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Turbo trainer vs. spin classes

Hello, I've foolishly signed up for the etape du tour next July. I've got a decent base, in that I can ride 150k or so on a rolling or flattish course without too much effort...however, the etape this year is short (135k) and exceptionally intense (basically, first 40k up the Roselend, then a mid-course col at about 15k, then the last 35k up to Val Thorens). In other words, I'm going to have to kick it up a notch to make it enjoyable rather than suffering.

As such, I'm going to try to add in some more structured training, i.e. more subthreshold efforts. Once the weather warms up, that will be easier. But for Jan-March, I probably won't be able to plan any outdoor training. So...i was thinking about signing up for spinning at local gym (I've done in the past, the motivation of having already spent the money definitely helps so long as you don't let the instructors dictate your cadence :D ) ... or, going the turbo trainer route, which has both the advantage and disadvantage of being at home :( .

The trainer would probably be less expensive than classes 4x per week, but then again, maybe the motivation will peter out. Has anyone ever tried both and found a clear advantage? I'm not really going for a fully structured program, but more trying to get used to intense efforts before I get outside...

Posts

  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,258
    Depends on the spin class - some of them don't have much in common with 'cycling' as we know it. A turbo at least allows you to follow your own prescribed programme and schedule - rather than someone else's..
  • ^^Yeah, that's for sure. Some I've taken have been really odd, with an emphasis on super high cadences. However, I've had some where the instructor was clearly a cyclist and had us mimicking long sustained climbs. Definitely a mixed bag, but I worry that with a turbo I'll be looking for excuses not to do it, i.e, have to feed the cat, watch "The Crown," play with my kids etc.
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    I teach spin so my classes are similar to turbo sessions - but I have to have shorter intervals to keep the class interested.
    Us cyclists might be up for a 20 min stretch at one power level - but 'civilians' want a bit of variety.

    If you enjoy the spin classes and you go - then go for them.

    If you know you can stick to the turbo sessions - (what interface ? Trainerroad ? Zwift ? Out of a book ?) then that would have the edge.

    However fit you are - you'll still suffer. But if you're fitter you'll suffer for slightly less time...
  • timothywtimothyw Posts: 2,482
    Def Defyr wrote:
    Hello, I've foolishly signed up for the etape du tour next July. I've got a decent base, in that I can ride 150k or so on a rolling or flattish course without too much effort...however, the etape this year is short (135k) and exceptionally intense (basically, first 40k up the Roselend, then a mid-course col at about 15k, then the last 35k up to Val Thorens). In other words, I'm going to have to kick it up a notch to make it enjoyable rather than suffering.
    While training will no doubt help you go quicker, it won't necessarily make it any more enjoyable - as that famous quote goes, "It never gets any easier, you just go faster"

    The key thing is riding within yourself if you don't want to suffer, and having the gearing that allows you to do so - with compact chainsets and 34 tooth cassettes now widely available this is very different from the days of 39x23 bottom gears.
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 15,289
    TimothyW wrote:
    Def Defyr wrote:
    Hello, I've foolishly signed up for the etape du tour next July. I've got a decent base, in that I can ride 150k or so on a rolling or flattish course without too much effort...however, the etape this year is short (135k) and exceptionally intense (basically, first 40k up the Roselend, then a mid-course col at about 15k, then the last 35k up to Val Thorens). In other words, I'm going to have to kick it up a notch to make it enjoyable rather than suffering.
    While training will no doubt help you go quicker, it won't necessarily make it any more enjoyable - as that famous quote goes, "It never gets any easier, you just go faster"

    The key thing is riding within yourself if you don't want to suffer, and having the gearing that allows you to do so - with compact chainsets and 34 tooth cassettes now widely available this is very different from the days of 39x23 bottom gears.
    It works if you can control your pace. I did the Pyrenees at an average of 20kmph and enjoyed it. Planning the same for the Alps. Oh, and using a 34-29.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • daniel_bdaniel_b Posts: 9,059
    From my own personal experience, and as long as you are committed to it, I would recommend a DD turbo, and a Trainerroad subscription - between now and July you'll be able to make a significant difference imho.

    If you have the time, I'd look to go Mid volume (7.5 hours a week) for 12 weeks of base, and then 6 weeks of build, and then you can either junk it and switch to outside, OR just reduce the number of TR workouts to 2 or 3 short but intense (More build or speciality) ones a week, and combine them with your actual rides at the weekend - you can also substitute them out as and when required, and new TR also takes account of your external rides, and you can either estimate your effort, or if you have power it will take the exact stats from that, so you still have a good overall view of your TSS for the week\month etc etc
    Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
    Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
    Scott CR1 SL 12
    Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
    Scott Foil 18
  • SJH76SJH76 Posts: 191
    If you can afford it, I'd get a smart trainer and use that. Modern technology is so good that you could even (with the right setup) be on zwift almost anywhere. All you need is your bike, turbo, mobile phone / iPad and a decent internet connection. A spinning bike is pretty much static. You are not going to be able to lug one of them with you everywhere.
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    The spin bikes are in the gym that he might join ?

    A dumb trainer is just as good as a smart trainer I find - and a lot cheaper. So long as you have gears and can increase the resistance on the turbo you're good to go.
  • Def Defyr wrote:
    I worry that with a turbo I'll be looking for excuses not to do it, i.e, have to feed the cat, watch "The Crown," play with my kids etc.

