A couple of days ago I took a cheap shot at Zwift, the online gaming-cartoon subscription service that lets you fabricate a simulated bike race while you are grinding away precious seconds of your life on an indoor trainer.
I was immediately admonished by a couple of readers whose criticisms I would have completely ignored had they not possessed the high and holy status of paid subscribers. The gist of their criticism was, “STFU you cupcake SoCal poseur who calls three rainy days ‘winter.’ I’m stuck in Fang, Alaska, where the average daily high is minus forty and the sun doesn’t come out until June.”
Pretty solid counterpunch, actually.
The other criticism was, “Hey, I like Zwift and its imaginary fantasyland, so STFU. Next thing I know you’ll be criticizing my taste in underwear or my favorite flavor of ice cream.”
So in order to preserve that precious $5.96 per month ($5.20 after PayPal takes its processing fee cut), I’ve had to nuance my stance on Zwift and its ilk.
Rather than calling it a completely inane waste of time and money and a refuge for mentally confused, let me offer some alternatives. It’s true that there aren’t many days when I can’t ride because of weather, but my indoor trainer palmares aren’t insignificant.
Remember the original Turbo Trainer? I had one of those in 1984 and regularly rode it indoors for 2-3 hours. My all time record was four hours, and that was without a TV, radio, iPad, or Zwift. And yes, I lost many brain cells that day.
Over the course of the last seven-and-a-half weeks as I’ve recovered from my fractured nutsack, I have done at least a dozen indoor sessions on a Lemond trainer and on gym bikes. With one or two exceptions, all the sessions have been for two hours or longer. Although I lack the motivation of my youth to do mondo multi-hour sessions for the pointlessness of “fitness,” I can offer some pointers for those forced to ride inside.
- Don’t check a clock or a watch. No truer adage was ever spoken than “A watched pot is slow to boil,” except perhaps “Timing your indoor session is the definition of infinity.” Anything with a time display is death.
- Don’t do work outs. Yep, that’s right. Don’t do all those silly sprints and jumps and faux climbs and other crap. Start with an easy warm-up, and after a while move into a steady pace. Shift around when your butt gets sore, but keep your effort constant. The session goes more quickly that way.
- Make your head work. Don’t watch TV or videos or listen to music; put on headphones and listen to language tapes. Don’t treat your workout as a workout, treat it as study time that you happen to be doing on your trainer. If you really do have to ride indoor all winter, two hours of language study every day will have you speaking Farsi by spring. And whereas your fitness will soon fade, you’ll be able to say, “Excuse me good sir, how much for your daughter?” for the rest of your life.
There. That’s all I know. I hope it helps.
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