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  1. #1
    One day at a time H2OChick's Avatar
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    spinning vs. cycling question

    What's the relationship between a spin class and actually getting out and riding a bike?

    The reason for this question:

    I've been spinning regularly, but have never been out on the road. I'm training for a triathlon (in July) and (since I have 3 small kids) my opportunities to actually ride will be few and far between - probably only once a week. Will the spinning help? Or am I fooling myself?

    Thanks for indulging a newbie question.

  2. #2
    Feed me your soul! Jakey's Avatar
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    The spinning will help, but you better be using a lot of resistance, and hopefully have an instructor who rides.

  3. #3
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    Nothing if your instructor sucks and/or you don't use enough resistance for flats and hills to get a quality ride.

    Koffee

  4. #4
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    you don't actually have to know how to ride a bike to spin, & i don't think you're allowed to pee while on the spin machine, while on bike you just...go

  5. #5
    Work hard, Play hard forum*rider's Avatar
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    IMO spinning is like riding a trainer, it can't simulate actual riding on the road.

    On the road there are vibrations sapping your strength, wind, subtle changes in wind direction, etc.

    It would be best to go out and ride, but if you can't, well, you do the best you can with what you have right?

  6. #6
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    True, it's better than nothing. You just have to be dilligent when you're taking class and keep challenging yourself if you think the instructor isn't able to give you objectives that fit within your training plan.

    Koffee

  7. #7
    Chairman of the Bored catatonic's Avatar
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    Yeah beware the wind...even the fastest set of spinning feet could slow down real quick on a nice 30mph gust.

    Wind still kicks my butt silly....climbs, no biggie....distance, bah who cares...but put me in front of a nice headwind, and I'm hurting.

    For a tri, best bet is go out and ride. If you can't the trainer will do.

    During my move to Florida, I was unable to use my bike due to the airlines mangling it a bit (needed to replace a broken hanger...grr...), so I was using an exercise bike....I never felt so sluggish in my life....I als felt it after getting my bikeback on the road...I felt slower.

    In the end I relaized that the way the exerciser built up resistance was not comfortable, so I ran with it low, which was causing me to not get as good a workout...add in that the exercise bike was not comfortable, nor was there any moving air to keep my cool (that same moving air adds to the workout as well due to aerodynamic drag), and it was a unpleasant exercise as well. After about a month of commuting by bike again, I felt as strong as I was.

    The point is there is a difference. Mostly being the exercise bike is more of a constant environment, while the actual road has many variables, which usually makes it far tougher than the exercise bike.

  8. #8
    One day at a time H2OChick's Avatar
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    There are two instructors in particular who are universally revered as hardasses (in a good way). Both have riding experience. I never sweat as much as I do in a spin class (in part because of that lack of wind thing and in part because I'm a swimmer - ha!). I get an exceptional workout, cardiovascularly speaking, and my legs have gotten much stronger. Anyway, I guess I'm replying to assure you that 1) when my bike is finished being built, I will ride it as much as I can and 2) when I can't ride it, I will attend high-quality spin classes. (I am in Triathlon Mecca, after all. There's no shortage of folks who want to go hard.)

  9. #9
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    Then you should be ok with no worries, though I don't know when you guys get bad weather. Even your bad weather is good to us Chicagoans!

    Koffee

  10. #10
    One day at a time H2OChick's Avatar
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    we don't get bad weather. ever. seriously.

  11. #11
    Work hard, Play hard forum*rider's Avatar
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    no kidding.

    It's sunny 24/7 here...

  12. #12
    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    Spinning is good, but does little for endurance, you'll climb well, but as you get on a real bike greater than 25 miles you see what I mean, you'll run out of steam. You also need to get the feel for shifting (I know of this), riding in a pack with other bikes that aren't bolted to the floor, cornering, and handling. There are so many differences, you'll see as you get out, you'll need to spend more than one ride /week, make arrangements for childcare 3-4 hours 2 to 3 times a week if you are going to do the tri!
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

  13. #13
    RacingBear UmneyDurak's Avatar
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    When my bike was being repaired I did some spinning classes. Frankly I found them very boring, plus the music they were playing was driving me crazy. Best thing is just go out and ride. Had an awsome ride today, only bummer was breaking a spoke on the back wheel.

  14. #14
    Pat
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    Spinning classes are subtly different than cycling. I have been taking spinning classes during the early evening for a bit of conditioning.

    1) The classes are short. They are 45 minutes long and I never take a ride that short.

    2) The bikes themselves are rigid platforms. They do not move under you as a bike does.

    3) If you have not ridden on the road, you have no idea of what an appropriate resistance is. In spinning classes, people often have the resistance way too low or at times they increase it so they are doing what looks like 4 rpm. Cyclists tend to ride at a narrower band of resistances using a clever device known as "gears".

    4) Spinning will not help your bike handling skills and it will not help your ability to ride in traffic.

    5) Spinning will give help you develop your legs for cycling and give you a decent base though. If it is convenient and you can not go out and ride, it is an excellent substitute.

    6) People can look like world beaters in the spin classes but not do well out on the road in a group ride. It is a whole different world in that regard. In spinning class, you can look intense and look powerful. However on the road, you have to actually be powerful and there is a difference.

