What they say about riding on an indoor trainer is true. It can really suck. It can suck even more if you don’t have something to take your mind off of staring at the walls while spinning circles to nowhere. Thankfully, there are options out that can help and today’s post will be a review of one of them.

Fighting Boredom on the Trainer

I’ve had my trainer for about two years now and ride it a lot more than I thought I would. Knowing that I needed something to occupy my mind, I started by listening to some custom play lists on my Ipod. That was great to start with but you can only listen to the same music over and over again so much before you start going stir crazy. This winter I decided to do something different and began looking at other options to help alleviate the boredom before I resorted more extreme measurers. Fire or grizzly bears were considered at some point.

As luck would have it, or maybe it was fate, I was contacted by Jacob Mueller of PainCave. They were looking for someone to review their product and in exchange would let me use it for a year. I jumped at the opportunity.

What is PainCave?

In a nutshell, PainCave is a video subscription service that allows riders to follow alongside professional cyclists while they are racing some of the toughest stages of the Tour of California and US Pro Challenge. In race commentary by Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin are also included. It’s like you’re watching it live.

It’s not just you and the riders on the screen either. All of the videos have custom commentary that coaches you through each specific workout and there are also four PainCave riders doing the workout in PainCave studio. Really cool.

The Videos

Like I mentioned above, the videos are from either the Tour of California or the US Pro Challenge held in the US. Currently there are 23 videos available ranging in length from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours. Overall intensity of the workouts range from 3 (low intensity) to a 10 (high intensity). Flat, mountain and time trial stages are all represented.

The videos are streamed from the PainCave website so there is no need to download them and you can play them on most devices (laptop, phone, tablet and SmartTV).

While the videos are playing, the objectives for each segment of the workout is displayed on the left side of the screen with a timer in the upper left corner showing how much time is left on any particular effort. Each video has its own objectives so you could find yourself ticking off slower cadence climbs to Mount Baldy in one while performing lung screaming pulls as you leadout a sprint to the line in another.

PainCave Screenshot

PainCave Screenshot

Some of the videos have warmups followed by single leg drills to help you fix the deadspots in your spin. Just another nice feature that gets you performing something you probably wouldn’t do on your own. Make no mistake about it though, single leg drills suck. In my opinion. I should do more of them. You should too.

In fact, all of the PainCave workouts have specific objectives in mind and can be sequenced to follow a technique, intensity and recovery training plan. Episodes 2, 3, 5 and 6 focus on technique (fast cadence, over-gear and one-legged drills). Episodes 1, 7, 15 and 16 focus on intensity. And Episodes 2 and 21 focus on recovery. See the PainCave FAQ page for more information.

Below each video is a description of the workout including a paragraph about the stage and the duration/Rate of Perceived Exertion for each segment of the workout.

The quality of the videos appear to good in my opinion and the editing didn’t seem to interrupt the flow of the workouts at all. I did experience some streaming issues but I contributed it to me being downstairs in the garage and the routeer being upstairs and/or my daughter sucking up the bandwidth playing WoW.

How to Perform a Workout

Starting a PainCave workout is extremely easy. Once you have your bike setup on the trainer you access the PainCave website via your device of choice, login if you haven’t already and select the video you want to use. Once the video screen appears click play. It’s that easy.

If you want to use PainCave in conjunction with TrainerRoad you can do that too. There are no specific workout profiles on TrainerRoad for the PainCave videos yet but it can still be done. Simply start TrainerRoad and select one of the 30 min, 60 min or 90 min free workouts. Then start Paincave is described above and then place TrainerRoad into the Horizontal position. You’re all set.

I used the PainCave/Trainerroad setup for almost all of my workouts and really liked the setup.

Q&A with Jacob Mueller

While reviewing the PainCave videos I came up with several questions that I posed to Jacob and wanted to share those with you. They are:

BTL: How many videos do you plan to release in 2015? Just wanted to give my readers some kind of expectation on upcoming releases.

JM: Just released a new episode last week. We’ve released 3 new episodes the past 3 months. I don’t have an exact figure for you but we tend to release more in the colder weather months than the warmer weather months. That being said, I’m sure we’ll release 3 next fall and probably another 1-2 this summer.

BTL: Do you plan to offer video footage from European races such as the classics or TdF?

JM: Yes, although I’d be lying to you if I said we have that race footage secure and in our possession. Buying the rights to race footage is a much more lengthly process than I ever imagined. We’ve been grinding on the folks that own the rights to TDF and other major European stage races, as well as several of the spring classics. Safe to say, it’s in the cards but we’ll need to continue establishing ourselves as being a worthly business to display their product. Bottom line…we know we NEED to eventually get those races in our collection.

BTL: Do you plan on making profiles so the videos could be used in conjunction with Trainerroad?

JM: In the process as I type this. At the moment we are in talks with TrainerRoad and Cyclop’s Vitrual Training. We are also in a beta test with TurboTraining (UK based company). Working in conjuction with these groups is neccessary in order to give ouR community the access to key metrics (power, cadence, speed, etc..) all delieved via Bluetooth and/or ANT+.

Pros of PainCave

  • Licensed footage of US pro races
  • Detailed workouts with commentary, directions and support
  • Variety of workouts including flat, mountain and time trial with focuses on technique, intensity and recovery
  • Videos of various durations and efforts
  • 23 videos and counting
  • Affordable at $9.99/month

Cons of PainCave

  • No European race coverage (being worked on)
  • No profiles for Trainerroad (being worked on)

Overall Impression

Overall, I really like PainCave. They have put together a great product, made it affordable and offered us cyclists a way to keep from gouging our eyeballs out with a spoke wrench due to boredom while riding the trainer.

And how could you not like the name? PainCave. Because that’s what it’s supposed to be right? Our cave during the dark days of winter or the rainy days of summer while we exercise our demons (cheesecake) in an effort to make ourselves better. Both on and off the bike.

So do yourself a favor and head on over to PainCave to check them out.