...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Product review # 4

Aloha folks! I’m back from a weekend of biking in Hawaii, in the islands of Oahu and Maui...

…I was in Virtual Hawaii, of course. The only plane seat that took me to Hawaii was a seat of a trusty old exercise bike. I never really left Sweden. Actually, I was trying out Global Ride's Hawaii Rides DVD set:

The DVD Set, with CD 1 "StrenDurance in Hawaii", CD 2 "Oceanside Ride" and CD3 "Maui Rollers"

Bicycle not included

In contrast to my previous product reviews – of things ranging from hiking boots to a yoga mat, this one is the real thing. About 3 months ago, Global Ride Productions contacted me and other bloggers to review a 3-DVD set called Hawaii Rides, a coached cycling program for indoor- and road bikers. Since I love biking – we go often do bike tours and I volunteer as a functionary for group cycling classes indoors – I didn't want to turn down the offer to write a review. Not even the fact that I don’t actually own an indoor bike hindered me. At any case, I thought, it could be something interesting for the guys at our gym, or for that day I get myself a stationary bike.

Until then, I watched the contents of the DVDs and eventually called someone I knew had an exercise bike. To make things more interesting, I biked all the way there for three hours to try the DVDs out for the weekend. In contrast to the "real" biking, doing the DVD program didn't move me one inch, of course. I couldn't help feeling a bit ridiculous at first knowing that I might as well have been biking outside in real hills. And although I've also been in stationary bikes in group spinning classes, "cycling" on my own in front of the TV was admittedly a new experience. I felt a bit self-conscious when the introduction was rolling and I was supposed to find myself "magically" transported to the Hawaiian islands.

That's only half of the story, though. Eventually, I concentrated on my own biking and on the audio coaching, and I started to realize that there was really more to these DVDs than just being mere visual aids: they were bike lessons on how to become a better cyclist.

This is about six minutes into "Oceanside Ride".
I'll put up my hair soon!

The goal is endurance

You'll understand when the audio coach introduces you to the task at hand: throughout the "climbs", straights and even downhill pedaling, the goal is to keep the pulse at a constant level throughout the 50-minute rides. To do this, you'll have to adjust your cadence (the speed you pedal in) depending on what bike resistance (or bike gear) you have on. The ultimate goal is to bike on this "steady state", on the highest sustainable pulse rate where you still feel that you could go on biking forever without fatigue. For beginners, this is at 70-80% of one's maximum pulse, for professionals, 75-80% or even 80-90%. To keep working effectively at this pulse the whole time and not allowing yourself to cheat to a lower pulse is what builds endurance. It's also about not burning yourself out too early on uphills when you know you still have many kilometers ahead and – when it matters in a race – not letting yourself get too much rest on downhill- and straight stretches so you can pedal instead at a higher cadence, make your ride faster and your overall work more efficient.

The hills go up and the hills go down. Your pulse shouldn't do the same.

This training program also makes great sense when you realize how bike gears can work for your advantage in cycling. This was a mystery which I only began to learn recently, and which I still feel I need to crack. In spinning, you change resistance to simulate terrain; in real bikes, you change gears depending on terrain. The logic behind this is that the human body can only work efficiently in a narrow range of pedaling speeds (i.e. cadence) and the right gears optimize your work. In an ideal situation where the bike and the rider are one, the rider can make the whole ride efficient by changing gears often and varying cadence while still maintaining the highest sustainable pulse, not more.

Fulfill your own goals and find your own road

That said, the DVDs are adaptable for any cycling goal and not just useful if you're racing. The coaching tracks, with American, Australian and Italian coaches to choose from, can be turned off if you prefer to ride your own ride. The audio track, which consists of original techno music scores, can also be deactivated if you prefer your own music or if you're using the DVDs as a visual aid for your own spinning or cycling classes. There's also nothing hindering you from using the videos for exercise on other machines, for example a treadmill. Indeed, they make convincing visual aids, it's almost like a bike simulation program. When you take the resistance up when you see the road ahead going uphill, the mind is somewhat tricked. Seeing the view "below" is also a good psychological reward for any exercise, even if the view is virtual. In that way, it's a good motivation for serious cyclists to reconsider cycling indoors, and indoor spinners to consider going out and experience the real thing.

The suitability to personal goals is partly the point of the DVDs. While they're useful and strategic training to serious cyclists who might think cycling indoors has little charm, they are also made to be accessible to the amateur recreational cyclist like me or even riders that have never biked outside the spinning hall, encouraging us all "to find our road". Don't be intimated by the cycling elite, in other words. The images during the cool down, where they show actual pictures from people's cycling vacations around the world, are particularly inspiring to get out there and just try biking outdoors.

Don't forget!

Don't miss the 30-minute strength, Pilates and yoga sessions for bikers at the end of each CD – they're definitely something we can imagine doing regularly. The strength-training session is particularly attractive for me because I would love to have stronger legs for biking. I like it that the session alternates between explosive movements and slow, controlled movements (for example, in alternating between fast and slow squats), and believe me, my muscles felt the work even without dumbbells. Pilates is another thing I've discovered lately thanks to a friend. Since I'm sold on the idea that strong core muscles makes one a better runner and cyclist and improve endurance, the Pilates session was also really a bonus. I would have probably bought the DVDs if just for the strength and Pilates sessions, which is to say that I do believe they're a good complement to "just" biking.

A round-up of what I thought

1. The music tracks are louder than the coaching tracks (which has its own background "noise" of the coach using a stationary bike), making the coaching hard to understand. I had to turn the music off (alternatively, set the volume really high) to hear the coaching clearly. In my DVD player, the coaching track in CD 1 also had worse quality halfway into the video, but it thankfully returned to normal after a while.

