The Training Trifecta
Is your training program truly complete?
For many cyclists who live in warm-weather cycling locales with big climbs and bomber descents, winter brings frigid temps and and unfavorable conditions. This drives many of us into our pain caves, striving to grow our level of fitness through the dark winter months. Some of us compliment this training with gym time aimed at building power, combating future injuries, or simply to mix it up. Increasing fitness and building strength in the offseason definitely pays dividends come spring, but those are just two elements of the training trifecta. The capstone of a complete training program is improvement of technique - and no single piece of training equipment builds proper form and technique as effectively as rollers.
Rollers have been used by serious cyclists for over a century, well before the advent of the stationary trainer. In fact, Charles Minthorn Murphy, the first man to ride one mile in one minute, used rollers in his training all the way back in 1901. Consisting of three drums, a frame, and belt connecting the front and middle drum, rollers are brilliantly simple. Their simplicity is a big reason they’re still the preferred warm-up tool for many road and almost all track cyclists. They simply unfold the roller set on a flat surface, set their bike upon them, and go, no fussing about with the axles, dropouts, or anything else. Rollers are much easier to move around than stationary trainers, and Kreitler Kompact rollers can be folded and slid underneath many couches or chairs. In addition to their simplicity and convenience, they provide a rich array of benefits to users.
Benefits to Form
If you're "pushing squares" instead of "spinning circles" you'll know immediately on rollers. They reward a smooth, even pedal stroke with a planted and stable feel in the saddle. A choppy pedal stroke will result in bouncing, shaking and overall instability on the rollers. Throughout the winter, work on the dead spots in your pedal stroke by creating new muscle memory activating the correct muscle groups throughout the stroke. This will eliminate wasted energy from your form and allow you to go faster.
Our roller drums are perfectly smooth and spin on high-end sealed bearings, so, alone, they provide very little resistance. This allows you to push big gears at high speeds (cadence) which benefits muscular endurance. Being able to produce big wattage is great, but being able to produce it over extended periods and finish a race strong is even better. Furthermore, a fast cadence is preferred over slower as it requires more from your cardiovascular system versus your skeletal muscles, which recover slower. Practicing a fast, smooth cadence is the most comfortable on rollers and you'll find yourself taking that improved technique outdoors on your next ride.
Whether it's impressing motorist with your ability to track stand through long lights, your skill in slow technical terrain, or even your comfort in riding within a group, balance is a key component of high-performance cycling. The act of riding on rollers quickly highlights any inherent imbalance you have in your form - whereas a stationary trainer does not. In fact, on a trainer your form can be so imbalanced that if you tried to replicate it outdoors on a real bike, you'd be on your butt in no time! Awful balance won't fly on rollers either. By spending time on your rollers throughout the winter you'll be constantly engaging your core to tighten balance and technique.