Forum home Road cycling forum Road beginners

Turbo Session v Road miles

autobahnautobahn Posts: 114
edited January 2011 in Road beginners
Hopefully a topical issue which alot if us are intrigued by
It looks likely like that I'm not going to get out on my Sunday run this weekend, a bike highlight of the week when I tend to average 60 / 70 miles over 4 hours with a few hills thrown in.
This will be my 3rd Sunday missed in a row. The "loosing my bike fitness" paranoia is creeping in!!!
I have been supplementing this with a good 1 hour session on the Turbo, using sufferfest training videos after which I feel like Ive had a good workout.
I much prefer getting out on the road and know the pro's & cons of turbo v road.
My question is What do you think a good 1hour workout on the turbo is equavalent to in road miles?I know we cant strictlly compare like for like and there are variables,like wind, hills etc but the experienced riders may be able to shed some light how good a 1 hour session is for me
Thoughts are much appreciated.
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  • 16mm16mm Posts: 545
    I don't think your heart and lungs can tell the difference, so for the same intensity I'd say time was like for like. More than likely you'd stop for traffic / junctions on a road ride, which you wouldn't do on a turbo.

    Similarly with legs, for the same [email protected] your muscles don't really know the difference, although my crappy trainer is not very smooth, which forces me to pedal smoother.

    Are you training for anything in particular, or worried about losing your fitness to do Sunday rides?
  • amaferangaamaferanga Posts: 6,789
    I'm currently replacing my 3 to 4 hour weekend ride with 2 ~90min tempo sessions on the turbo. Any more than 90 minutes at a time is more than I can bear at any intensity.

    Time and intensity make more sense than miles for comparison IMO.
    More problems but still living....
  • I think in my own case that a 1 hour turbo session is equal to my usual 35 mile hill training session lasting 2 hours. the reasons being that on the turbo I have to pedal continuously, where on the road I can freewheel down hills and flats and recover a bit.

    The main problem I have with a turbo is I get extremely bored after 30 minutes, so I reckon that 45 minutes is the limit. In that time I try a few different things, like getting tucked in the drops for 5 minutes, which I rarely do on the road bike unless it's a clear road.

    Yesterday I ran for 25 minutes in the snow, then immediately back home 25 minutes on the turbo doing a few intervals - result is very tired legs today.
    CAAD9
    Kona Jake the Snake
    Merlin Malt 4
  • VelonutterVelonutter Posts: 2,437 Lives Here
    I am currently doing between 100-150 miles a week on my turbo/rollers, I have set it up on a 53/11 and once warmed up keep it from 53/15 - 53/11 for at least 30-40 miles, heart is maxing out, but find I am more exhausted than on a 60 Mile club ride.

    Like some other posters, I would reckon 1-1 1/2 hours on the rollers/turbo is equal to 2-3 hours on the road
  • ChiggyChiggy Posts: 261
    240Wtraining.jpg

    Here's that chart again.
    I've drawn on a couple of co-ordinate examples.

    Red is 240W on a turbo, as discussed on another thread. CycleOps Fluid2 at 20mph.
    Green is a 4 hour ride averaging 15.5 mph ( 105 W average ).

    Note the proximity of the co-ordinates with the NASA 'Healthy men' and Whitt's 'Amateur Tourists'.

    40 minutes at 240 W constant is as good, if not a slight better workout than a 4 hour Audax 100.

    I do a 45 minute 240 W session on 3 weekday evenings and then a 100km DIY on Sunday mornings for fun.
  • Now do it again in blue and yellow for those of us red/green colourblind people who want to smash things like this up.
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    I'd like a Venn diagram please ? I've not seen one of those for years.
  • ratsbeyfusratsbeyfus Posts: 2,841
    cougie wrote:
    I'd like a Venn diagram please ? I've not seen one of those for years.

    venn_diagram_example.gif


    I had one of them red bikes but I don't any more. Sad face.

    @ratsbey
  • ChiggyChiggy Posts: 261
    Zachariah wrote:
    Now do it again in blue and yellow for those of us red/green colourblind people who want to smash things like this up.

    Don't worry about it.

    Just remember the "STOP" lamp is the one above the middle lamp, and the "OK if it's clear" lamp is beneath the middle lamp.

    If it's at night, STOP, and if the lamp immediately above the lamp which goes out lights up on its own, you'll have to wait around for two lamps together and then a single lamp immediately below the pair that have just gone out.

    Clear?

