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Do Trainer Miles Count?

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Do Trainer Miles Count?

11 Nov 2015 12:01

Periodically I will ride on my trainer (Bad Weather / Darkness). I have two friends who share different points of view on this subject of weather or not the trainer miles count towards my total miles ridden in the year.

I ride a Kinetic Road Machine with the Zwift on-line application. At times its a harder ride that out on the road. I believe that I should count the trainer miles, after all, Im peddaling my A$$ off.

Doug
dhungerf
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11 Nov 2015 23:12

Why wouldn't they count :confused:
User avatar 42x16ss
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11 Nov 2015 23:32

I agree with 42x16ss, why wouldn't they count?

As long as your trainer is simulating real life riding conditions (resistance) your muscles would be subject to the same stresses whether inside or outside.

If you live in a hilly area it might be more difficult to simulate but some trainers will vary the resistance for you to mimic hilly conditions.

Don't worry about what your friends think..... :)
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Re:

12 Nov 2015 01:26

No.
42x16ss wrote:Why wouldn't they count :confused:

Because...he's not going anywhere? :p

irondan wrote:As long as your trainer is simulating real life riding conditions (resistance) your muscles would be subject to the same stresses whether inside or outside.
Debatable.

I'm not here to disparage indoor trainers, but bike handling, balance and the inevitable shifts in weight that occur during actual riding present far more varied stresses on the body than a stationary ever will. Cycling is, obviously, more than just pumping one's legs.

Add to that all the unpredictable stresses of weather (wind, rain, snow, extremes of heat and cold) and other aspects of real-world riding (vehicles, road obstacles, surface conditions), not to mention the mental demands of watching the road versus watching a video or staring at a wall, and I don't think the two compare at all.

Nor does one have to contend with the same demands of hydration and nutrition, and the forced adaptation that comes from not always having that extra drink or snack within arms reach (or at least as near as the fridge or cupboard).

It really shouldn't matter what others think of your training habits, and only you will know the true benefits gained, one way or the other. Yes, trainer miles will count for something. But they shouldn't be confused for miles on the road, as they don't offer the same challenges or gains.
User avatar Jacques de Molay
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Re: Re:

12 Nov 2015 03:38

Jacques de Molay wrote:No.
42x16ss wrote:Why wouldn't they count :confused:

Because...he's not going anywhere? :p

irondan wrote:As long as your trainer is simulating real life riding conditions (resistance) your muscles would be subject to the same stresses whether inside or outside.
Debatable.

I'm not here to disparage indoor trainers, but bike handling, balance and the inevitable shifts in weight that occur during actual riding present far more varied stresses on the body than a stationary ever will. Cycling is, obviously, more than just pumping one's legs.

Add to that all the unpredictable stresses of weather (wind, rain, snow, extremes of heat and cold) and other aspects of real-world riding (vehicles, road obstacles, surface conditions), not to mention the mental demands of watching the road versus watching a video or staring at a wall, and I don't think the two compare at all.

Nor does one have to contend with the same demands of hydration and nutrition, and the forced adaptation that comes from not always having that extra drink or snack within arms reach (or at least as near as the fridge or cupboard).

It really shouldn't matter what others think of your training habits, and only you will know the true benefits gained, one way or the other. Yes, trainer miles will count for something. But they shouldn't be confused for miles on the road, as they don't offer the same challenges or gains.


Of course riding a trainer doesn't have the same challenges, but the gains are similar. The Zwift system he is talking about insures there is resistance. It simulates road gradients, drafting, wind, ect. It's not easy...you're definitely still burning calories. Even on a normal trainer there is still resistance. Add to that the fact that you don't have any wind to help you at any point and you have no downhill sections. You'd be surprised how much downhills help you recover when you're out riding. The main point of a trainer is to keep you in shape and to help you burn calories. The miles most definitely count - especially when it's just a supplement to your normal outside riding.
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User avatar Jspear
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Re: Re:

12 Nov 2015 06:08

Jspear wrote:It simulates road gradients, drafting, wind.... :confused:

Not unless there's a massive fan attached. Even then, it still wouldn't count unless the bike was on rollers.

The miles most definitely count - especially when it's just a supplement to your normal outside riding.
I suppose this comes down to how we're defining "count."

I own a CycleOps Jet Fluid Pro myself, so I'm not unfamiliar with the concept. Nor am I suggesting that you can't get a serious burn on a trainer, and get some very useful physical benefits.

But the OP is trying to settle a debate amongst friends as to whether or not indoor "miles" should be given the same status as real miles accumulated on the road. In my opinion, they shouldn't, for all the reasons I've stated previously.

To look at this from another angle:
I abhor running on a treadmill, but I have done it for brief periods during harsh winter weather when a commercial gym was part of my routine. But I would never, ever count the time on a treadmill as "miles run" for the week or month, no matter how strenuous the work out.

