Trainer Tips: Stationary Stoicism

January 24, 2022
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Let’s face it: indoor cycling sucks… so let’s discuss a few ways to make it a little more tolerable.

You spend the first half of winter skiing, running, swimming, bike-vacationing, and/or doing whatever cardio you can to hold on to all the fondo fitness you gained through the summer, but there’s a point in the depths of winter when even a normally “sane” cyclist feels compelled to hop on their trainer. The honeymoon of motivation, paincave purchase justification, and/or self-loathing inevitably fades… and when it does, here are five indoor cycling essentials & hacks to make the suck slightly more bearable:

#1: Industrial Fan

We’re not in Kansas anymore, but this 18”, 3-speed, stainless steel, tornado-producing industrial fan will evaporate your sweat before it hits the floor. Sure… it’s not pretty, but it works. Period. At around $110, it has a sturdy base, 180º of tilt adjust, a small footprint, and is wall mountable! Bonus: it’s surprisingly quiet. Do yourself a favour and just buy this fan instead of three or four other inferior interior fans.

  • Fan

#2: Music Stand

Getting on & off the bike mid-workout to control your laptop, grab a snack, or to turn a fan on/off is a pain. Face it: you need a place to hold all your snacks, water, electronics, and chamois cream. This stand features adjustable height & tilt, a small footprint, and easily-collapsible storage… all at a bargain price of ~ $50. And for that price this humble stand offers versatility & portability that won’t be found in higher-priced, permanent-furniture looking competitors. Call your local schools and ask the music teacher if they’ll sell you an old one for cheap now that all the kids play Fortnite instead of instruments.

  • Stand

#3: Outlet/Fan Remote

Some might say this is the peak of laziness, but it’s not always warm with the window open during winter, and sometimes you just want the fan off — easily. This basic, old-school remote has an ON/OFF button, 2 AA batteries that will last until the end of time, and a paired wall plug. Switch your fan on, plug it into the remote outlet, and now the remote is your fan’s ON/OFF switch. And the music stand you just acquired is the perfect resting place to keep the remote handy for ultimate temperature management so you can skip all the fuss of opening a smartplug app or yelling at Alexa in the midst of your interval.

#4: Logitech K400+ Wireless Keyboard

Don’t have your training software running on a tablet or have your laptop within hands reach? The Logitech K400+ wireless keyboard with integrated trackpad is lightweight, cheap, a pleasure to use, takes up minimal space on your thrifty music stand, and allows you to stay in control of your laptop that’s located on the other side of the room. Sit up on the bike while using the K400+ to browse Netflix, heckle other Zwifters, or binge OKRoutes YouTube content. As for durability, we’ve been driving this keyboard daily for over 2 years — at a full-time desk job and for indoor cycling use.

  • Dongle

#5: ANT+ Dongle & 10ft USB Extension

Having reliable wireless connections is important, as we all know that dropping devices while Zwifting — especially in the heat of a race — can turn any cyclist into a rage-quitting-keyboard-throwing-video-gaming-hormonal-teenager. Bluetooth connectivity can be problematic at times, as can bridging between different wireless protocols with a phone app (i.e. Zwift Companion). You’ll never have to worry about connection issues again by using a simple ANT+ USB dongle and extending it with a USB cable (shorter sizes available) right to the base of your smart trainer. Close proximity between devices will improve latency and connection stability so you can ride Watopia worry-free.

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Give these budget-friendly tips a shot to maximize your winter training enjoyment by minimizing the annoyances of riding indoors. Cycling-specific versions of these products are manufactured by the likes of Wahoo, Tacx, and others, but they come at a steep cost and often don’t perform as well as these re-purposed hardware store hacks that are available at a fraction of the price. So unless you’re aiming to construct a spare-no-expense, Instagram influencer-inspired pain cave, save your cash for tubes, chains, & snacks for your outdoor rides later in the year. If only we could do something to take the sting out of putting on a cold, wet heart rate monitor strap.

What’s your favourite trainer hack? Let us know!