    Try and have a permanent setup if you have the space, so your turbo is ready to jump on at a moments notice. Spare bike strapped to it and everything all laid out. That way you're less likely to put it off by the thought of having to drag it all out and set it up each time. The less "barriers to training" in the way the more likely you are to keep at it.

    Fenix wrote:
    A dumb trainer is just as good as a smart trainer I find - and a lot cheaper. So long as you have gears and can increase the resistance on the turbo you're good to go.

    I would never want to go back to a dumb trainer. Or wheel-on trainer.
  • SJH76SJH76 Posts: 191
    As is mentioned, the motivation can go especially when sat on a dumb turbo with little to stimulate the mind when sat on your own. Some can read or listen to music to help them through it, but they can be a bit monotonous on your own, that's why having someone or something to interact with helps.
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    Whatever he does - do it gradually. If the ride isnt until July - doing 4 or 5 sessions a week from January will end up with burnout by March.

    Also look to book in some events before July - so you have to get out to do a decent ride - helps keep the motivation up.
  • SJH76SJH76 Posts: 191
    Fenix wrote:
    Whatever he does - do it gradually. If the ride isnt until July - doing 4 or 5 sessions a week from January will end up with burnout by March.

    Also look to book in some events before July - so you have to get out to do a decent ride - helps keep the motivation up.

    Yep. Jan/Feb local club reliability rides are always a good place to go too.
  • wongataawongataa Posts: 923
    Fenix wrote:
    The spin bikes are in the gym that he might join ?

    A dumb trainer is just as good as a smart trainer I find - and a lot cheaper. So long as you have gears and can increase the resistance on the turbo you're good to go.
    Except with a smart trainer you don't have to faff about finding the gear/resistance/cadence combo to achieve your target power, you don't have to concentrate on maintaining your target power, you can't cheat a bit by slackening off your effort. Smart trainers are way easier.
  • daniel_bdaniel_b Posts: 9,059
    On the burnout topic, I think a lot depends on the individual, and the type and intensity of training.

    I've trained for 8 months solid, save for the odd break for a holiday, and had no issues.
    That's been 5 sessions a week on average, and sometimes one of those sessions has been replaced by a velodrome session.

    Having said that, I am looking to try and tone this down over the winter, to see if I can merely maintain, and then try and start building again in the new year.
    Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
    Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
    Scott CR1 SL 12
    Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
    Scott Foil 18
  • phreakphreak Posts: 2,364
    Fenix wrote:
    The spin bikes are in the gym that he might join ?

    A dumb trainer is just as good as a smart trainer I find - and a lot cheaper. So long as you have gears and can increase the resistance on the turbo you're good to go.

    Not sure you even need to change resistance much if you're training for that kind of climbing, as I suspect the vast majority of it will be spent in one, maybe two gears tapping (or grinding depending on how you're feeling) for upwards of an hour at a time. So I'd have thought good training on the turbo would be 20/30min intervals and/or longer endurance sessions that are again, at a steady pace. A stick it in a gear and pedal sort of effort.

    I've had both smart and dumb trainers, and as the structured training on the smart trainer is done in ERG mode, there's no real difference between the two. You 'might' get slightly more accurate power readings on a smart trainer, but even that's largely irrelevant so long as whatever readings you do have are consistent between each session.

    I'd also recommend getting out to wherever the event is a bit before the actual event if you can. Not only will you dust your legs off after the journey, but mentally it's good to have a few practice ascents and descents to get your mind in the right place, as it's always different when you're there. You'll also be able to get a sense for your pace and won't be encouraged to push too hard too early when the adrenaline is high, there's a lot of people to 'race' and you've got a lot of energy. It's a long day. With a lot of people around you on the descents as well, I always find it useful to get some descending in before the day.
  • Counter-intuitively, perhaps, I've found that using ERG mode and not having to concentrate on maintaining power is less boring than having to maintain power. Plus, I can really zone out and watch a movie for low intensity stuff when ERG is holding power for me.
  • daniel_bdaniel_b Posts: 9,059
    Counter-intuitively, perhaps, I've found that using ERG mode and not having to concentrate on maintaining power is less boring than having to maintain power. Plus, I can really zone out and watch a movie for low intensity stuff when ERG is holding power for me.

    I would heartily agree with you on that one, ERG for me works wonders, forcing me to continue at the presribed power instead of just backing off a bit\going for an easier gear - there is no escape!
    I expect others are mentally stronger than me in that respect, but for me it works wonders, and as you say, if you are trying to watch something at the same time, it's a massive help.
    Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
    Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
    Scott CR1 SL 12
    Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
    Scott Foil 18
  • de_sistide_sisti Posts: 1,201
    200 km audax rides (along with your normal club riding) will get you the endurance you need.
    You will automatically become faster. If you want to challenge for the podium then you will
    require some other specific preparation.
  • def_defyrdef_defyr Posts: 93
    Figured I'd report back on how it worked out. I did spin classes 3x per week over the winter, and happy to report that I've been able to much more quickly ramp up to 100k rides. I suspect if I'd gone for a home setup I'd probably have been further ahead but it was nice to get in workouts with a group for motivation, not to mention that I've sunk 800 euros for the year. I also think doing some cycling specific weight/resistance training helped with back/neck muscles. The spin classes are also good for an early morning recovery ride during the week as I can't really ride after work.
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    Except stuff. I know that doing three spin classes a week saw me absolutely flying for distances up to two hours or so but you do need longer road rides for the endurance.
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