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The Endangered Outdoor Ride

  • By Matt Fizgerald
  • Published Jun 14, 2011
  • Updated Oct 24, 2012 at 4:21 PM UTC

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Andy Potts does much of his bike training indoors. Photo: Nick Salazar

While Potts has taken triathlon’s indoor cycling trend to its ultimate extreme, he did not start the trend. That distinction clearly belongs to former pro and longtime coach Troy Jacobson. Back in 1992, when Jacobson was just 23 years old, he taught an indoor cycling class for competitive cyclists and triathletes in the Baltimore area.
“My first class was at a Performance Bike shop and I had three people who paid me $3 each,” he recalls. “Within a month I had over 25 people at that Wednesday night class and was giving other classes at different shops on other nights throughout the week. The athletes brought their bikes and trainers and loved the intensity and camaraderie.”

Less than two years later an executive at the advertising agency representing indoor cycling equipment manufacturer CycleOps took one of Jacobson’s classes and loved it. He put Jacobson in touch with the principals at CycleOps and in 1995 the two sides partnered on a video called “Cyclerobx.” Featuring an all-star cast of guest instructors, including Ironman world champions Greg Welch and Karen Smyers, the video sold tens of thousands of copies.

Inspired by this success, Jacobson lined up his own investors in 1997 and began filming a series of indoor cycling workout videos called “Spinervals,” which proved equally successful. “Now we have over 40 DVDs and international distribution and we’ve sold several hundred thousand copies,” says Jacobson, who proudly notes that his Spinervals brand is now used generically in reference to serious indoor cycling workouts.

Now based in Tucson, Ariz., Jacobson coaches triathletes across the country and beyond. He encourages them to do some, but not all, of their bike training indoors. “Most of the athletes I coach use the trainer two to three times a week,” he says.
For him, coaching these workouts is as easy as telling them which “Spinervals” video to put in the DVD player. “I can tell them to do Spinervals 12 for a nice recovery ride or Spinervals 22 for a great time trial/tempo ride,” Jacobson says.

Because indoor cycling has a long history in triathlon, the most effective ways to do it have been pretty well worked out. So if you’d like to implement indoor training into your routine, don’t reinvent the wheel, so to speak. Model your indoor bike training after the recommendations of those who know.

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