Sunday, October 4, 2015

The electronic reality of the "simple" indoor bike ride

With the chilly, rainy Saturday weather and the need to get in some miles for a century ride in two weeks, I hit the bike trainer yesterday in our playroom/computer room/kid hangout room. That's where the Apple TV is and it's hard to do an indoor metric century (100km = 62 miles) without some form of entertainment.

Seems simple - put the bike on the trainer (in my case a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine I bought used in 2010) and pedal. But it's gotten increasingly complicated, though no fault but my own, over the years.

To get started required swapping out the race wheels for the training wheels and adding the rear skewer that is best suited to the trainer (has metal end for trainer to grab onto, rather than lightweight plastic). From there, I crossed my fingers that my technology planets would all align and that all the following would be charged, communicating, and linked to work properly for my "simple" indoor ride:

  • the Garmin Vector power meter pedals
  • Garmin Edge 800 bike computer
  • Garmin Speed/Cadence sensor (calculates speed by wheel rotation and pedal cadence in absence of GPS)
  • Heart rate monitor 
  • ANT+ dongle in laptop
  • Macbook
  • Zwift software laptop (Zwift is a multi-rider, real-time virtual cycling course with rankings, KOMs, sprint jerseys etc. It's the video game of the cycling world.)
  • Zwift iPhone app (used for group communication and additional monitoring)
  • TV
  • Apple TV
  • iTunes
  • Noise canceling headphones and extension cord
  • Wireless network

Then I added water, snacks, towel, phone, remote control for TV, remote for Apple TV....

Me with kid and his Oculus Rift. Family virtual reality...egad!

Geez, can you say "high maintenance?" 

Amazingly enough, everything worked from the get-go and I had a very fun ride on Zwift Island with about 170 other cyclists. Periodically, my youngest would check in and urge me on to catch the next person, and I'd oblige, despite the fact that it was supposed to be an aerobic ride only. It's hard not to get a little excited on there.

Even Trixie got caught up in the excitement! Not!

I kept one eye on Zwift on the laptop, the other on the movie (it ended up being a 2-movie ride). Incidentally, I have a hard time sitting through movies any other way. Watching while cycling is my preference! 

Cycling virtually with so many others from around the world really does make it so much more fun. There were a few of us with a metric or Imperial century goal and encouragement was plentiful!

(not me...but shows what it looks like)

Today's weather means another indoor ride. I will join the Zwift group riding with "Jensie" Jens Voigt at noon. Despite all the entertainment of an indoor ride, I still prefer the road.