For me, riding on the rollers started last year when my son and I were going to the track (DLV) to race quite a bit. My son's coach had a rollers workout for him to work on his leg speed. I thought I would give it try too.
It didn't take too long to get fairly comfortable riding rollers. I believe it has more to do with getting over the fear, but it does take practice. Now I'm riding rollers almost once week and I feel pretty comfortable riding on the rollers. I believe that riding on the rollers has helped improve my bike handling as well as my spin. I'm really glad that I committed to riding the rollers on a regular basis.
I had a set of rollers years ago, but I never felt comfortable on them. The set I had at the time had a fork clamp that you could attach so that is what I did. I used my rollers as a trainer. Over the years I have had a few trainers. Most people absolutely hate riding a trainer. I'm not real fond of it and I've always worried about the different stresses that a trainer puts on a frame.
I do like being able to control all the factors of riding a bike though. I find it easier to do a structured workout on a trainer or rollers. I have also found that I can get a pretty good workout this way in a shorter amount of time than I can riding on the road. It is pretty easy to ride under these conditions at a high intensity. I think the longest I've ever spent on a trainer is one hour, 1.5 max. The workouts I'm doing now are 45 minutes.
I currently have two workouts both of which are 45 minutes:
- Spin 45 - This workout consist of a 10 minute warm-up followed by a sprint and then almost 4 minutes of a high spin followed by a one minute slow recovery spin for a total of five minutes. Repeat until done trying to increase the cadence each five minutes if possible. It isn't possible for me to spin more than 115 for 4 minutes at this time. On yeah, the gearing is 39x23. The easy spin is done at 95 rpm or slightly higher. The first fast spin after the sprint is suppose to be 100 rpm; each fast spin afterwards is suppose to increase by 5 rpm until you reach the highest you can sustain.
- Interval 45 - This workout also starts with a 10 minute warm-up starting in 39x23. For the first interval I only drop down one gear to the 21. I ride this for 4 minutes followed by a 1 minute easy back up to the 23. At fifteen minutes at drop down 2 gears to the 19 and spin at 105 for 3.5 minutes followed by a 1.5 easy spin in the 23. At twenty minutes I drop down to the 17 for 3.5 minutes followed by 1.5 minutes easy in the 23. At 25 I go back to the 19 (2 gears). This repeats until done alternating between the 19 and 17 every 5 minutes. The easy spin is done at 100 rpm or higher depending on how I feel. I try to maintain 105 for the interval section.
I think one of the biggest mistakes people make when they start riding a trainer or rollers is trying to ride at the same speeds that they do on a road ride. Depending on the device a person is using it just isn't the same; it's an apples and oranges comparison. The resistance is relative to the device. This takes a little experimenting to find out what works. You might have noticed that my workouts start in a 39x23 which is my easiest gear on the bike I'm using for these workouts. Because of the resistance of the rollers I'm using, this works out pretty good for a nice workout, but if I look at the miles I've put on my bike for that 45 minutes it can make me feel like I've not worked hard enough and something must be wrong. Just remember, it is all relative.
It should almost go without saying the different things you need to start with, but I'll create a list anyway. Most of it is obvious, but some of maybe not. I'm still learning too.
- Device - yep, pretty obvious. You need either a trainer or rollers. I prefer the rollers. To me a trainer can help a rider get a good workout but it does nothing for bike handling and spinning.
- Fan - I have a big fan I put on high when I ride the rollers and it's blowing straight at me.
- Headband - Yes, I look like I'm out of the 80's when I ride the rollers, but the headband helps keep the sweat out of my eyes. Riding a trainer or rollers will cause a rider to sweat excessively.
- T-shirt - What? My son came up with this one. When I first started riding the rollers I wouldn't wear a shirt. I would sweat so much that I would have a pond under me. If I wear a t-shirt when I ride the rollers I only leave a puddle of sweat under me. This makes clean up easier as I have tile floors.
- Music - I have an iPod Shuffle that I listen to when I ride the rollers. The music helps a lot.
- Water - I drink a full bottle of water when I do these workouts. At first I didn't because I didn't feel that comfortable on the rollers, but now I do. I think drinking water helps with the workout even if it is for only 45 minutes.
There are several manufacturers of rollers and trainers. I had done some research on rollers a couple of years ago and I decided on the E-Motion Rollers by Inside Ride. These rollers aren't cheap at $850 with free shipping. However this price does compare with other high quality rollers. What makes these rollers different is that they float giving more of a road feeling. This does have a downside in that you can't fold the rollers up; so they are not very transportable like some other rollers are.
I really like our rollers. In fact, I really enjoy riding our rollers. That almost sounds sick, but it's true. I have a trainer too, but I never use it now that I have the rollers. My plan is to continue to train on rollers at least once a week.