A return to fitness starts with pain

After bemoaning that I was getting nowhere with getting back in shape I managed to get in about 5-7 hours riding in the last week or so.

As liversedge pointed out on twitter: “They say to form a habit you need to do something 17 times. You’ve lost the habit. Plan to get to 17 workouts and force yourself”.

Well I’m up to three, one of which involved going to a gym/health centre for the first time in about four years. I was immediately reminded why I haven’t been – it’s because they are soul-sappingly depressing, even if the new Trixter cycling machines were quite entertaining.

Far more enjoyable was getting out on a frosty Saturday morning of sunshine in Richmond Park for the regular London Dynamo club ride which, if you are taking part, is probably the best introduction to group riding there is in London. If you’re not then you probably consider it some sort of stockbroker-led affront to basic cycling etiquette. It seems there’s nothing the wider London cycling community enjoys more than a bit of Dynamo bashing.

These last two sentences are intended to act as a suitable deflection from me getting dropped a few times and struggling like a dog to keep up with pretty much everyone over the course of four laps (about 40km). But the return to fitness has to begin somewhere, usually at the bottom of a well of despondency.

I got out again on Tuesday morning before work and got in two fast laps done before I realised that my cycling was cutting into the time I was allowing for my middle class battle for victory in a lunch hour, otherwise known as getting our broken kettle replaced under warranty by John Lewis, without a receipt. While the hill up to Richmond Gate and from Kingston Gate may still have the better of me, I’m pleased to report that I won against Customer Service, coming away with a free replacement and a receipt. EPIC WIN!!1!!

Back to that Trixter bike though. Exercise bikes, spinning classes, turbo trainers = boredom. The Trixter Xdream was actually quite fun once I figured out what I was doing.

Figured out what you’re meant to do and how to get started was one of those poorly designed user experiences that can ruin a product. Someone seems to have forgotten it’s an exercise machine and insisted on a ludicrously anti-intuitive interface by trying to get you to work through a PC-based access screen using cursor keys.

Then there’s the stumbling block of having to create a user to progress. Nope, ain’t gonna happen. When I hit “quickstart” on a guest login, I want to be able to access everything and try it, not be offered Level 1 and told to work my way up.

Then there’s the controls. Easily adjustable in the style of a mountain bike the kit may be, but that’s where the similarity ends. Turning to keep on the course feels like trying to crowbar open a safe door. I’m not sure why they bothered.

But past all that there’s an easily enjoyable game of riding where you can see wattage, cadence and all the other information a cyclist might want. Plus you can use it with your SPD shoes. We enjoyed ourselves arsing about on multiplayer mode for an hour and a bit but perhaps next time I’ll just take my headphones and sit on one of the spinning bikes to endure my session.

And if all that’s not enough, then let me tell you this: it’s got a glowing endorsement from Sinitta. Quite literally SO Macho.

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