You may already know I love Aldi. If you didn’t, you do now. I really like the smaller size of the shops and only having one choice of, for instance, mayonnaise. It makes the boring grocery shop much quicker and simpler for my impatient and confused self.
And the weekly specials! I do love popping in to get the week’s food and grabbing a new sleeping bag, wireless doorbell or 3D printer at the same time. I don’t need a 3D printer (does anybody) but everyone knows the rule that says if you buy it with your groceries it’s just part of your weekly sustenance requirements. We have to eat. We have to buy groceries. Supermarket purchases are basically free.
So I could probably end this post here – you’ve seen the picture above so you can figure out the rest, right?
Well OK, I can’t miss an opportunity to report back on triathlon training progress. So yes, the Aldi buyers in their infinite wisdom realised that there was a growing need from one of their most loyal shoppers. A growing need for a bike trainer. And so they did deliver.
We’re well into Autumn here in Queensland now, which makes long bike rides very difficult for someone who is not keen on riding in the dark. I can’t leave the house until 6am at the earliest and I have to be finished riding by 6pm – and every day I’m losing minutes on those deadlines. Bear in mind that during the week I have to earn money at my stupid job in between those times and I can’t ride solely on weekends, so an indoor bike trainer crept into my thoughts and niggled away at me.
What the hell is a bike trainer? I hear you cry. Well it is a simple little contraption upon which you sit the back wheel of your bike, so that when you pedal the back wheel turns a cog on the contraption instead of gaining traction on the floor and moving you forward. You end up stationary on your very own bike.
Getting an indoor bike trainer would mean I could hook up my trusty steed in the comfort of the lounge room and bike to my heart’s content, free from darkness and scary vehicles. I spent some time googling the various trainer models, types and features – there are lots of different types available. The cheapest I could find (which seemed semi-decent) was about $200 but some of the better-reviewed ones were around $600 – and others had much higher price tags than that!
Thus, I had resigned myself to lots of saving up and not rushing in to bike trainer purchasing… Until I saw the Aldi catalogue a few weeks later. A magnetic indoor bike trainer!
I trust Aldi not to sell me anything crap. I was also pleased to see that the model they offered had 6 resistance modes (some I had read about had none) and that it was made to suit ‘most adult bikes’.
And it was only $69.99! Thank you Triathlon Gods, my severely diminished wallet appreciated this assistance. I committed to securing myself an Aldi bike trainer as soon as possible.
Specials Day arrived and I started work early so that I could take a little break as soon as the shop opened, to rush down and secure my purchase before the inevitable onslaught. This turned out to be unnecessary, as there was barely a dent in the pile of bike trainers that had been set out. No onslaught, after all. In fact I think I was the first person to take a box.
But I don’t exactly live in a cycling mecca, so perhaps they sold like hotcakes in Redcliffe or something.
After a few days of sitting unloved in its box, I eventually had the chance to get my pretty new red trainer out of the box and try to figure out the instructions. I hadn’t rushed into it because I’d expected it to be quite complicated, but actually it was simply a case of unfolding the frame, lining up my bike wheel and tightening some screws to suit it. I was off and cycling within a few minutes.
Admittedly, the trainer is quite noisy. I wont be able to use it inside the house while others sleep (although I think if I moved it out to the patio I’d be fine) and if I want to put the TV on while I cycle, the volume has to be turned up quite high.
After about 10 minutes of cycling I realised I was dripping sweat all over the floor – so another trick for newbies apparently is to lay a towel down under the bike and trainer.
My only real disappointment was in finding that that my bike computer (seen in a picture here) doesn’t work on the trainer. Although to be fair, it wouldn’t work with any trainer I guess. It seems my bike computer is linked to my front wheel, which doesn’t move when I’m hooked up. So the computer thinks I haven’t moved, even though it can measure how fast my pedals are going around (the cadence)
It’s a bit frustrating because I don’t know whether I’m doing a good pace or not. So I have to judge by my own perception of how hard I am exerting myself, which let’s face it is not very accurate. As a comparison, I tried getting on the bike at the gym to see how hard I ‘thought’ I was going and realised that I tend to overestimate my achievements quite significantly, without the data to prove otherwise.
Plus, although it sounds quite fun to bike away to your heart’s content while you watch a fabulous movie, it’s actually not that fun. I have to concentrate quite hard to keep pushing myself, and I miss crucial bits of the storyline I’m trying to watch. And being at home in the lounge room, you can’t help but think of the three hundred and twelve things that you were supposed to do that day, like change the tea towels over or chuck that tin of cat food in the bin (no, I don’t have a cat, it’s just one of those weird things)
So cycling away at home? Maybe not as perfect as I’d expected.
I’d definitely recommend the Aldi trainer as a cheap option that will let us mere mortals continue to train through winter. I don’t think anything can compare to getting out on the bike and tackling pot holes and sharp turns or roundabouts, but I’ve done a bit of research and actually discovered quite a few professional triathletes who claim to do 95% of their bike training inside! So it can’t be all bad, especially if you can use your Garmin watch (if you have one) or some such device to ensure you’re getting stats on how fast you’re going.
For me, my indoor training sessions involve simply setting time limits and counting them as long, slow distance (LSD) rides. It’s got to be better than nothing and I have been surprised how often I’ve been unable to fit in any other type of training on particular mornings or afternoons, and been grateful to turn to the bike trainer. It’s very handy for wet weather or when you’re stuck at home waiting for the builder to turn up and install your new kitchen cupboards.
In conclusion: Aldi, I do still love and appreciate you. Now on the next specials day I just need you to bring out some cycling shoes with cleats (I could do with a spare pair) and some ear plugs (the sea stole mine)