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Cycling-How To Ride Rollers

Updated on January 22, 2010

Spin To Win

First put in the DVD of the 1999 Tour de France Stage 9, Sestreire 213 kilometers-this will help. The last 32 minutes of any cycling video will probably be the best. It is with Sestreire!

Of course- any inspiring video or music will help!

My goal is usually to ride 32 or so minutes. This is optimum time for burning fat. This is about all the time you can stand with riding rollers or a trainer inside. I have ridden centuries on rollers. It's mostly just silly though. It's not very interesting and your rear end will smart after a while. But after thirty two minutes or so your body will burn fat more efficiently. I may do this a couple times a day to trim down, especially in the winter or in-climate weather. This will also teach your legs to do what they need to do most often and what is maybe the hardest thing to convince new cyclists to do- and that is to "spin". Try to focus on 90 revolutions of your crank (or one pedal) every minute.

The Set Up

First of all, your rollers can be set up for different wheel-bases. The distance between the wheel axles on a touring bike can be very long compared to a road racing bike. Do not be intimidated by the term "racing bike". It's just a bike that is tighter and handles more like a sports car. The racing geometry will climb hills better.

Put some protection down on the floor to catch the sweat. If you're not going to sweat, put the rollers up and forget it.

Set your rollers and bike up so that sharp objects will not cause unnecessary grief later if you should come off the rollers. One unexpected twist can be that an old belt is left on a set of rollers too long. I did not replace an old belt on my rollers years ago and imagine my surprise and chagrine when the belt broke. I kept spinning my cranks momentarily and then fell over as Arte Johnson used to as he was riding a tricycle on the old 70s show "Laugh-In". I managed to fall directly on wooden bicycle racks I had made for my bike shop. The sharp corners of wood are very hard and can immerse you, totally, in pain.

You will most likely come off the rollers on the sides. Coming off the front, you should be stopped as the front and rear wheels straddle the front roller. Don't take my word for this.

Step up onto the rail of the roller and hold onto a firm chair or something more solid (especially for beginning roller riders) for balance and support.

If you want to record this event, by all means, set your camera up in the wrong setting for that warm fuzzy effect (not).

Hold on to the "stable" object while you get clipped into your pedals. Yes, eventually you will need to ride, even the rollers, clipped in (disclaimer: don't take my word for anything).

By all means if you're going to put something on the web such as this- get a haircut and a shave!

Now start pedaling, turn loose of the support, and quickly get both hands on the handlebars.

If you try to "hold on" to your support it will delay your adapting to the rollers.

Now- ride a white line! Straight!

After some time of riding rollers you become more at ease. You might watch the video (more anyway) that you've been listening to. The more you ride, the more relaxed you become, and the easier it is. (do not take my word for this or anything else)

Ah- this is it!

Be sure you've turned the volume so that you can hear Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin!

Phil Liggett

Now dig into that suitcase of courage and get rolling!

Phil Liggett: At the moment the sun has come out, but here in the Alps the weather changes so quickly. This is an amazing select group of climbers here. Beltran has given everything here in the hope he can soften up the opposition for Alex Zulle. Viringue looking as cool as a cucumber as ever and the same has to be said of Lance Armstrong. He didn’t panic as the attacks came on the Col Du Galibier and the Col Du Telegraphe. He allowed the moves, he’s come back into the action, and now Viringue is going for the King of the Mountains points here, looks across, Armstrong allows nothing to move.

Paul Sherwen

Paul Sherwen: Armstrong-very attentive, just waiting for any acceleration from these climbers. He used his team perfectly-as Viringue goes over the top to get maximum points there. He waited until the last possible moment and then when he had to assume control he went away own his own and countered all of the moves. He’s riding like a real champion, like a real master tactician. That’s why he’s used his team and now he has to assume control of the front of the race.

