By Joel Zanatta

As an avid cyclist in all kinds of weather, I have to be honest, spinning on a trainer indoors by myself is not one of my favourite things to do. But in our current #stayathome climate, sometimes you just have to do what’s necessary.

Many may still  be tempted to head outside for a ride as the weather improves. The government hasn’t prohibited outdoor cycling (yet), although some other countries have.  But the bottom line is that Canadians have been urged to stay at home to reduce the spread of the virus, and in support, Cycling Canada recommends cyclists do home workouts instead.

So riding inside is what we should be doing, and the good news is there has never been a better time to do it! In recent years there has been an indoor cycling revolution. Now you can connect with coaches and other cyclists and visit virtual worlds and easily chart your progress. You are no longer on your own, when cycling by yourself

Yes, riding indoors requires a bit of gear and an initial investment. But you don’t have to break the bank. You need some basic equipment—a trainer to place your bike in, and ideally some kind of digital program (many of which you can download for free). For example, Cycling Canada has established athlete-led group rides, featuring Catharine Pendral, Ross Wilson and Antoine Duchesne. Talk about motivation!

There are three basic types of trainers: direct-drive trainers, friction trainers and rollers. Direct-drive trainers are typically the most expensive ($500-$1000), as they are the most accurate and provide the most resistance. Friction trainers (starting around $200) are lighter and more portable than direct-drive trainers, but can be really noisy and less accurate. The most basic style are rollers ($300 and up). But these require the most technique and balance, because the bike isn’t held in place. Instead, it’s perched on top of three rollers. Think about your level of fitness and comfort before you buy. Trainer crashes are rare, but can happen when you’re giving it your all. Typically, the broader the trainer’s base, the more stable it is.

These are all great options if you want to quickly adapt your own ride to inside use. Of course, there are stationary spin bike “smart systems” like Peloton available, but if you want to start riding indoors, a trainer is all you need.

You can buy a trainer online, and most bike stores sell them now as well. And buying one now could be a good opportunity to support your local bike shop during these difficult times. Many are now offering curbside pickup or delivery, for the optimum health and safety of their customers.

I truly believe staying inside together will slow the spread of COVID-19 and ultimately allow us to get back on the road and into the swing of things sooner.

Happy (indoor) riding!

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