After a couple of years of putting it off myself (I am a procrastinator), my wife bought me a bicycle trainer for Christmas from the local bike shop. I have always put off getting one myself because trainers are meant for people who either live in colder climates or are afraid of being abducted by a Yeti while riding outside during the winter. I haven’t heard of anyone getting abducted by a Yeti but it could happen. I know they like spicy buffalo wheat thins so they may like cyclists too. Food is scarce in the winter you know.

Seriously, I live in Florida. What do I need a bicycle trainer for? It doesn’t get that cold in the winter and getting rained out every once in a while isn’t so bad. Right? After receiving my trainer, and having put over 200 miles on it so far, I can’t believe I’ve gone without one for so long. Luckily my wife was looking out for me. She had help from the local shop owner, who knew me, in picking it out. She bought me the Blackburn Tech Mag 6 Trainer and I couldn’t be happier with its performance so far. She also got me a block for the front wheel to go along with it.

This post won’t get into the whole debate of wind vs magnetic vs fluid vs interactive trainers. Each has their pros and cons and your situation will determine what you go with in the end. The shop owner knew me well enough to make a great recommendation to my wife.

It took me a week or two after Christmas before I finally got around to setting up my trainer. After having ridden over 200 miles on it so far, I thought it would be a good time to write a post about setting up a bicycle trainer for success.

5 Steps to Setting Up Your Bicycle Trainer for Success

  1. Clear a space. You’ll need to clear a space big enough for the trainer and your bike so that you can easily get on and off and to make sure that there are no obstructions when you turn the cranks. This seems like a no-brainer but you’d be surprised how much stuff you may need to clear out of the way. Especially if you’re setting up in the garage and your garage looks like mine.
  2. Follow the directions. If you take the Tim the Toolman approach and something doesn’t work you should fall back to the directions. Or maybe you should save the time and start with the directions first. Setup for my trainer wasn’t difficult and it went together pretty easy.
  3. Have a plan. Don’t let the miles you put in on the trainer be empty miles by just endlessly spinning the cranks. Take advantage of the time you put in on the trainer by following a training plan.
  4. Find entertainment. Everything you’ve ever heard about riding on a trainer being boring is true. No lie. That’s why you’ll need some kind of entertainment in order to make it through just 30 minutes of riding. The entertainment can take many forms such as a laptop and cycling dvds, a movie or music. Right now I’m using my old Ipod (the classic by the way) and listening to either music on interval days or maybe some podcasts on easy days.
  5. Make it comfortable. Just like riding outside, you’re going to work up a sweat, need to drink water and so on. Have a towel handy to wipe your face and be sure to have a water bottle ready to drink from. You can also setup a fan to blow air on you which would certainly help. I have a stack of plastic containers sitting next to my bike that are just the right height to sit my water bottle, towel and training plan on. Doing so keeps everything within arms reach.

Bonus Tip: Having your current training plan sitting next to the bike, or posted on the wall, is a great motivational tool. Not only does it make it easy to check what your supposed to do on the bike for any given day, having it in plain sight is a constant reminder of what you should be doing.

Do you have any tips for setting up a bicycle trainer?