Can a turbo trainer novice be converted by the coronavirus lockdown?
Where do I love riding my bike? Outside, in the fresh air, getting from A to B. You can’t do either of those on an indoor cycle, so to be honest, I really didn’t see the point in it.
My experiences of cycling within four walls have not been successful. I very quickly realised that spinning was not my forte following a few hilariously incomprehensible classes during a brief stint working in China.
I then resurrected a 1980s exercise bike from my parents’ home with idyllic visions of keeping cycling-fit in our London flat after the birth of my eldest daughter.
I think I used it just once, before it became a very annoying obstacle to navigate around.
It’s a sunny morning and it’s hard to forgo the fun and freedom of a proper ride for sitting in our dark, cluttered tip of a garage.
Then about a year ago, my brother passed on a basic turbo trainer which he no longer needed. He had bought it for about £70 from Halfords to help recover his balance following a severe ear infection which had caused long-term vertigo and dizziness.
The turbo lay untouched in our garage, was moved to the shed, and was eventually dumped in the spare room until my husband Steve, who was missing his club rides during the exceptionally wet winter, reluctantly gave it a go.
I remained unconvinced. But a couple of months later, the coronavirus crisis has changed my thinking.
At the time of writing, we are rightly asked to stay at home and are restricted to exercising outside only once a day. I would normally cycle or run on most days.
We also need to take the kids out as part of our daily allowance.
So, week two of lockdown. The turbo is all set up, so there was no excuse not to give it a go. It’s a sunny morning and it’s hard to forgo the fun and freedom of a proper ride for sitting in our dark, cluttered tip of a garage.
It’s easy to set the bike up. You just need to clamp in the rear wheel and wedge the front into a plastic stand. The whole thing sits on a flimsy mat to stop slippage.
It didn’t seem very sturdy and my first concern was that I might fall off.
Despite my worries, I stayed upright and started pedalling away. A dial clips on to the handlebar to adjust resistance and you can still use your gears. It felt a bit odd and ‘fake’ with a dragging feel.
The riding position is also different as the bike is slightly angled forward, but I soon got used to it.
I’m definitely opting for cycling in my garage over running loops round the garden or a Joe Wicks workout on YouTube.
You can measure performance if you have some external equipment - Steve uses a heart rate monitor and cadence sensor which syncs to his bike computer.
I have an indoor cycling function on my Garmin watch but without additional gadgets, it can only track time, heart rate and calories burnt.
I chose the lower-tech option of 5 minutes of 'pretending i'm going up a hill’ and ‘for this song I’m going to go as fast as I can in quite a high gear’.
Sadly, my only view was the back of our car (but that was deliberate so that I couldn’t be seen by passers-by).
But the trainer is portable and lightweight enough to set up anywhere, whether in the garden or in front of the telly.
I thought I’d get bored, but with some upbeat tunes and my low-tech workout plan, timed moved fast. I doubt I could do a particularly long ride, but it was quite fun for a shorter intense session (I estimated I rode about 10 miles).
I wouldn’t say I’m a convert but for the interim period, if you don’t want to spend a fortune and aren’t bothered by fancy technology, the turbo is a handy solution and miles better than not cycling at all.
The future is still very uncertain, but the one thing I do know is that if we enter a stricter lockdown period, I’m opting for cycling in my garage over running loops round the garden or a Joe Wicks workout on YouTube.