by Taylor Reid
I have been hearing more and more about rollers over the last few weeks. I have been on and off them over the years but this winter I am going to use them a lot more. After riding them for a few weeks and talking to Lionel Sanders, I think they are a very useful tool. As any training tool they have their advantages and disadvantages.
The first thing that people have trouble with is getting over the fear of falling off. Yes it is a fairly daunting task, having only 2 feet of room to play with, as you are balancing on two wheels. They key is to stay relaxed. The best way to start is by setting up the rollers in a doorway so that you have something solid to hold onto until you are up to speed. The doorway also gives you something to grab onto if you feel you are falling off. Once you have gotten going it is all about not over correcting, if you start drifting to one side do not freak out and over correct. All you need is a little touch to the handlebars or lean in the direction you want to go, and you will float over to that side.
Once you have the skill it really does not leave you. I got on the rollers for the first time in about three years and probably only the fifth time I have ever ridden them. It was just second nature. It also is not that scary when you fall off. If you are in the doorway you will just grab the frame and burn some rubber off your tires. I fell off twice when I started to use then for the first time this year, you just catch yourself then reset.
As a training tool I think it is useful because it keeps you very engaged through the whole ride. It also makes the hard effort that much more realistic and taxing, because you have to stay focused on your balance as well as pushing a big gear. I personally have a set of rollers that do not have any extra resistance. So the resistance is built around your gearing and how fast your legs can go.
Personally I have found that once you get around 450watts on the roller or short 30 sec efforts they are not as effective. The very short and intense efforts takes so much out of you, so they are better done on the trainer where you can focus just on the effort. My rollers also start to vibrate when I get around 450w. So that is a little freaky. For all the effort that are around 300-350watts or lower the rollers are amazing they just add another level of reality and engagement that the trainer does not have.
It also takes a little bit of time to get confident riding the rollers in the TT position but again it really comes down to staying relaxed and not over-compensating any movements. I am now playing around a little bit with standing on the rollers too.
I would recommend rollers to any one who is looking to add more to there winter training.