Verve Cycling’s Founder and CEO, Bryan Taylor, spends extended periods of the year training indoors. Here, he gives an insight into how he adapts when it’s not possible to cycle outside.
Bryan, you train indoors for a period each year – how much of the year do you normally spend training indoors?
I have to train indoors for extended periods depending on the Alpine weather, but generally it would be all indoors from November through to March with partially indoors either side of this.
Is this a time of getting fit, losing fitness or maintaining fitness?
In normal times, it is a matter of maintainance until Christmas – a loss of fitness and form during the break and then a desperate attempt to get fit again before the outdoor season. So it is a real mix and the exercises and duration are designed to meet the circumstances.
What system do you have to get you through such a long time of indoor riding?
System is a good word. It is not just the set-up – fans and TV screens and trainers – but how I keep myself occupied and interested in doing what has to be done for months on end. I can say from the outset that I prefer to ride outside – I only ride inside because I have to. Having said that, I am quite purposeful in everything I do, and so yes, I have a system.
The system starts with varied training devices and set-ups. I have two sets of rollers, one set, just mechanical and another set which incorporates a smart system. We also have a smart ‘wheels on’ trainer, but if I am not using the rollers, I normally us an air trainer called a RevBox. We also have a rowing trainer and an exercise mat, but I really don’t do anywhere near as much work on those as I should.
What about the Indoor training systems such as Zwift? Do you use those?
Yes, I do! I am very particular about my use of these and have now settled on just two programmes; Zwift and Sufferfest. I use Sufferfest for training – specific exercises or intervals to achieve my weekly/monthly targets. I use Zwift for endurance training and usually do that by joining races. Just riding, I find too boring with either programme and only use that mode on recovery rides and my limit is about 30 minutes.
How much time do you spend training in the indoor season?
My aim is to carry over much of my long term endurance fitness from season to season and I usually give it a kick start early in the year by attending a camp or putting in a heavy week or 10 days.
That means that my indoor is then used to work on my form (how I am pedalling) and on my leg speed and my high speed work, both aerobic and anaerobic. Working like this actually keeps me quite fit, but does not bore or tire me out generally.
What is the key thing you do that makes a difference?
I use InfoCrank measurement for everything I do. Even when using a smart trainer or the rollers, at most I only use them for the resistance, not for power measurement. Their power measurement is so far off real, it is amazing. I use the InfoCrank so that regardless of what I am doing I can compare in absolute and Wkg terms the whole time. I want to see if I am improving, whether it is just in the mind or just bad measurement. This also allows me to compare directly with my outside power.
How does that work in practice?
As I said earlier, I am very purposeful. So even when I am doing a race, really I am doing some structured training and just want to achieve certain outcomes. For instance, I rode an age group race around the Yorkshire course recently, about 70kms. Yes, I knew that I had to start fast, but I only put in a minute or two of hard pace then settled into a group with the view of finishing the 2 1/4 hours strongly. So, I knew what I was capable of in a steady state of riding, but I interpreted it into a race format. So, no attacks, but on each of the major climbs, I rode a very steady high pace in order, firstly not to get dropped and later in the race to stop anyone catching me. But at no time did I go above my pre-set levels – I wanted two hours plus of high level aerobic work.
So I played the race with those around me, but really I played my game. I was done in by the last 5kms but still passed two group riders in the final to satisfy my racing spirit. That goes down not as a result like the people who do whatever they do to ride for two hours at 4wkg when they are sixty plus years old, but as a proper training ride which means that when I get back out on the road, I will be able to ride as fast as I need to.
I also pick my Sufferfest sessions to ensure that I am getting a good mix of doing the things that are too painful to do by yourself. Extended high power intervals. Sessions with 46 individual high intensity efforts with almost no rest. Everytime, I do them, I aim to do better than in the past. Everytime, measured with InfoCrank so that the results are real and comparable.
Earlier you talked about form as well as fitness?
What I meant by that was my pedalling and strength form. Verve developed an app called VINC which is available from the Google Play Store for free for InfoCrank users. There are two key areas to watch and work on carefully in regard to form.
The first is the actual form you hold when doing exercises or intervals. It is critical for improvement to ride the exercises in such a way that you can ride each one planned and retain your pedalling form and strength right to the end. You will see in the photo taken here that the first interval shown builds gradually and then maintains the nearly 300w throughout – never too high and not sloping off at the end. This was the second last of a number. I use this VINC page to help me see how steady I am riding as I seek to get the most out of all the exercises.
The next picture shows what I am looking at (another screen from VINC) when I am doing my high intensity work and watching my pedal stroke.
Here I am riding and watching each of my pedal strokes live and making adjustments as necessary to get the watts out most efficiently. This is really only able to be done indoors and is an important part of the season.
What are the results when you first go outdoors?
Really varied. I am often not fit from an Endurance perspective when I go to my first camp or outdoor ride, but I have the leg speed. I also pick up what I am missing really quickly as once again, I work purposefully to gain what I need. The short answer is that most people I am riding with think I am fitter than I am. I don’t usually let on how little I have actually done over the indoor period.