As much as we’d like to ride on the open roads all year long, it’s sometimes not feasible when looking to get a trusted training session in. Rollers are a great alternative, and give a more realistic feeling of riding on the road compared to a turbo trainer or an exercise bike.
Find a safe location
First of all its important to set up your rollers in a place where you feel confident that you can escape any mishaps with ease, as well as help build confidence when you first start using them. Placing the rollers near a kitchen counter or in a narrow hallway or door frame is ideal, as you can hold on to balance whilst pedalling if need be, whereas a chair or table can also be a practical alternative.
Be wary of your surroundings
Due to the unfixed nature of the bike when riding the rollers, it’s important to give a little space behind so that the rear wheel doesn’t touch anything. As well as ensuring your handlebars aren’t too close to your balancing side – this is particularly important when you start off as you may drift from side to side a little bit.
Track or road
The type of bike you use will dictate how you can mount the bike. Track bikes with fixed gears will move the rear wheel if you pedal backwards when trying to clip in and may throw it off the rollers, whereas a standard road bike will allow you to clip in and pedal backwards. Bear this in mind when clipping in and adjust your pedals accordingly.
Using a sturdy side to balance on, gently start pedalling. Once you feel confident of letting go, relax and find an anchor point straight ahead to focus on. This could be a spot on the wall, something on a shelf or anything that is in a fixed position that you can concentrate on when you first start pedalling. Staring down constantly to check whether you are in the middle of the rollers will throw off your balance so only give it the occasional glance now and then.
If you feel yourself drifting out of the centre, don’t panic as this will only just make it worse and could cause you to crash. Just loosen your grip, give your shoulders a little shake and you will start to ride more smoothly.
It’s always best to learn how to stop before you actually need to, just like when learning to unclip cycling shoes from pedals. On a road bike you can just stop pedalling and lean against the side letting the wheels come to a complete stop before dismounting. With a track bike you will require a more gradual slow down to avoid the back wheel skidding, just as you would on a track before using the side to balance. Don’t slam on the brakes as this could cause harm to you, the bike and the rollers!