In Saskatchewan we have a very short outdoor cycling season, a typical year might give us six months of useable outdoor riding weather. As a result, cyclists here rely on indoor cycling to build fitness and stay active.
To maximize the benefits of training indoors it’s important to setup your space in a way that works. Here are some tips from our team to get you started.
We have all seen photos of the Pain Caves that are jammed in a corner behind a furnace. While these do fit the term “Pain Cave”, you really want to make a space that you enjoy. It should be convenient, have strong Wi-Fi signal, multiple power outlets, room for your electronics, trainer, bike, and some storage options. If you enjoy your workout room you will be more likely to return to it again and again.
Make sure that the room will allow you to mount a tv or laptop at a height that prevents neck strain. Having room for a music stand or chair, fans, ride nutrition, earphones, mouse and keyboard, and remote controls at the ready is also important.
Sweat Control You are going to sweat, a lot, while riding indoors. There are two main areas that need to be protected: your bike and your floor. To protect your bike, we recommend keeping a few hand towels nearby. One to drape over your handlebars to protect your headset while being easy to grab and wipe your face. Have another handy for after your ride so that you can wipe down your bike.
To protect your floor, we recommend interlocking foam tiles or a dedicated trainer mat. Both are thick and will dampen vibrations while protecting your flooring. If you are on a tight budget, there is nothing wrong with repurposing an old yoga mat.
Fans: one is good, two is better. Go big. We recommend fans like the Vornado 660, Lasko Pivoting Fan, Honeywell TurboForce Floor Fan (HF-910) as they moves large volumes of air without a lot of noise.
The other consideration when it comes to airflow is to have a way to control your fan(s) remotely. We are currently doing this with Wi-Fi Smart Plugs that can be controled from our cell phone, Alexa, Siri, or Google Home. No more jumping off your bike after you started your ride to turn on your fan. So far we have had good success with Smart plugs from TECKIN.
How to run your virtual cycling software
Just as there are many options for virtual cycling platforms there are many kinds of devices to run them on. In regards to Zwift you could run it on an old iPhone 6, iPad, Apple TV 4K, Mac/Windows based laptop, or even a gaming computer.
There are arguments for which to go with depending on things like budget or if the device will be used exclusivly for your pain cave. If you want a device that will handle as many different virtual cycling platforms as possible then we recommend going with a laptop or desktop computer.
We would recommend using as large of a screen as possible. Some of the visual elements in virtual cycling platforms appear in small text and these metrics are important to your success and experience. Also the larger the screen, the more immersive the experience is. Mounting the screen at your eye level while on your bike is important to reduce neck strain while. You want to mimic your outdoor head position as closely as possible.
We recommend a set of Bluetooth headphones, wired or wireless, to use for your rides. This way you can listen to your music as loud as you like while drowning out the sound of your fans, trainer, and family! Ideally your headphones will also have a built in microphone in case you use apps like Discord to communicate with others, in real-time, while you ride.
Go All Out
As with anything the sky is the limit when designing your pain cave. Limited by your imagination and budget. You could up the ante with an HD projector, Phillips Hue lighting, a heavy hitting gaming computer, or a fridge to keep your hydration and nutrition chilled and at the ready.
Feel free to ask any questions or share your rooms with us on social media. We will leave you with some photos of pain caves from HPL Cycling team members.