My Lack Of A Trainer


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.

what we're talking about

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.


12 thoughts on “My Lack Of A Trainer

  1. I’m with you, buddy!!!! I ride the Lifecycle at the gym this winter once a week just to keep my legs in the cycling motion for two or three months I’m too chicken to ride in the cold. Otherwise it’s been long hikes and the elliptical and stairclimber. Even those seem better to me than the trainer in that I get better cardio bang for my buck and no mess at home.

  2. I understand where you are comming from but lets break down your arguments.

    #1, you’re right, I’ve got oil on the couch, could have been avoided if my bike had a kickstand. Don’t really care, it’s mainly there to hold stuff off the floor.

    #2 Your tire will be worn out fast, but by this time of year you’re tires should need replacing anyway. Problem is if you can still ride outside you don’t want to go back and forth between changing tires for every ride. Since I’ve pretty much decided to not get my bike out until its at least 45 I’ve got nothing to worry about.

    #3 Many trainers use you’re regular quick release and if they don’t then it takes about 10 seconds to change them.

    #4 One ten dollar sufferfest video is a world of fun on the trainer.

    #5 This reason is rock solid and can’t be argued against. Riding a trainer is like the hamster in the wheel. My cat watches me on the trainer and I’m sure she is thinking, “what is wrong with this stupid human.” You have to accept that riding the trainer is a poor substitute for riding a bike, but will make the spring so much better when those early rides don’t seem so long.

    The difference is looking at it as a hobby or as a sport. You train for a sport, why would you train for a hobby. Right now I’m all fired up and looking at it as a sport, I’m wanting to “take it to the next level” as lame as that sounds. When this doesn’t work out I’ll be back in the hobby camp and holding my trainer in disdane. I’ll probably sell it to a triathelete like i did my last one 2 years ago. LOL

  3. Just noticed something funny, the blue trainer you pictured is the first one I ever bought, it was a major piece of junk.

    Years ago a friend lonaed me some rollers for awhile, kind makes you feel like you’re in a circus.

    • It’s hard to get the right gear first time out, isn’t it? Lord knows I’ve walked that ground myself in the past year. It kinda gets at my comment on your most recent post: sometimes you get what you pay for.

      Good luck with your training. I’ll be looking for some new Personal Bests from you this summer!

  4. Steve Thanks for dropping by my blog. I coldn’t agree more with your thinking about the trainer or the lack of any need for one. Years ago I was trying to be a competitive cyclist. If you are trying that sort of thing then the trainer makes some sense. Of course history has shown us that anyone who remains a competive cyclist at the very least becomes and arrogant self centered bore or at worst a drug addled obsessive worrying about whether or not a $25 dollar unobtanium seat bolt will shave enough weight off the bike to permit one more win or personal best.
    Bikes are at their best at the same time we are when we are enjoying rather than surviving the ride.
    Therefore ride only in nice weather, in lovely places, with interesting friends and family or whenever else you want.

    • Thanks for the comment, Dave. I’m enjoying your blog and find your sense of humor is similar to mine! I’m prepared to ride in poor weather, but the key word is “ride.” I’m not willing to sit on a machine that used to be my bike and pedal in my basement. I respect those who choose otherwise – there are plenty of good reasons to do it. They just don’t fit well for me right now.

  5. I tried trainers (turbo’s in the UK) on at least 3 different occasions over the years and on every occasion I have, much to my shame given up. They’re just soooooo booooring!!!!! I’ve done the iPod thing, the DVD thing, put them in the living room so I can interact with my patient family, but all to know avail.
    I would rather (and do) pedal in bad conditions than be a prisoner on my bike indoors.

  6. Mate, you’d know this, but as an ex squaddie I’ve got more slang than I know what to do with. When I’m with my Squaddie mates my civvie mates think we’re talking a different language. Much like Brits and Yanks eh? 😉

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