Eighteen-year-old Skylar Schneider knows a thing or two (or six) about indoor training sessions. In fact, the young American may have spent more time on her rollers in her heaviest base mileage month than you have training indoors all year.
Jessi Braverman interviewed her for Total Women's Cycling, to bring you an insight into the dedication that's got her where she is, and some top tips.
“In January 2016, I did 95 hours in my basement on the rollers," Schneider told Total Women’s Cycling. “It was far from easy, but with this base, I had a successful season that made me consistent all the way through the World Championships in October."
That consistency saw Schneider win five Pro Road Tour races between June and September and sprint to silver in the junior women’s road race at the Road World Championships in Doha, Qatar. She narrowly missed the medals in the junior women’s time trial, finishing fourth after spending more than half the race with the provisional fastest time.
Schneider hails from West Allis, Wisconsin. Between December and February, the average low temperature is 13°F (-10°C) and the average high is 32°F (0°C). While many American professionals head to warmer climates for their winter training, Schneider, who has been lining up alongside the pros since her 13th birthday, prefers to take her training inside.
“During the Wisconsin winter, sometimes dealing with the cold on a road bike isn’t even an option," said Schneider. “Roads have ice and salt on them. Snow banks are taller than I am, and the temperature is below freezing. Since base season is typically during the winter, it seems crazier to do a five-hour ride in freezing and icy conditions than on rollers where you can sweat it out safely."
Schneider is the youngest in a family of five whose life has long centred around cycling. Her older sister Samantha has been racing professionally since she was a teenager. Her father Dave works as a mechanic, coach and sport director. The family’s basement has hosted indoor training sessions for as long as Schneider can remember.
“My basement has a long history of roller riding stories as my dad used to coach riders, and they would all come over to train down there," Schneider explained. “I would watch thinking: ‘Why would anyone want to do that when the couch is so much more comfortable to watch from!’ Now, I’ve spent hundreds and hundreds of hours in that basement riding."
Given all that indoor mileage Schneider has in her legs, Total Women Cycling could not think of anyone better to ask for indoor training tips.
Assemble all your ride supplies before you start your ride
Schneider recommends that these supplies include a television, fan, stereo system and extra water battles. She also makes sure the TV remote and fan remote are within arm’s length.
“The key is to avoid any excuse to stop riding during the workout," Schneider said. “That makes it harder to press on."
Beat boredom with movies and music
Perhaps this tip isn’t the most original, but the Netflix-watching strategy Schneider employs to help time pass more quickly is.
“My method is to be into three different series at once and not to allow myself to watch the same show multiple times in a row," she explained. “That way, by the time you’ve watched one 45-minute episode of each show, you’re already two hours and 15 minutes into your workout."
For Schneider that may just be mid-way through her training session for the day. For us mere mortals, that’s likely workout done.
If you, like Schneider, need to continue to ride, at this point, you can switch it up from the big screen to the speakers.
“Put on a playlist that you sing to with no shame," Schneider recommends. “Ten amazing songs later and 40 minutes will be done just like that."
Craft challenges for yourself
Not only do these challenges help you hone your skills but they also stimulate the mind. Schneider likes to ride one-legged for a certain amount of time and ride out of the saddle.
There’s challenges and then there are CHALLENGES, and Schneider has definitely embraced some jaw-dropping party tricks.
“The very first time my dad teaches someone to ride the rollers, he always teaches them to do tricks, and he is a master at that," she said. “My best trick on the rollers is riding no-handed, clipping one foot out, bunny hopping, clipping the foot back in and then returning my hands to the bars."
(We told you it was jaw-dropping)
Ditch the computer or power meter
A lot of Schneider’s tips are about tuning out, this one is all about tuning in. She recommends using indoor training to focus on how you feel rather than what the numbers are telling you.
Schneider says: “The ability to focus on your body without any external distractions is a big benefit when it comes to the racing season and knowing what your body needs."
Vary your workouts
Schneider’s two favourite indoor training are vastly different from one another – and because she’s self-coached, she gets to choose when she does each one.
“One of my favourites is when I have to do intervals," she said. “I create my own interval plan, put on the best music and push myself so hard that when I’m done, I can hardly hold myself up on the bike. As masochistic as it sounds, the feeling afterwards is so, so rewarding."
“My second favourite workout is a five-hour base day with one smooth pace the whole time," Schneider added. “I always talk my mom into delivering lunch to me, which I eat while I’m riding, and have a really guilty-pleasure Netflix marathon playing."
Enlist a friend
Schneider has always had a built-in training buddy in her sister. While most of us aren’t that lucky, it’s worth it to ask around to find an indoor training partner. Local cycling clubs and bike shops often host indoor training sessions through the winter, and your outdoor riding buddies might be willing to join you indoors. In fact, your friends that are timid about riding outdoors might be willing to give indoor training sessions a go.
“I have a lot of different things I do to mentally to get through long roller sessions but nothing is as good as having a good chat with my sister or my teammates," Schneider said. “Whether you intend to or not, you’ll be doing a lot of thinking and reflecting when you ride indoors. Having someone around to share those thoughts with is nice."
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