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Triathlete Blog

The Basement Biking Blues

By December 20, 2006June 3rd, 2015No Comments

I’ve got the basement biking blues. Winter is not even technically upon us and already I’ve got the doldrums from pedaling in circles while staring at a wall. Sitting fixed in the saddle in the trainer, no coasting, no tailwind, no change in scenery. After a few hours it numbs the mind, and the rear, and the feet. Of course, riding indoors doesn’t come without hazards. The sweatiness, the saddle sores, the sheer boredom. Once I even crashed on the indoor trainer. I was on the phone with my mom during an easy recovery ride. Cruising along at a rocket speed of 11 miles per hour, all of a sudden I felt myself tipping to the left. Next the rear wheel smacked against the trainer and my arm smacked into a table. Damage done – one banged up elbow, one broken spoke, and one bent derailleur.

The other night, I was riding for 2 hours. Not interested in the 5 channels we get for television, I put my trainer next to the stereo and pointed my bike towards the wall. With some good music, I stared at the outlet on the wall for the next 120 minutes thinking about next year. Occasionally, I tried singing along to the songs but found that spiked my heart rate. And so I settled for silence from myself and decided to write my own song, The Basement Biking Blues. Being from Chicago, it seemed very apropos to write a blues song. It’s set to that standard bluesy riff that we all know. Imagine it in your head. If you can’t, just give me a call the next time I’m on my bike for over 2 hours and I’ll sing it for you.

It’s getting cold in Chicago
Too cold too ride
When it gets this cold in Chicago
We take our riding inside

Sitting on a saddle
Staring at a wall
Pedaling in circles
And I’m going nowhere at all

I been riding so long

I’ve got the basement biking blues
I’ve been riding so long
I got the saddle sores to prove.

Working so hard now
Sweating up a storm
Pushing my pedals
And my rear wheel’s getting warm

Basement’s getting hotter
So I turn on the fan
Look down at my speedometer
It says I’m going 10


Heart rate’s going up now
Pushing 12 miles per hour
Not gonna get discouraged
‘Cuz I’m watching my power

Intervals get me going
Wattage getting higher
It’s only been 20 minutes
But my ass is already on fire


10 minutes feels like 30
30 feels like 110
10 hours is an eternity
When is this gonna end

3 hours into riding
Scenery hasn’t changed
Turn my head the other direction
Stare at the other wall for a change


Gonna climb me some hills
Rpm’s 50 to 60 grinding
Climbing this bear of a mountain
Made of phone books and magazines

Fan at my back now
That what’s we call tailwind
Feel wind no my back but
It ain’t pushing a thing


Hopped on the rollers
Then I fell right off
Hopped back on the rollers
Did another flop and drop

If I fall off the rollers
Will my bike still go
Ride right through the wall
Oh this I want to know


Yes, it’s going to be a long, cold winter with many long rides ahead. I’m sure I’ll write more lyrics to add to my song. And once I run out of trainer lyrics, I’ll hop on my rollers and write about all of the hazards of pedaling 21 miles per hour while trying to stay balanced atop of 3 steel drums connected by a rubberband while watching your front wheel spin in circles.

There’s something about it, though, and I wouldn’t give up a winter’s worth of indoor riding without also giving up some mental toughness. You see, winter is our secret weapon here in the Midwest. We ride all winter with our bodies burning, our passions burning, our competitive fires burning inside. There is no release for over 4 months. No group rides for chasing someone, no hills to attack. You just ride. And if you can last these long rides on rollers or your trainer, when you finally get outside in the spring you’ll have the mental toughness of a brick wall and muscular quads to boot. No one spends a few hours staring at an electrical outlet without emerging a tougher person. No one.

So this winter, take it indoors, hop on your trainer, make sure your rear wheel is securely clamped in, and go for a ride. If you find yourself singing the basement biking blues, send me your lyrics and sing me the song.