    If there's a broken lamp, just get off and walk.
  • PokerfacePokerface Posts: 7,960
    I had this conversation with my coach tonight actually.

    He said a decent turbo workout is worth 2-3 times as much as a road workout. So 1 good hour is worth 2-3 hours on the road. Unless you go balls out on the road for the entire time.

    I had no idea - although it explains why I could barely walk after 2 hours of temp on the turbo last night!
  • Pokerface wrote:
    I had this conversation with my coach tonight actually.

    He said a decent turbo workout is worth 2-3 times as much as a road workout. So 1 good hour is worth 2-3 hours on the road. Unless you go balls out on the road for the entire time.

    I had no idea - although it explains why I could barely walk after 2 hours of temp on the turbo last night!

    A turbo with a HR/power meter can be one of the best training tools a cyclist has. But like squatting in the gym, people don't use them because they're hard!
    "A cyclist has nothing to lose but his chain"

    PTP Runner Up 2015
  • VelonutterVelonutter Posts: 2,437 Lives Here
    Pokerface wrote:
    I had this conversation with my coach tonight actually.

    He said a decent turbo workout is worth 2-3 times as much as a road workout. So 1 good hour is worth 2-3 hours on the road. Unless you go balls out on the road for the entire time.

    I had no idea - although it explains why I could barely walk after 2 hours of temp on the turbo last night!

    Yep as I said Poker: -
    Like some other posters, I would reckon 1-1 1/2 hours on the rollers/turbo is equal to 2-3 hours on the road

    Great minds think alike :D:lol: 8)
  • PokerfacePokerface Posts: 7,960
    Velonutter wrote:
    Pokerface wrote:
    I had this conversation with my coach tonight actually.

    He said a decent turbo workout is worth 2-3 times as much as a road workout. So 1 good hour is worth 2-3 hours on the road. Unless you go balls out on the road for the entire time.

    I had no idea - although it explains why I could barely walk after 2 hours of temp on the turbo last night!

    Yep as I said Poker: -
    Like some other posters, I would reckon 1-1 1/2 hours on the rollers/turbo is equal to 2-3 hours on the road

    Great minds think alike :D:lol: 8)


    I was just verifying that my coach told me. :wink:
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    Chiggy wrote:


    I do a 45 minute 240 W session on 3 weekday evenings and then a 100km DIY on Sunday mornings for fun.

    240 W for one person is very different to 240W for another!! Do you tell all the people you coach to do 240W for 40 mins?
  • ChiggyChiggy Posts: 261
    NapoleonD wrote:
    Chiggy wrote:


    I do a 45 minute 240 W session on 3 weekday evenings and then a 100km DIY on Sunday mornings for fun.

    240 W for one person is very different to 240W for another!! Do you tell all the people you coach to do 240W for 40 mins?

    That sentance was a suffix to the main content of the post which explained how a 40 minute hardish session on a turbo equals a 4 hour Audax.

    I'm sure the vast majority of the forum's readership understood the principle of my post.

    Also, the vast majority of the readership will tailor their turbo sessions according to their own well understood abilities.
    My example ( it IS my example because I refer to myself ) is MY training session to keep my legs in a condition for the proverbial 'drop of a hat' 100 km meander through the countryside.
  • jonmackjonmack Posts: 522
    Not 100% on topic but I've read a few articles about professional triathletes who do all their cycling training on turbos, I'll try find some links for you.

    My legs can definitely tell the difference between an hour on the turbo and an hour on the road, to me, the road ride feels much easier. Nice to hear a coach saying that 1hr on the turbo is equivalent to 2-3 hours on the road though.
  • I am finding that I am more tolerant of sitting on the turbo but I still cant seem to hold above 85% heart rate for as long as on the road. So is it just psychological that it feels harder at any given heart rate on the turbo than on the road?
  • itboffinitboffin Posts: 20,049
    I was wondering the same myself, what with the current weather and an injury I now have no choice but use the turbo.

    So is the general agreement that turbo miles at least equal road miles if not better?

    I'm not prepared to spend a lot of money on a turbo so I guess hill reps will have to wait.
    Rule #5 // Harden The censored Up.
    Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.
    Rule #12 // The correct number of bikes to own is n+1.
    Rule #42 // A bike race shall never be preceded with a swim and/or followed by a run.
  • PokerfacePokerface Posts: 7,960
    Turbo work is difficult because:

    • Even with a big fan blowing, cooling yourself is always an issue compared to the road.
    • You really can't stop pedaling the entire time. On the road you get little breaks (downhills, lights, traffic, etc)
    • Boredom - let's face it, it's hard to maintain focus for over an hour. On the road, you have lots of things to keep you interested in the ride.

