While the racing season runs mainly through Spring and Summer, both professionals and amateurs set up the basics during the winter months. Thanks to indoor trainers and virtual training camps, riders are coming out of the winter fitter than ever, without having to put up with even one rainy ride. The basics of the Pain Cave explained.

For many of us, racing bikes are the ideal sunny day training companion. As soon as the first autumnal downpour announces that winter is around the corner, the bike gets one more good clean and is then banished to the garage. But the advent of smart trainers and virtual training camps means that all excuses not to train during winter disappear like snow in the sunshine. Time to rebuild the garage into a real “Pain Cave”.

Indoor Trainer

The epicentre of every pain cave is the home trainer — it is on this device that the rider will spend hours inflicting pain on his or herself. Brands such as Elite can supply every level of rider (at every price point) with a home trainer — from a simple device such as old-school rollers, to a budget bike stand with a resistance roller, right up to ultra high-end interactive smart trainers which can simulate the Alpe d’Huez or even cobblestones. So kiss goodbye to the aches and pains of the first ride of the season — from now on you can have aches and pains the whole year round on your own, trusty indoor bike (with or without back wheel).


There are various software packages designed to make your winter training more attractive. Hard-core data freaks can go wild with the number crunching program like Trainerroad or Golden Cheetah (which is free) which can create endless graphs and charts based on your pedalled Watts. Most home trainers these days can make a pretty accurate estimate of the Watts which you are pedalling, even if you don’t have a power meter fitted to the bike. If a training scheme of bar charts and lines is too abstract for you, you’ll like programs such as Bkool and Zwift which are characterised by graphical images of existing routes or virtual training rides in exotic locations like around a volcano. The advantage of these is that, even if you don’t choose a specific type of training, you can pedal away for hours without really getting bored.

Putting the hammer down in the virtual training camp Zwift

Tips & Tricks

Your bike’s clamped into your indoor trainer and there’s a screen in front of your nose, but you’re not fully-equipped yet. One of the major disadvantages of training indoors in that the temperature inside always rises really fast. So get a fan and make sure the room is well-ventilated. Even if you can open windows and doors, you will still need at least one floor fan. Also, drape a towel over your handlebars — not only to mop up the sweat from your brow, but to protect your bike from your salty, corrosive, sweat. And all that fluid you lose must be replaced, so always have at least two full bidons filled with electrolyte on your bike or nearby. And finally, dig out all those old trance CDs from the 2000s — great music for training. Or set up a Spotify playlist if you’re, well, young.