Cross training

I don’t like biking much at all. And yet, el husbando and I recently got a new Peloton bike that is getting quite a bit of use despite my initial misgivings.

As a runner, I’m relatively fit. I still do a bit of yoga and walk as cross training. But with the Detroit Free Press Marathon as my goal race this fall just a few weeks after we run a 50K, I wanted to make sure that my cross training is on point this year. Hence, the torture device. I mean, the bike.

How did I make the switch from non-cyclist to someone who rides an indoor bike several times a week? As with most things, through trial and error.

I was less than thrilled when I first started using our new Peloton bike.

If you’re considering getting a new Peloton bike, I’ll give you the deets you need to decide whether to order your very own or to love it a little more if you find yourself less than enthusiastic with your new equipment.

El husbando made all of the research and ordering, but I can tell you that he found the process to be pretty easy. After he placed our order, a delivery company in a town about an hour away called almost a week later to arrange a date and time. The day-of, we got notification before arrival. Set-up was fast, but because it was so cold outside, we had to wait a while to actually turn the bike on, let alone use it.

Once we did, we found it intuitive and easy to use. For the uninitiated, Peloton has a large monitor/screen that shows your progress and statistics, and features the ability to stream spinning classes. Much like a typical bike, it can be adjusted for each person’s height.

We opted for the whole package, which included a mat for the floor to protect our carpet, small weights that sit on a frame behind the bike, a year’s worth of access to Peloton’s streaming content, and a pair of cycling shoes for el husbando. (More about that later).

A longtime cyclist, he easily got himself set up and was riding the bike right away. Me, on the other hand, took a couple of weeks to really warm up to the bike. Here’s what I learned:

  • Peloton resources. When you first log in, the system shows you a set-up video, which includes tips on how to adjust every one of the bike’s features. There’s a very active Peloton group on Facebook where you can find an eclectic community of riders who share stories and encouragement. Lesson learned: Watch the darn video and actually implement what you learn. Especially the part where they teach you how to clip in and out of the bike (ie, how to get your cycling shoes in and out of the bike pedals).
  • Comfort. Bike seats suck. I adjusted the thing up and down, front and back and nothin’. My nether regions were sore after even the shortest rides. A friend who does triathlons and trains indoor said that you do get used to the seat after a while. Others suggested padded bottoms, which I immediately ordered. Ahhhh. Relief. Lesson learned: It may be happening indoors, but this is still a biking experience. Much of the same gear needs apply here.
  • Difficulty. I started out with a pre-recorded beginner workout featuring an instructor with music so loud, I could barely hear her instructions. What I did catch, however, were her moans and facial expressions that led me to believe she has a very close relationship with her bike. After a couple of tries, I found Nicole Meline who is very newbie friendly, giving lots of encouragement and tips like how to sit, inherently making the ride more comfortable. Lesson learned: give several instructors a try until you find someone who fits your needs.

My favorite 115 lb. Leonberger is not impressed by my new cycling shoes.

  • Shoes. Other than the aforementioned padded bottoms, you’ll need cycling shoes. And if you’re new like me, you need to know that there are two general categories: road and off road/mountain biking. Within those, there are a gazillion features, but you’ll want to get shoes that accommodate a “3-hole arrangement.” Look for descriptions that say they fit a Delta or Look Delta cleat. You can ride the bike with regular shoes, but wearing proper footwear with cleats makes the ride a whole lot smoother. Newbies: you’ll need to order the cleats in addition to the shoes, then install the cleats by screwing them to the bottom of your new shoes (an easy proposition). Lesson learned: just get the shoes (and cleats) in the first place. Because I waited a week to get mine, I had to adjust to riding the bike twice: once with my running shoes and later with the cycling shoes.
  • It’s still biking. Despite watching multiple videos, I assumed riding the indoor cycle would be easier than riding outside. It really isn’t. The Peloton classes call for turning resistance up (by turning a knob) to simulate going up a hill, for example. Some instructors ask you to stand up or to really increase your intensity by riding at a certain (read: hard) level. I certainly sweat a ton and feel my core engaging on each ride. Lesson learned: there is a water bottle holder. Use it. I drink about a full water bottle during each ride.
  • Consistency. I’ve found that I can fit at least two 20-30 minute ride at least twice a week. I’m building up to a third ride in the coming week now that I’m hitting my groove. And because the system tracks your progress, you can see how much you have — or haven’t — done in the past week. Lesson learned: Create a separate account for each person riding the bike so you can see your own statistics.

About a month into our Peloton bike purchase, I’m starting to see myself really adjusting. I automatically reach for my ice water, bike shorts and cycling shoes, which have all made the experience significantly less miserable. And I know that I’m getting stronger and healthier each time I clip on.

Have you done any indoor cycling/spinning? What did you think? Is there anything else I should do to make this more pleasant? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)