Grandpa Joins Le Tour de France

After buying and returning two non-functioning cycling trainers and still not to be deterred in my mission to become an indoor cyclist, I decided to buy a ProForm Tour De France indoor training cycle. I did so with some trepidation, the bike’s reviews on Amazon were pretty crappy and I’d already half decided that I was going to get a type of trainer that you hook your own bike up to by removing the back wheel. But the commercials for the ProForm bike got to me, I want to join the tour! (I’m also a sucker for zero percent financing.)

(I’m far from naive and actually pretty cynical and I can’t imagine a pro cyclist pounding away at this machine in the comfort of his luxurious Paris apartment. No, I think those guys probably train differently than Grandpa here. I’m susceptible to a good sales pitch and a fancy logo.)

So I did, I bought the official training bike of the Tour de France and it arrived yesterday.

I only ordered the bike on Saturday, online, and was told to expect delivery in 2 weeks; so when UPS warned me it was arriving Tuesday, I got very excited. I left the office a little early and got home just in time to watch the UPS guy wheel the 150 pound package to my door. I dragged it in the house and unboxed it immediately; my puppy Maggie was as eager as I was to see what was inside. Alas, there were no dinosaur bones or even a side of beef in the big box, so she went and laid down on the tile floor in the kitchen. I was going to have to assemble this one alone.

And that assembly went well, no one more amazed than me that I got it together without injury, thrown tools, or swearing. You pretty much just attach the base, the seat, the handlebars, the computer screen and the pedals. You have to thread some wires through the frame, but that went well too and I even attached my own roadbike pedals so I could click in with my riding shoes.

The machine is sturdy, solid, and good looking; I like the way it looks in my home. The electronics connect through an app to Ifit, which has a library of cycling rides that you download. For my inaugural ride I decided to start a 12 week century training program, since I have a big ride in November, and the first ride completely kicked my ass. It was supposed to be a 6 mile ride, I thought I’d knock it off in 20 minutes or so and I might have, if I was an actual Tour de France rider. In reality, the course had significant elevation, I spent most of the three miles I was able to survive in the lowest gear (the machine allows you to switch gears like your own bike) and at an incline of 9.5%. Grandpa lives in Florida, it’s flat here! I ditched the ride after about 35 minutes, so I could try a flat ride and “see if the machine was working.”

It was. It works perfectly.

I’m just fat and old and I knew that, hence the bike purchase. I’m optimistic that I can find indoor rides that will get me back in shape even faster than riding my bike outside because the training programs on Ifit won’t allow me to coast as often as I do when riding alone. And, with the unavoidable climbs in these programs, I’ll get over my hill reluctance. Just in case: I can use Google Maps to create my own ride, a pretty amazing feature that will allow me to ride my regular (flat) training loops when I feel overwhelmed by virtual altitude (and potato chips).

The screen is easy to see and full of all kinds of information. It tracks power, speed, RPM, watts, mileage and even heart rate. You can watch your ride on the screen from satellite, map, or street view and you can even listen to DJ created song lists that come on the machine through the speakers that are mounted right on top of the screen. You have a choice to free ride, follow a Tour de France route, or use one of the many IFit programs on the app.

So far, I’m happy that I decided to buy the Tour de France trainer, I think it will get me into the shape I need to be in for my fall ride. I’ll keep you posted.


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