Being being a business owner, a caregiver, and a puppy dad, I’m lucky to have a free hour to myself to do much of anything during the day and that hour always seems to come during an Orlando afternoon thunderstorm. Map My RIde dismally tells me that I’ve been lucky to get one bike ride a week in so far in 2017 and as a result I’m getting fat and grumpy.
Nobody, including me, likes it when I am fat and grumpy.
So, I had an idea: what if I ride in the house? I could ride in the evenings or when my dependents are sleeping in the afternoon thunderstorms, and, I wouldn’t be miles away from the house if something comes up. I already have a basic trainer set up in the garage with an extra road bike, and I get out on it once a week or so, but, honestly, a ride in the garage is less than satisfying. It’s hot, you don’t create a breeze, it gets buggy in the evening, and, frankly, pedaling away in the garage is boring. How about if I move the trainer into one of our empty nest bedrooms? My spousal approval department was surprisingly approving of my scheme. Well, that solves the hot part, but not much else. It turns out that technology now allows you to turn your cycling into a video game and ride around the world without leaving your home. I like video games. I like cycling.
I decided to set up a pain cave. (Because that’s what the cool virtual cyclist guys call it and I desperately want to be a cool virtual cyclist: at least as of a few minutes ago.)
The first place I looked online was the Peloton stationary bike: they have the best commercials (a very cute and in shape Mom gets in a very sweaty morning spin class with other cute, sweaty, and in shape people before her cute and in shape family gets up, because that’s what all Moms do first thing in the morning.) The bike was fairly expensive ($2,000) and the classes cost almost $500 a year more. I’m completely uncoachable, so riding with a class is out. Peloton gets points for slick marketing, but not my money.
The Tour de France bike is pretty cool looking and I love their commercials too (you too can join the Tour!) At $1200 it wasn’t crazy expensive (you can even find older models for $999) but the reviews from users were almost universally terrible, citing cheap materials. I thought long and hard about this one but eventually decided against it, for the price it looks like too many potential repair bills.
Indoor training bikes were another option but seemed crazy when I have a couple of road bikes that I love to ride. NordicTrack has a tempting model called the Grand Tour. I decided, for a lot less money, to go with my own bikes and utilize a pretty nice MacBook that I have in the bullpen and a “Smart Trainer.” A Smart Trainer electronically communicates with software to add resistance on hills and take it off on descents. The trainer’s software works through your phone, tablet, or computer to give you the realistic feeling of riding on a real road with other virtual riders. When you wire in a TV set, you can have a truly immersive experience.
I’m hoping I made the right decision. In the next few installments I’ll tell you about my experiences with all this, in case you are thinking about joining me. I’ll tell you this, I got off to a very bad start, I ordered a smart trainer from Amazon on Friday with Saturday delivery and cleared the day to play. I set up the bedroom, the computer, and a TV and I was ready to ride! Except the trainer that came in the mail was defective. So: I returned it and am now waiting for a new one. The crappy trainer, by Tacx, had almost no directions, and wouldn’t pick up on how hard I was peddling, which sort of defeats the purpose and made me even grumpier. I ordered one from Kinetic that will hopefully work as advertised.
This morning, with no working trainer and some time available I went out and did a 20 mile ride on my single speed bike in the Florida heat, and now I really can’t wait to get indoors to the Pain Cave (with air conditioning, a large screen TV, 2 fans, a towel, drinks and a refrigerator within 25 paces. Bring the pain a little at a time please.)