I’m entering into my second full season as a triathlete.  I guess that makes me a sophomore.  There’s clearly a learning curve when it comes to triathlon, and I am by no means very far up it, but I have learned a little bit on my journey so far.

One of the most valuable pieces of equipment that I have picked up so far is my bike trainer.  Here are five reasons why a trainer should be one of your ground floor investments.

1: A trainer negates bad weather affecting your workouts.

I live in the midwest, and we’re currently having some nasty weather (like the whole country, apparently).  My trainer lets me get my workouts in during the winter, if it’s raining, if it’s windy, or whatever negatives the weather tries to discourage you with.  This way I’ll be able to continue my normal bike workouts all winter long, and I’ll be able to hit next season with a running (or cycling?) head start, which is a good thing because cycling fitness is key to doing well in triathlon.  It’s the longest leg by time and distance.

2: A trainer enables you to use your own bike.

An indoor spinning class is an alternative to using a trainer, but the trainer has several advantages.  You get to use your own bike that is fit specifically to you.  A spinning bike is difficult to dial in a fit, and has to be redone every class.  Your bike is set up correctly (hopefully with a bike fit), and you won’t have to worry about any biomechanical issues popping up.  You also can do bike-specific workouts.  Spinning classes can be a good way to maintain bike fitness, but a lot of classes are run in a way that is not optimal for cycling-specific fitness (as I learned in this Endurance Planet Podcast).

800px-Holden0004_243-13: A trainer is safe.

I have at least a couple friends that have been hit by cars while cycling.  I know that ultimately triathlons are held on the roads, and it will be good to get some exposure to actual conditions, but I also want to stay in one piece.  A trainer is guaranteed to keep me from being hit by a car.  At least for a little bit.  Granted, it is easier mentally to get a workout in outside on a road or bike trail, but I can get a quality workout in without endangering myself.  That counts for something.

4: A trainer is convenient.

When I cycle outside, I like to ride the bike trails in my city.  They’re scenic and don’t have speed limits or motor vehicles.  However, from where I live, it takes me 15-20 minutes to drive to where different parts of the bike trail system.  Add to that the time required to load and unload my bike, and riding a bike trail can cost me between 30-40 minutes.  That can put some serious dents in a schedule.

So even during the warmer months, I like to use a trainer during the week when I have the least amount of time to spare.  I get out to the bike trails for my longer weekend rides.  Those are much more enjoyable to do outside.  Using this trainer-enabled compromise lets me balance my desire to be outside with the realities of a limited schedule.

Tom the Blue Rider5: A trainer is portable.

One last thing I want to share is that a trainer it is portable.  The above picture was taken of me over Christmas break at my mom’s house.  I took the bike and trainer with me, and was still able to get in workouts.

In conclusion

A trainer is one of the basic additions to my gear that will really help me to become the triathlete I want to be.  I absolutely recommend that you get one if you don’t.  It has a great pay off to price ration in my estimation, though that does depend on the one purchased. That will be a topic for another day.