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Will a Trainer Work for Studying/Reading/Note-taking?

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Will a Trainer Work for Studying/Reading/Note-taking?

Old 10-10-15, 11:36 AM
  #1  
Stormdog42
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Will a Trainer Work for Studying/Reading/Note-taking?

I'm looking for advice and experience on indoor bicycle trainers (and possibly under-desk pedaling machines?)

Since moving and starting grad school, I can't get on my bike as much as I did when I was commuting 16 miles a day. School is only a mile away now, and I can't seem to find time for any longer rides anymore. I'm looking for a way to combine exercising for long periods and getting reading and note-taking done. My present tentative plan is to buy an indoor bicycle trainer that I can mount one of my bicycles to on a long-term basis. I could sit and pedal with a book or a tablet for an hour or two a day without having to deal with any logistics.

An alternative to this would be an under-desk pedaling machine. I'm disinclined to go with those. I had a cheap one once and there was not enough space under the desk for my knees to rise and fall, so it wsan't terribly pracical for its purpose. From my cursory research online, they also don't seem to burn nearly as many calories as an actual trainer.

I have a couple of questions I'm coming the internet for answers to. Perhaps most important is, how rational is it to think that I can sit upright and spin on one while reading and note-taking? Secondly, what kind of trainer would be best for me? I don't plan to push it really hard like some people do, standing up in the pedals and going all-out. But I do expect to use it at a moderate level of effort for an hour or two a day, most or all days of the week, so I want it to last under that kind of solid use.

Reviews are not terribly helpful. Most people who want these things are cyclists who want to practice for races and stuff but don't want to deal with night-rides or bad weather. Me, I don't care about riding at night or in the rain and snow. I've commuted year-round for most of three years and don't plan to stop now. I *wish* I could get out in the real world on my bike more. So my ideal trainer is not the same as that of most people who are buying them.

I'm pretty sure I want a fluid resistance trainer, as opposed to a magnetic or wind trainer. It'll be quieter, which is important in a small apartment. I'm worried about vibrations passing into the apartment below me. Hopefully it won't be an issue during the day, especially if I'm not pushing hard. If it is, I'll likely get some acoustic vibration deadening mat and make a platform for it. Someone online suggested layers of mass-loaded vinyl, wood, and foam for isolation.

Anyway, I'm looking at this one; the Ascent Fluid Trainer. At $140, it's cheap for a fluid trainer, which makes me a little nervous. Most are in the $200 to $300 range. But it has good reviews generally, and the cheapness may just reflect a lack of features like easy adjustability. I'd love to hear from some voices of experience on all of this.

http://www.amazon.com/Ascent-Fluid-T.../dp/B00BMRNU4I

Thank you!

Last edited by Stormdog42; 10-10-15 at 11:38 AM. Reason: Forgot the link!
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Old 10-10-15, 11:38 AM
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Reading/studying...sure you can do it. I did it through undergrad when I had no life and time for anything.

Pen/paper note taking and annotating books....good luck with that. Even with a strong core, your upper body moves enough that you'll probably find hand-written marginalia unreadable.
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Old 10-10-15, 11:53 AM
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I was wondering about the note-taking particularly. Maybe I could slow down a bit when I need to scribble a few words or underline something? Alternatively, if I'm working with PDFs on a tablet, maybe note-taking with the software keyboard wouldn't be too bad? How much movement is there? I've never been on one before. I guess I was comparing it to note-taking on a bus, in my head. Is it worse than that?
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Old 10-10-15, 01:13 PM
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It's entirely possible. I've had asthma problems this year and have been outside riding only five times..all dismal failures resulting in coughing and chest pains the next day. I have a Kurt Kinetic road trainer and have put 4500 miles on this year. I bought a rolling work stand from one of those freight companies. I screwed a piece of lumber to the top and raised it up to the highest level. It fits nicely over the handlebars. Although I don't use it for reading I do keep a keyboard and mouse on it and surf the internet looking for cycle racing videos. That said I would think trying to write might be difficult.

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Old 10-10-15, 01:15 PM
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I tried that with my work this past winter on my magnetic trainer. Reading was OK, though I did end up with headaches. Couldn't get the hang of taking legible notes. It's kind of like (at least for me) patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time. I would imagine highlighting on the PDFs would be the most I could do. Sorry, no personal experience with a fluid trainer- which could make a difference.
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Old 10-10-15, 01:19 PM
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If you can comfortably read, much less write, you are going too easy. You are better off doing a strenuous workout for a shorter duration.
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Old 10-10-15, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by StanSeven View Post
If you can comfortably read, much less write, you are going too easy. You are better off doing a strenuous workout for a shorter duration.
Agreed. Your time is better spent doing a short intense workout and then fully focusing on your studies than half doing both at the same time. Then you won't get a good workout and you will not get much studying done either.
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Old 10-10-15, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by StanSeven View Post
If you can comfortably read, much less write, you are going too easy. You are better off doing a strenuous workout for a shorter duration.
Yes, I'm afraid I agree. OP, as an experiment, next time you're out on the bike and going fairly hard, try to do a fairly simple calculation in your head. Say, multiplying two double-digit numbers together, like 61x37, something you could easily do sitting at your desk. You'll find it's quite difficult, because putting out a lot of effort on the bike makes it extremely difficult to concentrate effectively on mental tasks. So my guess is that any studying you did while on the trainer would be of very limited effectiveness, you wouldn't take in all that much of what you were reading.
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Old 10-10-15, 03:54 PM
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Thank you all for the thoughts; I appreciate having realistic expectations from experience. It sounds like this may not be the way to go for me, so if I *do* try it out, I'll make sure to go with something that has a no-strings return policy.
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Old 10-10-15, 04:33 PM
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As for options, I use a comp fluid trainer or something like that from Performance and it works well.
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Old 10-13-15, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by PepeM View Post
Agreed. Your time is better spent doing a short intense workout and then fully focusing on your studies than half doing both at the same time. Then you won't get a good workout and you will not get much studying done either.
If the OP is just trying to put in base miles in Z1/Z2, this might be OK.

Definitely agree that HIIT, Z4/Z5 would not work.

GH
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Old 10-13-15, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by StanSeven View Post
If you can comfortably read, much less write, you are going too easy. You are better off doing a strenuous workout for a shorter duration.
Originally Posted by PepeM View Post
Agreed. Your time is better spent doing a short intense workout and then fully focusing on your studies than half doing both at the same time. Then you won't get a good workout and you will not get much studying done either.
+1 on both.

A couple of years ago when I was just getting back into biking (and trying to get into a shape other than "round") I used my old fluid trainer. I set it up in front of the TV and watched old reruns (it was either that or infomercials - not much else on at 5:30 am). If I was pedaling easy, I could enjoy the show, but once I started to put some effort into it, I could barely focus on the plot, let alone trying to read, take notes, or surfing the net.
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