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The trainer in the garage

Well thank goodness. I was just getting sick. That was why I was feeling so tired. Two days and three nights of low-grade fevers, aching legs, headache and fatigue. Then … nothing. My immune system seems to have won.

So, this is my bike trainer. I got it last summer, used, for $150. It’s a CycleOps Fluid2, which attaches to my rear axle and has a flywheel with silicon-fluid resistance. It’s amazingly quiet. I can watch episodes of The Wire on my little MacBook and can easily hear everything through its wee speaker. It has a really natural feel to it. As I increase my pedalling speed, the resistance goes up, just like wind resistance would go up in real life. It is stable, and smooth, and doesn’t slip.

What I can’t do is ride on Zwift, which I had really wanted to do. It’s a virtual social riding app which plops a Virtual You into various simulated cycling courses, with the scenery whipping by you in immersive virtual reality. Sadly they don’t yet support 650C wheels, the size that I have on my slightly smaller than typical road bike. And they don’t account for the aberrant decrease in viscosity of fluid silicon as it nears the 0ºC temperature of a Canadian garage in the depth of winter. That’s a double-whammy that means is that the calculations they do in order to determine my virtual speed and virtual power err on the side of the exceedingly generous. Because of the social nature of Zwift, the result is that when I drop my avatar into the environment — as I did during my free trial — Virtual Me begins merrily whupping all the other riders on the course. Which a few of them don’t take kindly to.

I changed my username to Sorry 650C-Tire. But people still didn’t get it; a few of them still nagged at me to “fix my power settings,” which unfortunately there was no way I could do. It would require some considerable explanation about my set-up to make them understand why, not something I wanted to have to do repeatedly in a tiny chat box, during a ride. And I couldn’t ignore the comments and just enjoy myself despite the snark, because I hate having negative vibes aimed at me. Too bad, because I really really loved the app.

A $600 power meter would fix the problem. Or a $1300 smart trainer like the Wahoo Kickr. But, well, no, not happening. Someday Zwift plans to build wheel size options into their app.

Until then, it’s okay. If I was riding long hard distances five days a week in my garage I’d be desperate for it. But I do at most three short easy rides a week, and that’ll be dropping as my running mileage increases. So I watch episodes of The Wire and I’m fine.

The trainer

One thought on “The trainer

  • March 11, 2016 at 4:30 pm
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    Getting sick is no fun, and it really wreaks havoc on the training. I’m glad you’re feeling better now.
    I’m bummed for you that you can’t ride on Zwift. It’s about the only thing that keeps me on the bike. I can imagine it’s extremely uncomfortable to have Zwifters be upset when you’re zipping along super fast. =( I wish Zwift supported the smaller tires; it would be helpful for children riding as well. When the 11 year old rides he can whup everyone easily if he pedals fast. You can turn off the chat so you don’t see the comments, but I know what you mean about the bad vibes; so uncomfortable!
    I’m glad you’re able to enjoy the bike despite the lack of Zwift though. =)

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