This post is aimed at those of you who have not used rollers before. You may not have even used a turbo trainer but almost certainly, the experience of using rollers is alien to most people. Using a turbo trainer is pretty similar to using an exercise bike in a gym; it is fixed and all you can do is pedal (except on a few types of trainer that offer rocking motion), and you sit there and pound away at the pedals. You can read a magazine not paying too much attention to what else is going on.
When it comes to cycling with rollers you will probably find it a very different experience. For example, you constantly have to stay focused on what you are doing. Once you get more confident with riding on a small width of the road you still need to be aware and pay attention. If you don't there is a big chance that you are going to fall off. In fact, most people will fall of their rollers at least once. But it's definitely not something you want to make habit of. Not for your bike's sake, not your floor's sake (yes it probably will scuff it up), not for your wrists' (or hips') sake. And I have found it is when you do start to zone out, get involved watching a video or focusing on the music when you are most vulnerable. Have you ever ridden on the road when your wheel heads off to a small kerb or drop at the side of the road? Once one wheel hits it seems to turn into a magnet. The same happens on the rollers. Once your wheel hits the side buffer you start to calculate the odds of staying on.
So how does rolling compare to riding on the road? To be quite honest it is very similar, but even after a few years of using rollers, I'm still not as confident as when I am outside on the road. I wouldn't even dare to try no handed on the rollers example, although I know people do and generally it is not a problem. For me, even getting a drink is a bit of a panic. Watch for that little spike in heart-rate data! Also, like a lot of turbo trainers out there, if you want to put down more power you have to use your gears to stimulate the extra resistance. Elite have versions that hook in with apps to simulate a ride, and we will visit that at a later date.
Tyres make a big difference to the noise. Typically rollers are very quiet. No fans or real resistance that will drum up any noise. But having any tread on your tyres does make a big difference. Getting separate indoor tyres may be a good idea, but that means you can not take your bike out if you have a dry day (unless you have a spare set of wheels). So maybe look at some tyres with no tread, like some of the low rolling resistance tyres from Specialized.
Riding indoors is boring, right?
Well for most people riding indoors certainly doesn't compare with the thrill of riding on the roads. But it certainly doesn't have to be boring. If you are in front of a TV or computer you can start watching films, there're loads of apps out there now where you can race virtual partners, and simulate different rides. For me it certainly isn't a boring time, it is time to catch up on all those sitcoms and TV shows I pass on through the summer months because I was out riding!
A simple app is Trainer Road. I used this last winter because it is simple, you can create structured workouts that you would get on an exercise bike and just have that data sitting over your video or Netflix on your computer. That way you are ‘just’ riding, but you know that you have to step up your efforts when the software tells you to. Is nice to download other people's workouts, or create your own, so you know exactly what you're going to be up to, even if you are just watching a film.