When one considers "miles ridden in a year" there is an implicit consideration of all that that entails—varying weather conditions, inopportune flats and other maintenance issues, perhaps getting lost, having to suffer to make it back home when the ride doesn't go well, and possibly dealing with injuries sustained from anything from crashes to dog bites. None of those issues will be confronted by the basement warrior on a trainer.

To state the obvious: The virtual world is not the real world.

Would a pilot count their time in a flight simulator as "miles flown"? I hope not, even though at the highest level of virtual training (military, commercial and NASA) they can be subjected to many of the same stresses as they may encounter in the real world. It is not, however, the real world.

I know plenty of people who push themselves to their limits (or so they say) while attending indoor "spin" classes (the instructor is really tough. He/she does IRONMANS!!!). But these same people are easily annihilated on the open road on an actual bicycle. Therefore, to me, they are not the same, and shouldn't be considered as such.
Last edited by Jacques de Molay on 12 Nov 2015 06:27, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Re:

12 Nov 2015 06:25

To address just this one issue separately:
Jspear wrote:You'd be surprised how much downhills help you recover when you're out riding.


But of course descending is also another skill completely lost on an indoor trainer of any type. Your legs may recover during that time on the road, but for anyone who regularly achieves speeds greater than 40 mph (65 kph), there are certainly demands put on other parts/systems of the human body that should not be discounted. Plus, it's a helluva lot more fun. :)
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Re: Do Trainer Miles Count?

12 Nov 2015 09:05

dhungerf wrote:Periodically I will ride on my trainer (Bad Weather / Darkness). I have two friends who share different points of view on this subject of weather or not the trainer miles count towards my total miles ridden in the year.

I ride a Kinetic Road Machine with the Zwift on-line application. At times its a harder ride that out on the road. I believe that I should count the trainer miles, after all, Im peddaling my A$$ off.

Doug

Metabolically, what matters is duration and intensity.

Training miles are not a good indicator in the same way that climbing miles, flat miles and descending miles are not equivalent either.
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12 Nov 2015 14:24

I don't really understand the question. What do you mean by "count"? Can time on the trainer help your fitness? Sure, of course. But it tears at your soul, and erodes the very essence of what makes us human. Life is too short to spend it cyling indoors.
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Re:

12 Nov 2015 17:53

winkybiker wrote:I don't really understand the question. What do you mean by "count"? Can time on the trainer help your fitness? Sure, of course. But it tears at your soul, and erodes the very essence of what makes us human. Life is too short to spend it cyling indoors.


He is using Zwift, that is fun.
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Re: Re:

13 Nov 2015 02:56

Jacques de Molay wrote:
Jspear wrote:It simulates road gradients, drafting, wind.... :confused:

Not unless there's a massive fan attached. Even then, it still wouldn't count unless the bike was on rollers.

The miles most definitely count - especially when it's just a supplement to your normal outside riding.
I suppose this comes down to how we're defining "count."

I own a CycleOps Jet Fluid Pro myself, so I'm not unfamiliar with the concept. Nor am I suggesting that you can't get a serious burn on a trainer, and get some very useful physical benefits.

But the OP is trying to settle a debate amongst friends as to whether or not indoor "miles" should be given the same status as real miles accumulated on the road. In my opinion, they shouldn't, for all the reasons I've stated previously.

To look at this from another angle:
I abhor running on a treadmill, but I have done it for brief periods during harsh winter weather when a commercial gym was part of my routine. But I would never, ever count the time on a treadmill as "miles run" for the week or month, no matter how strenuous the work out.

When one considers "miles ridden in a year" there is an implicit consideration of all that that entails—varying weather conditions, inopportune flats and other maintenance issues, perhaps getting lost, having to suffer to make it back home when the ride doesn't go well, and possibly dealing with injuries sustained from anything from crashes to dog bites. None of those issues will be confronted by the basement warrior on a trainer.

To state the obvious: The virtual world is not the real world.

Would a pilot count their time in a flight simulator as "miles flown"? I hope not, even though at the highest level of virtual training (military, commercial and NASA) they can be subjected to many of the same stresses as they may encounter in the real world. It is not, however, the real world.

I know plenty of people who push themselves to their limits (or so they say) while attending indoor "spin" classes (the instructor is really tough. He/she does IRONMANS!!!). But these same people are easily annihilated on the open road on an actual bicycle. Therefore, to me, they are not the same, and shouldn't be considered as such.


1st bold: I don't own a zwift, but from the reviews I've watched I do know the setup takes into account wind. For instance if you ride behind another rider it lessens the resistance a bit to simulate "drafting."

2nd bold: True. I guess my definition is based more on the fact that you're still burning calories. There is still exercise. Of course other people can have different definitions.

