The Turbo Trainer: Apparatus of Pain and Misery

I’m sure there are people out there who like or even have a perverse love affair with their turbo trainer. It might even attract some sort of love/hate duality. I know for a fact that some people, many of them ostensibly sane with some hideously rapid times to their name, view the turbo as the essential piece of training equipment. Personally, i’d rather rip my face off and dive into a bath of saline solution than use this horrible piece of apparatus. It’s utterly soul-destroying and mind-numbing, which is a pretty vicious combination. I hate the turbo with the same level of vitriol that i reserve for assholes like David Cameron or anyone who has a tenuous grasp on social justice.

I thought i might do a ‘quick’ turbo session this evening. The reason being that the weather is pretty terrible and i hadn’t got the time to head down to the lake for the first Chew Valley race of the season. By the time i’d sorted out the rear turbo wheel by putting a tyre on and pinching an inner tube, then changing the tyre and putting a new tube in, switching the cassette and setting up the bike and then setting up the computer with ‘The Flying Scotsman’ on the iplayer with headphones and subtitles (because of fearsome noise) to alleviate the dreadful and crushing ennui of it all and then got changed and put some water within reach and found my sweaty turbo towel that hasn’t been washed since the last time i dared to ride the bastard (turbo, not turbo towel) and wrestled with the quick release mechanism and then adjusted the height with a series of books under the front wheel by getting on and off about four times then adjusting the saddle height then going back and adjusting the resistance about 6 times with the manual turny thing, i’d wasted about 55 minutes. This was about as long as i intended to spend on the bastard piece of shit.

I managed about 11 minutes at about 70% of max before two things happened. The iplayer began to freeze and unfreeze, robbing me of the only thing that helped me think that i wasn’t actually on the turbo, and then without warning the back wheel leapt out of the dropout clasps and i had to do an emergency unclip and braking manouevre ON THE GODDAMNED TURBO just to stay alive. i suddenly lurched towards the computer screen where Graeme Obree was riding off the front of some sort of Tour of the Scottish Prettylands in the early part of the film.

I staggered off and went into the lounge and issued Belle with the following imperative:

“If i ever, ever, ever say i’m going to go on the turbo, ever again, then tell me to forget about it and get the hell out and ride my bike, whatever the weather. do that for me, please, promise me.”

She looked nervous and agreed. In the meantime, if anyone wants a Cyclops Turbo, lightly used, then ask.

The Turbo Trainer

i don’t think i know anyone who looks forwards to going on the turbo, it’s a vile machine. this winter i’ve been on it three times i think, maybe four, and each time has been really hard going. it’s great for when you’re time pressed and need to get in an hour’s ride. it’s also particularly good for sustained efforts or specific pyramids or some such. beyond that, i can’t help but think that there is a great big road network out there of beautiful lanes and savage climbs that more than adequately suffice.

i’ve tried riding the turbo and listening to the radio or music. this is an insufficient distraction. i’ve tried doing it without, this only works if the effort is of such unremitting nastiness that you forget who you and where you’ve come from. i’ve come to the conclusion that the only way i can cope with extended (anything over 30 minutes) efforts on the beast is to get some sort of visual distraction. in practice, this means a film or some sort of box set. i’ve taken to watching lots of old cycling films. the greatest show on earth is perfect for a 90 minute session, and you get to feel like your chasing José Manuel Fuente up and down a mountainside.

it’s an amazing film, the whole lot is available on youtube.

here below is my current setup:

i’m using the HRM to check on pace and effort. i’m also on the TT weapon, gently getting used to the position ahead of the first races in a little over 6 weeks or so.

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