My wife has been trying to get me to purchase a stationary bike (also known as a “trainer” in cycling circles). The winter months have kept my mileage low, although it is still comfortably above last January’s pace of zero. Night, ice, and cold make this time of year tough on a cyclist (and yes, I realize that I have not informed you of anything you don’t already know) and my sainted wife has repeatedly suggested that it would make supreme sense for me to augment my outdoor rides with this device.
She is, of course, right. Now let me tell you why I won’t do it.
There are several petty reasons, like the mess a trainer can make in your otherwise-pristine house (let us assume for a moment that my house is “pristine”). Oil droplets fly off your chain, sweat drips off your body, bits of rubber fly off your tires. Any of these can be avoided or cleaned up. I’m just saying it can be messy.
It can be costly. Trainers vary in price but the nicer ones are well on the wrong side of $100. I’ve dumped a great deal of money on restarting my cycling hobby in 2010 and I have resolved to bring spending under control in 2011. Here’s my first opportunity.
And the list goes on: the rear tire can be prematurely worn out, it’s a hassle to pull your quick release on the rear wheel (necessary to mount your bike onto the machine), it can be boring unless you spend even MORE MONEY on DVDs or software to amuse yourself while you ride, etc… You get my drift – lots of little nuisances.
But none of these are my main reason for avoiding stationary bikes. My reason is more fundamental and goes to the heart of why I ride a bike. In short, riding a trainer is not riding a bike. Therefore, I do not participate.
Riding a bike is about being outside and moving. It’s about covering ground and seeing the countryside. It’s about learning the lay of the land and discovering new things. And yes, even though I hate the cold, cycling is about dealing with the elements. When I cover 50 miles, I want to know that my body moved across 50 miles of the Earth’s surface, not that the Magnatron 5000 on Resistance Setting 7.5 indicates I covered the equivalent of 50 miles.
Riding a trainer takes away all of the fundamental reasons why I ride a bike and leaves me with only one reason to do it – to get into shape. Long time readers will know that my entire cycling strategy is to FOOL MYSELF into getting into shape by having it occur as a byproduct of my riding. This is why I rarely mention my weight successes or failures or my overall fitness. My body may be reading these posts and I can’t afford to let it in on my secret.
So I think I’ll pass on the trainer. If I want to “exercise,” I’ll do some jogging or hiking. Both are outdoor activities that can be accomplished in Winter. I’ll also keep plodding along outdoors on my bike, as Baron von Drais would want me to.