Learning to ride again… an introduction to rollers

When I re-discovered cycling in the summer of 2013 my journey started in the garage on a Turbo Trainer.  Given my low level of fitness and the number of years it’d been since I’d been on a bike, the Turbo Trainer seemed like a safe way to get back into the saddle.

(Here’s a link to the original post:  http://wp.me/p3EYll-6F)

It’s easy to forget, but another major reason I started on the Turbo Trainer was because we live at the top of a relatively steep hill – I just wasn’t able to safely make it home safely.  Even today the hill is a sting in the tail for every ride but it’s become part of the “fun”.

Having “put my feet up” after Ride the North 2014 and spent months trying to regain my fitness, I was keen to keep fit throughout the winter this year.  Recognising the Turbo Trainer offers a limited cycling experience I decided to mix things up a bit by introducing a set of Rollers into the regime…

cycleops-rollers-02

As soon as you’re able to ride a bike I guess you must forget the feelings of insecurity and fear that accompany learning to ride a bike.  As far as I can tell, getting on a bike on a set of Rollers for the first time opens a wormhole back to those long repressed feelings!  It really is like learning to ride again!  The guy in the following video looks how I felt… decidedly wobbly!

Fortunately it didn’t take too long to get rolling, but I’ve still got a long way to go.  To start with, changing hand positions was a big deal, and it’s taken me about a month to get “comfortable” removing a hand to take a drink.

Standing up is still beyond me.  My first attempt, which in retrospect was attempted way too soon, resulted in a “video moment” and a slightly tweaked hamstring.  It still seems to make the front wheel bounce wildly out of control, with disastrous consequences.

My inability to stand creates the biggest limitation of the Rollers as I’m unable to adopt a position that gives my “seat” a rest… I currently reach my discomfort threshold after about 60 minutes, resulting in enforced (literal) comfort breaks.

One of the reasons for introducing the Rollers into the routine was to make the indoor cycling experience a bit more realistic, and better preparation for returning to the great outdoors.  As well as working my legs, it gives my core a better work-out than on the Turbo Trainer.  In theory my form should also improve on the Rollers, but I’ve got no idea how I’d know whether it is or not!

Having had a look around, there is some evidence that spending some time on the Rollers can increase one’s repertoire of skills.  Take a look at this…

But it’ll be a little while before I try this…

Overall, I’d say the introduction of the Rollers has been positive move.  Sometimes it’s nice just to go for a spin and to feel like you’re moving.  They certainly offer some variety from the Turbo Trainer and, like cycling outside, there’s always an element of danger, particularly if you lose concentration. That said, there’s plenty of advice out there on how to minimise the risk.  Personally, I’d suggest you look at the following video to see how not to do it!

Happy Rolling!

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