Many cyclists turn to rollers in the winter or in the fall when the days get shorter. Rollers are the perfect training tool for cyclists who compete or who just want to maintain or lose weight or stay in shape over the winter. You can perform several exercises on rollers using your own bike. They are also a perfect way to work on balance and to improve your pedal stroke to make for more efficient and effective riding.
Rollers are similar to a traditional bike trainer. Whereas a traditional trainer hooks into the bike's rear wheel providing either magnetic, fluid, electronic or wind resistance, rollers consist of three heavy plastic or metal drums. Unlike a bike trainer, you must balance yourself on the metal drums with the front wheel on one drum and the rear wheel balanced between two drums. As you pedal, the rollers provide resistance. It's important to set up the rollers in a doorway to start, as balancing will be difficult at first. Be careful not to set up the rollers near a glass coffee table or anything that you could fall into and hurt yourself.
Balance is an important skill to develop on a bicycle and riding rollers is a terrific exercise in balance. When you hit a rough patch of road or bump against another rider during a group ride or race, having good balance could mean the difference between staying up on your bike and crashing. Practice this exercise by getting on the trainer and cycling for 35 to 40 minutes. Start at a cadence of around 85 and slowly ramp it up. Notice how you have to focus to stay upright on the bike. This is a terrific exercise for developing your balance.
Your pedal stroke is delivers the power from your body to the bike. This is why professional cyclists work so hard to develop an efficient pedal stroke -- so that no energy is wasted and that the most power is transferred. In order to stay balanced and moving on the rollers, you must have a smooth, round pedal stroke. Any jerkiness in your stroke will be felt instantly on the rollers. Improve your pedal stroke with this exercise. First pedal smoothly without bouncing. Then ride with a sudden burst of energy, ramping your cadence up at least 10 rpm. Maintain your balance and do several sets of 15 second sprints with 30 seconds to a minute of recovery in between.
Intervals are an effective way to add intensity to any ride. An interval divides the work of an intense ride into smaller pieces and adds rest periods in between. One of the most effective ways to burn more calories and to increase your average speed and fitness is with steady state intervals. These are performed just below your lactate threshold or at a perceived exertion of an eight out of 10. Ride at this intensity for 10 minutes and then rest for five. Perform three sets.