Tips for TrainerRoad on rollers please

Hi Guys, I signed up to TrainerRoad last week and have completed 1x ramp test and 2x training sessions on my Inside Ride Rollers so far (with Assioma Duo pedals.)
I have enjoyed the sessions overall but I am struggling with the lower power efforts ie. I need to reduce my cadence significantly to even get close to the prescribed lower power and it’s then really challenging to maintain balance.
My balance (at the lower cadence) is improving but it just feels way too slow ie. I would still be recovering at a higher cadence but then my power would be way over.
I would be really interested to hear the thoughts and suggestions of other roller users please.

Never had rollers but a bigger cassette or smaller chainring? or hand rails!

1 Like

If these are just recovery periods then just ride as easy as you can - pick an easy gear and do what you need to do. I find I just ride as easy as needed during those periods although its often a higher wattage than shwon for the session but it doesnt matter.

6 Likes

You are shifting to your easiest gear and still having to pedal a slow cadence to hit lower power targets?

  • What is your exact bike setup and gearing?

  • What is your tires size and pressure are you using in your tires?

  • Do you have one of the manual magnetic or smart controlled resistance units on the E-Motion rollers?

    • If so, have you set them in the lower resistance settings?

Generally speaking, it’s nice to use rollers next to a wall or in a doorway while you are learning. Trying to recover from hard efforts and maintain control is one of the key reasons I made my first rocker plate. I had a full wall on one side and a sturdy table on the other when I was using my rollers, and more than once I leaned on those to prevent a fall during a recoveries. I wanted the fun and most of the freedom of rollers, but not the total need to balance and control… which is tricky in those hard recoveries.

As you seem to have found, control on rollers increases with wheel speed.

  1. If you can drop the resistance level on the trainer, try that.
  2. If you are not already at the top end of the pressure rating for your tires, kick that up a bunch.

Both of those will decrease resistance overall, and may allow you to get faster spinning wheels at the lower power levels, and still keep more control that you want.

Thanks @Bigpikle that sounds like a practical solution.

Thanks @mcneese.chad and I’ve added my answers below;

2 Likes

Cool, I think you have most of the basics covered, so it may just take a few tweaks and some time to get used to the challenges of using rollers. Good luck and let us know how it goes :smiley:

2 Likes

As above, I don’t think the exact power in recovery periods matters much, so just drop as much as you’re comfortable. I also find recovery at low cadence better, so usually drop to about 50 rpm. Lots of the cadence hints in TR only work on erg mode trainers, so I wouldn’t worry about that.

2 Likes

What do you mean by “skittish”? That the chain is coming off the chainring? If so then it’s likely you need a new one, drivetrains should be consistent throughout their range.

1 Like

As a rollers rider, i agree with @bigpikle and just go with a comfortable spin at a cadence that is most comfortable and feels like recovery. Most likely, that will mean an easy spin, not a slow drag, in a low gear to flush the legs. And ideally, that means the small ring up front. “Just” focus on recovery during the recovery periods to, well, recovery. They aren’t targets like the “on” power targets.

By the way, if you want excitement, have your chain come off during a downshift :smiley: @bobw … that happened to me last week. What a thrill after the split second of wondering what happened (fortunately I didn’t fall as I braked and unclipped to get my foot on the ground).

2 Likes

I think that this will be the key factor to work on. The key to getting the best out of rollers for TR (or any workout) is being comfortable at a range of cadences.

When you are pedalling with less resistance from the gears (i.e. in the smaller chainring), initially it feels more unstable. I’d recommend trying the following:

  • Change into the small chainring but the smallest cog at the back and then practise working your way up the block.
  • If you feel wobbly, then concentrate on looking forward (about 2-4 metres in front of the bike), not down at the front wheel.
  • Pedal faster - with a higher cadence you actually get more stable.
  • Work on keeping your core/upper body still and pushing through the pedals from your hips - this helps make the bike more stable.

It’s all about practise - I’ve only ever used done inside workouts on rollers, it’ll come.

3 Likes

I use Elite quick motion rollers for almost all my TR indoor workouts (have a Kickr but really don’t like it). I’m a flyweight climber, so not a huge FTP (~215), and I find it a little challenging w/ the really low (like under 80 watt) recovery intervals. I’ll usually just pedal a bit quicker/add 10 watts or so, or pay more attention to my balance (I’m usually watching a race on GCN). It helps to look straight down at the cord and try to keep your foot at a specific/consistent distance from it; or pick a spot in front of you, directly in your line of vision, to focus on. It’s the quick little motions (like turning your head too fast) that unbalance you. The rollers amplify every little movement you make. Try to relax as you pedal. I like Jonathan’s “keep your grip supple and non-reactive” mantra. Or as I told myself when I was learning to ride a motorcycle: “let the bike do what the bike wants to do”. Keep at it. Training on rollers really pays dividends

1 Like

i mean really unstable and hard to control the front wheel - compared to the larger cog which is much easier from a speed/balance perspective.

Thanks @mountainrunner and I will give the small ring another try tomorrow.
No chain incidents inside yet :wink:

Thanks @radicalwipeout and I will persevere with the small cog. Great tip regarding small cog at the rear.

1 Like

Thank you for the encouragement @AustinPT
I am really enjoying the rollers and agree that the coaching tips are really helpful.

Chad and the others had a lot of good advice. In general it takes some practice and eventually becomes second nature. Having functional low gearing will help a lot.

Only additional comment is there’s nothing mandatory about higher cadences on rollers. The wheels are what provide a stabilizing gyroscopic effect not the crankset. If you’re more comfortable using a lower cadence to put out enough power to be stable than that’s fine.

3 Likes

in a haze of fatigue, I once set my rollers down in a dimly lit laundry room…backwards. 2 drums in front, 1 drum in rear. Pro tip: don’t do that.

3 Likes

I’ve been using rollers with TrainerRoad some months now. I too find it definitely harder to keep my balance at lower power, during recovery stages and at the beginning and ends of sessions. Its getting much easier now. Either this has improved for me with practice or my fitness has improved and the power targets are higher. I used to lean against the wall at low speeds. I think there’s a danger with this. With all the hours I was spending indoors I noticed outdoors that the upper part of my body was ‘lilting’ to the side! It’s a challenge to concentrate on your balance after the hard part of the interval. I just want to relax and switch off, but I think forcing myself to make an effort and stay balanced unsupported is paying off with my form in general. I also feel that the low power targets aren’t necessarily there to be followed rigidly. But pedalling at low speeds on rollers is a skill worth learning in itself, isn’t it? There are also skill like pedalling with one leg or standing up - some TrainerRoad workouts call for these. Can’t say I’ve managed to do either yet without additional support, but it’s challenges like these that make the rollers interesting for me and hopefully some day I will. What I can’t do is focus on one knee tracking up and down while riding. It’s come up a lot in my endurance workouts recently. I have to look forwards. Any advice or help with this perhaps?

1 Like

Perhaps someone could help me with this. I can’t change up to the big ring while riding the rollers. If I get off and spin in the air it happens. And no problems changing down. I took it to the LBS and left it there. He checked the front derailleur and put standard oil on my waxed chain. He hadn’t seen a waxed chain before and thought the wax was stopping the chain from functioning properly. Not many waxed chains where I live it seems. It’s made no difference. No significant problem with this outdoors.