Phil Liggett: Well he must have frightened the Spanish climbers here now because they’ve seen the strength of Armstrong on these mountains today. He’s ridden himself right back up to them. He’s controlled them. He’s alone now. They’ve achieved something. At least they’ve isolated him, but he’s proving to have all the strengths so far and there’s only one climb left to come to the finish.

Paul Sherwen: The final climb of the day, in fact, it was on the descent Phil, that those two riders got clear. But on that descent there were several crashes and one of them was Mario Cipollini and the other was Pavo Tonkov. But this is the most dangerous thing for Lance Armstrong, the attack from Fernando Escartin and Evan Gotti. Theses guys surprised Armstrong on the descent and they’re in front by about 25 seconds.

Phil Liggett: Well these two took tremendous risks on slippery roads coming down and the gap simply opened up between them. There was no real acceleration, they just took risks, and the gap has opened. Back to the Armstrong group- there’s the Armstrong group and two climbers, unusually breaking away going downhill, now have the advantage here on the way up to the finish. But this chase group here has reorganized itself. There will be nothing from Contreras now because he’s got his man away. Looks as if Arietta has disappeared from this group.

Well look at that- Armstrong has gone, he must have read our caption. 32 seconds for the two leaders and he must have realized, that is enough! He’s now gone now. Can they answer this one Paul, because the acceleration of this man is incredible? He’s looking so good.

Paul Sherwen: That was unbelievable. He took a few risks going up the inside there because somebody could have easily closed the door on him. The reaction came from Contreras to try and pull him back. He’s gone around that corner so quickly. He’s taking it very wide. Alex Zulle is the man who must respond, 161 the white shirt there on the shoulders of the Banesto rider. He has to try and get up to Armstrong- but Armstrong is flying away.

Phil Liggett: He’s completely broken up that group now. Contreras has tried to go even though he’s been sitting at the back since his team captain went up the road, but I don’t think he’s got the legs now. I’m not so sure Zulle has either here. Escartin and Gotti are the two riders out in front, but the acceleration of Armstrong is absolutely frightening here! This is the sort of move you would have seen Eddy Merckx do in his day and not the sort of move we ever saw Miguel Indurain do.

Paul Sherwen: Look at that time gap. He’s already nailed it down to 11 seconds. He’s just 11 seconds behind Escartin and Gotti in the space of less than one kilometer! He’s ridden across that gap and he’s riding a superb race now, but there is a response coming from behind and that is from Alex Zulle. Zulle realizes that this is a dangerous move by Armstrong. There are the two leaders, Escartin in the green and that’s Gotti in the yellow and red jersey from the Polti squad, but Armstrong has just ridden across like they were standing still.

Phil Liggett: Well Armstrong who18 months ago was contemplating a bleak future, never mind riding in the yellow jersey in the Tour de France. This was his big test day today, his next big test, and look how he’s answered it! He’s come right up to the two climbers. Goodness knows what Escartin thinks now, he’s staring at the yellow jersey in the face.

Paul Sherwen: Well he must have expected to be able to put Lance Armstrong into difficulty today, because Armstrong is not really known as a major climber. This is his first real test as a leader of the Tour de France in the big mountain passes. He was fourth overall last year in the Tour of Spain and that’s when he said it was the first time he felt he could accompany the big climbers in the three week stage races. Today he’s actually staying with the one of the best climbers in the Tour de France, Fernando Escartin.

Phil Liggett: Well Escartin withdrew from the Tour last year when lying in fourth place overall because of the Spanish protest. And now this is Alex Zulle. Zulle is trying to get across on his own, so that group has been completely blown apart now! Alex Zulle is having to ride across to join this very elite front group and I’m not so sure he can make this. We’ve got three up front.

Paul Sherwen: It’s amazing to see that Zulle has not laid down arms, you know. He had a very hard time after the third day on the Tour de France when he lost over 6 minutes through the Passage du Gois. But he stayed in the bike race. He stayed concentrated. He was second to Armstrong in that time trial around Metz and now he’s trying to keep himself in the overall rankings, because whatever happens now, even though he’s so far down now Phil, he’s climbing up the standings today. Gotti now, launching an attack, he’s put Escartin into difficulty, and look at that how Armstrong responded, he just moved up alongside Gotti to say, “don’t worry about it sunshine, I’m in pretty good shape today”.

