinning – (I know this is repetitious) – but you need a workout plan a.k.a. training DVD
  • $ speaking of DVD – whatever floats your boat or budget, you need either a little DVD player, or a laptop, or a TV or a big screen in front of your setup
  • $$$ no sense of having the above equipment without a training DVD – so you will need one (well, to avoid boredom, more than one)
  • $$$ now that you are training with a plan you will literally sweat buckets – protect your floor with a training mat under neath your setup; a lot cheaper than replacing your carpet or oak floor
  • $ use your Garmin ( or Polar etc), if you don’t have one train by “perceived effort” on a scale of 1- 5
  • $$$ get yourself a training DVD you can enjoy, and one which comes with a training plan.
  • My personal favorite company is epicRIDES
  • $ listening to workout music on your iPod, iPhone, BB or whatever really will help (my favorite workout music is a free download from Podrunner – incredible workout tunes)
  • follow the workout instructions from your DVD – interval training is all about its jacked up to be
  • it is OK to feel your muscles screaming
  • it is OK to STAND up in your trainer
  • it is OK to SCREAM
  • it is NOT OK to give up
  • track your training and know the level of effort (gears you are using)
  • $ have your drink bottles on your bike – you will need them
  • just like on the road – hydrate!!!!!
  • $$$ a spare wheel with a training tire is very handy but not needed
  • $$$ a climbing (or stabilizing) block is very helpful, a climbing block will hold your front wheel in place, while giving you the option of a downhill-, even- or climbing simulation


Earlier I stated that there was some disappointment, and I wanted to let you know what it was, and most importantly, that it was only temporary. And the disappointment was created by inexperience; getting on the trainer without knowing what to do. Just sitting there, spinning, minute after minute, no music, no exercise plan, not going anywhere – the first couple of times, were simply discouraging.

I am so thankful to Alan Jones (@epicplanet on Twitter) , producer of epicRides for an incredible series of inspirational and breath taking DVD’s of truly stunning rides. The structure and training instructions supporting these epic rides, sets my indoor riding sessions apart. I am likely in the minority when I say that I look forward to my training sessions. Do you?


GT in LA is a serious recreational road cycling in Los Angeles, CA.
>> Go GT in LA’s Blog

Time for an Indoor Trainer by GT in LA

Man, it took a long time for me to get to an indoor trainer, and no, this is not going to be an article about which trainer you should buy! (there are tons of good sites which debate the pros and cons of all the different models available) For me the decision came down to two three things: reliability, noise and price.


I have talked about
Performance Bike before, after all I bought April from them. I am a “Performance Team Member” (meaning I carry their annual membership card which you pay for), one of the benefits this card gives is access to member only sales specials. Recently I received one of those special emails and it offered a Travel Trac Fluid trainer for 50% off, and I had a 20%-off coupon for a single item. I previously tested this very trainer in the local store and knew I liked how quiet it was. Sure, there is some noise, but I can easily watch TV or listen to my music etc. without distraction. Online research yielded very positive results, and I ran out of excuses to not pull the trigger. I ordered online, and to avoid shipping cost I had the unit delivered to my local store in Santa Monica. I guess I was not the only one recognizing a good deal since it took quiet a while to receive it.



Performance was good about keeping me updated of the status and a couple of weeks later I was the proud owner of my first ‘Trainer’….now what?

Without assembly nothing happens, and luckily the new model of the Travel Trac is a breeze to setup and does not require minute modifications to adjust tension on the rear wheel. 10 minutes after unpacking the box the bike was securely locked into the trainer. In our home we have the benefit of a bonus room atop the garage and I figured it would be nice to set the bike up facing a door leading to a balcony overlooking the front yard. OK, so time to clip in and try my first spin.
Weird, very weird at first, and believe me, just hopping on and start spinning without a plan is no fun at all. But, during the first 45 minutes I learned something new about me: I have more water in me than I thought possible, I mean I sweat buckets. You won’t believe how much you sweat in one place when you are not riding outdoors and have the benefit of the rushing air cooling you off. Three lessons learned from the first try:

ONE – even if you ride in front of an open door, a fan does wonders, and TWO: a matt under the bicycle is essential if you care about the floor, and THREE: a training plan.



The fan was no problem, if your household is like ours, there is a fan somewhere. The matt was a no brainer, and old exercise matt which was neatly stored away and long forgotten, the training plan took a bit more thinking. But then I remembered a generous gift from Allen Jones (@EpicPlanet) Producer of EpicRides training DVD‘s, which I received almost a year ago. To this day I am not sure why I was the lucky recipient, but he send me two DVD’s. I have Epic Tucson – Mt. Lemmon and Epic Tucson – Saguaro East, but not having had a trainer, never had the benefit to enjoy the brilliant composition of these training videos. So I rigged up an old laptop stand, which now sits in front of my bike and holds my MacBook Pro, playing the DVDs. What a difference training with a plan makes.



I absolutely love Allen’s approach to the training segments. Training Zone, elevation profiles, time intervals and pop-up interval training instructions all clearly laid out. Additionally you can download detailed training instructions in PDF format for all their rides from the website. Now getting onto the trainer, is like getting onto a ride with purpose. And yes, when you are done, you still will be drenched (fan or not), but you will get off the trainer with a great sense of accomplishment. I have not done Mt. Lemmon yet, but I love the East Saguaro ride, a perfect 45 minute morning workout with great intervals and climbs and I highly recommend you check out their website of all of Allen’s amazing EpicRides.

The last piece to the puzzle was to measure performance, which I thought would be a breeze with my Garmin 705. Not so quick! It took several attempts and the help from some Twitter friends to get it working. You see at first my Garmin would simply cycle from Auto Stop – to – Auto Stop – to – Auto Stop….well, you get the hint. Puzzling indeed? Why would it not record HR and Cadence? Thankfully
@sbbc_la had the answer: While on the trainer turn off the GPS!…and now I get what I was looking for:




I know there is a lot of people who make the statement that they ‘HATE’ their time on the trainer. Perhaps I have not logged enough miles on the trainer yet, but I truly appreciate that I can hop on the trainer whenever I have an hour and get a good workout in.


I discovered that I love working out in the morning more than at night. It gives me a charge for the whole day and I love the feeling. Yes, it is not the same as riding outdoors, but when you are running short on time, this is a wonderful way of keeping your cycling legs alive. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


GT in LA is a serious recreational road cycling in Los Angeles, CA.
>> Go GT in LA’s Blog