2. The difference between "real" biking and spinning are that hills are always, always so much harder in real life, for me anyway. Of course, the mental toughness and "will-I-make-it? feeling" is one thing an exercise program can't simulate. On the other hand, doesn't it feel good to have conquered that virtual hill so easily?

3. The best thing would be to do all three programs in the set for continuity and variation, but if you are only considering one or two, I can recommend CD 1, "StrenDurance in Hawaii" for its more comprehensive coaching and explanations compared to the other two CDs. The coach explains the basic of cadence and heart rate, and offers alternatives if you don't have a pulse clock. On the visual aid side, CD 3 "Maui Rollers" has some of the best Hawaiian scenes in the CD set, but the coach here dosn't explain the "target heart rate" that thoroughly, which can be confusing for a recreational biker watching CDs 2 or 3 by themselves.

4. There's a positive psychological effect of the coaches "talking you" into the ride as you go along. Their words push, encourage, and give a pat on the back. In CD 3 "Maui Rollers", there's also this long bit I really like where you (the first person rider) and another cyclist alternate at overtaking one another. All these make cycling by oneself suddenly seem less solitary!

5. The DVD set is probably more interesting and useful if your goal is to improve your biking, get better at spinning or to increase your endurance in general. If your goal is to lose weight or to just get moving for daily well-being, I can imagine that most would say they'd rather be on the exercise bike watching regular telly – and I'd understand that. If you're up to the challenge though or want to begin to bike for a hobby, this might be a good start if you're too shy to bike in a class.

6. Lastly, although virtual reality is all well, I don't think the DVDs should be seen as a replacement for biking outdoors. Spinning will remain an indoor exercise form, with the ups and downs that that entails. So, there will be no fresh air in your face, smell of ocean spray and no "nature experience" that has its own rewards. In winters and bad weather though, I think anyone can appreciate the possibility of taking "the ride, outside" in the comfort of your one's own living room. Also, for people who've never tried to ride outdoors, I do think it can create a positive longing to get better at spinning and, eventually, ride outside.

With that, aloha! (means both hello and goodbye in Hawaiian)

Watch the commercial for the boxed set in YouTube (click here), or click on the titles below to see the ads for "StrenDurance in Hawaii", "Oceanside Ride" and "Maui Rollers".

The set costs $75.00 and is available from Global Rides website: http://www.globalride.net/


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice ass. Oops!

12:49 PM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

Haha, Camillo! You made me smile though :-D

8:38 PM

Blogger Leplume said...

Just reading your blog made me tired! lol But I did like that right after this entry you have the delish strawberry pie entry! That's how I excersize...get it done and then go have some pie!

6:43 AM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

Yes, that's one reason to work out, Hehe! ;-) As it happens we did finish the cake in three days: it was breakfast, snacks and dessert! I think it will be a while until the next strawberry cake though!

1:22 PM

Anonymous Liz said...

Hey little sister - I wanted to write "nice ass! bwahahahaha!" but someone beat me to it.
Anyway, your sporty blogs make me think of my own unfortunate spongy/jello-like muscle tone. Oh the joys of motherhood! ;-)

10:32 PM

Anonymous Liz said...

Hey little sister - I wanted to write "nice ass! bwahahahaha!" but someone beat me to it.
Anyway, your sporty blogs make me think of my own unfortunate spongy and jello-like muscle tone. Oh the joys of motherhood! ;-)

10:34 PM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

Oops, I posted your repost by accident, Liz! Don't worry, it's not too late. I've discovered Pilates... you should try it at home, it just takes 15 minutes a day and it's supposed to be good for your core muscles (stomach and small muscles around the torso). Maybe you can use the babies as weights. Heheh ;-) Kidding about the last part. Love you!

10:16 AM

Anonymous Gary Hawkins said...


I noticed that you had reviewed Global Ride in the past and I am writing to see if you might also be interested in reviewing Ride Fit™. Launched in November 2011 and with satisfied customers in twenty-five countries, Ride Fit™ (www.ride-fit.com) is rapidly establishing itself as a leading supplier of affordable indoor cycle training videos. The Ride Fit™ product addresses the following problems for the indoor cyclist:

"Bored working out on your stationary exercise bike? Too busy to get to your local indoor cycling class? Wishing you had a structured cycle training program to provide motivation? Bad weather forcing you indoors? Prefer to workout at home? Faced with another hotel gym with nothing to look at except the walls?"

We understand making exercise enjoyable, entertaining and goal orientated is essential to keep people coming back for more. To provide the most realistic virtual cycling experience possible, Ride Fit™ videos are shot from the first person perspective using bike-mounted video cameras. Users will experience, as closely as can be achieved in an indoor environment, actually being there on the road.

Our widescreen HD downloadable videos and DVDs are suitable for display on all types of media device from smart phones, the Apple iPad and tablets, to the latest flat-screen TVs. The simple on-screen digital dashboard provides critical ride information (resistance, cadence and perceived effort) and a terrain profile with progress indicator shows you where you are and what's coming next so you can pace your workout appropriately.

To provide the user with a wide variety of training videos, our titles are very affordable (individually about the price of a lunchtime sandwich); we want our customers to feel they can come back week-after-week to build-up their exercise collection. We currently have seven individual titles and three combo packs available at our website but have plans for many more. Our latest two releases feature ride footage shot in and around Madrid, Spain. A third featuring this region will be released shortly.

Please visit our website (www.ride-fit.com) for additional information and trailers that showcase our product. If you would be interested in reviewing our product I'd gladly supply coupon code(s) so you can review one or more titles of your choice. I'd also be interested in discussing how we might be able to cooperate in other ways.

I very much look forward to talking with you.

Best regards,

Gary J. Hawkins
Founder, Ride Fit

5:56 PM


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