My New Bike Trainer: A True Story of Love and Hate

Imagine yourself jogging along a sandy ocean beach. Feel the wind in your hair and the waves ripple against your ankles while seagulls drift overhead. Now strip away the sand, ocean, wind, waves, and seagulls, and what’s left?

Next, picture yourself riding a bicycle on a windy mountain road. There’s a steady incline but the scenery is so beautiful that you keep pushing along because you can’t wait to see what’s around the next turn. Now remove the scenery. Is it still worth it?

Finally, add a little digital screen in front of your face that tells you exactly how fast you’re going, how far you’ve gone, and how many minutes you’ve been at it. What the heck?

These are questions I ponder every time I step onto a treadmill or mount a stationary bike. Working out on a machine is sort of like going on a sugar-free diet or reading nothing but history textbooks. It’s good for you, yes, but at the high cost of fun, pleasure, and enjoyment.

Recently I went out and purchased a bicycle trainer, which is a stand I can prop my bike up on and ride indoors all winter long. I know, I know. I’m a huge hypocrite and you’re trying to reconcile all the hateful things I just said about stationary exercise equipment with this thing that I spent most of my last paycheck on, but here’s the thing:

I love it.

Every morning, I can tumble out of bed, pull on my dorkiest spandex outfit, and have an amazing cardio workout before my brain wakes up and begins to recommend activities that would be more fun. Unlike any other time I’ve been on my road bike before, ever, I don’t have to worry about being rained on, run over, or yelled at. And the very best thing about it is that I can watch all the low-quality television I want while I’m doing it and it doesn’t make me feel guilty. In fact, the more television I watch while I’m on my bike, the more virtuous I think I am. It’s the very best of being a motivated athlete and a couch potato, all in one shiny steel package.

I bought the CycleOps Fluid 2, which is one of the quietest trainers on the market. This was important to me because (a) it’s neighbor-friendly in the wee hours of the morning; and (b) it allows me to hear the television better. Here it is, doubling as a really cool laundry-drying rack in my apartment:

At under $300, it really wasn’t that expensive, but I’ve seen perfectly good trainers out there for as low as $80. And let’s be real. How often are there ocean breezes or seagulls in Vermont anyway? Relaxing and scenic bike rides will be pretty rare for the next six to eight months, too, so what have you got to lose? Go find a bike trainer and give it a good home.

Mari Zagarins

When Mari isn't running, biking, hiking, or jumping-jacking in and around her home in Montpelier, she is practicing her facial expressions in the mirror and contemplating whether she should learn to swim.