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Friday, February 6, 2015

Das Computrainer (or How I Learned to Love Training Indoors)

Jackie Chan is one insane mofo.

This I learned recently from spending many hours watching his films while my backside was glued to the seat of a bicycle, which in turn was attached to a trainer. This has not been my first experience with Mr. Chan, as I spent many a drunken night with friends long ago laughing hysterically at his beautifully choreographed madness.

But now it's different. My face is transfixed inches away from my iPad as I become hypnotized by his masterful Kung Fu, where he is often milliseconds or inches from disaster or death. The only thing to distract me is the constant whirring of the trainer below me, and the endless seconds ticking down slowly to zero on my computer.

The acting is terrible. The plots are unbelievable, as if they were conceived by the laziest porn director. But oh, the action! Nothing can keep your mind occupied during the endless hours of riding a trainer like well-choreographed fight scenes, explosions, or using of props as weapons.

What on Earth did people do before Netflix? Am I to really believe that people would spend hours on the trainer with nothing to occupy their time except their own thoughts? Perhaps a walkman, or God forbid, network television? I can't even think about that. All I can say is thank the good Lord for the heroes that developed applications which can distract us from endless drudgery.

So why should I even train indoors when all I'm going to do is complain about how boring it is? Why not enjoy the majesty and wonder of Gods creation outdoors rather than confine myself in a human constructed pit of despair? A few reasons come to mind.

1. Jackie Chan. I can't stress this enough, the guy is insane. And there is something about him that draws out the primitive lust for action and violence in men, but acts as a repellent to women. Thus his movies don't make the cut during regular TV time with the wife. While I haven't seen any studies on the subject, I have concluded that riding a bike outdoors while watching Jackie Chan movies is probably not a good idea. So watching them while on the trainer is a safer alternative, and gives me a chance to enjoy them without the added guilt of knowing I hog the remote.

2. I like living. I think most of us do. The streets for a bicyclist can be a dangerous place, as you have to share the road with vehicles 10 times heavier than you driving at a higher rate of speed. Not to mention the potential for my own klutziness, which could result in my bicycle ending up magically above me while I sacrifice some of my skin to the gods of asphalt. Logic would tell me that the more often you ride outside, the more likely an accident is to happen.

3. It's less crowded. I'm not antisocial, but at a certain point, too many people does begin to to get annoying. Not just other cyclists, but with cars, pedestrians, stoplights and signs (which many cyclists tend to ignore, but I tend to practice the non-arrogant cyclist behavior), etc. It is a fact that while I'm on my trainer, I am less likely to get cut off. Except, of course, when my wife needs to sneak by and grab something out of the freezer. But even then, I don't have to slow down!

Sometimes the indoor rides can become crowded too.
4. More effective improvement. Without the opportunities to stop and take an impromptu break due to stoplights or downhills, one has to maintain a constant effort on the trainer. The result is a more efficient use of training time, and an opportunity for expedited improvement on the bike. Additionally, in what is called "ERG" mode, you can program in your effort so that you constantly have to maintain a power. You can't do this outdoors, and often may even subconsciously slow down when you start to get a little fatigued.

5. "It's too (insert worthless excuse here)". Let's face it. Sometimes you wake up and it's really freakin' cold and you feel like being a wuss for the day. Or maybe it's raining. Snow? Lightning? Escaped Chimpanzee? No problem! I have a 4 ft by 3 ft space in my garage where I can cycle as many miles as I want to,without the added hassle of getting a little wet or getting your face mauled off by a monkey (so some scenarios are more likely than others).

6. A more structured workout. I have been able to keep my mind occupied on the trainer without going insane not only by watching Netflix, but also by structuring a specific schedule on my training ride. For example, if I'm on the trainer for 4 hours (yeesh!), I will start with 10 minutes easy, 40 minutes at IM pace, and then 10 minutes at a tempo pace, after which time I'll get off the trainer to use the bathroom and fill my waters. Even if I don't have to, it's important that I get off the trainer so that I can stretch my legs out a bit and give my sit bones a rest.

7. It makes riding outside that much better. When I do venture out into the wild blue yonder, I have a new found appreciation for riding outdoors. It is liberating, to my spirit and my aching butt.

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