The Perfect Pain Cave For Your Budget
Find ways to make your setup more appealing—on any budget—and it may change your perspective on training indoors.
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Regardless of your budget, you can create a room that will make you look forward to sweating indoors.
Commonly referred to as a “pain cave,” your indoor bike setup can either entice or deter you from training when the weather isn’t ideal or if you’re limited on time. Find ways to make your setup more appealing—on any budget—and it may change your perspective on training indoors.
Whichever setup you choose, it’s important to have things in a state where they are ready to go at all times—the last thing you need is another excuse not to get that ride in.
Budget: Very little to none
If you don’t have any extra cash to spend but you want to make indoor training more appealing, here’s the minimum amount you need for a quality training session.
Front wheel riser: You can use a phone book or other thick book to rest your front wheel on so you’re not riding downhill the whole time!
Trainer: Scout Craigslist or your local tri club’s message board for a used trainer, which would cost a lot less than buying one outright, given that shipping for such a heavy item can be costly. The most budget-friendly option is the Travel Trac Comp Mag Trainer ($150, Performancebike.com).
Cooling: Any fan you have in your house will work to help dissipate heat.
Towel: You will sweat. Be prepared.
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Budget: $500 or less
With a little more spending flexibility, you can get higher quality training options.
Trainer: The Kurt Kinetic Road Machine ($300, Kurtkinetic.com) is a fluid trainer that offers a smooth, quiet ride. Plus, you’ll gain increased accuracy and reliability when using virtual power in a training app (see “Software” below).
Software: For around $10 a month, you can take advantage of virtual training to enhance your workouts with programs like Zwift and TrainerRoad. Zwift offers a virtual training scene and a variety of programmed workouts. TrainerRoad offers plans, nearly unlimited program workouts and the option to make your own. Both can be ridden on “virtual power” so that they are compatible with a variety of trainers, even without a power meter.
Entertainment: Keep workouts more interesting with a personalized playlist of new music on Spotify, which is $10 a month for a premium account and no ads to interrupt your interval.
Front wheel riser: Invest in a sturdy block like the CycleOps Climbing Riser Block ($24, Amazon.com) to keep your front wheel stable. The design allows for three height options, and if you buy multiple, you can also stack blocks on top of each other to simulate a climb.
Cooling: Budget $50–$100 to upgrade your fan to a more robust, “high velocity” option to keep sweat puddles at bay.
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Trainer: Opt for a “smart” trainer if you have the means. Basically, this takes your training from semi-accurate to precise. A smart trainer will allow you not only to ride virtually in a realistic fashion, but also support controlled resistance so you can directly dial in the correct amount of power. Try the Wahoo Kickr and Kickr Snap ($1200 and $850, respectively, Wahoofitness.com).
Software: For a few hundred dollars, you can tailor your training to either ride a specific course that you’re training for, ride with friends or make structured intervals more palatable. Here are some worthy options:
“The Sufferfest” videos: These structured, high-intensity training videos combine race footage with a storyline and wit that forces you to work hard. They are especially entertaining in a group setting, and you will notice something new and funny each time you watch them. $12–$15 per video, Thesufferfest.com
Perfpro Studio: If you want to train with a group, Perfpro is a good option to add to your arsenal. It supports as many trainers as you would like, and you can train all together on a course of your choosing. You can use a GPX of any course and ride it in your own home or even ride against a past performance. It also contains analysis software so you can geek out on all the data from your intervals or past performances. $100 three-rider limit, $400 for unlimited riders, Perfprostudio.com
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Trainer: Want to host weekly trainer sessions with friends? Consider the classic CompuTrainer setup, which allows multiple bikes to ride the same course in real time (starting at $1,629, Racermateinc.com).
Treadmill: If you want the option to do multisport workouts, you will appreciate having the option to jump directly on the treadmill after your trainer workout. The deluxe Proform Boston Marathon 4.0 enables speeds up to 15 mph or four-minute miles (which you’ll undoubtedly need, right?). It also comes with inset high-definition video, and the ability to create your own workouts using real terrain taken from Google Maps. $3,000, Proform.com
Perfpro Unlimited: Invite as many friends as you wish and enjoy unlimited support for trainers and CompuTrainers. Whether your guests have their own power meter on a basic trainer or you have a mix of trainers to support, Perfpro can pull in all the signals and have you riding or racing on a course together. $400, Perfprostudio.com
Entertainment: An epic home theater system will really up the ante. The Sonos 3.1 Home Theater System includes a smart sound “playbar” with nine speakers to watch your favorite TV series or wirelessly stream from your favorite music app. $1,400, Sonos.com