Spin classes and indoor spin bikes are a great way to build fitness and, for or many, they’re also a gateway into the world of outdoor cycling. While there are certainly some similarities between indoor and outdoor cycling, there are a few things you should keep in mind when making the transition to the road.
Balance and handling
Your spin fitness will definitely translate to cycling outdoors, but before you test the full spectrum of your ability it’s first important to hold back for a few rides and get used to the bike itself. Ride at a comfortable pace and settle in to the feeling of the bike. Find a quiet area or parking lot to practice turning corners, practicing emergency stops at speed, and moving from the hoods (top of the bars) to the drops (curved part of the bars).
In spin classes there is a lot of standing and out of saddle pedalling. While you’re still getting used to handling your bike try and stay seated as much as possible—standing will shift your centre of gravity and could affect your balance. Once you’re more comfortable handling the bike you can start to practice standing while riding in a heavier gear.
Be conscious of what gear you’re riding in—if you feel like you need to stand up to push the pedals on a flat road you’re probably in too high of a gear. If your legs are spinning super quickly but your bike isn’t moving quickly at all you’re probably in too low of a gear.
If you already have a pair of cycling shoes you should be able to find pedals that match the cleats (look into what model of pedals the spin bike uses). You’re probably already used to the motion of clipping in and out, but you’ll have to be conscious about unclipping before you come to a complete stop.
Most indoor cycling shoes work fine for riding outdoors. Many have a very breathable design so if you’re riding in the spring or fall you could consider shoe covers to keep out the cold air.
The saddle of a road bike is typically much firmer than a spin bike—if you don’t have shorts with a chamois you definitely want to pick up a pair.
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Most indoor spin classes last an hour or less. Within that time you’re riding pretty much non-stop, and getting in an intensive workout. On the road, while it is very possible to put in the same amount of work, you’ll likely have to ride for a bit longer to get an equivalent workout. Particularly if you’re riding in the city, factors such as lights, stop signs, turns and various unexpected road features could cause you to stop or slow down, breaking the flow of your workout.
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Coming from indoor spinning, your strength will likely be suited for shorter, more explosive efforts. If you want to build up your ability to keep riding for long periods of time focus on maintaining a steady pace throughout your rides and gradually increase the distance and time you spend on the road.