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The turbo

-By: Tomas Swift-Metcalfe

Last modified: May 18, 2013

Cyclist, don’t hate the turbo…

Cyclists generally hate the turbo trainer, seeing it as the poor alternative to training on the road but the truth is that its not a substitute for training on the road, but a very useful training aid in its own right.

“Why is the turbo a useful training aid?”

The main reason I find the turbo useful is that it allows me to maintain training intensities that are hard to maintain on the road; it’s not convenient to race around the local lanes at >45kph, nor is possible to maintain a steady work rate near or above anaerobic threshold due to traffic, descents, junctions, etc.  

The turbo is also a time saver, if I have to get a session in quickly in the morning, I set the bike up the night before, jump on, warm up quickly (20’ vs at least twice that on the road) and get the equivalent of a 500m high climb in under 1h. Cycling is very much a full time job, (20-25 hr per week pedalling), feeding and showering and looking after the bike and as I also have other interests (sms, studying) I find this a very handy trick.

Another advantage I’ve found with the turbo is with the TT bike. The TT bike is very new to me and I can see a marked difference in capacity, that’s hard to notice on the road.

When I go from the ‘normal’ position on the TT bike to the tucked position on the bar extensions I notice that to maintain my work rate, HR goes up significantly, threshold comes sooner and at a lower HR.

What this means is that I am able to (begin) to match neuro-muscular capacity, condition local muscle groups (this is the real key) peculiar to TT,  to my cardiovascular ‘engine’. Interestingly I’ve notice mountain bikers have the same issue transitioning to the road; feeling a certain incapacity to put the power down. 

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