It's not as easy as it sounds. I've recently gotten into a real good routine with my friendly home CycleOps SuperMagneto Pro. Despite the awful grinding noise it makes on occasion at low speeds (not as bad as my POS Blackburn Trackstand Ultimate), it has been pretty good to me. We get together about 3 times a week and it helps me sweat all over the place and evokes comments from my wifey like 'you smell like dog fart' and 'did someone light a tire on fire?' Every now and then though, it's just too much to take, and it's wonderful that I just learned there are real alternatives to a winter stuck inside on the trainer (NO, not actually riding outside. who in their right mind would do THAT???).
A few weeks ago I learned that my local bike shop (LBS for short) offers tri-weekly computrainer rides. If you're not familiar with this device, it's a suped up computer trainer that networks to other devices and puts people into a simulated race course. So, for the price of a Boston area movie ticket, I get out once a week and sweat my you know whats off with some other like minded bike freaks and weirdos. We all ride and joust with our schwartzez, and eventually, about an hour and 15 minutes into it, someone comes out on top at the finish line.
Herein (spelling?) lies the problem. Computrainers are a great way to break up your indoor training routine and can help you make new friends and influence others. Computrainers, however, are not a great way to actually TRAIN indoors, ironically. It all comes back to that schwartz waving. There's just no way to stick to an actual training plan when you can see your little carnival horsey bouncing along up there on the computer screen, powered by nothing more than your your trainer (think squirt gun and you're right there with me) and fragile sense of self esteem. No one likes getting beat by 50 year old gym rats or beefy collegiate cyclists who say dude too much.
So, I ask you, is there a way to actually get a productive workout out of an indoor time trial type environment? I guess that depends a lot on what phase of your training plan you are in. Right now, January, it seems really unproductive. We're supposed to be pushing our HR tolerances just above the aerobic zone while we work our legs up to push bigger and bigger gears with the same amount of effort. Now, in April, on a rainy Saturday morning, it's ok to really flex nuts and then get out and run like you stole something.
I guess we all have a choice though. Follow your instincts and push for a win, or follow your coach's advice and show a little restraint. As Will is so fond of saying to me this time of year, "let's not burn all our matches in January. Dude." Ok. Will never says dude, but you get the drift.
Learn how to really ride your stationary bike this year, and I bet it will pay dividends for you come race day. And that's the way Sue C's it.