Stop comparing indoor and outdoor cycling!
Every now and again I get mad at social media posts and today is one of those days. I read a post that said “Riding inside is like virtually having sex, you may get a sweat up, but nothing compares to the real thing.” It was the last bit that got under my skin. Then I started to really think about it, which has led us to this article. Indoor cycling and outdoor cycling are flat out different.
From the start they are different. Outdoor riding is freedom of the road or trail. It’s an experience that grants you a passport to climb mountains and see the world around you. Outdoor cycling is surviving the dangers of cars, fallen trees, rocks, and rivers. Outdoor cycling transports you to a place of peace, solitude, and serenity. Accomplishing miles and miles across terrain leaves us breathless and filled with joy.
Let’s compare that to an indoor cycling class (a.k.a. spinning). First of all, get it out of your mind that we are simulating any kind of experience listed above. Indoor cycling classes are explosive bursts of high intensity intervals, that exhaust the muscles in mere minutes. There is no “long haul” over mountain paths, just heavy climbs followed by max effort sprints. An indoor cycling class can help make the outdoor rider stronger for sure, but it’s just not the same thing. Add the people element of 50 other riders in the room, a bad ass instructor that won’t quit, and concert effects on big screens and boom speakers. I’m sorry, but serenity has left the building. (and that’s okay.)
I think people think they need to choose one or the other. Take sides, pick teams, or even start arguments with friends. WE CAN DO BOTH. Outdoor cycling and indoor cycling are both great. Read the two paragraphs above, separately, and both activities sound amazing. They are, but please don’t give disservice to one over the other as the “real thing.” Both are real. You just need to answer what’s calling you that day. Is it the bumping theatre sound, with the bad ass instructor, and sweat pouring intervals? Or, is it the solitude of the road, with it’s long climbs, a serene rhythm to be the best cyclist you can be?
Indoor cycling and outdoor cycling use the same muscles, same posture, and same vehicle, therefore both activities can help each other. I teach outdoor riders and indoor riders to smash goals and leave doubt in the dust. I ride inside and outside. I am only speaking for myself here. I love them both, but I give the edge for fitness forward progress to the indoor cycling ride. The 45 minute HIIT cycling workout can’t be beat. It’s also safer (cars), and I love the tunes, videos, and people in the room that motivate me to rock my ride. That said, remember the difference, and choose to include more to your fitness profile, never less. Always4ward.