For the past two years I’ve been using TrainerRoad in the basement while riding on a bicycle trainer during the winter months. I’m normally not too keen on getting exercise for its own sake, but I’ve found that sometimes I get feeling grumpy and a bit of exercise, such as riding on a trainer, helps. Along with fatbiking it also helped keep up my fitness over winter, making bike riding in springtime a good bit more fun.
The setup that worked really well for me last year can be seen here, where an old Asus Eee PC (netbook) handled the job of running TrainerRoad and logging data. This worked, but the machine is slow enough that it’d get in my way whenever I needed to update, fiddle with settings, etc. Having some time off work this week and wanting to improve a bit, I decided to see what I could do using spare hardware from around the house.
Using a slightly-more-powerful-than-the-Eee PC Asus EeeBox EB1501 that I’d purchased in an ill-fated attempt to use it as an HTPC I connected it to an old Dell Ultrasharp 2005FPW display that was originally purchased for use with a PowerMac. It was first positioned directly in front of the bicycle — just as the netbook was — but this felt really awkward so I went looking for other options. What I’ve settled on thus far is seen above; the 20″ LCD display placed above the television, showing the relevant data and workout graph. A single computer speaker is placed next to the computer so I can hear the end-of-interval countdown beeps, and the ANT+ USB receiver is placed to be pointed directly at the bicycle.
The mouse and keyboard are wireless, so I should be able to set them near the bicycle and pull them out as needed, but as individual workouts in TrainerRoad are started and paused by pedaling (or stopping) they likely won’t be needed very often. No longer having the laptop and stand in front of the bicycle should allow different positions for the blower fan which helps keep me cool. I’ll probably try straight-on first, since that’d be closest to actually riding outdoors.
My biggest fear with this setup is that there’s some on-screen detail that I’ll miss (overall time, parts of the graph) or I’ll find myself getting off of the bike regularly to adjust something in the application itself. If this doesn’t work out, I might look at something like an older iPad, seeing as TrainerRoad has an iOS app under way now… Or maybe my Nexus 7 tablet, if the Android version is ever released. Either would work nicely on a small handlebar mount and probably be quite efficient to use.
Now if I could only find the irritating tick in the bike when pedaling under load… Maybe that’s a project for tomorrow.