Most people who ride bikes have a turbo trainer or set of rollers these days, they are training tools. There are plenty of structured sessions to follow, available to anyone who has the energy to look for and complete them. With the natural evolution of the market place there are various training aids (heart monitors, power metres and videos/software etc) to supplement their use; in an attempt to detract from the monotony but more importantly to get the best use out of them.
Many conversations can be heard and even read on Facebook, with comments on how mundane and painful turbo training can be and how people prefer to be outdoors doing real cycling. The issue to consider here is whether you are training versus cycling, prompting the question “what is my intention with today’s session?” the first part of the answer will depend on whether you are following a training program. For example, if the session is threshold intervals, governed by time and heart rate or power, then the turbo/rollers will probably allow for the best quality session. If the session is hill reps – it is most likely best done on a hill! If it’s just to get out for a ride and enjoy, then that is what you should do. The second part to the answer is influenced by your circumstances on that day i.e work, children, weather, equipment, daylight, travel etc…
The beauty of training tools allows for consistent training in an inconsistent world, you are able to control the quality of your training despite the many setbacks that any given day will present to you. It also means minimal pre-ride kit preparation and post-ride clean up, not to mention reduced wear of components/parts.
I personally prefer to use a varied approach to meet my training needs. It helps with keeping my mind occupied and involved, as well as suiting my lifestyle. I love the idea of training outdoors for the majority of time, but this just isn’t possible. I’m training to race, not to ride my bike. I also find, aside from the physiological quality of the session, there is a knowing that you have just completed a quality session and that it required mental discipline. This discipline training is key for me, helping to foster toughness.