Every now and then I get asked “Doesn’t it get really boring riding indoors? You’re always looking at the same thing!”
Well the short answer would be yes, it could get boring. It could get boring really fast, so it’s up to you to inject some excitement and variation into the workout because as we all know, if you’re not enjoying it you are far more likely to give up. Experience has taught me that spinning in front of the tele only goes so far. It’s hard to stay focused on the show you’re watching and if you are catching everything then you’re certainly not pushing yourself hard enough on the bike. Forget trying to watch a movie for the same reason. You could get away with watching a concert video of your favourite band, but again you’re setting yourself up to be distracted: “Ooh, got to rewind that part, love the drum solo. Where’s the bloody remote? Oh there it is. Hang on, let me unclip…..my this couch is soft…..I’ll stay here a moment to catch my breath.” Yup. Ride is over.
OK so its not pretty. Very much a case of function being more important that form. I mean I am using an old beach towel to protect the pale carpet from sweat and oil drippings. There are cardboard boxes of I don’t know what stacked all over the place (although they make a handy resting place for water, iPod, computer etc) and I am squeezed in at one end of the room, sandwiched between the old double bed we had in our first apartment and the matching chest of drawers that is now full of old family photos and other bric-a-brac.
But you know what? It’s all mine! I can close the door, open the window to allow the icy blast of fresh air to come in, and I don’t disturb anyone. In years gone by I set up in the main part of the basement and the whirring of the warm tyre on the rubber roller could be heard all the way upstairs, especially when I was plummeting down a mountain at 70+ kph. Now neither the straining tyres, jumping chain or the exhausted grunts that occasionally fly out of me can be heard beyond the entrance to the basement. Not that I heard any of it anyway as I am always plugged into my iPod listening to something.
Which brings me to another question: “What do you listen to when you’re climbing through the Pyrenees?” You have to match the music to the ride. At least I do. If you’re riding the World’s time trial at Salzburg then you have to play it as fast as you’re planning on riding. I need something aggressive as well, perhaps some screaming à la Iron Maiden in Live After Death or some early live Rush. Alternatively if you find yourself climbing, say Mont Ventoux, which is 20 km at 8.8% average gradient you should try and find something that is going to focus you rhythmically. Chances are you’re going to be in the granny gear (39 x 25) and with no-where else to go you’d better have a playlist that inspires you to keep grinding through the pain. It only gets harder the closer to the summit you get, and yes doing this virtually you are not hampered by the legendary winds that blow across the moonscape at the top, but believe me the road never seems to end. It is one long sweeping turn after the other followed by a straight that just arches upward. You are numb by the time you get to the summit, so choose your tunes wisely because 80% of the battle is mental. You need everything on your side.
So the lesson for the day is be musically selective and the broader your tastes the easier this task is going to be. Happy spinning.