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How to build a pain cave | 8 tips for creating the perfect indoor training space

Indoor training is more popular than ever as cyclists duck out of expensive gym memberships and soggy winter rides in favour of training in the comfort of their own homes. The prospect of self-isolation or a Coronavirus-related lockdown has also prompted some riders to switch to indoor training. Having the right indoor space to train can be the difference between staying motivated and just wishing you were out riding your bike, so the importance of a good pain cave should not be underestimated. We quizzed several of BikeRadar‘s keenest indoor riders to find out what makes their personal pain caves worth revisiting. Here are eight tips to create your own indoor training space.

Inspiration is key

One thing that made a big difference to nearly all of the riders we spoke with was having a source of inspiration to refer to during their training. Be it posters of favourite pros, cycling memorabilia or artwork, it’s all good. Plus, it adds character to what can often be a pretty dull space. We’d also recommend getting your goals or training plan up on the wall, so you can physically see it, keep on track and remind yourself why you’re bothering with it all.

All within reach

Having a shelf or table close to your bike will ensure you can place everything you need within an arm’s reach. That way you shouldn’t find yourself hopping off and back on the bike unnecessarily. A dedicated laptop table or iPad stand is also really helpful for Zwifting, to put your device in easy reach. Otherwise, make sure you have a towel to hand and leave a small multi-tool in your pain cave in case you need to make any small adjustments.

A breath of fresh air

Indoor training is hot work that requires suitable ventilation and temperature control. Most riders swear by one or multiple fans to keep body and room temperatures at a comfortable level, with the welcome side effect of making the whole experience feel a lot more like regular bike riding. If you’re using a single fan, we’d recommend a diameter or at least 15 inches to ensure you get the coverage required. A small desktop fan simply won’t cut it in the heat of an interval session. A remote-controlled fan is also ideal, as you can adjust the speed of the fan as the intensity of your workout increases. Otherwise, if you’ve got a window nearby then open it, and remember, you won’t require anywhere near as many layers as you normally would on your bike. Some clothing brands have even introduced indoor-specific training kit.

Lone rider

Space is at a premium for most riders putting together an indoor training setup, but finding a location free from interruptions will help keep you focused on the job in hand. A location away from distractions like family or pets is ideal – you don’t to be interrupted 4:30 minutes into a five-minute VO2 Max interval.

That’s entertainment

Even the keenest riders who just plain love being on their bike can end up pretty damn bored when it comes to riding indoors. Music apps such as Spotify and Apple Music have high-tempo playlists dedicated specifically to training, while those with a decent internet connection might decide to get buried in a television series or film. Bluetooth headphones are essential if your pain cave is in the house and you don’t want to make enemies. Wireless headphones will also allow you to move freely on the bike without getting tangled in a cable.

Get smart

Long gone are the days when using a turbo trainer felt like riding through treacle in the middle of a hurricane. The latest smart trainers offer a more realistic ride quality than ever and are quiet enough not to disturb your family, housemates or neighbours. A smart trainer needn’t break the bank, either. Of course, you can shell out north of a grand for a top-of-the-range, direct-drive unit (or even more for an indoor training bike), but wheel-on smart trainers are now available for just a few hundred pounds.

Virtual reality

Another option for those with power, internet and the necessary hardware is to gamify the whole experience with Zwift or other indoor training apps. Zwift’s virtual training experience pitches you against other riders in an environment that’s both rewarding and addictive. It also allows you to join in with group rides and challenge friends, making your training time a whole let loss solitary.

Stay connected

If you’re putting together a fully-fledged pain cave, complete with smart trainer, laptop/tablet/television and tornado-strength fan, you’ll need a power source. Something to consider if your pain cave is outside of the house. What’s more, a good WiFi connection is essential if you’re doing interactive training. Get a range extender if you need one.