I write this whilst cycling. Yes, actually cycling. It might seem a little mad, and yes, it would be if I was actually moving, but I am instead sitting on an exercise bike in my garage.
In truth I’ve had this particular exercise bike for a while now. I got it from Freecycle last year. It was part of my “winter training” for the charity bike ride to Edinburgh and it meant that I could train even when the weather was bad. Freecycle, for the uninitiated, is a site where people basically give stuff away that they no longer need. Completely free.
Since then it’s been in the garage and I’ve joined a gym. Much more civilised than cycling and sweating in my kitchen whilst my wife tells me to “buy a bigger house so we don’t have to have it cluttering up the place”.
However, in the recent bad weather the heating packed up at the gym, and with another crazy bike ride scheduled for 2018, I had to do something.
Cycling outside was a write-off as there was snow everywhere, so I grabbed the free exercise bike from the shed and plonked it in the garage.
I immediately found that the battery contacts had rusted away, so I set about experimenting with a power adaptor. Somehow I found the right one, and she burst into life. This one needs that power to engage the magnetic resistance and basically make things easier or harder for me as I pedal.
That’s great, and it was all setup in the garage. But then I started to “develop” things further.
I wanted a TV – just like the one rigged onto the rather more expensive exercise bike at the gym.
This ended up being an old Windows laptop, which is horrifically slow but works well enough to fire up TVPlayer.com – a website that will stream a lot of free TV channels, including ITV, Channel 4, 5, 4More, ITV 3, ITV 4 and far more. To be honest that laptop was heading for the bin so I’m glad I could do something with it. You can see it on the right of the above
Then, to ensure that I was actually doing something (I have a very strange / strong work ethic), I figured that the control panel would be an ideal platform for another laptop. I basically wanted to use my time writing articles like this, or keeping up with emails etc,
I’ve got my tried and trusted little Samsung Chromebook. It cost me £100 off eBay many moons ago but you can get one for even less now. It has gone with me on many press trips and owes me absolutely nothing. It’s light, tough and powers up in a second.
But how to attach it to the bike? How to ensure that I could flip it up to access the exercise bike controls underneath?
Well, I found some old wire.
Yeah. Nothing fancy here. It’s just strapped to the bike with some wire that was on the garage floor.
Now, I know there’ll be some of you who’ll scoff at this. You’ll probably say that it doesn’t compare to solutions such as Zwift. No, it doesn’t, but it’s also cost me absolutely nothing. I had the bits already, so I figured it was time to put them to good use. Sure, it won’t do everything that Zwift does, but I have got close(ish) by firing up some cycling videos like this (there’s more on YouTube channels like CycleScenery) which have timers and some pretty stuff to look at as you pedal.
Hey presto – my office / bike / TV / gym!