It’s March in Ohio and while most local riders are getting their bikes tuned up for spring riding, I seem to be moving in the opposite direction. I just bought a new indoor spin bike with a power meter – The CycleOps 300 Pro Indoor Cycle.
(Quick Tip: take your bike to roll: Polaris for a great winter tune-up! Do it now while the weather is still iffy. Don’t wait until it warms up like everyone else and the shop gets busy.)
The CycleOps 300 has been in the showroom at roll: Polaris for a while and I’ve been drooling over it for at least 12 months. However, I had a hard time justifying spending a large amount of money on a spin bike when my whole goal is to be riding outdoors. This winter went a long way towards convincing me that the investment was worth it though.
In previous winters, I made every effort to squeeze in rides outdoors no matter what the weather was. Sometimes, I would finish my ride so cold and numb that all the fun had been beaten out of the sport that I love. Ultimately, my riding would suffer and I’d replace rides with extra beers, ending the winter overweight and out-of-shape.
This winter I decided to buy a mid-priced spin bike and give it a shot. I bought the Phoenix Revolution Pro II Spin Bike. I did a lot of research and I felt like this bike was low on unnecessary bells and whistles, but high in quality. I was not let down at all. I used a Garmin Edge 800 with a Garmin heart rate strap for heart rate based interval workouts.
I set up in my basement, armed with a subscription to Netflix, and worked out early in the morning before my kids woke up.
The result: I was able to ride more often and train more efficiently than in any previous winter. My rides weren’t cancelled or cut short because of the weather. I didn’t have to spend time cleaning off a filthy, salty bike and saved a bunch of money because I didn’t have to invest in winter riding clothes and shoes.
I was able to use heart rate based interval workouts to add intensity to my training. Even though it is only March, I feel like the fitness I have now is close to what I normally have in May or June. …or maybe even better. We’ll find out at the first race in a few weeks.
I know that a lot of people find riding indoors on a trainer or spin bike to be a little boring, but I found that breaking up the workout into intervals made the time pass more quickly. The rides that seemed the longest were endurance rides where I rode at one constant speed.
Now lets be clear, I really liked the Phoenix Revolution Pro II. I recommend that riders who already have a heart rate monitor and like heart rate based training look into buying this bike (side note: mine is for sale for $300). However, I really missed training with power.
Last summer, I had a CycleOps Powertap G3 MTB Disc Hub installed in the rear wheel of my mountain bike. I fell in love with it immediately. I’m a numbers guy and I love how efficiently you can design workouts using wattage and power zones. I highly, highly recommend it to any aspiring bike racer who is looking to go faster.
I’ll be writing more about power workouts in future articles, so make sure you subscribe in the right column to get instant email updates when new content is added to the site.
My initial plan was not to purchase the CycleOps 300, I was originally set on buying a set of Garmin Vector pedals to add to my spin bike. I was stuck on this option for a while. But, when I did the math and added up the cost of the pedals, plus the shoes, computer, torque wrench and torque wrench adaptor it was actually just about the same price as buying the Cycleops. I decided that I’d rather have an entire system dedicated to indoor power training than something that I put together piecemeal.
The 300 Pro has a 48 pound fly-wheel with a knob to control tension. It’s easy to fine-tune the resistance to adjust to a very precise power level for your intervals. In one of my first workouts on the bike, I did tempo intervals. After a good warm-up, I did 4 x 20 minute intervals at 205 watts with 5 minutes of rest between each. This initially felt very easy, but by the end of the 4th interval I had to really focus to keep the intensity high and finish in the zone. My legs felt worked – in a good way.
What I love about using power, is that now that the benchmark is set, I can slowly start tweaking the variables to increase the intensity of the workout in a very deliberate and precise way by increasing wattage, number of intervals, interval length, or decreasing rest.
The bike is completely adjustable, so it fits riders of all sizes. You can adjust the seat’s height and it’s fore and aft positioning. The same can be done with the handlebars. You can set up the 300 Pro so that it has the same dimensions as your mountain bike.
The frame is very stable, so you can easily train while standing on the pedals too.
This bike cannot completely replace the trail though. It can only supplement your training and help you work on weaknesses in your riding. It’s impossible to replicate the sudden changes in power and body position that are required on singletrack. The main purpose of this bike for a mountain bike racer is to supplement your workouts when the weather is not cooperating or you don’t have time to make it to the trail. You still need to get onto the trail to practice floating down descents, bunny hopping, crossing log piles and all the other skills that make mountain biking fun.
Specificity folks – in order to train for mountain bike racing, you must mountain bike in conditions that are similar to what you will face on race day. However, sometimes you can’t do that and that’s where training with power on an indoor bike can come in handy.
It’s also great for building up your functional threshold power, VO2 Max and anaerobic capacity, but I’ll save all that fun information for another post.
Thanks for reading. I’ll have more articles about mountain biking, indoor training and power meters coming throughout the year. Make sure to subscribe to Quickdirt in the right column to get instant email updates when new articles are posted.
Also, I love your feedback. Let me know what you think of this bike in the comment section. Plus, how do you stay in shape during the winter? Do you prefer to ride indoors or outside? I want to hear from you!
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