Winter is coming, and that’s typically not welcomed by most “MAMILs” – as in middle-aged men in lycra. Many can be found decked out in cycling attire riding their expensive road bikes year round, yet, some retreat indoors as winter approaches. As one of those guys, this reporter now regularly turns to YouTube instead of bundling up and braving the cold.
The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a surge in sales of Peleton stationary bikes, and like many others, I was among those who rushed out in the fall of 2020 to get one – a full year before “Mr. Big” met his unfortunate demise after a hard ride.
Riding The Road From the Living Room
But then I discovered that I could set up my already expensive road bikes – yes, plural – on my decade-old cycling trainer in front of the flat-panel TV and be taken quite literally around the world. It is true that this lacks some of the features of more complex trainers, but a number of YouTube channels allow me to now stay engaged even as the weather outside turns frightful.
Among some of the already more popular YouTube channels with cyclists were “Indoor Cycling Videos” and “Bike The World,” and apparently I wasn’t the only cycling “road warrior” who discovered these during the pandemic.
“We have been publishing videos of our bike tours with other YouTube channels since 2010,” explained Swiss-based Uwe Ricke, who runs the Indoor Cycling Videos channel with his wife Anna.
He said that since the start of the pandemic demand has increased significantly. The pair currently rides their bikes three days a week in the spring, summer, and fall and are already planning their next bicycle-themed vacation.
“It has always been our goal that you can see nature and be motivated to train longer on the indoor bike,” added Ricke, who has been an indoor cycling trainer for more than 25 years.
The story is much the same with Henrik N. Christiansen, who runs the Bike the World channel on YouTube. He said that providing “beautiful scenery is an important part” of the workout, and noted that the most famous race, the Tour de France, is popular because of its amazing scenery.
“I’ve tried Zwift a few times, but it wasn’t my thing,” said Christiansen. “I wanted to have the outdoor cycling experience indoors.”
He went on to build his own indoor cycling app, Open Road – which makes it possible for cyclists to have many of the experiences they would if they were riding outdoors. But without the fears of getting honked at by cars of course!
All the videos are primarily for the app, which is available as a subscription, but Christiansen still shares them on YouTube. His videos are now being used by fitness chains in Europe for their spin classes.
The Free Spin Class
For those who prefer a spin class over scenery, there are plenty of options. Among the most popular is Kaleigh Cohen Cycling, which now has 183,000 subscribers. It offers spin classes as well as other workouts for cyclists to stay fit all year round.
“YouTube is such a convenient platform,” said Cohen, who has steadily seen the number of subscribers grow and is now making a living from her fitness videos. She said it has allowed her to share her passion with others, and best of all it is free.
“It is now very affordable to find an indoor cycling bike or trainer for your road bike, so you won’t need an expensive bike with a subscription to meet your home fitness goals,” Cohen added.
The Productions Takes Effort
Many cyclists at home may think that making videos is the easy part. In fact, it involves a number of factors, including planning the ride from beginning to end and then dealing with the weather. Christiansen said during a seven-day trip to Norway, only one day was actually ideal for cycling.
“But the footage filmed that one day was amazing. So it was all worth it,” he added.
Then after the rides on the open road have been filmed, there is the post-production, which can be more complicated than other instruction videos.
“There is quite a bit of editing, and rendering involved in producing these videos,” said Christiansen, who said viewers/riders expect it to be one seamless experience that doesn’t involve waiting at red lights or dealing with traffic. The longer the ride, the more editing is required, and the postproduction of one video can take a day or more to complete.
Regardless of whether it is a spin class with instruction or on the open road, it seems many cyclists are turning to YouTube. to get through the winter months. Christian added, “Some people even wrote me that the videos helped them stay sane during that period of Covid.”