iPod, warm up for 15-20 minutes with varied cadence and some intensity to break a sweat or breath hard... then hit a variety of 2-4 minute all out intervals, with partial recovery between a few of them and full between others... then do a lap around the course.
all in all 40 min minimum on the trainer... most of the fast guys do more, or more focused stuff.
but getting at least 30 minutes in and with some very high/max intensity sustained efforts really help. there is no truth to blowing your wad on the trainer. If you do you aren't in shape enough to race. Get your body ready for the pain before you race. it won't be as much of a shock and you'll feel better in the race.
I usually do the intervals on the trainer for a few reasons:
Music. I refuse to ride on the road with headphones/iPod. Matter of principle. And I like music, helps intervals, and to push through the pain.
Duration. Intervals are set based on time or failure, NOT external conditions like the end of a hill, or road hazards or other riders.
Reproducibility. On the same trainer in the same gear the same speed is the same watts session to session. No meterological issues to deal with.
Daylight. There is only so much time in the day once Cyclocross rolls around, and I found that to get the intervals in effectively I have to do them either at night or early early in the morning.
-side note- i've been making playlists using song length as interval markers. I just sort by length in iTunes and grab a fast song for the specified interval and then a contrasting mellow song for the recovery. Repeat and no more worrying about how many you've done, or watching a clock.
I've never taken my trainer to a race but I'm planning on it this year. I've paid attention during my training rides this year, after about 30 minutes of riding my legs really start to feel good and have a lot of strength. Until now I didn't have much confidence in myself to not blow all of my energy on a good warm-up. My tentative plan is to ride the trainer for 30 minutes and do a lap or two on the course, depending on conditions. Should make hammering down at the gun a little less shocking to the system.
You just gotta try things and figure out what works for you. I typically like the trainer because you don't have to worry about running out of road, not going hard enough, getting lost and missing the start, etc.
I typically get on and warmup for 10-15 minutes, then do a few 1 minute intervals to get the legs open and maybe throw in a longer one if I have time. Then spin easy for 5 minutes. If I timed it right, I can hop on the course for a pre-ride.
I have taken a trainer in the past and usually used it just to get the blood flowing in the legs. Do a couple of high cadence intervals for 30 to 60 seconds with some recovery. I probably spend about 30-40 minutes on the trainer then I go out to check the course.
ride on the road 15:00 to 25:00 easy
ride on trainer 5:00 Z-2
ride on trainer 2:00 Z-3
ride on trainer 3:00 Z-4
ride on trainer 2:00 Z-1
ride on trainer 2:00 Z-4
ride on trainer 2:00 Z-2
Up to 41:00
• Use a training jersey for the warm up. Have your race food and drink right next to you.
• Dry off and put on you race skin suit or jersey with your numbers already pinned on it.
• Go directly to the start line with less than 10 minutes before your start.
• Know the course, wind directions, hills, turns, distance and estimate your elapsed lap time splits.
• Plan your race strategy. Segment the course, segment the race, and use percentages of
OBLA or Vo2 for HR or watts pacing strategies.
• Depending on how long (<45.00 or 45:00>) the event is:
• Do not start eating gel packs or drink until 15:00 minutes into the event if it is 45:00>.
• If the event is <44:00 take you last gel pack at the end of your warm up.
• Only take small sips of your drink in the last 30 minutes while warming up.
• Generally you will race 5 to 10 HR beats above your OBLA or Vo2 mark.
• If you need a longer warm up, add more time in the easy beginning 25 minute step.