Writers’ Pain Cave: Leslie in Ontario


Pain Caves of the Pandemic: We are living in an era of convergence where indoor cycling with elaborate software and smart trainers has collided with the greatest pandemic since Spanish Influenza. This has given huge impetus to online resources such as Zwift, equipment providers including Wahoo, and novel solutions from fast-growing firms like Peloton.

PezCyclingNews has invited readers to tell us about their bikes in Readers’ Rigs, a popular feature, and now seems like the ideal time to reflect on indoor training and your very own ‘Pain Caves’. Here is a first contribution from Leslie Reissner, our Literary Editor:

Not just the pandemic

What is your set up?
Bike: I am using a Leader 735TT time trial bike, with Shimano Ultegra components. While the 53-39 gearing with a 12-23 cassette works fine in erg mode settings, the bicycle is over-geared for a lot of the big climbs I find myself (a definite non-climber) riding in the virtual world when in level mode using my smart trainer.

Trainer: Elite Direto.


Other accessories: Garmin heart rate monitor; generic ANT+ cadence sensor; Elite riser front wheel riser block; two pedestal fans positioned at 45 degree angles in front of the bike; a small table next to the bike for drinks, snacks, remote controls; an Aiwa mini sound system for a huge collection of CDs; a large collection of bike race DVDs. I have a bench, a few weights, workout videos, and a Swiss exercise ball but I really really wish I had a sauna.

Workouts are tracked on Strava, TrainingPeaks and FitDay.


How do you run your set up?
Do you use TV (Apple TV), laptop, iPad or mobile phone?
I am using an HP laptop running Windows 10 Home Edition and connected to Wi-Fi. The laptop is connected via HDMI cable to a 46” Samsung LED television. An ANT+ dongle runs on an extension cable from one of the laptop’s USB ports so it is close to the Elite trainer for the strongest possible signal.


Is the bike just for the home trainer or is it also your outside bike?
This bike is essentially only for use on the smart trainer and was previously used with a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine fluid trainer. Although I have used the bike for time trialling, owning twelve bikes (!) gives me the luxury of leaving the bike on the trainer so set-up time is kept to a minimum.

la passione winter 2021 cycling apparel

How do you protect your bike?
I clean the frame every few days and it is heavily waxed as well. However, I use terry headbands (changing every 30 minutes!) and a towel to keep perspiration off of the bike.


How many hours do you do?
8-10 hours weekly, October through May.

Which is your favourite: Zwift, RGT, Rouvy…
I have used The Sufferfest for over a decade and seen it evolve from simple videos to the current app with comprehensive training plans. As well, I regularly use Rouvy because I like riding in real scenery (well, real virtual scenery, I guess). Although Rouvy requires me to race from time to time to move up in level, I am not particularly interested in e-racing. I also enjoy riding to videos found on YouTube, available on channels such as Bike the World or Indoor Cycling Videos.


Why did you start indoor training?
Living in Ottawa as I do the outdoor cycling season is limited, realistically, to six months of the year. I have also lived in urban centres in the United States and Europe where indoor training was more efficient and safer than getting out in traffic during the week.

What do you do on your trainer? Just ride or a set-out training plan?
I use The Sufferfest training plan library often but also just like freestyle cycling on Rouvy for places where I would actually like to ride some day.


Do you enjoy it or is it just a chore?
Motivation is key to indoor training and I find today’s apps compared to the simple videos of the past far more engaging. Every year I look forward to a virtual charity ride, the Tour of Sufferlandria, and the entertaining comments of fellow participants on social media. Getting the most out of indoor training requires a degree of self-discipline and a positive outlook but there is no question it eventually brings results. Just be sure to have those fans turning and an open window if possible…

Best/worst thing about indoor training?
When it feels like -29C outside, as it did here earlier this week, I take great pleasure in riding in the Swiss Alps in the sunshine in my comfortable Pain Cave, where cold drinks are within easy reach, getting an excellent workout and making efficient use of my training time. The downside is that it is never as good as riding outdoors with friends when a four hour ride can just fly by—four hours of uninterrupted indoor training by yourself is very very hard.


Last words?
A good arrangement for a Pain Cave is key to making indoor training work well. I am fortunate to have sufficient space for the bike, trainer and television, the last being really key to an immersive experience to get the maximum benefit of any indoor ride with visuals. I also find that music is important and have a huge collection of 2000s trance music–something I admit I would never listen to except during rides! Additional motivation comes from posters and framed jerseys, my library of cycling-related books, and even my small collection of participation medals and race passes as reminders of memorable experiences.

Not since Matt Hayman won Paris-Roubaix in 2016 after training extensively indoors after an injury is there any doubt as to the benefits of indoor training, where a controlled environment can get you the most benefit in the least time. To say nothing of an immediate cold beer after the ride!


Thanks to Leslie for kicking off the ‘The Pain Cave’ section with us. Do you want to show us your pain cave? If you want to be featured in ‘Readers’ Pain Cave’, send us your submission direct to [email protected] and your ‘special place could be featured in all its glory here on PEZ.

pain cave

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