When I lived in Chico, I thought of my bike trainer as something to just suffer through on winter days when the weather was bad. After all, Chico is a great cycling town. You can get out of town and away from traffic, traffic signals, and stop signs in minutes. Once you do, you have hills one way and wide open, flat roads the other. Even in the winter, Mike Trowbridge led a night time ride with hill repeats through the California Park neighborhood. Even on those dark, rainy winter days, attending a spin class was often more convenient, even with the instructor telling me to visualize riding through a snowstorm in the North Pole (yes, really, one did) since I lacked a dedicated space for the trainer and the living room was not the best place for it.
When we moved to Sacramento, we decided the room we use as sort of an office could also work as a trainer room. Our bikes just stayed there for more of the winter and it made training easy or, rather, convenient. What we found was that trainer time was extremely time efficient. No coasting, no drafting, and soft pedaling. No stopping for traffic or slowing down for other cyclists and certainly no need to cut short of modify rides due to weather or daylight. Just an hour of power (or an hour and a half if that was what we wanted). We could also structure workouts in specific ways not possible on the road, where a traffic intersection or slow cyclist would inevitably get in the way. The workouts were especially useful for our time trial bikes, because we could spend the whole time in the aero position. No need to sit up for turns or for traffic. Nonetheless, once spring came, we went back outside.
Unfortunately, Sacramento is not Chico. Please do not get me wrong; we love our town. However, however, the River trail is not the best place to ride when you want a fast sustained pace and on busy days it can be downright dangerous. Most other open roads without traffic, but with long straightaways, may work for weekends, but not for weekday rides. After Vineman 70.3 we realized just how beneficial our winter trainer workouts had been. We decided to hit the trainers again, even on beautiful summer evenings. So far, the trainer sessions, which consist of structured interval workouts, seem to be helping a lot and time wise we get way more bang for our buck.
The point of all this is… get a trainer. Use it; not just during the winter or when you need to train before the sun rises. Use it through spring and summer and use it even on the most gorgeous day of the year.