It being winter, and conditions being particularly atrocious at the moment, some of us have spent quite a bit of time on the turbo recently. Riding in the rain has a heroic feel about it – and it’s good to do it sometimes – but it’s hard to get focused interval sessions in when the puddles are deeper than the buckets of pain you’re trying to delve into for those 3-5minute reps.

The turbo is great for hard intervals – and here are the tips we wrote with the help of Sir Chris Hoy if the turbo pain-den is new to you.

However, there is only so much turbo pummeling your legs can take. Turbo trainers encourage you to power through, and sometimes you just need to spin your legs out between the hard sessions.

Rollers are a good alternative for working on technique

Though a bit trickier to master than the turbo, rollers are a great alternative because:

  • Unlike the turbo, they force you to use your core, and to work on stability, balance, and pedalling technique – if you don’t hold your core or pedal smoothly, you’ll probably come close to tumbling
  • Using you core and balancing is good for bike handling skills
  • You don’t have the constant resistance of the turbo, it doesn’t feel so much like hard work. If you want an easier spin, they’re a good choice as this is very hard to achieve on a turbo trainer.
  • If the turbo is becoming monotomous, rollers are a good alternative to keep your training fresh and interesting.

Unless you’re an absolute expert, rollers are not so great for shorter, harder intervals, keep them for steady efforts. Rollers can form part of a great winter training plan, but it is still a good idea to keep up with high power turbo intervals, and of course, riding outside.

2 of us in the office had never ridden rollers before.

So we had a go.

You’ve all seen the pro cyclist make an omelette on the rollers, right? If not here it is:

I can reassure you,  neither  of us are quite up to omelette making. Here are two sets of tips, first my own, and then a video diary of one of my collegues getting a lesson:

First attempt tips from Michelle

Getting moving

  •  Start between two solid objects for your first few sessions– a doorframe is the best option by far – after a few sessions (so I’m told) you’ll be ready to move away from this security blanket
  •  Clip in with one foot, hold the back brake to steady yourself, and clip in with the other foot
  •  Personally, I hold onto the doorframe for a few seconds, with my right hand (I’m left handed, so keep that one on the handlebars), then start to pedal
  •  Once up to a comfortable cadence, it’s time to let go of the doorframe and settle the other hand on the handlebar

Once moving

  •  Stick to a low gear, and high cadence to start off, then flick through the gears until you find a pace you’re comfortable with
  •  Concentrate on pedalling smooth circles, thinking about every part of the pedal stroke
  •  Look ahead, don’t look straight at the front wheel on the rollers
  • The rollers are great for cadence sessions, so give this one a go once you’re ready:

Warm up – 10mins steady
3mins high cadence, 3mins steady low cadence
4mins high cadence, 4mins steady low cadence
5mins high cadence, 5mins steady low cadence
4mins high cadence, 4mins steady low cadence
3mins high cadence, 3mins steady low cadence
Cool down – 10mins steady


  •  Slow down gradually, until you’ve almost come to a halt
  • Put a hand out, hold onto the wall or doorframe and give the back break a squeeze
  • Unclip one foot, set it down securely, then do the other

I’m far from graceful – but here’s a demonstration.  I apologise for the soundtrack..

Video Diary of Dave’s first go on rollers:


If rollers sound up your street, and you’re looking for some to buy, I’ve been using these Cyclops Aluminum Rollers.


Generally, they start at around £100 and go up to over £1k, the difference being durability, and various extra features for resistance, quieter rolling and stability.