Home Active – Stay at home, but stay healthy. Adding a screen to an old exercise bike!

As I write this in the UK, we’re still allowed to go outside provided we pay attention to social distancing. This, however, can be tricky in a packed supermarket or train. At the weekend, instead of driving to the local Morrisons, we walked the 8 mile return trip. It meant that we didn’t buy too much and we also got some exercise too.

Crossing the road, deliberately distancing yourself from others and not stopping to shake hands feels alien. It does.

Let’s be honest, I don’t think any of us imagined we’d be stuck in the house just a few weeks ago.

Click to see why social distancing and staying at home is vital.

The above graphic shows why we must distance ourselves at the moment. However, it could all get worse and – for those in Italy, Spain and elsewhere – it already has. So, with that in mind, I tried to find ways to keep fit whilst in the house.

Some two years ago I was trying to do some winter training for a charity bike ride. I managed to get a free exercise bike from Freecycle – a place where people effectively offload stuff in their house for nothing. I had the idea of strapping a laptop to it so that I could write these articles whilst keeping fit and – with the help of some cable and an old Chromebook – it kinda worked. However, what you can also do (for a lot less than the rather expensive Peloton bikes and monthly costs) is put a YouTube cycling scenery video on. It means you can be pedalling away in your garage whilst looking at this…

There’s a whole range of indoor cycling videos here, here and here.

I headed into to shed this weekend and retrieved a rather sorry-looking bike. The infamous shed isn’t faring well – the bike was damp and rusty – so I did quite a bit of cleaning just to get it looking like something we could use.

It’s back!

That cable dangling from the front is my rather rushed attempt at powering the thing two years ago. The guy that gave it to me said it wasn’t working – part of the reason it was free. This bike is quite a clever one – it automatically increases or releases the resistance but the batteries didn’t seem to power it. I tried new batteries, still nothing, so ended up putting cables from an appropriate power adaptor directly onto the contacts on the motherboard – that seem to fire it up.

However… after retrieving it from the shed, some of the buttons had stopped working, so…

Yeah, that happened. I ended up bypassing two of the buttons and somehow brought it back to life. Then, however, I got this “E1” error so took it all apart again and let the innards dry in the sun a bit. My plan, at this stage, was to stick a phone on the top with Blu Tack but, as I had it all in bits, I decided to try something different.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Blu Tack is fine. Stick your phone on using a car mount or with Blu Tack – perhaps find an old Android phone and stick that on there. Watching the lovely passing countryside in those videos above will definitely be better than staring at the wall in your garage, even if it’s just on a 6″ screen. But, I found an old selfie stick and had a bit of an idea…

Yep, the drill came out…

Ignore the wires… and the tape covering the battery compartment. I didn’t fancy spending a fortune on an exercise bike, so a bit of ingenuity was called for here. At this point the display started working again and the time appeared (it was wrong, but, it was a time). I had to make the hole a lot bigger..

After this I put the lid back on and, boom! We’ve got ourselves a selfie stick / display mount. OK, it’s not the best workmanship in the world, but right now it’s the least of my worries..

The cabling got tidied and taped up too..

Then I just put my own phone in the cradle and fire up one of those cycling videos…

Not bad that, and I can angle the screen to suit the ride. Now we can at least keep on cycling, even when / if a full lock-down or isolation happens – and there’s a small window to the outside world..

Here’s the finished item…

So, if you can get an old exercise bike, try sticking an old phone onto it and making it a little bit like those expensive ones you (used to) use in the gym!

While I’m here, we’re also trying to find resources for keeping your mental state healthy too. You can follow us on Twitter for updates. It is a worrying and stressful time. As we’ve mentioned before, the newspapers and online outlets really want to keep you clicking, so they’re eager to produce click-bait links which will stir your fears and make you anxious.

We’ve been sent a great set of tips if you’re suffering from COVID-19 anxiety, so do give these a look..