cycling · fitness

Indoor cycling: lower-tech options?

Last week I wrote about my fall fitness plans. An important part of those plans is continuing to cycle outside into the fall and early winter. However, I’m not as intrepid a cold-weather or night-rider as I used to be. So that means planning for indoor cycling as well (also on my fall plan).

Sam is happily Zwifting, and she writes about her adventures in all sorts of rides and workouts here and here and here, to name a few. Cate has been doing outdoor spin classes and will be continuing virtually with her new spin bike (I forget the details, but we will be hearing about her plans as they unfold).

As for me, I’m a late or non-adopter of high-tech tech when it comes to cycling. Not for any ideological reasons; rather, they’re inertia-based. So, what I have are the following:

  • road bike with variety of wheels, including my trainer wheel
  • Cycle Ops fluid trainer
  • ratty old beach towel that my dad used when he washed his car (to put on floor underneath bike)
  • old German and French language textbooks (they’re the perfect size) to put underneath my front wheel, as I prefer a slight up-angle for indoor cycling
  • music playlists, in dire need of updating

Here’s the issue: I’ve had all this gear (such as it is) for a long time. But, I’ve done very little trainer riding the past few winters. I’d like to change that pattern this year. Why? I miss both the feeling of being better cycling and overall physical shape and the process of doing what one does to be in better cycling and overall physical shape. Yes, I want both process and product!

In service of shaking things up and looking for attractions to get me on the trainer at home, I’ve turned to Zoom class shopping. There are loads of Zoom spin classes out there. Here’s the thing: I don’t like standard spin classes. Yes, I know– they are a thing in itself. They are NOT traditional cycling training workouts, but another thing altogether. I could just give myself over to them, but… no. I’ve tried, and it doesn’t work for me.

This is why Zwift cycling is so cool– it’s cycling, in all its forms. They even have pre- and post-natal cycling workouts (we know this courtesy of Sam). Zwift doubtless has exactly what I’m looking for.

But I’m not giving up my old-school setup. Not yet. When things look their darkest, there’s always YouTube to turn to. And in this case, it doesn’t disappoint.

There are Garmin workouts of many types and durations, and I like the variety of locations. I can cycle in the Italian countryside or along the California coast, for instance. That’s nice.

But there’s something about being connected with other people in real-time that helps with motivation and also fun during a trainer session. Youtube doesn’t give me that.

I’m thinking about trying to organize some of my own Zoom trainer sessions with friends. It’s not clear how well this will work, with schedules and time preferences, etc. But we’ll see how it goes.

Readers who do indoor cycling: what are your plans for fall and winter? Are you a Zwift or Peloton person? Do you rock it old school on a mag indoor bike trainer and iPod? Do you eschew the trainer altogether and ride outside no matter what? Do you like spin classes? I’d love to hear your suggestions and ideas as I move indoors more.

10 thoughts on “Indoor cycling: lower-tech options?

  1. Nothing to add to this post other than to say you’re awesome. Keep doing you..

  2. I got a low-tech trainer this year so I won’t be doing Zwift or similar. That’s just fine as my bike is also deliberately low tech (second-hand CCM which is fine for commuting to work and not very attractive to bike thieves). One friend has recommended a music stand in front of the bike so I can balance my iPad there and run Zoom or YouTube, or just watch a movie. That’s good enough for me, for now.

  3. I have a great Kaiser bike set up in my living room. It is collecting dust.
    I’m not sure why I can’t figure out a way to be motivated at home, but I can’t.

    1. Hi there– I do understand this, and of course have been in the same boat. One thing that came out of this post was that a friend of mine is now going to organize some Zoom trainer sessions for a group of friends this winter (maybe starting with time change). Just putting it out there. Also, maybe riding the trainer isn’t your thing. which is okay, too. Take care.

  4. I’m a high tech indoor (okay, high tech outdoor also) kind of person. Apple TV box with a 50″ 4K TV to run FulGaz on. That keeps me immersed in stunning real-life interactive videos while I’m hammering on the pedals in my garage!

    I spend a fair bit of time on the trainer, so I think it’s worth investing in a good setup.

    1. Cool– your setup sounds awesome! I admit that my yoga setup is pretty extensive, and I keep thinking about when (and where in my house) I can get a ropes wall installed to do ropes yoga (google this if you don’t know about it; it’s so fun). In the end, I don’t love riding indoors. But improving my options will make it more fun. Thanks for the comments.

  5. I’m just like you Catherine: I have a fluid trainer, my second-best road bike kitted out with a trainer wheel, books to prop up the laptop, and a Netflix account. 🙂 A lot of my trainer sessions are deliberately aerobic zone endurance things, so the Netflix works. (Podcasts too.) But I miss the variety and the camaraderie (also the 90s music vibe…) of Coach Chris’s basement trainer sessions. Would be very happy to participate in a weekly session with you and others! We could take turns curating the workout and the playlist.

    Also: I quite enjoyed Zwifting with Sam and friends when I tried it last fall, but to be honest I’m daunted by the thought of trying to set it up at home. I know this is me being a little bit lazy, but I’m also not THAT into it. Plus, I’d need yet more gear and life is expensive enough.

    1. Hi Kim– my friend Rachel may put together some Zoom training sessions. I’ll be in touch to let you know how this progresses. Maybe you could join in if it worked for you and your schedule.

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