    A good turbo workout is a little like a 25 mile time trial - all out effort for around an hour. At the end you feel knackered.

    But turbo workouts can be much better than road workouts in some respects (if you can hack them). Everything from concentrating on cadence or pedal stroke to focusing on consistent power - and not having to worry about hitting anything or anyone.
  • neebneeb Posts: 4,448
    For whatever reason I can sustain a significantly higher HR on the turbo (85-95%+ of HRmax) for, say, 30 minutes => 1 hour, than I can on the road. But I can sustain an average 75% of HRmax on the road for 2 or 3 hours, and I could never manage to sit on the turbo for that long.

    I have the tacx fortius, and the real-life video with simulated gradients is a massive motivation tool for me. One thing I have noticed is that I can "climb" on the fortius on an 7% average simulated slope for 30 or 40 minutes at 90% of HRmax, but I can't go on a simulated flat course for the same time at the same power / HR output. Yet, if I compensate for the decreased roller resistance on the flat by using the gears appropriately, I assume there is no physical difference other than the video. I should be able to hammer way "on the flat" at the same power output for the same amount of time except in a higher gear, but I can't.
  • itboffinitboffin Posts: 20,049
    Having not used the turbo since the beginning of the year I noticed just how bad my pedal stroke has gotten, even after a few sessions its much smoother which was very noticeable out on the road.
    Rule #5 // Harden The censored Up.
    Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.
    Rule #12 // The correct number of bikes to own is n+1.
    Rule #42 // A bike race shall never be preceded with a swim and/or followed by a run.
  • So for a novice user would a turbo be an ideal tool to increase road performance?

    I've noticed that from riding 8 miles per day work commute to just a 16mile weekend ride due to the dark nites and rubbish weather that im really suffering on the weekend rides and not really enjoying them either :roll:
  • MrBibble wrote:
    So for a novice user would a turbo be an ideal tool to increase road performance?

    I've noticed that from riding 8 miles per day work commute to just a 16mile weekend ride due to the dark nites and rubbish weather that im really suffering on the weekend rides and not really enjoying them either :roll:

    Yes, but you'll also get incredibly bored.

    In another turbo post it's "somewhat" agreed that 1 hour on the turbo is equal to 2 or 3 hours riding on the road.

    But another thing about turbos is that you can finesse your pedaling style a bit better...and boy you sweat off the pounds.
    CAAD9
    Kona Jake the Snake
    Merlin Malt 4
  • itboffinitboffin Posts: 20,049
    Sweat off the pounds you say? erm i've gain 4lbs since switching from the road to turbo :?
    Rule #5 // Harden The censored Up.
    Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.
    Rule #12 // The correct number of bikes to own is n+1.
    Rule #42 // A bike race shall never be preceded with a swim and/or followed by a run.
  • GarzGarz Posts: 1,155
    either your not sweating enough or your eating more! :wink:
  • Or gaining muscle!
  • MrBibble wrote:
    So for a novice user would a turbo be an ideal tool to increase road performance?

    I've noticed that from riding 8 miles per day work commute to just a 16mile weekend ride due to the dark nites and rubbish weather that im really suffering on the weekend rides and not really enjoying them either :roll:

    Yes, but you'll also get incredibly bored.

    In another turbo post it's "somewhat" agreed that 1 hour on the turbo is equal to 2 or 3 hours riding on the road.

    But another thing about turbos is that you can finesse your pedaling style a bit better...and boy you sweat off the pounds.

    I can cope with the boredom, was thinking of a 30min blast straight after work then start then commute when the lighter evenings restart.
  • jonmackjonmack Posts: 522
    I weighed myself before I rode, 66.7kg, weight myself after, 67.2kg :(
  • itboffin wrote:
    Sweat off the pounds you say? erm i've gain 4lbs since switching from the road to turbo :?

    Maybe so, but you don't mention how much energy you expend on each.
    CAAD9
    Kona Jake the Snake
    Merlin Malt 4
  • ChiggyChiggy Posts: 261
    Boredom only exists when the person doing the activity does not know WHY they are doing it.

    On a bicycle turbo trainer / ergometer.
    The reason why we do it is so we can be ahead of the rest in the Sportives next summer.
    Get focused and bash that turbo. :D
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