Transitioning From Indoor To Outdoor Riding (Part 1)


After months of trainer sessions through the winter and hard work stuck indoors it’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of riding outdoors once again.  Spring weather, sunshine and clear roads are the perfect way to get any rider a little giddy. You should be happy and pumped about finally hitting the roads again, but it’s key to be mindful of the aspects of cycling you’ve worked on over the winter. 

Cadence, body position and intervals will all follow you outside, but there are a few external factors to deal with such as weather, road safety, and gear. Continuing to focus on these topics will make your transition to outdoor riding more successful. If you haven’t ridden outside yet, I’m sure the first outdoor ride of the year is soon to come! Keep in mind these tips while transitioning outside.


Riding outdoors simply requires more gear. It’s been a while since you’ve gathered all your outdoor gear together.  After changing out your trainer tire you might be asking yourself, what else?  Always carry saddle bag with a spare tube, tire levers, CO2 cartridges (with adapter), and/or a hand pump. It's also a good idea to carry an ID (or RoadID with emergency info), cell phone, money and some sort of nutrition while you ride.  While you’re getting back into the routine of riding outdoors, remember to stick to the basics.  Keep it simple and leave the kitchen sink at home.

Road safety. 

Just as you’re getting used to being back on the roads again, drivers are getting used to seeing cyclists on the roads again. Make sure you’re visible and abiding rules of the road. Pay attention to daylight hours. There were multiple vehicle accidents involving cyclists in the greater Madison area last year. Safety should never fall off your radar. Stop at stop signs. Use hand signals. Ride one abreast. 

Remember when you ride you’re representing the cycling/triathlon community. Don’t be ‘that person’, who gives the community a bad rep with drivers. Your actions as a rider reflect on the hundreds of other riders in the community. Be smart, be safe and have fun.

Conserving what you practice indoors.

Time to transfer all the hard work we’ve done on the trainer to the road. 

Cadence. Maybe that hill at Blue Mounds seems a little bigger than last year and you find yourself crawling up at a slow cadence.  Or you realize you’re spinning faster than normal while whizzing past cornfields. Remember to keep your cadence in check. This is essential for keeping your legs fresh for long rides and bricks.  

Body position.  Getting back on the roads can sometimes feel like you have sea legs. It may take some time to feel as comfortable on the road as you did last season. Even though you’ve been working in your drops or aero position on the trainer (or you should have been), these positions might feel less comfortable on the road at first.  Work towards getting comfortable on the roads again but safety is always paramount. 

As you transition to longer outdoor rides, you may experience some positional aches or discomforts. It takes time to build up that endurance, so listen to your body and ease into the distance.  Break up long rides by short periods on your hoods or out of aero but the goal is to spend the majority of time training in the position you’re going to race. 

Utilize these tips for a safe and smooth transition from the trainer to the road.  Happy riding!

Jessica Laufenberg