One of the main challenges I face in maintaining my fitness levels is being able to train consistently. In order to perform at optimum levels it’s imperative to have continuity in your training regime. Working hard for a few weeks here and there will ultimately create holes in your cycling performance.
Because I frequently travel interstate from my home city of Melbourne, I have learnt that I must be proactive in familiarising myself with cycling services in different cities. Many of my trips are short stints so I’m less inclined to travel with a bike bag. Moreover, chasing the kids around the airport with a giant bag on my shoulders isn’t practical for me. I recall my first ever bike bag experience when travelling to Byron Bay with the family for a 2-week period. My wife won’t admit it, but I was on the receiving end of multiple death stares as she managed the kids and their luggage. Those death stares have been a constant reminder that frictionless options are the way to go! So here are my suggestions for two places I frequent when I travel interstate to Sydney & Noosa.
Sydney: The Athlete Lab
I travel to Sydney from time to time and typically stay for one to three days. I don’t have much of an appetite to ride on Sydney roads, and at the same time my stints there are too short for me to organise a bike and equipment. Initially I was looking for a simple solution, either a spin studio that offered Wattbikes or even a standard spin studio like what you would get at Fitness First.
During my research I stumbled upon the Athlete’s Lab in Sydney’s CBD; a cycle studio that provides real bikes on indoor smart trainers. Their setup includes all the output data most cycling enthusiasts have come to expect: heart rate, cadence, power, normalized power etc. They also offer different types of sessions focusing on endurance, power or strength, with different session lengths, depending on what you’re after and how much time you have.
In addition, The Athlete’s Lab can capture your FTP (if you know it) so you can train at your optimal level for the session type. After attending one of these sessions, key highlights included:
- There is a coach onsite who sets you up in a professional position and walks you through everything. My session started at 6 am, and arriving only minutes beforehand, I was concerned that it would take some time to set me up. However it was done quickly and professionally within a couple of minutes.
- Fully cleated Shimano shoes were provided so I didn’t need to lug my own shoes up to Sydney.
- The bikes are positioned in front of a big projector showing the most recent road race. I got to watch 90 minutes of the Cadel Road Race from the previous weekend, which was a real treat!
- All my data (power, cadence etc.) was displayed on a window on the projector screen.
- I chose a 90-minute endurance session, which incorporated three hill climbs. Based on my FTP, the smart trainer calculated my output, so all I was required to do was pedal!
- The onsite coach, Peter Coull, was very attentive during my 90-minute session. While he had to attend to others, he was constantly checking in to ensure I was OK.
The desired outcome of this session was to help maintain my fitness while interstate. Despite knowing that training indoors is a highly efficient way to improve my fitness, I never do more than 60 minutes on the trainer at home, as I find it rather boring. However, in this environment time went quickly and after the session was over I felt like I’d just ridden 60-70 kilometres on the road. I also noticed a deeper level of fatigue in the muscles, perhaps given the unrelenting nature of the indoor trainer and the fact I was on it for 90 minutes.
One drawback for some people could be the cost. While packages were on offer I went with a one-ride pass. At $45 per session some may turn away, but I’m always one to put these things into perspective. For example, a round of drinks when I’m out with work colleagues will cost me that amount. The drinks will come and go, but my session at the Athlete’s Lab is one that will keep me coming back and help me improve my fitness levels.
Noosa: Bike On (bike hire)
My parents and grandparents live in Noosa so I go there three to four times a year. While my visits in Noosa are longer than in Sydney, I typically travel with my family, which includes a 3-year-old and a 6-year-old. As I already mentioned, dragging the bike bag around with me isn’t ideal and it’s not a winner with the wife. Instead I prefer to hire a bicycle.
Bike hire businesses can typically be expensive for high-end road bikes and the logistics to pick up and drop off can be a challenge. Bike On in Noosa solves these problems with a smile. Here is my experience:
- The bike is delivered to your location and picked up again post hire. Drop-off and pick-up is free when your hire amount is over $100. Logistical challenge solved!
- A good quality Trek road bike comes in at $40 a day. They have a high-end carbon fibre model, but I have no issue riding the Alloy model. Having said that, Bike On has provided me with a free upgrade from time to time, depending on their demand.
- The service is impeccable, making the whole experience frictionless. For example, they will send you text messages to arrange pick-up and drops-off at a time that is convenient for you, and they are always on time!
- Bike On also offer bike pumps, pedals and helmets so you don’t have to bring your own gear.
I’m no expert on the best loops in Noosa, but there are a number of bunch rides you can do, see here. Bike On are also quite willing to give you advice on the best routes in the local area. I tend to stick around the Doonan and Cooroy areas where you’ll find loads of short but very steep climbs that you’re guaranteed to feel the next day!
Because I usually have less than ten hours per week to train I try to utilise local services whenever I’m away from home. The two options above are examples of how I maintain my training regime when I’m away from my usual routine.