Rollers can be... well they are intimidating. We’ve all seen athletes warming up at races and watch with mouths agape as they smoothly and gracefully pedal away. For years, I was the person who thought, “Wow, I wish I could do that!” Finally, I learned how to ride rollers and it’s so much easier than it looks.
Why ride rollers over a stationary trainer? I like to ride rollers for my easier rides when I am stuck indoors because it keeps me more engaged during the workout. I am definitely guilty of zoning out during indoor endurance rides, and being on the rollers forces me to pay attention, especially to my cadence. Rollers are also a great way to practice bike handling when you can’t get on the road. Balance, coordination, and steering don’t matter much when you’re locked into a stationary trainer, but those skills are all-important when riding rollers. When spending many months indoors because of weather, road conditions or your schedule, rollers help me achieve that road ride type of feel.
Ready to give it a try? Here’s how:
Step 1: Set up the rollers. You want the back wheel to have contact with both roller bars and the front bar to fall at the midpoint of your front wheel.
Step 2: Stand over the frame of your bike and clip in with the foot closest to the wall.
Step 3: Put your elbow on the wall next to you to help balance yourself while you push up on to your saddle and clip in with the other foot.
Step 4: Keeping your elbow on the wall, start to pedal. A high cadence (80-100 rpm) and an efficient gear will help you balance.
Step 5: When you are feeling comfortable, slowly move your elbow off the wall. If you start to get shaky or uncomfortable, keep pedaling and lean back towards the wall to collect yourself.
Step 6: Once you are feeling steady and comfortable, start to using your body weight to steer slightly across the rollers so you learn control and balance.
Step 7: When you are ready to stop, use your elbow to lean back into the wall, continue pedaling while doing this. Once your weight is against the wall you can slow your pedal stroke to a stop.
Before getting on the bike and giving rollers a try, here are some Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind.
Use your body weight to slowly move left or right on the rollers
Start in a gear you can pedal smoothly right away
Keep your body weight over your saddle with light hands
Start near a wall to learn to start and stop safely
Keep a consistent pedal stroke
Steer with your bars
Put too much weight through your bars
Once you start to get more comfortable add skills in like reaching for your water bottle, riding one-handed (practice both hands), riding no-handed and not using a wall to start and stop.