How to Love Cycling Indoors
If you’re like us, you miss riding your favorite trails and roads with your normal crew, pushing your pedals, sucking in as much fresh air as you can until your lungs reach their maximum capacity, and sweating it all out as you explore. It’s what we live for.
But, in times like these, with many of us living under stay-at-home orders, it’s important to be adaptable and keep the love for the ride alive! We’re not here to say it’s just as good as the real thing. What we are saying is that you should keep your mind open to it and give it a try.
Follow these tips and tricks below and you might find yourself enjoying it, even after the stay-at-home orders end. One thing we know is that riding indoors beats not riding at all. Let’s start with Step 1.
STEP 1: FIND YOUR NICHE
Like outdoor cycling and mountain biking, with indoor cycling, there’s not just one way to enjoy it. Below are a few of the most popular for you to consider.
Riding with a Basic Trainer
This is your cheapest option and you can likely use a bike that you already have. No need to figure out any apps—just mount your bike to the trainer, hop on, and pedal while listening to your own music, watching your favorite TV program, or rehearsing your notes for your next Zoom work meeting.
When shopping around for a bike trainer, consider price, potential resistance, how much noise it makes, durability, and the compatibility with your bike type (rim brake/quick release or disc brake/thru axle.) Basic trainers can cost anywhere from $200-$900, so take your time finding one that suits your needs most.
If you are more experienced, know that some trainers max out on resistance, so if you are a burly sprinter, choose one that can handle all your wattage. If you have roommates who you want to keep good relationships with, it’s worth investing in one that’s less noisy. On the other hand, if you live by yourself, and plan to ride with your headphones on, that might not be a concern for you.
One trainer we recommend? The Blackburn Fluid Trainer because it’s so straight-forward and easy to set up. There’s no assembly, tools, or need to adjust the resistance of the roller.
Riding with a Smart Trainer and Cycling App
If you love the competitive and social aspects of cycling, and you’re ready to take your indoor cycling up a notch, you’re going to love using a smart trainer. What makes smart trainers different than traditional trainers is that they have the capability to interact with an app or a software program and can apply your speed and power in real life to the virtual one. You can think of it as an arcade video game in your own home, minus the time limits and quarters.
Although more expensive than a standard trainer—they start around $500 and run all the way up to $3500 for a dedicated “smart bike” like the Wahoo KICKR BIKE. Simply put, they can be more fun.
Popular app options include Zwift, Sufferfest, and Trainerroad. Each requires a monthly subscription that’s around $10, an internet connection, and either an iPad or iPhone, computer, or a bike computer.
In Zwift, you can ride alone and jump into one of dozens of races, or you can ride with other your friends in real-time. Enjoy making your own personal avatar (which you may decide to look exactly or nothing like you) and earn rewards like jerseys and helmets as you leave others in your pixelated dust. You can also send messages in real time, and thus, still keep your shit-talking just as in-form as your fitness as you hammer in your house!
Recently, for the Virtual Tour of Flanders, the producers created the difficulty of the climbs and course as close to the one in real-life Ronde as they could. There also are eRacing leagues on Zwift, and events where you can ride with Tour de France-level pros. Yes, this is the surreal real and virtual world that we live in today—pretty cool.
Riding with Peloton or SoulCycle
Riding with Peloton or SoulCycle At Home is a top choice for people used to spin classes in gyms. It’s similar to riding with smart trainer and a cycling app, except Peloton and SoulCycle have their own bikes and software platforms. There are virtual studio-like settings, scenic courses, and live classes with a live personal trainer who can cheer you on to personal bests. Or call you out by name if they "see" you're slacking from the numbers you’re putting out.
Peloton and SoulCycling At Home start around $2,250 and the app is around $40 per month. But with its premium package, comes premium results, and they truly are all-in-one solutions that don’t require using your own bike.
Step 2: Be comfortable on the Bike
Once you’ve figured out which indoor cycling niche best suits you, it’s time to figure out your uniform. Just like outdoor riding, comfort is key. Below are some of our shoe, jersey, glove, and base layer recommendations—and what makes each one different—for your indoor cycling pursuits:
Step 3: Get going!
Now that you have your gear, and indoor trainer of choice, it’s time to hit it! Whether you choose to pedal out to your favorite Spotify playlist on your traditional trainer, call up your pals for a virtual race on Zwift, or opt for the motivation from your own personal coach, have fun with it, and be sure to let us know how it’s going on Instagram at @girocycling.