How to build your perfect pain cave: Part two – essential accessories – CyclingTips

December 16, 2021 by No Comments

In part one of our how to build your perfect pain cave series, we looked at choosing the right trainer for your indoor cycling goals. In part two, we are looking at the vast range of accessories and tech available to complement your trainer and improve your indoor experience. 

Pain cave accessories fall into two categories: essential, and non-essential but we still love them. Today we are focusing on the essential pain cave accessories.


If you’ve ever ridden indoors you don’t need me to tell you that you lose the natural cooling effect from the airflow of the great outdoors while sitting on a stationary trainer. Even if we somehow ignore the sensation of baking from the inside out, a quick look at the pool of sweat below you is enough to show that things get hot when pedalling on the spot.

When managed correctly, that increased heat and core body temperature can provide some performance gains, but more often than not, it is detrimental to training at best and can even be quite dangerous. 

Looking for the best fan for Zwift? Bigger is not always better – a channelled high-speed airflow will keep your core cooler than a much larger circulator fan.

“Humans are great at thermoregulation compared to other species. We can dissipate heat through conduction, convection, radiation, and most significantly evaporation as a result of sweating. However, the body’s capacity to lose heat is not unlimited and at a certain point these processes are unable to match the accumulation of heat during exercise which can ultimately lead to mild hyperthermia or even severe heat exhaustion.

“When indoor training it is important to set a lower room temperature (10-15 ºC) and ensure good airflow over your body to maximise evaporative heat loss. Plus, don’t forget to stay hydrated as with high airflow, sweating can be less obvious compared to still, hot, and humid conditions.”

Dave Bailey – WorldTour performance consultant.

So what can we do to avoid these nasty side effects? Ventilation is key. When possible, have your indoor setup in a well-ventilated area. I have done many trainer sessions in the garden when the weather permits and the neighbours are not home. It goes without saying indoor training outdoors is not the norm or even possible for most of us looking to maximise our winter training.

If your space permits it, aim to place your setup near an open window and ideally have a window open at both ends of the room to promote airflow through the space. 

Do I need a fan for indoor training?

With the housekeeping boxes checked off, let’s look at accessories for combating heat build-up, specifically fans.

After a suitable trainer, the number-one essential on my list is an adequate fan. As mentioned in part one, factor in the cost of a fan when calculating your trainer budget. We will take a deep dive into different fan options and their effectiveness in an upcoming article in this series, so consider this an intro to the subject.

The best fan for indoor training?

Without preempting our fan test results, it is safe to say any fan is better than no fan. With that said, some fans are much better suited to keeping us cool while riding indoors than others. To understand why, let’s first assess our fan requirements.




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