It happened last night and I was not impressed. I was forced to ride the trainer. It's not that the weather was bad but I cross bike was needing a little TLC after Sunday's ride and I had yet to do it. Hey I've been busy!!
The road bike was all set up, I looked at it, I sulked, I grabbed a movie and headed into the cold room of hell. My sunroom is actually awesome when there is sun but at this time of the year it's become the best training room. I had to wear knee warmers and a sweatshirt for the warm up. Luckily the classic Quicksilver was just long enough to make my training time needed.
So the comparison, outdoor winter riding versus indoor trainer time. It's that time of year and I know I'm not the only one who will do these debates.
The prep before the ride. The trainer side first. Clothing is pretty much the same as what you wear outside in the summer. No big deal, no worries on wearing team colours and a matching kit. Helmet not fully recommended but is an option. As for outside time. Making sure you have the RIGHT amount of clothing on. To much and you feel comfy in the beginning then blow up from overheating. To little and you freeze the your boys off and hate ever minute of being out there. Of course the fashion guru's know that you still must look good when out there so matching kit is important. Don't forget the feet and hands side also. Cold toes and fingers just plain suck. Overall prep time, indoor definitely has the time advantage on this. Many times you get that child hood flashback of getting all dressed up in seventeen layers of clothing and then having to go to the washroom.
The bike, Setup, clean up etc no questions asked the trainer gets the win on this one. My road bike is on it's winter perch of the vomit machine. All I need to do is plug it in. After the ride a quick clean of the floor and the top tube and I'm done. Outdoors, well that's another story, especially depending on road conditions. Salt, sand, snow, etc are great for keeping your time around your bike stand up. That indoor bike wash gets plenty of use. You can spend as much time cleaning the bike after a ride than the ride itself, of course beer helps this. Oh and don't forget about lights.
The workout : This is a split decision, there are NO hills on the trainer. This can be looked at two ways, going up and coming down. As much as I can increase the wattage on the trainer and it can hurt like hell I have yet to ever ride any trainer that feeling like you are going up hill. There is also the visual side of it, seeing that the hill is that long and you are only a quarter way up can never be produced on the trainer. Of course the other side is the downhills, the only way to coast on a trainer?? Stop pedalling!!! Not a great idea though of course the perk is that there are also no stop signs, stupid drivers, bumpy roads, etc to worry about. you can setup a long tempo and not worry about an intersection. Easier to set a zone and stay there.
Of course the scenery never changes, movies and a surround system will only get you so far compared to trees and rocks and roads always changing. I like new visuals, I'd lean a little more to the outside for this one. Cycling is an outdoor sport.
Recovery, cleanup, nutrition and everything I missed etc. Ya this is always the fun one. On the trainer you don't need to worry about nutrition, I'm only 20 feet from the kitchen. The concerns of bonking an hour from home never happens. Same with mechanical, I've never blown a chain or tire on the trainer. If I did still not worried. Clean up, yep the bike is fine, not leaving a mess of winter riding wear in the basement that now needs washing, etc etc. Advantage to the trainer again.
So what wins, outdoor riding. As much as my efficiency junkie attitude loves crunching the numbers and shows all the time saved by riding the trainer I would still much rather be outside. You can not compare the two. The feeling of cold crisp air freezing the tail end of that snot rocket to your nose. The sensation of the bike sliding a little on random ice sections. The look on peoples faces as they drive past you in there cars with the heater cranked up thinking look at that nut.
After my two hours of boredom I did the much needed work on the bike, it's ready for the next workout, I'll prolong the vomit machine as long as I can.
Oh and on the snow front, yes we have it, no other places do not. yes I will be getting the skis ready this week. Soon, very soon