It’s time to remove all distractions. It’s time to upgrade everything. It’s time to build the ultimate pain cave.
Making the ultimate indoor cycling pain cave is a three-step process.
- Upgrade your cycling gear
- Upgrade your entertainment
- Upgrade your ambiance
The Ultimate Cycling Gear
The Core Gear
Start by getting the right trainer, the right bike computer, the right mat, the right fan, and the right clothes. Below are what we consider to be the foundation for a great indoor riding experience.
The right trainer – Get a smart trainer so you can use ride simulating programs like Zwift. For top accuracy, quietness, and realistic ride feel get Wahoo’s KICKR Smart Trainer. Need some help deciding which trainer is right for you? Check out our Guide to Indoor Bike Trainers
The right bike computer – Get a computer that’s easy to adjust while cycling. Your fingers are going to be dripping with sweat, making it much harder to use a touch screen. Opt for a computer with real buttons like Wahoo’s ROAM or BOLT. Wahoo’s computers also come with a perfect view zoom function which allows you to control how many data fields are displayed by pressing two buttons on the side. Further, you can control your KICKR trainer with any of the Wahoo bike computers.
The right floor mat – You want a sticky mat so your bike doesn’t slip, thickness to insulate noise-generating vibrations, waterproofness that keeps your sweat from soaking through to the floor. Wall-to-wall gym-style rubber flooring is ok but it can be porous and harder to clean. For the ultimate technical mat get a Wahoo mat. It’s ultra-grippy so you won’t slide around and it’s waterproof so you can easily wipe it clean.
The right fan – Many cyclists don’t realize that they are using the wrong kind of fan. Most people use conventional fans with blades that create a high volume of airflow but at low pressure. Since you’re fixed in one spot while cycling, a centrifugal blower fan makes more sense. They provide a high pressure, more focused jet of cooling air. Smart blower fans like Wahoo’s HEADWIND will turn on and speed up based on how fast you pedal so you don’t need to stop to adjust them. Further, you can control the HEADWIND with your Wahoo Fitness app, by manually pushing the buttons on the fan or pair your heart rate monitor so as your HR rises so does the cooling from the fan.
The right clothes – Even with the best fan, you will still sweat while cycling indoors. To improve ventilation, upgrade your clothes. Mesh tops like this one from Castelli are designed to wick sweat away from your body, keeping you dryer and cooler than you would be without a shirt! Wearing shorts with padding while indoor cycling is vital because you spend even more time in the saddle than when you’re outdoor cycling. Dedicate a space in your pain cave for your bike clothes and you can grab whatever you need right before getting on your bike.
Protection – We are not talking about a helmet, knee pads or even elbow pads. Keep your bike frame protected with Muc-Off’s new indoor line of lubes and protectants.
The Ultimate Accessories
An ultimate pain cave isn’t complete without all the best accessories. Enhance your indoor cycling with these key next-level accessories.
Heart rate monitor – There’s no better indicator of the effectiveness of your workout than a quality heart rate monitor. Wahoo’s TICKR FIT goes on your forearm so you can monitor your heart without constricting your chest. This is important because monitoring power output only tells one part of the training story. Measuring HR gives a better picture of the effect a power-based training session has had on the body.
Indoor grade simulator – You may be asking what in the world is an indoor grade simulator. It is exactly what it sounds like. The KICKR CLIMB is capable of lifting the front end of your bike up and then lower it as descend. With a max gradient of +20% and a max descending gradient of -10%, you are sure to enhance the ride feel. Further, work your climbing muscles by being the same position you would be in if you were climbing Alpe d’Huez outdoors.
A comfortable bike seat – Indoors bike seat needs are very different than outdoor needs. Weight of seat doesn’t matter and comfort matters more – make sure you use a different seat that accounts for these differences. Cyclists spend more time in the seat while training indoors than outdoors and generally encounter more friction with their seats, so a good fit is even more essential than an outdoor saddle. Consider adjusting your seat’s position or getting a seat with additional ventilation to accommodate an indoor workout.
A desk or stand – Riding indoor means that you can bring the kitchen sink with you on your ride. You will need a stable place for your iPad, computer, and/ or phone. Keeping your water bottles, food, and morning coffee within reach is key to staying fuelled for the ride and staying comfortable. The KICKR DESK is a great solution with its adjustable height and wheels that allow you to push the desk away from you or pull it closer.
