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Don’t Be Afraid to Ride Rollers vs. Turbo Trainer

Posted on 23 December 2014

For years, many athletes have feared riding rollers after watching YouTube videos of individuals being launched over the side of the bike and crashing into everything surrounding the rollers. They are not dangerous and offer a unique addition to your offseason indoor riding plan when the outside weather is not the best.

I have been riding rollers for over 25 years and they were my first indoor training device for the bike. They are a basic design but have improved dramatically over the years with the use of smaller drums and much improved bearings. The smaller drums are much easier to get started on and also offer less distance for the upcoming fall. Yes, you will fall a bit when starting out! Personally I have crashed many times, but no injuries, as most were just a fall to the side.  The key is to make sure you don’t have a bunch of equipment, furniture or objects surrounding the rollers.

The benefits of riding rollers – you will notice improvements to your balance and bike handling skills.   How many times have you been in a race and the athlete in front of you can’t hold a straight line.   You might be the same – ask your riding friends to see how you look on the road by observing you from behind.

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How about during a triathlon when an athlete attempts to retrieve a bottle out of it’s cage and they are all over the road!   A solution is to riding rollers regularly. After weeks of riding, a cyclist can relax and ride no hands.   You will gain confidence in your overall riding ability by using rollers.

Another benefit is that you become more efficient in the pedal stroke. You will start to eliminate the dead spots at the top and bottom of the stroke.   Also, when riding rollers you will need to concentrate, not like the turbo trainer.

Although rollers don’t offer resistance with most models there are several now that incorporate fan attachments.

The keys to starting riding on rollers:

  1. Start next to a wall so you can use it for support to get on the bike along with some stability when you begin to ride. Make sure your wheels are in the middle of the rollers in a low gear and start pedaling easy, keeping one hand on the wall until you get the feel of the rollers.
  2. Look straight ahead not at the front wheel.   As soon as you look down at the front wheel when starting out, you will fall.
  3. Concentrate on your riding technique and pedal stroke. No watching TV or reading books.

Over time you will get more confidence and riding on the rollers will be a breeze.   Consider supplementing some of your indoor riding with rollers and you will see a definite benefit when out on the road.

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