My Bike Trainer Set Up: Triathlon Training
Updated: Mar 6
by Scott Groth, March 5, 2023
My goal is to get up to a good speed average for the Half Ironman by September. I realized that I may be fit from running, however my legs need the muscular endurance for biking too. Biking consumes the most time and distance in a triathlon. I studied the performance of men in my age group. Their average cycling speeds is much faster than my average is today. Therefore, I will need to get a lot faster to be in the middle of the pack in September. It's best to start improving speed as soon as possible.
Like a lot of my indoor gym equipment, I received a bike trainer from a friend years ago. I had used it only occasionally. I biked outside as temperature and conditions allowed. For triathlon training, I need to make sure I spend a lot of time on the bike working my legs even if that means being inside on the trainer.
Increasing ability on the bike should include some intervals in Zone 5 which is a really high heart rate. Dr. Andy Galpin, during a podcast on the Huberman Lab, recommended reaching, if someone is healthy and training, close to maximum heart rate 1 to 3 times per week.
To set the trainer up for triathlon training, I aligned and inserted the back wheel in the trainer and adjusted some resistance on the wheel. Then, I placed the front wheel on a 2 inch by 8 inch by 16 inch piece of wood to level it out, since the back wheel is off the ground when it is in the trainer.
For entertainment, I purchased an adjustable laptop stand. I placed the monitor stand in front at a good height.
I found a Cat Eye wireless speedometer on Amazon. (I had purchased another brand that did not stay on. It fell off twice on an outdoor ride and then did not work.) This speedometer was not within range when mounted on the front, since the sensor is in the back. They generally need to be within 2 to 3 feet. Therefore, I mounted it on the frame closer to the seat. This is not a great spot for viewing but it at least provides feedback on speed, distance and average speed so that I can try to achieve better results over the training program. I had researched a lot of speedometers - wired and wireless - to find something good for the back wheel sensor with a handle bar mount. It is actually very difficult to find a good solution even though some devices claim they will work at that range. So far, I have been pleased with the Cat Eye.
Other Amazon purchases that I made included aerobars and a bento box for placing snacks easy to access. The aerobars are for getting into an aerodynamic position on long rides when it would make a difference. They require a bit of practice to balance and some time adapting to such a low position.
The bento box is meant for placing snacks like gels and other small items. I use gels, figs, and dates and place them in the box.
Years ago, I had a professional bike fit when I bought my new frame. My previous frame had been damaged by the rear derailer bending the frame and I had hit the front forks on something more than once making the bike less safe. Realizing that I was about to do a lot more training on the bike this year, I had another professional bike fitter who was recommended by my coach check out my bike fit and make adjustments to my set up as needed. Fortunately, through research, I was in pretty good shape with what I had done - seat more forward to help save the legs for running in a triathlon, handle bars low to get into an aerodynamic position, seat at the right height.
I also set up an oscillating fan to help with cooling, since it can get really warm biking inside. I had thought that training warm would help with training in warmer conditions. However, heat degrades performance and the natural state of biking outside is having air movement. So, I chose to include the fan with training.
I have a hydration vest with pockets in the front. I like this vest for listening to books and podcasts with the phone on speaker in the front pocket. My wallet and keys go in the front pocket - not in the basement on the trainer but running and biking outside. I always have everything that I need and don't move things like money and license in and out of the wallet. I also find the vest to be my best way of hydrating. I have done much better with a tube close to my body easy to access. I drink more that way as well. I tend to be accident prone and don't want to mess with a bottle if I don't have to. I have seen videos of people losing their bottles. I have had a few incidents with bottles as well. So, the hydration pack works for me - inside and outside.
On the laptop stand, I find Garmin rides on YouTube to watch. A lot of the rides are really scenic - Germany, France, Italy, mountains, coastlines, and small villages. I feel like I went somewhere for the day. It’s been fun. I shift gears to adjust to what I am watching - harder for uphills - easier for downhills or switching to provide intervals of hard and then rest.
I prefer biking outside but this has helped with training safely, in the warmth of the basement, and with good lighting during the winter when less daylight is available.
Having a good set up and being able to simulate outdoor conditions as much as possible can help lead to success when biking again outside or during an event. Most of all, it is important to get the body working specifically on cycling and consistently.