It’s fall, and for many cyclists that means it’s trainer season. Cyclists and Triathletes have become fond of calling their trainer setup their “pain cave” for obvious reasons. On a trainer you are either doing some highly structured intervals which can be very painful, or you are doing some long slow miles… which is painful in and over itself. The rise of some great trainer apps have eased this a little (and some increased it… I’m looking at you sufferfest). But in all, the trainer has remained a cornerstone of off (or pre) season training.

I wanted to take today’s post and give you a tour of my “Pain Cave.” As you will see, it is not very high end, and just enough to keep me going for an hour or two here and there. But it is very effective for me!

1. Bike

This is obviously important. Some people have dedicated trainer bikes. Some people modify their bike for the trainer either with a cheap rear wheel or a trainer tire. I don’t use any of that. I only own one bike, so obviously I use that one. I also don’t want to be constantly changing tires so I keep my normal tires on and replace them before a race so they are not fully worn down.

2. Trainertravel-trac-trainer

Smart Trainers have stolen the spotlight in recent years, but a normal old fluid or magnetic trainer will get the job done too. I got this TravelTrac Comp Fluid trainer from Performance bike a few years ago on sale. It has honestly been in the top 3 best $100(ish) I’ve spent. Being able to train inside is huge for a parent of a young child.


pain-cave-sheet3. Mat

Again, I have deviated from the norm here. Most people that have a mat use a nice trainer mat or even a yoga mat (I’ll probably go to a yoga mat soon), but I just grabbed an old bed sheet and have been using that to protect the carpet over the last year. A mat can also lessen the noise on a hard floor and give the trainer feet some extra traction. Since I’m on carpet I’m more focused on keeping little bits of oil from slinging off and staining the carpet.

4. Towel

A towel to wipe the sweat is a big deal. You will get hot, you will sweat. Use a towel. pain-cave-towelsIt also helps protect the bike by catching some of the sweat that drips down. I just use a small hand towel. For longer workouts I have 2 available.

5. Fan

This is a must! You need a fan. Without it you will overheat in a hurry. Even a short 30 minute ride in Zone 1… you need a fan. When you overheat, your performance drops and it negates the point of the workout. USE A FAN! I wish I had one on a stand, but this old box fan on the dresser works just fine.

6. Computer

This is purely optional, but it helps to have some type of app. I was on Zwift when it was in beta. I was on TrainerRoad before that. I had some cheepo free app before that. I’ll probably go back to TrainerRoad this season for the structure it gives. They even have some great plans for Triathletes with swim and run workouts you can do. I hear Zwift has virtual run workouts in the works… mostly from DCRainmaker’s Strava account!

Even if you don’t use an app, a computer or TV helps pass the time. Netflix is your friend… just use headphones so you can hear… and don’t wake up that sleeping toddler in the next room!

So that’s my pain cave. I’d love to hear your thoughts and any suggestions for improvement! Also, let me see your Pain Cave pics! Hit me up in the comments or on Twitter!