  15. #15
    Whateverthehell Chucklehead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by forum*rider
    no kidding.

    It's sunny 24/7 here...

    ha! yeah, it is now. so far this year, it only rains when it's not sunny. i just got back from walking the dog in windblown, stinging drizzle. seriously.
    "When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return." - Leonardo daVinci

  16. #16
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    Agree with the above posts - it is probably better than nothing, but you can waste a lot of time in these classes. Personally, I prefer to train on my indoor trainer or better yet, outdoors. The classes TEND to be pretty lame and most of the instructors are social sallys, not road riders. If I am riding iondoors, I rely on specific, timed strength and endurance training at specific RPM and measuring heart rate etc.

    In fact, I rode with a group earlier this week on a 30 mile outdoor ride. Everyone kept up, except for the "Certified Spin Instructor", who we were waiting for at every stop sign. Most of it was lack of endurance, but some of it was due to the fact that she was never in the right gear, had no concept of cadence, and was afraid to grab a wheel and draft. It certainly wasn't for lack of a good bike - she had a custom Ti Seven which cost 2x more than what anyone else was riding.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member jennings780's Avatar
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    I am training for some Tri's this summer also. Days that I can't ride outside I will use the spinning bike at the gym (not in a class). I've been to one spinning class and I didn't like it. I find that if I crank up the resistance and pay attention to my heart rate I can get a fine workout on the spinning bike. It pales in comparison to actually going out and riding, but I find that a day or two on the spinning bike for 70 - 80 mins. workout and keeping my heart rate above 135bps that I don't lose any ground as compared to actually riding.

    I agree with above posts that you need to find some childcare. Try to get in at least one long "real" ride a week. More would be better.

  18. #18
    Senior Member jazzy_cyclist's Avatar
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    My wife went through this (sort of). She's an avid runner that got into cross-training and then mini-triathalons, but she didn't have much bike experience. She did her first tri's last season (winning a small one in her age group).

    She could spin like a demon, but when it came to the road bike, she didn't have many skills (e.g., didn't understand shifting, braking, cornering, etc.). although if you are aiming at simply finishing, I'm sure you will be able to get through the course. I'm happy to say that she picked up the basics pretty quickly, though. She's getting as addicted to biking now as I am.

    I think spinning helps quite a bit in your aerobic conditioning, but there is (or can be) more to it than that. I've been spinning this winter, and I think it has helped some, but it's definitely different. Doing some weights (core and legs) seems to have helped me some, too.

    You might want to check out Sally Edwards book on triathalons for women.

  19. #19
    Banned zelah's Avatar
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    wait what? you pee on your bike?

  20. #20
    Chairman of the Bored catatonic's Avatar
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    Yeah, how else do you think they break in those brooks saddles




    (...just kidding, sheesh!)

  21. #21
    1/2 a binding 1/2 a brain telenick's Avatar
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    Spinning is like dating a blow up doll. You'll get good practice and begin to think you're a studette until you get to do the real thing. I love spin class.

    Seriously, if you have a good instructor that takes you through intervals, strength, cadence work, heart rate training and teaches good form and smooth spin then, you'll benefit.

    What are you doing for the running and swimming? Running is the heart of a tri event. Swimming is usually the weakest for most.

    Ah, I see you're a swimmer. You'll love the mass start ...heh.
    Last edited by telenick; 04-09-05 at 11:33 AM.

  22. #22
    One day at a time H2OChick's Avatar
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    Well, I'm a swimmer AND a water polo player, so I don't mind those mass starts. I have a few skills

    As far as swimming goes - I do masters once a week, play polo once a week and swim on my own once a week. (I'm also training for a polo tournament in June, so that sport takes precedence right now.) For running, I try to do it once or twice a week, but it's usually at the gym (childcare!). I've been spinning once or twice a week, too. Thing is, I've got 3 small kids, AND I'm a part-time grad student, so I seek balance and really can't afford to focus my attention on one single thing.

    My goals aren't lofty. Somewhere between finish and win my age group. I have lots of resources, including a good friend who's a pro triathlete and a friend who is a pro cyclist (he's the one building my bike). He's going to take me out on a ride when the bike's done and show me a few things.

    I must confess I'm a bit sheepish about doing this triathlon thing at all. In college, we swimmers used to mock them for their fanatical devotion and single-mindedness. So I'm doing it, but I refuse to be hard-core about it... kind of a love/hate thing you could say.

    Thanks all, for your very informative responses. Now I just can't wait to get on my BIKE!

  23. #23
    Chewie chewbacca07070's Avatar
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    spinning is about 20% of what you'll find when you get out on the road....Best to get a bike and get out there. You can't simulate road conditions, rain, wind, and the like....Good luck.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by H2OChick
    we don't get bad weather. ever. seriously.
    Well, we did have some pretty bad showers last month and the month before, but c'mon, there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing...

  25. #25
    1/2 a binding 1/2 a brain telenick's Avatar
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    3 small kids?... You have a support crew ...one for each leg. Cool.

    Water polo ...burly. Grrrr, Woof!

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