The Hurt Locker: An Ode To The Turbo Trainer

Ahh, I still remember the moment fondly. Last Autumn. Taking delivery of my first turbo trainer. Here it was. My secret weapon. I had big plans for the winter. Getting up at 6am on those cold dark mornings and heading into the garage while everyone else was still asleep. Coming out of next spring fitter than I had ever been and effortlessly powering up climbs.

The first dilemma was what to wear. I didn’t want to waste my best cycling kit on the turbo, it didn’t feel worthy enough. Naked was a possibility but might arouse the wrong kind of attention from my neighbours as I walked out to the garage. In the end I went for the topless bib shorts look, much to the horror of my other half. Excitedly, I attached my bike to the turbo and clicked the flywheel into place, before climbing on for my virgin ride, full of enthusiasm at my foolproof plan.

Five minutes later…

Photo 01-08-2016, 11 44 09
This way please…

Good god. This is horrendous. Never again shall I underappreciate the simple pleasure of freewheeling. How can riding a bike feel so joyless? And where’s all this sweat coming from? I tried to resist the urge to stare down at my Garmin as whenever I did the minutes seemed to be passing with increasing slowness. Unfortunately, the only other place to look was straight ahead at the concrete breeze blocks of my garage wall. Not much inspiration there. I closed my eyes and imagined I was looking out over an Alpine vista instead. This worked for a few seconds, before I realised that closing my eyes had turned my focus inwards and intensified the burning pain in my legs from the constant resistance of the humming flywheel. I cursed out loud. I yearned for even just a few seconds of coasting.

I’d had visions of riding for an hour, but after 40 minutes I’d had enough and climbed off in disgust, legs shaking like jelly. To cap it off, I even burned my fingers disengaging the flywheel, not seeing the ‘WARNING: CAN GET VERY HOT’ sign. What a fool I was to have ever thought I could even do some long low intensity rides on it when the weather was too bad to go outside.Screw that. I’m no stranger to suffering on a bike, but turbo training is for the true masochists.

In the end the turbo did inspire me. It inspired me to buy leg warmers and cold weather kit, and I headed outside instead when I could. It felt much better, even when my chest was tight from the cold and the heavens opened and rained Welsh hailstones the size of golf balls down on me.  I told myself that no matter how vile the cold spray hitting me was, it was better than being on the turbo. And I stand by that.

As the weeks passed my visits to the garage become less and less, and now the turbo stares at me from under a layer of dust at the back of the garage. But the passage of time has made me forget all those bad times we spent together. I find myself looking at it with renewed interest. This winter’s going to be different. I know it. I’ve got big plans…

Have you discovered a way to make turbo training fun tolerable? I’d be keen to hear about it…

3 thoughts on “The Hurt Locker: An Ode To The Turbo Trainer

  1. I only ever did all-out hard training sessions on the turbo lasting no more than an hour. Crank some heavy metal tunes through the headphones, get into the zone and thrash out some high intensity intervals to really put myself in the pain cave. I was a “fan” of 5×5’s or even 2×20’s and that spring I did emerge fitter and stronger than ever. I could never do easy recover rides, way too boring. Zwift probably helps, people seem to rave about it. My turbo shed didn’t have power or WiFi so it was very basic and torturous.

    I prefer a set of rollers. Much more fun if you can’t get out on the road!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks both, I’m about to give TrainerRoad a try as my only guaranteed ride time is in the early hours at the moment so will see how I get on (the great Welsh weather isn’t helping with getting out at the moment either!). I think head down with loud music and no more than 1 hour sessions sounds like a good rule. I’d love to give rollers a go but would need to clear some extra ‘crash space’ in the garage before I’m brave enough to try 😉


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