3rd bold: Of course you could have individuals that only ride a trainer or don't know how to use a trainer properly. I'm talking about individuals who use it as a supplement to normal riding. When I think of virtual I think of someone playing a cycling game on Xbox. In that sense it isn't really virtual. You're literally riding a bike. You're just making the most of your weather. You're exercising.

Basically I think if you're an avid cyclist that is just using it for the "bad" days, it's okay to count it towards you're miles. I do get your pov. :)
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Re: Re:

13 Nov 2015 10:42

Jspear wrote:1st bold: I don't own a zwift, but from the reviews I've watched I do know the setup takes into account wind. For instance if you ride behind another rider it lessens the resistance a bit to simulate "drafting."

My only point was that, on the road, wind will buffet the upper-body in a way that adds additional stresses in terms of balance and stability, thus requiring a type of exertion quite different from merely altering the resistance of the rear wheel. Headwinds, crosswinds, etc will force into play many more muscle groups of the arms and torso.

You're literally riding a bike.
On this I would disagree. On most trainers, you're pedaling a bike, but not actually "riding" it.

Now I'm curious to know just which arguments the OPs friends were putting forth for each side of the debate.
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Re: Re:

13 Nov 2015 16:47

........... Nor does one have to contend with the same demands of hydration and nutrition, and the forced adaptation that comes from not always having that extra drink or snack within arms reach (or at least as near as the fridge or cupboard)................


I live at 1500 metres elevation and ride a spin bike when outside conditions restrict cycling outdoors. I find I need to drink during spin biking (our air is thin and very dry).

Spin biking is not the same as road cycling however I do keep a separate record of my spin miles.
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Re: Re:

16 Nov 2015 12:16

avanti wrote:I find I need to drink during spin biking (our air is thin and very dry).


I, too, will reach for a water bottle when on my indoor trainer. Without the cooling effect of moving through the air, I'm always surprised by how quickly I start to sweat, and by how much heat my body produces.

My only point was that when out on the road, sometimes you can run out of water (only once have I completely forgotten bring any bottles!) or food due to any number of reasons. Sometimes I might end up riding much longer than originally anticipated, other times I've had the misfortune of discovering that a planned refueling stop had gone out of business and my only other options were nearly an hour away. Unexpected temperature changes can also deplete one's resources beyond what one might have on hand.

On an indoor trainer, however, these predicaments are not likely to occur. Extra replenishment, if needed, is usually only a few steps away.

This doesn't even get even get into the psychological differences and challenges of Road vs Trainer. On more occasions than I could count, I have wished that I could simply blink my eyes and be back home instead of having to contend with the additional suffering imposed by the final hour or so of an all-day ride. Of course I never have any regrets once I actually make it home, but on a trainer, one merely needs to step off the bike...and you're already there. :)
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Re: Re:

16 Nov 2015 15:50

Jacques de Molay wrote:
avanti wrote:I find I need to drink during spin biking (our air is thin and very dry).


I, too, will reach for a water bottle when on my indoor trainer. Without the cooling effect of moving through the air, I'm always surprised by how quickly I start to sweat, and by how much heat my body produces.

My only point was that when out on the road, sometimes you can run out of water (only once have I completely forgotten bring any bottles!) or food due to any number of reasons. Sometimes I might end up riding much longer than originally anticipated, other times I've had the misfortune of discovering that a planned refueling stop had gone out of business and my only other options were nearly an hour away. Unexpected temperature changes can also deplete one's resources beyond what one might have on hand.

On an indoor trainer, however, these predicaments are not likely to occur. Extra replenishment, if needed, is usually only a few steps away.

This doesn't even get even get into the psychological differences and challenges of Road vs Trainer. On more occasions than I could count, I have wished that I could simply blink my eyes and be back home instead of having to contend with the additional suffering imposed by the final hour or so of an all-day ride. Of course I never have any regrets once I actually make it home, but on a trainer, one merely needs to step off the bike...and you're already there. :)



Perhaps it takes one with greater mental strength to ride a trainer. You have to train yourself to stay on it....perhaps some have greater discipline then others. Kudos's to those who can stay on their trainer and overcome the "mental" battle, not having to put themselves out hours from their house to keep cycling and exercising.
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Re: Re:

16 Nov 2015 20:40

Jacques de Molay wrote:
avanti wrote:I find I need to drink during spin biking (our air is thin and very dry).


I, too, will reach for a water bottle when on my indoor trainer. Without the cooling effect of moving through the air, I'm always surprised by how quickly I start to sweat, and by how much heat my body produces.


Cycling is about 20-22% efficient or so, meaning that for every watt you put through the cranks, about another 4 watts are generated as waste heat by your body. e.g. even pedalling at a modest 200W (modest for a fit amateur race cyclist) means you are generating nearly 1000W of waste heat. That's not all that much less heat power than a hair dryer or a single bar electric radiator or a common kitchen toaster, to give some idea of how much heat is generated.

