Tech Tips

Roll On Rollers

It's a long cold winter and indoor training can be boring. You set your back wheel into your mag trainer, prop your front wheel up on a phone book, put in a DVD and pedal away in your basement until your mind starts to wander.

This is usually about fifteen minutes after you start. No matter how good the movie, you start thinking about other things. For me it's my favourite climb and I wonder if I can skip this basement stuff and head out on the open road. The snow is not that deep today, it's not that cold, there is not that much ice on the road...pretty soon you have talked yourself out of a good workout.

The solution? Rollers! I began riding rollers on rainy days and before track races in Australia. I started by having a good friend hold the bike seat post and I would ride with one hand on a wall to get steady. Then I graduated to putting my bike next to the same wall so I could lean and ride. I had a mattress on the floor next to me on the other side for padding in case I lost it and fell off.

I never had any big crashes and really only tipped off them a couple of times, but those first few sessions on rollers were intense. My eyes were fixed on one spot on the ground in front of me like some super hero trying to burn a hole in the floor with my eyes. If I moved my eyes I was not sure what might happen.

"So riding rollers kills boredom, but what else does it do?" It makes you an all-round better rider.

The skill of pedaling a bike on rollers makes you smooth and forces you to move your legs like water flowing down a river. Spinning your legs with no resistance will build muscle memory for good form and this creates efficiency.

If you pedal smoothly and efficiently you waste less energy and can therefore ride longer. Add some resistance and you can really improve your fitness. It also makes you keep your bike under control and within the same path of travel.

If you go further than one and a half feet to the left or right you come off the rollers and you have to start again.

training on rollersOn the road it will make you ride in a group better. Rollers force you to just keep it straight. To keep my eyes and bike orientated correctly I put two shoes about as wide apart as the side rails of my rollers on the floor and about ten feet in front of my training zone, just within peripheral vision. They keep me focussed on how far to the left and right I can go. 

Don't look down, at all, ever! This will make you crash. Look up like you are actually riding and trying to see about 100 yards ahead.

Now start to build your skill. Try spinning with no resistance, and then with lots of resistance, try fast and slow, just remember that the wheels going around keep your bike upright so if you go too slow you will fall. 

Try one foot pedaling and even no hand pedaling. (These last two are advanced manoeuvers and not for the faint of heart or the unskilled.)

Once you are comfortable riding on rollers you can reintroduce the DVD, just don't watch any movies that involve a "follow cam". You will turn and crash off your rollers.


So ditch those rear wheel mounted boredom machines and go out and get some rollers. Fitness, skill and mind improvement. What's not to love about that?


PhilfotoAuthor: Phil Tahmindjis
“Lucky” Phil Tahmindjis I am a racer. I started cycling at the age of 15, as training for speed skating (I competed in the Winter Olympics three times). I began racing road and track in Australia and cyclocross in Holland as a junior. I moved up through the ranks and soon found my self racing Cat 1 in Australia, North America and Europe and also racing pro-level mountain bikes in Canada. Along the way I worked as a bike shop manager, cycling team coach and manager. A professional strength and fitness coach to many of the worlds top hockey players and Snowboarders and a personal trainer to many armature athletes including cyclists. I have trained and raced against many World and Olympic champions in many different sports and have learned the one thing that makes them all successful… They love their sport. Now retired from racing I still love to ride. My nickname is “Lucky” Phil because I feel very fortunate to have led the life I have. Not to mention I have faced death on a number of occasions (fractured skull, avalanche, stabbed through the chest with a skate, really nasty paper cut…) so my nickname really should be “Lucky to be alive” Phil. I live and ride in Colorado with my wife and 2 beautiful girls. I really am lucky!

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