Winterize Your Ride

When the toys are put away for the summer and the freezer is filled from a successful hunting season, what’s next? Skiing, snowboarding, and ice climbing are a few choices. To stay in svelte summer shape, though, requires aerobic exercise—and a bicycle trainer is a great way to get what you need.

What They Do
A bike trainer attaches to the rear wheel of a bicycle and lifts that wheel off the floor. It holds the bike stationary while the rider shifts gears and pedals, just like a regular bicycle ride outdoors.

Indoor trainers are compact (most fold) and pretty simple to setup. If you have a mountain bike, put a smooth tire on the rear wheel. Your bike shop will have a few to choose from.

What Kind of Indoor Trainer Do You Need?
Bike trainers come with different options. Cheaper trainers usually have a tension-adjustment knob. The knob allows the rider to adjust how easy or hard the pedaling will be. The gears on your bike will also help with tension.

The more expensive models have progressive resistance, which is governed by centrifugal force—the faster you pedal the harder the resistance. This offers a more natural on-the-road feel.

If you are looking to increase your pedaling efficiency and balance, then give a set of rollers a try. These are for more advanced riders due to the balance control needed to stay upright.

Optimizing the Trainer Experience
A consistent, steady workout routine on a trainer will greatly increase your stamina, prep you for spring, and give you longer days out. And what really sets a trainer apart from other exercise machines is how well it isolates the leg muscles. If you suffer from sore knees or shins, a trainer may be for you, because it will strengthen the major muscles around the knee.

It's important to simulate actual riding conditions rather than just spinning, so be sure to change the resistance and get out of the saddle, especially if you're a mountain biker. Varying the intensity will also help fight the boredom. Don’t forget a few good riding DVDs and your iPod. These both help with the monotony that can come with riding in one position for 30-45 minutes at a time. If you do get bored, try putting your trainer in different parts of the room or in front of different windows.

As with any aerobic exercise, use a heart-rate monitor to keep your heart rate in the correct exercise zone for your age and condition. If you don’t know your training zone, check with your doctor.

Robb Branson is the manager of Owenhouse Bicycling and Fitness in downtown Bozeman.

As many athletes know, heart rate monitors are vital to getting accurate and instant feedback about how hard the heart is working. However, most don’t want to mess with an uncomfortable chest strap. New Balance has a practical solution that will help people of all fitness levels get the most from their workouts—the HRT Mini. This sleek, waterproof watch not only measures calories burned and average heart rate, but it also doubles as a stopwatch, lap chronograph, calorie counter, and a countdown timer. Plus, its slim and lightweight design is a big bonus for all women, from rookie runners to triathletes.

Setup can be a problem. It may have been the late day at the office, but I couldn’t successfully complete the setup in one shot. This was a one-time-only deal, and after I learned to moisten my fingers before sticking them on the sensors, I didn’t have any problems. $80;

-Ashley Lusk