Outdoor ride equivalents indoors

I want do have a go at one of the longer ride plans. e.g. 100m gravel grinder, or 200m gravel grinder, gran fondo etc. They have a lot of outdoor rides which I’m often not able to do.

I thought I read somewhere that even if there is an outdoor ride in the plan, there is an equivalent indoors. I’ve looked, and sure enough, there are equivalent rides for some of them, but not all. Some of the longer rides have an equivalent but shorter version indoors. Am I looking at this wrong? Or is that by design?

I’m assuming I’d just do the best match indoors and even if shorter I’d still get the planned/intended benefits?


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Shorter rides will not give you the intended benefits. There is a big difference between an endurance ride of one, two, three or four hours or more. One hundred miles at 15 miles an hour will still take you 6.5 hours.

Endurance rides require the ability to pace yourself, understanding when to refuel and what to refuel with, how to ride to RPE (you cannot be staring at your head unit all the time), and the ability to tolerate long stretches of boredom.

For those rides that do not have an equivalent I use a platform such as Rouvy. I either use one of their rides, or use the GPS recording of one of my long rides. I have been on the trainer indoors for as long as 5 hours. A Knight’s quest would take you longer.

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The loooong rides in the GG plans are brootal indoors but they are what is required, I believe, to achieve the benefit. The whole point of them is to give you extended time in the saddle cuz that is precisely what you will be doing on a 100 or 200 mile ride.

As @Heretic noted, you can visit another platform to help keep your interest up. I’ve logged a LOT of miles on Zwift for some of these rides just to grab a badge or get some extra elevation.

The ideal really is to get outside. I’d love to hear from one of the coaches or SUF scientists for their take on doing those 5ish hour rides indoors and whether there is a “shorter” way to get the intended training benefit.

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Interesting responses. I noticed that in some cases a 3:30 ride outdoors, the equivalent name for the indoor ride is only 3 hours. So still a lengthy ride, but not the full time.

Either way, it sounds like you need the time in the saddle, so do it anyway you can.

So to get the full equivalent indoors, you just take the indoor ride and rewind it. I’ve done that plenty o times as well @Fezzek

That’s probably by design – I know very few stretches of road where I can realistically do 3:30 without any stopping or power surges/dips. Maybe a velodrome, but then you’re back to extreme boredom. An indoor ride allows you to precisely target a specific power/time without any of the normal breaks that show up when riding outdoors.

tl;dr, 3 hours on the trainer is not equivalent to 3 hours outdoors even given similar power targets, it’s almost certainly more intense

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Power dips and surges are what happens in real life. If you want to ride a century outdoors you have no choice but to learn to deal with them.

I find riding outdoors more intense because intensity is not just about power.

There is traffic, imperfect road conditions, varying, sometimes unpredictable, changes in elevation, heat/cold, weather such as rain. Sometimes there are animals that have to be avoided. I have had to dodge flying chickens (yes chickens), wild turkeys, dogs, and I have ridden through swarms of flies.

Then there is the wind. Headwinds and tailwinds are one thing. Winds hitting your perpendicularly while you ride downhill at high speed could be a killer (literally).

There is nothing on a trainer that will prepare you for these things.

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I would rather be boiled in oil than ride more than 2-2.5 hours on my trainer. Pull on your woolies and rain jacket and go outside!!!


@Glenn.Coutts that’s a smart idea. Thanks.