I do not like to ride indoors. I am not alone in this, I know. I have never tried to imagine myself in the place of a hamster or Ian Anderson's One Brown Mouse, yet that is the inevitable comparison whenever I resort to pedaling indoors: I can imagine the little guy going round and round in his wheel and getting absolutely nowhere. If course, it’s probably better than nothing. Right? Right? Tell me it is. I need the motivation to keep going.
I have done the stationary trainer.
I hate the stationary trainer.
I begin to hate the sight of the wall in front of me. I’m wearing my cycling shoes, I’m on my bike, the pedals are spinning, and that wall is just sitting there in front of me. Oh, I can do it for awhile. My resolution is good for at least two or three minutes of pedaling to nowhere. Then I begin to get bored.
I tried music. I tried books on tape. Nothing worked. So I decided to try rollers.
I had been told that riding on rollers was a lot more like riding for real. In fact, this is true. It is so much like riding for real that I was able to crash for real. We’ll ignore the little incidents - such as the time my front wheel slid off and I came down hard on the bar - and we’ll skip right to the big one.
I did find the rollers more interesting than the stationary trainer, but that’s a lot like saying that I found the beige wall more interesting than the plain white one. It still wasn’t fun. So I tried watching cycling videos while riding the rollers. This helped quite a bit, actually, and, if I had been smart, I simply would have stuck with it. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Well, it wasn’t broke, but I decided to fix it anyway.
One year during the Tour de France, a well known cycling coach put out, for free, a series of workouts inspired by the TdF stages. They were downloadable files that you could put on your mp3 player and ride along with. There was music and helpful suggestions and I figured, what’s the worst that can happen? I can try it and, if I don't like it, no harm done, right?
In fact, the worst that could happen was this: The coach was in my ears telling me to sprint, so I was sprinting hard. The bike slid sideways just a bit and then off the rollers. Now, I was in a little hallway, so I clung to the walls rather like Spiderman and the bike went out from under me and turned a complete flip in my kitchen. I climbed down from my perch and found that the chain was actually wrapped around the crank arm. It took me a bit to disentangle it, at which point I found that the rollers were still rolling. I had been spinning the pedals at quite a nice pace, apparently.
I put my bike back on the rollers and climbed on, only to find out that the rear derailleur was now useful only as an objet d’art.
Riding on rollers is very realistic.
I even went to the gym and climbed on a spin bike. I did not take a spinning class. I remembered what had happened on the rollers when I tried to let someone else tell me how to ride, so I figured I’d just do what I wanted on the spin bike.
This was as strange experience. There were little red dots on a monitor on the bike, one of which apparently represented me and one of which apparently represented my competition. (I decided arbitrarily to race against a variety of pros. I beat them all. It turns out it isn’t that hard to beat a little red dot. I'm sure it's quite a bit harder (which is my way of saying impossible for me personally) to beat the actual pros.
Watching a little red dot chase another little red dot around an imaginary track in an imaginary velodrome was not the most fun I have ever had. I suppose the dot chase did do something to liven up the ride. The giant fan blowing on my sweaty form simulated the wind. I have had less fun, such as riding the stationary trainer, but somehow the idea of pedaling and just not getting anywhere still doesn’t appeal to me.
Maybe I could hook the bike up to some kind of generator. I’m sure I could generate at least enough watts to power a radio. Not a big radio, mind you, just one of those little transistor things, and not long enough to listen to an entire program. Maybe long enough to listen to an entire song.
Actually, I’m not sure I could generate enough watts to power a radio. I have a feeling I’d get bored first.
Today, however, I have a chance to ride outdoors instead of indoors. I think I’ll do that.
See you on the road.