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Keep Moving on Bike Rollers
By Sheila Ascroft
The main problem with riding indoors on a trainer or stationary bike is that it’s boring. Really boring. Why? Because you don’t go anywhere! If you want to feel like you are truly moving on your bike, try a set of bike rollers. You’ll be free as a bird as long as you pedal in a straight line! Stray wider than the 15 in (38 cm) roller and it’s crash city.
I know some serious athletes who swear by their rollers, praising this slippery machine as an excellent training tool for smoothing out their pedalling style. It’s called soupplesse and all pro cyclists have it. I certainly don’t. I tried using rollers a few years back but I lacked this pedalling smoothness to master it. Okay, I lacked patience too!
For the uninitiated, bike rollers have three rolling drums attached between two metal railings. The rear wheel sits between two close-set rollers and the front wheel on the third. Fortunately, newer designs have much smaller-sized roller drums so that you are closer to the floor and it’s easier to mount. Some rollers even have flared ends that stop you from pedalling off sideways (usually!).
My old rollers were three-inch round so I had I had trouble just getting ON the bike on the rollers because it was several inches off the floor. It was like trying to get upright on stilts. Plus these rollers keep moving!
I cheated with a mounting block (a kitchen chair), but it was still tricky to stay upright. I leaned one forearm against a wall (a countertop would also work), clipped in one pedal and then the other, and tried pedalling before lifting my forearm off the wall. Oops. Slippery. Crash. Ouch. It’s like cycling on an icy surface – your pedalling has to be very smooth, pushing on each pedal must have equal power. Soupplesse.
Nowadays there are better options. E-motion offers bike rollers with front and rear bump bars to help keep your wheel centred and you upright. It also has a new “sliding frame” that allows the rollers to move with you, thereby creating an easier, safer and more natural ride. I’ve not tried it, but I’d love to hear comments from anyone who has. Maybe it would get me back rolling.
You can also choose a compromise. Kreitler offers a machine that can be used as both rollers and as a supported bike trainer. It comes with an extra front bar where you can mount your fork (minus front wheel) so only your back wheel is on the rollers. Presto, no worries about balancing nor falling off.
Readers: The ideas expressed in Women's Cycling.ca in subjects such as fitness, health, training, and nutrition should not be used to diagnose or to treat individual concerns. Consult a health-care professional or trainer who can best address your specific needs.