In reality, all you need to build your own pain cave is a bike, a trainer (the device that converts your ride into a stationary bike) and a little space.
But if that’s all you have, you can assure yourself of one thing: You’ll be bored.
However, by adding these accoutrements recommended by some cycling veterans you’ll guarantee yourself of being, well, a little less bored.
There are three main types of trainers, said Luke Brechwald, co-owner of Joy Ride Bikes in Lacey, Wash.
Wind trainers use a fan to provide resistance, but are the noisiest of all trainers. “And, honestly, they’re not very good,” he said, referring to the fact that they provide only limited resistance. Wind trainers start at about $150.
Magnetic trainers are quieter because the resistance comes from a magnetic flywheel. The resistance is prone to pulse occasionally giving it less of a road feel than other trainers. Brechwald says mag trainers start at about $150.
Fluid trainers get their resistance from magnetic flywheels and fluid. They are quiet and feel the most like riding on the road, Brechwald said. Expect to spend $250 or more.
No matter how much you love your bike, you’re going to go nuts if you’re just staring at the back wall of your garage.
At a minimum you’ll need music, but a TV and DVD player will allow you to really escape the monotony.
Kyle McGilvray, assistant manager at Tacoma, Wash.’s Old Town Bicycle, streams videos to his laptop. Masters racer Mike Brazel of Federal Way owns a $1,650 CompuTrainer that simulates famous race courses from around the world.
Some specific recommendations:
The top five workout songs this winter, according to RunHundred.com:
1. “Seek Bromance” by Tim Berg
2. “The One That Got Away” by Katy Perry
3. “Mr. Saxobeat” by Alexandra Stan
4. “Good Feeling” by Flo Rida
5. “Forever” by Wolfgang Gartner and Will.I.Am
Cyclocross race videos: “They’re motivational, they’re the perfect length for a workout and there are a bunch of free ones on YouTube,” said Kyle McGilvray, assistant manager of Old Town Bicycle.
TV series: Think “24,” “Prison Break,” “Lost” or anything else that grips you. “I only let myself watch when I’m on the trainer,” said Luke Brechwald, co-owner of Lacey’s Joy Ride Bikes.
Movie: If the 1979 cycling film “Breaking Away” doesn’t keep you pedaling, you better check your heart rate monitor.
Rich Cast, a Joy Ride mechanic, says it’s not uncommon for cyclists to bring in their bikes with squeaky headsets after spending the winter on the trainer.
“Sweat is very corrosive and can just eat away at the headset,” Cast said. “It also eats paint.”
He said one customer ruined a $200 headset by sweating on it all winter. “It just fell apart in my hands,” Cast said.
The solution is simple. Bike shops sell sweat guards for $10-$30. Or you can just use towels.
Unless you want your carpet smelling like a locker room you’ll need a sweat mat to keep things clean under your bike. You can improvise with an old yoga or chair mat or find trainer mats for about $40.
Sure, you can use those really nice tires you get for Christmas on the trainer all winter, but when spring rolls around you won’t want to use that rear tire on the road again. A couple of short trainer workouts won’t ruin your tires, but extended use will leave flat spots, greatly increasing your chance of getting flats.
For about $35-40 you can get a special hard rubber tire specially designed to handle the trainer. You won’t want to use these on the road. The hard rubber will significantly increase your chances of wiping out when you take corners. Trainer tires are typically a different color (often blue or yellow) to help remind you to swap them out before you ride.
An even cheaper option is to hang on to old tires for trainer use.
The thing about a trainer is that when you attach your bike, your rear wheel will be a couple inches off the ground.
“You’ll feel like you are riding downhill for your entire workout,” McGilvray said. “It’s too much pressure on your hands.”
Placing a riser block under the front wheel will level the bike for a more comfortable ride.
You can improvise a block or buy one at a bike shop for about $10.
Most veteran cyclists won’t ride their trainer without a fan blowing in their direction.
“One of the most important things to have is a fan,” Cast said “It keeps you cool and gives you the sensation of actually riding. It also helps evaporate sweat.”