That's why when training indoors, having an industrial strength fan for strong airflow is a necessity for many. When outside, you have a 25-35km/h breeze constantly flowing over your whole body but is also why steep slow climbs can feel much hotter when there is no wind to aid the cooling. Without adequate air flow for cooling you are forced to ride at a lower power than you may otherwise be able to.
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Re: Re:

16 Nov 2015 20:48

Jspear wrote:Perhaps it takes one with greater mental strength to ride a trainer. You have to train yourself to stay on it....perhaps some have greater discipline then others. Kudos's to those who can stay on their trainer and overcome the "mental" battle, not having to put themselves out hours from their house to keep cycling and exercising.


Some actually enjoy it. One elite rider I coach prefers the trainer, even for long rides. Happy to do 4+ hour indoor rides. They like to watch movies while doing a session. And they are quality sessions, not pfaffing about. Another I worked with many years ago would get snowed in for 3 months of the year and was happy doing 15-20 hour weeks on the trainer (and some high quality work too).

For many it comes down to how strongly your desire is to achieve your goals and what's the best manner in which to get the work done in the context of rest of life.

There are of course many more motivational aids available now days for indoor training.
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Re: Re:

16 Nov 2015 22:17

Jspear wrote:Kudos's to those who can stay on their trainer and overcome the "mental" battle, not having to put themselves out hours from their house to keep cycling and exercising.

I'm going to assume that you're simply playing devils advocate here, for the sake of the discussion, but that you don't genuinely embrace that last point of your argument. :D

The bicycle, since its very inception, was meant to offer people a novel way to "put themselves out hours from their house." That was the whole point to begin with. To this day, that is what bikes are, and what they do. It's never a matter of "having" to put myself out hours from home, it's my choice, and one that I wholly embrace. :)

As far as I'm concerned, when you remove centrifugal force from the equation, you're no longer riding a bike, you're just not. You're turning the pedals. That's not to suggest that turning the pedals on a trainer will automatically be easy. Obviously, it's as difficult as one makes it.

To reiterate: I understand indoor trainers. I have one, although I have't touched it in probably three years. I totally get why some people might have to rely on them due to harsh winters, prolonged periods of darkness, work schedules or many other factors.

However, if someone wants to declare themselves King of the Indoor Cycling World (not that anyone here is doing that) then they can have at it. I'll be too busy taking in the sights and sounds of the Great Outdoors to care one bit about such accomplishments.
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Re: Re:

16 Nov 2015 22:20

Alex Simmons/RST wrote:Cycling is about 20-22% efficient or so, meaning that for every watt you put through the cranks, about another 4 watts are generated as waste heat by your body. e.g. even pedalling at a modest 200W (modest for a fit amateur race cyclist) means you are generating nearly 1000W of waste heat. That's not all that much less heat power than a hair dryer or a single bar electric radiator or a common kitchen toaster, to give some idea of how much heat is generated.

Very interesting. Thanks for the numbers.

Alex Simmons/RST wrote:Some actually enjoy it.

In spite of everything I've posted above, I enjoy it too when I've felt the need to use a trainer. I've no doubt that I improved my aerobic capacity a few years ago after some very dedicated indoor sessions during a particularly long and brutal winter. I prefer to watch videos of older stage-races or classic cycling films during those times. It can be fun, and I don't have much difficulty in finding the motivation to push myself quite hard. But I also wrecked some wheels before fully considering the damage being done by my particular setup. :o

I doubt I'll have much more to add to this discussion, but I've quite enjoyed it, and all the responses. :)
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Re: Re:

16 Nov 2015 23:10

Alex Simmons/RST wrote:
Jspear wrote:Perhaps it takes one with greater mental strength to ride a trainer. You have to train yourself to stay on it....perhaps some have greater discipline then others. Kudos's to those who can stay on their trainer and overcome the "mental" battle, not having to put themselves out hours from their house to keep cycling and exercising.


Some actually enjoy it. One elite rider I coach prefers the trainer, even for long rides. Happy to do 4+ hour indoor rides. They like to watch movies while doing a session. And they are quality sessions, not pfaffing about. Another I worked with many years ago would get snowed in for 3 months of the year and was happy doing 15-20 hour weeks on the trainer (and some high quality work too).

For many it comes down to how strongly your desire is to achieve your goals and what's the best manner in which to get the work done in the context of rest of life.

There are of course many more motivational aids available now days for indoor training.

I remember that in early 2011, after the Brisbane floods a lot of guys were flying when racing started again thanks to a lot of trainer time before and during (it rained every day for 3 weeks before as well).

So many people were training with some structure rather than mindless bunch rides with their mates that the first few races back were nuts. Everyone who was able to train had crazy fitness
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