Embracing the turbo ….because there’s no other way


Last winter I bought my first turbo trainer mainly as I’m not a big fan of riding in the rain but more because we had quite a bit of snow and I couldn’t get out at all and I thought it would be a way of keeping some fitness. During the course of the entire winter I probably managed between 5-10 hours use as I really struggled to get into it. I also thought it was way too noisy – noisier than advertised as I’d supposedly bought a quiet one. I finally sent it back to the distributor in October and they kindly replaced it for me. In fairness the new one is quieter, noticeably so, but hardly quiet.  I tried it out for 5 minutes when it arrived to confirm the lower noise levels and then put it away again. I embraced riding in the rain instead. Actually embraced is far too strong a word as I went for one long ride in the rain (http://girodilento.com/riding-and-riding-and-riding-in-the-rain) and then slowly worked up to embracing the cold weather when it wasn’t raining (http://girodilento.com/cold-but-fabulous), then the snow came and then I caught a rotten cold and then the snow came again and it’s now into the last few days before Christmas and there is still 3 inches of snow outside. I’ve now not ridden a bike outside since November.

I’m fully in cold turkey mode and getting very jumpy about my fitness/leg strength draining away by the day. During the course of the month, I’d lent Warren my turbo as he’s almost addicted to them and was in between turbos having sold his old one and was waiting for the new one to arrive (it was stuck in the snow). No problems, I thought – the weather’s clearing and I’ll be out on the road so won’t need it. Then the latest lot of snow came and I couldn’t even get over to Warren’s house to collect my turbo let alone use it. 

My riding deprivation reached it’s peak in the last few days as I first thought about buying a mountain bike (god forbid), then thought about just ordering a second trainer (as it was cheaper than a mountain bike and there’s one I’d rather have than the one I bought) but finally decided I had to dig the car out of the snow and go and retrieve my trainer. My road runs about 250 yards down a hill and then out onto an A road which is (almost) always kept clear of snow – so I knew if I could dig my way out and get down the hill to the A road without crashing, I’d be fine. I packed my snow shovel in the car just in case and took a moment to ponder just how desperate I’ve become if I’m digging the car out of snow to rescue my turbo – which I never use and largely despise. Thankfully it all went ok – the car was out and I took my 3 yr old daughter on the rescue mission.

The turbo was duly collected and safely returned home without any drama and I dug my way back into a car park outside my house. 
Last evening, I retrieved my trusty old Allez out of the leaky garden shed (as I feel overly protective of the brand new NeilPryde Diablo sitting behind me in my office as I type this) pumped up the turbo wheel and started putting it all together in the kitchen. Not having a routine/ritual for all this, it was about 9pm when I actually got on the thing and started pedalling away. 

The new turbo is definitely quieter than my old one which was a relief as I use it underneath my kids bedroom – so noise is an issue … but it was just as dull to use as I remembered. As I did my first 5-10 minutes warming up, I managed to catch up on Twitter on my iPhone, drink a coffee and eat a mince pie. Once the first few drops of sweat hit the iPhone I put that down and started to try to actually do this thing. I am far from a powerful cyclist – even less so at the moment – so I was no where near top gear as I started working hard but still after only 15 minutes my legs were hurting – getting to the 40 minutes I was planning seemed both a long way away for my legs and my sanity. The kitchen radio has broken and I’ve sold my laptop – so no music or entertainment which doesn’t help. I was getting pretty hot though. I jumped off to open the window and the back door and looking over my shoulder as I rode I could see more snow coming down outside. Thank goodness, I’d made the rescue mission when I did!

After about 25 minutes I realised I had some Beyond The Peloton’s (http://www.youtube.com/user/CerveloTestTeam) on my iPhone and put one of those on. Sadly I’d chosen one of the few dull ones, that was mostly people talking about what a nice bloke Carlos Sastre is. I happen to agree, he does seem nice – but it wasn’t a great accompaniment to my sweaty exertions. I let that run down to the end since it was a good timer and then tried another chosen strictly by it’s length as I decided to press on to 50minutes. It was also pretty rubbish as a background to turbo training but it got me to the 50 minutes mark. 

Most importantly of all it was the most “cycling” I’ve done since November thanks to all of the bleeding snow. It also confirmed just how rubbish I am on a turbo trainer. It really feels like you have to learn to cycle again and build up your legs to be able to do it. I know other people swear by them – personally I’d rather swear at them – but with the snow not going anywhere it’s time learn to love the turbo. I even bought a proper training DVD so I’ll have to negotiate access to the living room and the plasma telly and then really do some suffering. 

More updates in due course.

Thanks for reading.