Phil Liggett: Well around this corner here they might be able to see the chalets of Sestreire. This has been a good recovery by the Banesto rider. Zulle is inch by inch coming back up alongside these front runners so that leading group of nine is a very select front group of four. Well almost, anyway.

Paul Sherwen: Gotti again trying to put the others into difficulty there. He’s looked over the shoulders and seen the return of Alex Zulle, but this is a great ride. This is what a champion is all about. It’s all about not panicking when you’re put into difficulty on a climb, finding your rhythm, and riding yourself back into the bike race. Alex Zulle has done exactly that. He couldn’t respond to that first attack of Lance Armstrong’s but once he got into his own rhythm, a good climbing rhythm, he’s pulled himself back up to the leaders. Armstrong now taking up first position on the road.

Phil Liggett: Well that’s what the man in the yellow jersey should do, is show everybody else who’s boss. This has been a fantastic day of riding for Armstrong so far. He never panicked early on. He’s joined the front line of action and is now dictating the pace and we’re now heading towards the finish. Armstrong really doesn’t have to ride at the front now because it’s the other three who should attack him, but instead he’s just driving this pace on. I do believe he’s trying to crack Gotti!

Paul Sherwen: Gotti was talking to his team manager there, just looking across at the Polti team car, just having a few words to say, “sorry sunshine, I can’t attack. I’m just happy to stay here on the wheel of Lance Armstrong”. His face is a picture of concentration. He’s not showing any emotion at all. He’s getting on with the job at hand. He’s concentrating on getting those pedals around as quickly as possible. And again Phil, he’s reminding me again of Miguel Indurain, the way he’s pedaling. There’s Johan Bruyneel coming up alongside in the US Postal team car. Few words with Lance Armstrong, let’s not forget Johan Bruyneel has been a great tactician over the first week of this Tour.

Phil Liggett: But really he’s got to be surprised by the riding of Armstrong and he must be worried too that this man is giving away too much energy with the Pyrenees still to come and the final time trial. He’s looking at two weeks in yellow at this point. And now look at him. He’s lifted the pace again. Gotti is in trouble and Escartin isn’t looking too happy either.

Paul Sherwen: Gotti couldn’t stay on the wheel of Lance Armstrong and it was up to Fernando Escartin to respond. He’s losing two or three bike lengths there but that’s not a problem, he’s going to close it down on Lance Armstrong because he is a fantastic climber.

Phil Liggett: Are you sure?

Paul Sherwen: But in fact Armstrong is looking over his shoulder, he’s seen he’s got the gap but he’s going to keep going.

Phil Liggett: I think you’re absolutely right and in fact, to Armstrong here, he’s just lifting his pace, and he’s just riding three of the world’s finest climbers, in the world, off his wheel, and he’s jumped out of the saddle! He’s certainly accelerated and look at the gap!

Paul Sherwen: Well he couldn’t believe it. He looked over his shoulder and saw that he had a gap. He could see that they weren’t responding to him, so that’s when he got out of the saddle. That’s when the attack came. He already had ten lengths advantage. This is phenomenal! He’s out of the saddle, pushing it home now. And this is when he’s really going to stick the knife into the wound and go for it to the summit of this climb. The first day in the mountains comes down with a big hammer on the head of the climbers.

Phil Liggett: Well Armstrong came to the Tour de France as an outsider possibly to finish well-up but now he really is looking like the possible winner of the Tour de France here. He’s won both time trials. He’s now heading up to a likely victory here at Sestreire. If you can win the time trials, when you win the mountains, well there’s not much left to win the Tour de France.

Phil Liggett: Well this has been a smashing of the grapes here in the mountain stage of Sestreire and Lance Armstrong has proved the best of them all today!

Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen


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    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Hi alisonaddy! Thank for stopping by! Happy rollers!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great Hubu Bob, I have tried both rollers and turbo trainers and the first ones look much more real. Thanks for sharing the info.

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Thank you Bobbi! I love wheels but I tried crashing roller blades at a hundred miles an hour, I think. You go Girl!

    • BobbiRant profile image


      8 years ago from New York

      I've had two stationary bikes and they are great. I can listen to music and even watch a movie while riding. I once thought I wanted a treadmill but totally hated it, now biking I can get into to, plus I have a nice outdoor one for good weather too and roller blades. Great hub.

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Hi Katie! Don't let that stationary bike become a clothes rack! Spin classes are a hoot too. Put on some good entertainment and have some fun huh? Peace :>)

    • katiem2 profile image


      8 years ago from I'm outta here

      Very interesting indeed. I ride my stationary bike indoors, it sets right beside my bed, so I guess you could say I love riding so much I sleep with my bike. lol. Anyway cycling with rollers looks amazing, I def want to learn how to ride with rollers now. Peace :)

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      9 years ago

      You are a very beautiful lady. You're pretty on the inside and outside. Thank you Tim-Tim

    • tim-tim profile image

      Priscilla Chan 

      9 years ago from Normal, Illinois

      Nice hub,Micky Dee. Keep riding! I hate the indoor exercise like funride but not as lucky as him, living in the warm weather. So, I turned into this fat human. I constantly struggle...I hope readin your hub would motivate me.

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      9 years ago

      Hi Drwibble. My rollers are okay but if they were on a floor (especially an non-carpeted floor) they may be annoying. Cushion them as possible. You might ask you neighbors what time would be less annoying for them. Of course riding rollers upstairs could be more annoying than downstairs. Normal riding (90 rpm) should be mostly okay. Higher rpms and bigger gears can't be tolerated too long (by the rider), but the big emphasis is to spin. When I grow up I'd like a spa "quality" trainer like the "Lemon". They are smooth and you can muscle them or spin. The spa level trainers are expensive. I'll always want a set of rollers though. Thanks Drwibble.

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      9 years ago

      Hey Funride. I really don't mind the rain except for cleaning my bike. Rain is terrible with messing everything up. I hate the cold. Today our high will be 47. Sometimes the weatherman lies. You have it (weather) better than I, I have it better than .... You bet I'll try to watch those belts. Thanks

    • Drwibble profile image


      9 years ago from UK

      If I waited for the rain to stop, I don't think I would ever leave my flat.

      Never tried to ride on rollers before, I'll bear in mind your advice on checking the belt and moving the sharp objects out the way first. I guess when you get used to riding on rollers it's as easy as riding a bike :)

      How noisy are the rollers when you are in full action?

      Does it give off any resonant vibrations at different cadence levels?

      I am saying this as I live in a flat and if I did get some rollers the sound/vibrations emitted would be the major factor in this decision.

    • funride profile image

      Ricardo Nunes 

      9 years ago from Portugal

      LOL with your comments.

      You know, I must be a lucky guy... I simply hate to "ride" rollers (in fact I hate any indoor exercise) but as I live in a very temperate country I can ride outside most of the days (all of them if you´re not afraid of some rain eheheh). Nothing like feeling the wind on your face... and that´s why I also have beard (much much shorter than yours because of summer temperatures here LOL).

      Great advises though, and I also loved to "hear" Paul and Phil describing the final moments of that incredible stage final.

      Take care and keep an eye on those belts ;)

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      9 years ago

      Thank you Prettydarkhorse. You know, the beard is fake. I take it off at night.

    • prettydarkhorse profile image


      9 years ago from US

      Hi Mick, nice one and wonderful share, at least you can do it inside a nice home,

      hehe, you made me smile, haircut and shave LOL< it is your trademark,

      Thanks for the pics, saw you, Maita


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