A towel – Super-absorbent microfiber towels are ideal for indoor cycling. They absorb a higher amount of moisture per pound than traditional towels and have antibacterial properties that keep them from getting stinky after they sop up your sweat.
A headband – In case we haven’t made it clear – if you are cycling indoors, you are going to sweat a lot. Using a headband will keep your hair back and prevent dripping sweat from stinging your eyes. Not to mention you get to dig out that headband you have not worn since the last Jazzercise class you took in the 80’s.
Chaffing cream – Reduce the effects of chaffing on a long ride by getting a sweat-resistant balm that is breathable. Assos, Chamois Butter, and DZ nuts all work well.
The right tire – If you’re using a wheel-on trainer, be sure you use a dedicated training tire on your rear wheel. It will decrease vibration and noise and make your regular tires last longer.
A tool kit – Have a dedicated space in your pain cave to keep bike tools. You may need to make small adjustments to your bike before riding, especially if you take your bike on and off the trainer regularly.
The Ultimate Entertainment System
Now that you’re on pace to hit your cycling goals in comfort, you can start focusing on entertainment or training platforms. Taking your entertainment center to the next level is not necessary but why not? Use your desire to get and stay fit as an excuse to get that new TV and entertainment system you have been eyeing at the store.
First off, in the ultimate pain cave, there are no laptops allowed! No more low quality compressed graphics or crashes due to underwhelming processing power. No more bending over a tiny dark screen. No more running out of battery in the middle of a ride. If you’re building an ultimate pain cave you need a dedicated gaming computer or Apple TV and the best TV you can find. Start with a 90” 4K TV. Maybe get two so you can host a friend. We are talking about the ultimate indoor cycling pain cave so nothing has been left off, we have gone to the extreme here.
If you want to focus your ultimate pain cave on adjustability, mount your TV on a tripod so you can move it around and adjust the viewing height to accommodate different sized riders. For an elegant look, build your TV into the architecture by mounting it on the wall or in a frame.
Since you don’t have to worry about aerodynamics you can mount a whole tablet onto your handlebars and use it as an auxiliary screen if you want to view two forms of media at once.
Get wireless headphones- we recommend noise-canceling headphones so you can hear your media clearly over the hum of the trainer. Wipe the sweat off after you’re done using them to help them last longer.
The Ultimate Ambiance
You have the right gear and entertainment, but to make your pain cave stand out as truly excellent, take the decoration and design to the next level.
Too many pain caves do double duty as storage space. The best pain caves eliminate these distractions and focus on fitness. Cut yourself off from the clutter by building a dedicated training space or screen off an area for your workouts.
Reduce visual noise by stashing your bike gear out of sight. At the very least, install shelves. Seeing gear out in the open might make it easy to find, but it’s not aesthetically pleasing. If possible hide your gear out of sight in sliding drawers and closets. Keeping things organized and easy to find is key to getting you on the bike and making the most of the time you have to train.
Having natural light does wonders to make a pain cave more aesthetically pleasing and comfortable. In fact, the most breathtaking “pain caves” we’ve seen are actually outdoor spaces like a patio or porch space that are protected from the elements. Even if you’re in a basement or attic, seek out space near a window if possible to improve ventilation and give you a bit of a view.
If you’re in a windowless space, you can create a breathtaking ambiance with creative lighting. LED strip lighting around your floorboards or behind your TV can create the same kind of futurist feel you’ll find in a nightclub.
Framed art – If there’s one slogan to define the pursuit of the ultimate pain cave it’s upgrade everything. That means it’s time to put your poster of Peter Sagan behind glass. Put up your favorite inspirational artwork and/ or encouraging notes and messages from your kids, loved ones, and friends.
Show off your accomplishments by hanging your event medals or number bibs. This will not only add a personal touch to the space but will offer some much-needed encouragement when you are deep into a workout. Take it one step further by framing your medals or cut up your bibs and make a collage out of them. Every element that goes up on the walls should have a touch of creative design.
Make your space more elegant by hiding the cords from your trainers, TVs, and other accessories by running your trainer’s power cord through a rubber or PVC cord cover.
Once you have achieved maximum cycling functionality, a flashy entertainment system, and an artfully-designed space you’d be proud to show your in-laws, congratulations — you have created an ultimate pain cave! You’re going to find it hard to leave. It hurts so good!
Select a web-based app to use for indoor cycling. Consider using apps like Zwift, The Sufferfest, TraineRoad, or FulGaz. Need help figuring out which platform is best for you? Check out our Indoor Cycling Guide.