At first glance, the possibility of combining gravel and trainers may seem a bit strange. It’s difficult to imagine how to maximize the performance of such a characteristic discipline with indoor training, despite the many advantages of riding the trainer.
However, smart trainers and virtual cycling simulators such as BKOOL offer a wide range of tools to help you become a better gravel rider, without the need to get dirty.
Obviously, the smart trainer doesn’t allow you to work on many of the technical skills of gravel riding – for that, there’s nothing like a good trail – but you can work on your cardiovascular system, improve your cadence, efficiency and strength. All of these characteristics are essential to being a good gravel rider.
Here are a couple quick tips that can help you improve your gravel performance without going outside.
Choose the right route
Although BKOOL doesn’t have inherently gravel-specific routes, among the huge catalog offered by the platform there are endless route possibilities that can help you hone your skills.
Gravel competitions can vary greatly in terms of distance, conditions or terrain. However, most gravel races share some common characteristics.
For example, a single long loop, a long point-to-point or an out-and-back course; or a considerable amount of accumulated elevation gain, either with many short, repetitive climbs or several long, sustained climbs. These types of races are also often very long.
The key is to choose a route where you can best simulate the conditions you’ll be racing against.
Training on routes that require a lot of changes in pace or cadence, or on especially long routes with these same characteristics, can simulate the experience well and help improve your fitness for the gravel discipline.
BKOOL has thousands of trail videos that are synced with their corresponding GPX tracks, so if you have a smart trainer, you can enjoy the view while climbing a hill to get you in shape for your next gravel ride.
Use the workout creator
The distance, structure and variable terrain of gravel racing demand a solid aerobic base, the ability to sustain power and varied anaerobic and neuromuscular capabilities.
One of BKOOL’s best tools is its workout creator, which gives you the ability to create your own sessions by time, power zones and cadence targets. With it, you can design different workouts with different objectives depending on where you are in your preparation.
You can perform an FTP test to define your training zones – or add them to your profile manually if you already know them – and from there start to develop your gravel-focused workouts. You already know that among the many advantages of indoor cycling is workout optimization. On the smart trainer, there is no traffic or weather or other impediments to getting on the bike, so it’s much easier to stick to your schedule and execute your training plan in detail.
Take advantage of the workout creator to design workouts with changes of pace, short and intense intervals or long and prolonged climbs to emulate your efforts in a gravel race. You can tackle long workouts with threshold work that help improve your ability to resist fatigue at high power or use short, more intense, VO2max workouts to improve aerobic power, pain tolerance, muscle recruitment and muscular endurance.
If you have a trainer and use TrainingPeaks, you can have your programmed cycling workouts synced into the BKOOL simulator to perform right at home.
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