There’s no gain without pain in the world of cycling. While some go it alone into a headwind on the open road, others prefer the indoor comfort of their very own cycling pain cave. With the inclusion of a few essential elements, you too can convert your basement into the ultimate pain cave.

9 ESSENTIALS FOR THE ULTIMATE PAIN CAVE

The essential elements of any pain cave consist of equipment, accessories, comfort, and ambience. In the ideal environment of our own personal pain cave, we often surprise ourselves with just how much pain we can tolerate. Here’s how to build your own.

1) GO SMART: PICK THE RIGHT TRAINER

The smart trainer is the centrepiece of any pain cave, and today’s top trainers offer an interactive experience that significantly enhances any indoor experience. Choose a direct drive trainer with interactive control and low noise so as not to disturb family and neighbours.

The NEO 2T Smart and FLUX 2 Smart lead the way in our smart trainer range. Quiet, highly accurate, and with a supreme ride feel, they also provide integration with other platforms for that complete interactive experience that makes riding in the pain cave more authentic.

2) STAY COOL AS YOU CRANK OUT THE WATTS

Riding in the pain cave can quickly become hot work. And without a fan, you’ll soon cook. A free-standing gym fan is a great budget option and can transform the experience. But for those with a little more to spend, fans with targetted directional airflow are ideal. After all, we remain in a fixed spot while cycling indoors, so why not maximise the airflow across a smaller cross-sectional area?

Remote-controlled fans or sensor-based fans that enable speed control are the best options. They allow for dynamic adjustments in fan speed as the intensity of the workout increases.

3) HOLD FIRM WITH A GRIPPY FLOOR MAT

The benefits of a quality mat are surprising. Aside from aesthetics, a floor mat holds your smart trainer firmly in place with no slip. In addition, they help dampen any noise and vibrations from your smart trainer—something that’s especially useful if your pain cave has a wooden floor

Many of us sweat buckets when training indoors, and no one wants a pool of sweat seeping into a porous floor material. Mats are easy to wipe down after use with little effort.

At Tacx, we offer both rollable and foldable mats. Both come in a lightweight foam design in a high-quality grippy and waterproof finish.

4) EVERYTHING BAR THE KITCHEN SINK

Indoor cycling these days is all about the interactive experience. And any pain cave design requires a sound mounting solution for the monitors, TV’s, or screens that we use to recreate those ever-more authentic experiences.

A desk or a stand with an adjustable height is ideal as it can be tailored exactly to rider preference. You’ll also need somewhere to place that morning coffee as you warm up!

5) GO WIRELESS

Tired of tangled cables yanking the earphones out of your ear? Perhaps it’s time to go wireless with Bluetooth headphones that let you move more freely on the bike.

Whether it’s an upbeat playlist on Spotify or communication with other riders on online platforms, a quality pair of headphones will also help ensure you don’t turn housemates and neighbours into enemies. Many offerings also provide noise-cancelling technology—a particularly useful feature for those with a loud smart trainer or other constant ambient sounds in the background.

6) SET UP YOUR PAIN CAVE SO YOU CAN WIN

It’s all too easy to use your pain cave as another storage area. Try and keep it clean and organised. Minimising the clutter within the room will also help ensure you minimise mind clutter and remain focused on the job at hand.

Natural lighting also helps. If your pain cave is in the attic or basement, try and set up in a space near a window, where you’ll also benefit from a view and ventilation.

You can also improve the aesthetics of your pain cave by hiding the cords from your trainer’s TV and other accessories by running them through a rubber or PVC cord cover.

7) DECORATION AND INSPIRATION

Visualisation is powerful, and all cyclists can garner a few extra watts by accessing the memory banks of our previous successes. We go harder and deeper when we’re reminded of what we can do. So why not set up your pain cave to reinforce those memories?

Perhaps hang up your old jerseys and medals, place old trophies around the cave. If framed art is your thing, then countless epic photos of some of the greats are widely available. Few things set the tone as well for a solid workout.

8) EMBRACE THE VIRTUAL WORLD

There’s no surer way to entice yourself into that pain cave each evening than to gamify the experience. A high-speed internet connection can become the portal to a whole new world of experience for the indoor cyclist. Between Zwift and Tacx Software solutions, there are endless ways to make the suffering fun. Whether it’s the new racing buddies on Zwift, or the stunning landscapes of the top Tour climbs on Tacx’s high-quality films, the interactive side to training in a pain cave makes it both rewarding and alluring.

9) COMFORT AND SELF CARE

There’s little point in designing the ideal pain cave if you’re not prepared to sweat in it! There are a few essentials that should always be within arms reach.

Firstly, a highly-absorbent microfibre towel will help deal with sweat with one swipe. The antibacterial properties of some offerings also help ensure there are no lingering odours.

When riding indoors, we often spend considerably more time in the saddle when compared to outdoor riding. It’s important to pay attention to the nether region, especially when sweating heavily. Having chamois cream on hand will reduce the effects of chafing on longer indoor rides.

In setting up the ideal pain cave, there’s little to distract us and little to moan about. Done correctly, the pain cave sets us up to win. And that beats a headwind on an exposed road any day!