For cyclists, whether mountain goats or tarmac rockets, one major appeal to the sport is being outside. As a result, few try spin classes—sweating in a dark room with blaring music is certainly jarring for those used to the solace of tranquil roads.
When winter approaches, however, most of North America transforms into a less-than-ideal environment for most forms of cycling. Most of us reduce both our frequency and length of rides. Meanwhile, spin fiends haven’t missed a beat.
Of course, cyclists do have indoor options. In a world of increasingly fancy and road-realistic turbo trainers—not to mention Zwift and its ilk— is there room in a cyclist’s winter training regime for spin? Absolutely. (Even in summer!)
Here’s why every cyclist should consider spinning.
You’re Not Alone
In addition to being outdoors, a big factor for many who love cycling is the camaraderie. When we turn to indoor training on rollers or the turbo, however, we often do it alone. The bonding time of group rides fades as snow settles. This is what makes Zwift popular, for example—far more so than the epic scenery of volcanos and flowing park paths. Even the company itself has admitted as much.
With spin, you’re always training with others. And not just through a screen. Remember: those who sweat together stay together. Get bonding!
You’re Not Alone, Pt. II
There’s an additional benefit to the group aspect of spin. Unlike group rides, fitness is not a consideration for spin. The least fit riders have no need to blow a gasket trying to keep up with the A-group, while stronger riders can go all-out without the worry of dropping friends.
This also applies to different disciplines among friends: it’s a wonderful time for the cyclocross queen to ride with the velodrome don on a level playing field.
Spin Takes Less Time
Spin classes typically run for around 45 minutes, often including stretching at the end (though many riders come early for a proper warmup). Start to finish, sessions rarely exceed one hour in length. Most road or mountain bike adventures take at least double that—triple, often, if you include the viewpoint rest, espresso pitstop, and impromptu photoshoot.
A shorter spin means more time for other activities, which helps you balance work, life, and training.
Spin Takes Less Time, Pt. II
Spin’s shorter sessions allow for a cyclist to build strength, power, and muscular endurance more so than a typical road ride, which is primarily a cardio-based effort.
The shorter the workout, the harder you can go—which will make your longer outdoor rides feel easier than ever. Look for spin classes that feature HIIT or Tabata-style training or are lead by instructors with a real cycling background.
The Convenience Factor
Pull on your most minimal chamois—or even regular shorts!—grab a Gatorade, and go. For spin class, you don’t have to double check the contents of your repair kit or stuff gels in your jersey pocket. No flat tires, no crashes, no helmet trapping all that head heat.
This also means, of course, that there’s no excuse for not showing up.
Variety is the Spice of Life
Spin is already different than your regular training. But within spin, class experience can vary wildly—from highly structured interval sessions to atmospheric, sweat-soaked journeys, to thematic classes that punish specific areas, such as your neglected core. Keeping your training varied and interesting boosts self-motivation and bolsters your overall skillset.
Photos: Club Xo