Mid-Mitten Cycling

Get Psyched for Indoor Cycling

Kinetic Road Machine Trainer
Kinetic Road Machine Trainer

[UPDATE: since I posted this, the YouTube account Indoor Cycling Videos has posted a bunch of one-hour workouts. See details below.]

Thirty-one degrees with freezing rain. Five above with a windchill of twenty below. Two feet of snow followed by temperatures too cold for the salt to work on the roads. Forty degrees and an inch of rain turning all that snow to icy slush. These are the forecasts that try cyclists’ souls.

While cross-country skiing or jogging make good cross-training, the conditions aren’t always right for these activities either. So it’s into the basement for some time on the bike trainer. But if you’re like me, you’ll quickly go out of your mind with boredom while riding indoors. What’s needed is something to trick your mind into thinking you’re riding outdoors, or at least remind you of how nice it is to glide through a tunnel of green trees on a warm summer day. Here are five videos that have kept me from losing my mind this winter.

But first, make sure you have a decent bike trainer like the Kinetic Road Machine. It beats the hell out of the cheap, loud one I started out with. This one is quiet and gives good resistance. That means you’ll actually be able to hear the sound on these videos while pedaling hard.

CTXC Cycling Club 45-Minute Workout


This video from an Australian cycling club will give you the feeling of riding in a paceline. The videography is smooth, the scenery is mostly suburban with some occasional views of the ocean, and the music is a motivational but somewhat repetitive club mix. On-screen titles guide your target effort, with 10 minutes of warmup followed by 20 minutes of medium-effort intervals, a short break, and five minutes of hard intervals. Of course, you’ll need to provide the increased effort by switching up to a higher gear and even getting out of the saddle, if you’re comfortable with that on a trainer. A couple of counter-intuitive things for an American audience: they’re riding on the wrong side of the road and the effort scale is from 1 through 6, rather than 1 through 10. And another strange thing I learned: there are club mixes of “Addicted to Love” and “Highway to Hell.” But at least they stop for coffee at the end.

New Mallorca Training


An hour-plus of beautiful scenery on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca, mostly on sunny days. The video features five climbing sections with recovery intervals on the descents followed by a section of short intervals. If the climbing and the Europop music don’t get your heart racing, the close calls with cars and other cyclists on narrow mountain roads should do the trick. The onscreen titles are in German. “10 Minuten Einrollen” – I think that means 10 minutes of easy riding. “3 Minuten bergauff” must mean three minutes of butt-kicking. And of course, “Widerstand erhohen” translates to “out of the saddle, lazy-ass!” You get the idea.

Maratona dles Dolomites 2013


John McKechnie did a fantastic job of capturing helmet-cam video from last year’s Maratona dles Dolomites, one of the largest of the Italian Granfondos, with 9,000 riders covering seven passes in the famed mountain range. The scenery is incredible. No music here, just the natural sounds of wind, tires on pavement, and cyclists gasping for air. I tried to go hard when they were climbing and take it easy when they were descending and nearly killed myself. Next time I’ll just use it as nice background scenery while riding in the basement.

Bike Trainer Video 10 – Kensington Metro Park


Lucaseq77 has a series of cycling videos shot right here in Michigan. This one features two laps around Kent Lake on a beautiful spring day. The video was shot with a handle-bar mounted camera, which makes it a bit shaky. But if you need a reminder that Michigan is not always black-and-white, but bright green for half the year, this is it.

SDBC Fiesta Island Paceline


More sunny skies with the San Diego Bicycle Club on their training ride around Fiesta Island in Mission Bay. If you’ve got watt and cadence meters you can compare your numbers to the ones these guys are putting out as they ride at 24 mph. No music, just the wind, gears changing, and an occasional shout at a slower rider.

Liz Hatch – Come Ride with Me


And now I realize that’s four hours of nothing but men, mostly their butts. That could either be motivational or demotivational, depending on who you are. So here’s a video from 2009 featuring pro cyclist Liz Hatch, from Cyclefilm. It’s part interview and part scenes of Hatch cycling on Mt. Tamalpais in Marin. There’s beautiful scenery featuring redwoods and the stunning Marin coastline, plus a good variety of music.

Kolo T.C. – Drums in the Deep


Of course, if you like to go off-road, you’ve got a lot more options in winter. You could be like these guys on their cyclocross and fatbikes up in Traverse City, and get out on snowy trails. Or you could just watch them from the comfort of your basement. The video begins with ten minutes of warmup with snobiking footage, then moves to one of the Cross the Bay series of cyclocross races in northwest Michigan. You’re encouraged to ride the two twenty-minute sections of the race at tempo, wrapping up the last segment with a kick to the finish. The laps on the course through a park get a bit repetitive, but the onscreen coaching is motivational (extra points for the LOTR reference!), and the music has some of the best variety of any of these vids, ranging from hip-hop to soul to alternative.

Indoor Cycling Videos on YouTube


This YouTube account has a ton of 30-minute, one-hour, and 90-minute videos shot in locations across Europe.

The entire playlist is here.

Michigan cyclists, what are some of your favorite indoor workout videos?

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