A bike trainer in tri world is a contraption used to convert a normal outside bike to an indoor stationary bike. Two and a half years ago I did not know this. It was after my first season of tri, as I consider it for purposes of this blog, and it was in the fall, and I was just starting to plan to do my first 70.3 the following summer. I signed up for a triathlon training camp in town; but to do the camp you had to had a trainer. Fortunately I was given a recommendation on what to get and made my purchase.

I bought a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine, and once or twice a week for class I would dutifully bring it and my bike to an indoor track where we did indoor cycling and running workouts. I also used it at home when it was too icy/wet/cold/dark to ride outside, or for some other reason (such as before work without time to deal with a flat tire if I should get one).

Since that initial purchase I have spent numerous hours out in the garage on my trainer – for as long as 7.5 hours this past winter because it got too cold and wet at the end of my ironman training for me to brave the elements.

At some point I had a cadence and speed sensor set up, but then, I think when I purchased my tri bike in the spring of 2016, I never set it up on the new bike. The only thing I measured when writing was heart rate, and I gave that up for my last few months of training because I never could figure out my heart rate zones.

As I go further I have to point out that triathletes are known for measuring EVERYTHING. Every calorie consumed, energy output, speed, power, I dont even know…which gets to the point here.

I had heard about power meters. I have tried to figure out what they are, but am still not entirely sure (I think it is a device on your bike – either the crank or pedal or elsewhere) that measures your wattage output on the bike — but I have no idea how. They are darned expensive.

I also had heard people on facebook groups rave about programs like Zwift and Sufferfest. These apparently were video workouts that people did on their trainers. I couldn’t wait to try! But, I soon learned that it wouldn’t work without somehow having a connected bike. I didn’t look further into it.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago when someone in the local tri community was selling a compu trainer for $100. I naively purchased it without asking further questions. Well, it is one you plug in and could do great things for 90’s technology, but it is not up to today’s standards – so the only advantage over my other trainer is that I can adjust tension without shifting gears. BUT the thing is, I didn’t even know that was possible! Awesome! Well, this led me to research trainers further. I have learned that there are smart trainers that apparently can hook up to Zwift or Sufferfest and adjust the difficulty for you to match the workout. They cost $500-$2000. There are tons and tons of them on the market.

So my cheap $100 purchase turned so much more expensive because I learned what can be done. Now my new trainer is sitting in the garage, waiting to get moving this weekend, and I cannot wait.