Friday Group Ride #444

Friday Group Ride #444

I was in spin class for four reasons. First, my wife is the instructor, and I love her. Second, I’ve been fighting a cold, and rolling out in sub-20F temps doesn’t seem smart at this juncture. Third, New England seems to be in a regular snow cycle now, which is making commuting, while not impossible, more challenging. And fourth, have you ever been to a spin class? Holy sweatfest, Batman. I don’t ever work that hard on the bike outside if I can help it.

I’m not a regular indoor rider, except on the trainer in my basement, and I do that with all the gusto of a teenager sitting down to algebra homework. When I do ride inside, I spend most of the time thinking about how different it is from riding outside. At first, I perceived that difference as something fundamentally wrong with the spin experience, but now I see that they’re just two different things that serve two mostly different purposes, at least for me.

This particular morning I arrived to discover I knew a handful of people in the class. We began to ride, and I noticed myself noticing their numbers, cadence, watts, etc., and upping my effort to match or exceed theirs.

“What is happening here,” I thought to myself. “Am I half-wheeling friends in a spin class?”

Outside, on the road or trail, I don’t ride like that. I ride WITH my companions, taking my turns on the front, being careful not to drop them. Sometimes we hammer, I guess, but never to actually show each other up or drop anyone, just to play. I find I mostly just ride to the level of the ride, if I can.

With all of that stripped away, something changed. I guessed that outside there are visual clues that establish how well you’re riding. You’re keeping up. You look strong. You’re technically adept. Whatever it might be. Inside, there are only numbers and glances in the mirror.

I dialed myself right back, or rather I stopped looking at their numbers and focused on my own. I rode within myself, pushing where I could, and finished in a full lather. It felt much better than trying to top the leaderboard. I don’t honestly know what my final class rank was. I worked hard. That was enough.

This week’s Group Ride asks, have you taken any indoor cycling classes? How do you find them? Are you the competitive type, trying to top the class, or do you stay in your own lane? Do you ride differently outside?



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  1. Lyford

    I took a spin class once. Was too busy sweating to notice what anyone else was doing. I can see why people like them but the music and relentlessly cheerful instructor were not my style.
    On Zwift, as in the real world, there are lots of people faster and slower than I am. I tend to ride my own pace solo.

  2. Aar

    I knew spin wasn’t for me 10 minutes into the one class I took. I am driven to push myself without relationship to others.

  3. tominalbany

    I’ve done spin classes and also have access to a peloton bike. If I like the music, I like the class better. I do probably sweat more but, I also like than to the lack of motive cooling effect (forced convection) from the bike actually moving. I ride differently as I view the class as an exercise specific thing to do.

    As for is it different? Absolutely! Outside is better though. The view changes.

  4. Alan

    Absolutely not. Never. There is no such thing as indoor cycling. Track racing notwihstanding. Those people should be out on the road making cycling safer for the rest of us.

    1. Joe

      “Those people should be out on the road making cycling safer for the rest of us.”

      Well, there’s an absurd amount of pretense!

      How do you know that “those people” don’t *also* ride on the road? There’s no shame in training indoors – whether in a spin class or on a trainer at home.

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