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The Endangered Outdoor Ride

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

Rule No. 3:  Consider a group boost.

If riding indoors is a trend in triathlon, then riding indoors in a group setting—as Kessler and Stewart do at Velo SF—is a trend within that trend. Of course, indoor cycling classes have existed for a long time, but indoor cycling classes designed especially for competitive endurance athletes are much newer.

The typical fitness club Spin class is a good workout, but not a triathlon-specific workout. Those who sign up don’t use their own bikes and can’t use power to monitor and control their workout intensity. The workouts themselves don’t focus on the intensities that triathletes need to develop, are not progressive and often are not challenging enough for serious triathletes.

All across the country, endurance performance centers are opening their doors for business and offering group indoor cycling workouts for athletes, typically alongside other classes and services such as functional strength workouts and physiological testing. In addition to Velo SF in San Francisco, there’s Aire Urban Performance Co Operative in San Diego, Tri on the Run Fitness Center in Houston, and Target Training in Westport, Conn., to name a few.

Henry Heisler is an IT project manager and age-group triathlete who frequently rides indoors at Well-Fit, an endurance sports training facility in Chicago. He says, “The advantage to group cycling workouts versus riding at home is the motivation provided by a group, especially for the more challenging strength or intensity workouts.

“The social aspect is great too,” Heisler adds. “When you’re on Computrainers for a couple of hours and sitting a few feet apart, there are all kinds of conversations happening. Since you’re indoors, talking to the person riding next to you is easy. I’ve made many friends and found a lot of new training partners during those indoor rides, especially early in the year when Chicago is cold and riding indoors at Well-Fit is that much more attractive.”

While group indoor riding offers clear advantages compared to solitary indoor riding, some coaches believe that there is also a disadvantage and that group indoor riding should not be done to the exclusion of solitary indoor riding.

“Indoor training by yourself requires a great deal of focus,” says Carmichael, “and triathletes—especially Ironman triathletes—need to learn how to be alone with themselves and how to stay motivated to push themselves. To develop as a complete athlete, I think people need to spend time training both in groups and solo.”

***

There are no absolutes in triathlon training. There is no single type of training that is so good it should become your only way of training.

But indoor cycling appears to be a better way of training than it was previously thought to be. That’s why more triathletes are doing more of it lately, and it’s why you might need to consider doing more indoor cycling yourself.

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