With winter setting in, I got myself a set of rollers to use when the weather outside isn’t conducive to slick 23mm tyres. Specifically, I got Elite V-Arion Parabolic Inertial Rollers, from Wiggle:
So the main thing that I knew about from reading the reviews on Wiggle’s site was that they take a bit of getting used to, especially stopping and starting on the things, and that falling off is something to expect the first few times you try them. They are not wrong.
First, though, unpacking was a breeze. Nothing to assemble, they came ready to go, just unfold, get the loop on to the rollers to link up the front and back rollers, and off I went. I suspect I have a “normal” sized bike, because I didn’t need to change where the rollers were, it was set up perfectly, but there’s massive room for differently sized bikes, especially smaller ones. The instructions to move the rollers are simple, and it looks like it can cope with much smaller wheels than standard road bike 700c wheels, as well as bikes which are a lot shorter. But if, like me, you have a recently purchased normal road bike, you will probably find you need do nothing.
Now, for the first ride, I can only suggest you make sure you are in a narrow space, such as the one in this picture. This is necessary because, unless you have some amazing abilities, you will fall off. So, to save me falling off, I put the rollers in a doorway, and placed it such that my shoulders and upper arm would hit the side of the doorframe when I failed to balance. Seriously, this happened a lot – in the 35 minutes I rode on the thing, I would have to say that I probably hit the doorframe about 20 times.
Not only that, I even managed to fall off outside of the doorframe when attempting to stop. So here’s the most important lesson for anyone wanting to use rollers for the first time – the way you use your brakes on the road is pointless on rollers. It makes sense when you think about it – you’re not going anywhere, so there’s no need to brake, but it’s a mind-fuck to get through your head. If you want to stop, you do not need to slow down or brake, you just put your foot down, on the handy slightly raised step on the left hand side (sorry, lefties; thankfully, I’m ambidextrous). So in other words, you pile along at 22mph, and you want to step off, so you do just that; step straight off, and let the wheels continue spinning. They will stop soon enough, especially if you have the inertia resistance set to maximum.
The inertia resistance unit, according to the instructions, is set up so that on its maximum setting, it’s equivalent to riding on the road. After about 20 minutes getting used to it on the lowest setting, I put it straight up to maximum, and it feels fine. The one thing that it can’t do is replicate the wind, so I assume you’re likely to go faster than if you were actually on the road, but so long as you’re not spinning with no resistance at all, which is pretty pointless, it’s a good start.
So, all in all, just be prepared to fall off a lot on your first attempt, and as I say, get yourself in a place where falling off won’t have you falling too far. I’m not convinced I’m ever going to clip in when I’m on the thing, but maybe after a few tries I’ll get the hang of it and have the confidence to give it a try.