Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Spinner® Bike- Know your ride

Spinner® NXT        #1-Track bike      #2-Road Bike       #3-TT bike
People often compare our Spinner® bikes to road bikes. I hear it all the time at fitness shows and in Spinning classes everywhere. As true as that may be in a lot of ways, lets take a closer look at the bike we all love to use to get to the finish line from a more athletic cycling point of view. The Spinner bike models are all cut from the same mold. Take a medium sized bike frame with a setback geometry and make it really sturdy and highly adjustable (seat height, saddle fore/aft, handle bar height and reach). This helps fit a very broad range of individuals of course. Make it a fixed gear with 170mm length crank arms, connected by a chain to a heavy (42lbs) externally weighted flywheel. Then add a resistance mechanism to give the load to work against and bam… You have the makings of a world-class training tool that is based off the real world of cycling. All of this is what has in some ways really made the Spinner much like another bike in the in the cycling world. With it’s fixed gear and short crank arms… The higher cadences that the fixed gear and heavy flywheel create on average… The explosive and short training sessions (40 minutes to an hour)… Oh, and NO brakes or shifters! ha ha... It all starts to add up to looking much more like one of the oldest and most exciting bikes there is today, and that’s the TRACK bike. A pure and simple machine just as the Spinner is.

As a former professional cyclist for many years I have had to take a much closer look at the Spinner bike that I am on so much. Training is training; whether it’s on a Spinner bike, road bike, track bike, TT bike, or Mtn bike… So what you do to prepare for whatever it is you are trying to accomplish with that tool is worth taking that closer look at.  For me, it was important to do this when it came to teaching the program I love so much. Over the years I started to look at Spinning (the program) and the bike we use for it, through a different set of glasses. I needed to use the Spinner to my advantage and that was training on it like I was riding my track bike on the on the *Velodrome (Track).

 So, for all you cyclist out there that are looking at the Spinner bike like your road bike, maybe it’s time for you to do what I did and have a closer look and really get to know your ride (bike and training) when it comes to Spinning.

  Using the Spinner specifically as a training tool is the trick. Riding it as a track bike with track racing specific type workouts (speed work) is fun and very beneficial for the athletic minded cyclist. It will make you really good at the high-end “good stuff” such as…

1. Pedal Speed
2. Cadence changes
3. Anaerobic capacity
4. Power
5. Quickness
6. Lactic acid buffering
7. Attacking
8. Lead outs
9. Sprinting- Finish Speed
10. Mental focus under hard effort

Track racing requires a quicker response in everything because of the shorter type races. You need to be very reactive and really “quick” mentally and physically. To be quick requires learning to be very smooth at higher cadences under “power” or on the gas as just one example because of the fixed gearing. The Spinner gives us as performance-minded riders a chance to work on what I call the “good stuff”! Your body’s ability to work really hard without ANY interruptions! This gives your mind the chance to focus on true form and effort so completely that when the time comes to do the hard riding it’s pre-programmed to the point of it being instinctive. On the Spinner you can close your eyes and go full gas and not worry about a thing. By doing so you can really go into yourself and learn what you can’t when you’re on a real bike… World-class athletes know this all to well. You can see it in the way there is an intense focus on the job at hand when they are preparing for an event about to start and when they are in the race! You can see that the “good stuff” needs to all be working at 100% to be the best they can be. This kind of training for any cyclist is really good.

So let’s take a look into the Spinner bike and track bike connection even more… Set up should be a little different than a road set up. I run my saddle height just a small amount lower on the track bike than I do my road bike. This is what I do so of course so you might be different…  On my road bike I like to be around the 27-28 degree of knee flexion at the bottom of the pedal stroke. On my track, bike because of the shorter cranks and faster cadences, I prefer as most trackies do, to be around 30-32 degrees. This helps in dealing with moving through the pedal stroke more rapidly. Makes me feel a little more spring-loaded if you know what I mean. I also set my handlebars a bit lower and closer than my road bike because it’s only a short amount of time I’m on the track bike compared to my road bike. This also aids in incorporating the glutes just a bit more for more BIG power. You can also do this with the Spinner bike. Remember to always listen to your body and how it feels with lowering the bars or changing the seat position.

At the end of the day as a true cyclist, you need to know the piece of equipment you are training on. I hope you now have a better understanding of the Spinner® bike models and how they are much more like a track bike than a road bike. Thanks for reading!