Now that many of us are dealing with cold, wet riding conditions outdoors, it’s time to start preparing our indoor training studios. Whether your studio is a two-foot slot in your garage or an entire room in your house, let’s get to it!
Dumb vs. Smart Trainers“Dumb” trainers are the standard stationary trainers that do not receive or produce electronic control or data. They stand alone and are not controlled by a computer. Two popular dumb trainers are the CycleOps Fluid2 and the Kurt Kinetic trainers, but there are numerous varieties of this type of trainer; for more details and the history of dumb trainers, check out this article on SlowTwitch.
“Smart” trainers are the new generation of stationary trainers that use computer programs to control resistance and power output. These trainers communicate with various computer devices via ANT+ and Bluetooth technology. Three well-known smart trainers are the CycleOps Power Beam, the Wahoo Kickr, and the CompuTrainer.
Both dumb and smart trainers are available in two subtypes. The first type is the trainer that connects to a bike by mounting the bike’s rear wheel on the trainer. The second type connects directly to a bike’s drivetrain, requiring that the bike’s rear wheel be removed and the rear derailleur installed on the trainer.
Indoor Training Computer ProgramsOld-school training videos are great, but we don’t have to stop there! Talented minds around the world have created computer software to bump up our indoor training and add entertainment and structure, both of which are sorely needed in the middle of winter. There are several worthy software choices out there, but our favorite is ErgVideo.
Setting Up Your StudioNow we come to the real question: how do we connect our trainers to the software to make indoor training more fun? You’ll need the right equipment and setup.
- Trainer (dumb/kinetic or smart)
- Power meter
- Computer with ANT+ adapter
- Bike block
- Cheering section
The most important piece of equipment you’ll need is an ANT+ adapter. This is crucial because it allows your power meter or smart trainer to talk to your computer. Garmin’s USB ANT Stick is used by many cyclists, but there are of course other adapters widely available. You’ll need one adapter for each software program, so if you run two programs simultaneously, you’ll need two adapters. The adapter acts as a communication link between your power meter or smart trainer and your computer running the software.
I highly recommend that you purchase and use a USB port extender, even if you’re using only one USB adapter. This helps reduce a lot of wireless interference from your computer (which often happens with both PC and Mac). Make sure your extension cable is at least six inches long.
If you run into any problems, check out the help pages for whatever software you’re using (you can find ErgVideo support here). Most software developers want to make sure you enjoy their products and do their best to offer a lot of support. If you can’t find an answer, create a support ticket and get help directly. I’ve found these companies to be pretty responsive whenever I had questions.
Get ready…you're going to have fun this winter!
Chris Myers is a USA Cycling Level 2 coach, a USA Triathlon Level 1 coach, a USA Swimming Level 2 coach, a certified sports nutritionist, and a Peaks Coaching Group elite/master coach. He and his fellow PCG coaches create custom training plans for all levels of athletes. He can be contacted directly through PeaksCoachingGroup.com or email@example.com.
Photo: Hunter Allen trains indoors with ErgVideo.