A spin bike is one of the best home-gym investments you can make, since it lets you work on your cardio fitness even when the weather is too hot or cold to go for a ride or a jog outside. And unlike a rower or a set of kettlebells, you don’t need much in the way of technique: just hop on and start pedalling.
But then, the boredom sets in — unless you have the right things to watch while you exercise. Shove over, Peloton app, because you’ve got plenty of free competition on YouTube.
This night highway drive
Nothing gets my legs going faster than an energetic song and a road rushing toward me at high speed. This video of a California highway nighttime drive is perfect when paired with Bonnie Tyler’s 1983 album Faster Than the Speed of Night. (Another good soundtrack for it: Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell.)
This Peloton-style video with a sleepy pug
You don’t have to work for a mega-popular cycling company to get on a bike and yell motivational things at a camera, as a bunch of YouTubers have figured out. I enjoyed this 30-minute pop ride with Kayleigh Cohen, not least because the camera occasionally shifts to give us a better view of the sleepy pug on the tiny armchair in back.
A virtual reality tour
If you have a VR headset, consider strapping it on and immersing yourself in a 360-degree cycling video like this one. The first few moments are nerve-wracking, since you’ll be headed straight for a pedestrian or a car with no ability to steer — but don’t worry, the cyclist/cameraperson doesn’t crash. The only real danger is the possibility of motion sickness.
This drive through Colombia
I was going to put on another highway driving video one day, when my 6-year-old daughter walked in and asked if we could please listen to the Encanto soundtrack instead of my boring mum music. I said yes, and paired it with this video of a drive through rural Colombia (Encanto is set in Colombia, after all.) I kept going after all the musical numbers had finished, since the rest of the album is all the movie’s instrumental tracks. My favourite moment: when the music swelled dramatically as we pulled up to a toll booth. We both started cracking up.
This sprint workout
Here’s another instructor-led workout, this one focused on short sprints with one-minute recoveries. Instead of relying on us to listen to the instructor call out what you’re supposed to do next (I always space out at just the wrong moment), host Jordan Gibby puts the roadmap right on the screen, so you can see exactly what’s coming up in the next few segments.
This Italian seaside ride
Here’s another ride inspired by a kids’ movie: I put on the Luca soundtrack to go with this ride through the Brasa canyon in Italy. You pass through little rocky tunnels as the road winds through the gorge. (The song “Il gatto e la volpe” is hands down the best one on that soundtrack, so the next time I did this ride I cut out the middleman and put on an album of Edoardo Bennato’s hits from the ’70s.)
This intense cycling class
This class from Global Cycling Network (filmed before the pandemic, back when we were all ok with breathing each other’s air) features 45 minutes of sprints graded by effort level — always a helpful approach when you’ve got a cheap spin bike that doesn’t have a real power metre.
Three hours in the Alps
Want more of a challenge than the 30-minute cycling videos that are all over YouTube? Try this three-hour ride through the Alps.
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