There’s very little that’s 21st century about my turbo training. I sit on an ancient Tacx trainer, devoid of electronic feedback and plough a lonely, hurty furrow. Nothing – but nothing – beats a turbo trainer for concentrated pain and mind numbing tedium. Nonetheless, its effective time management and the bang-for-your-buck-payoff lifts the device from torture implement to pie hot weapon of legs destruction. Some of the most brutal sessions I’ve endured on a bike have involved sitting under a lightulb in a freezing cold concrete igloo.
And so it was last night, after a weekend of family celebration in Shropshire, a tiny window of opportunity opened up . Could that 30 minutes be more productively spent elsewhere? No. It’s 30 minutes for heaven’s sake. The only place 30 minutes counts is on a turbo (or thinking about it, painfully waiting for public transport). But you know what I mean.
Anyway, I found myself on a turbo with only a DAB radio for company. A low tolerance for channel surfing came to the fore. Radio 6 were playing some truly woeful synth pop. I twist the dial to Planet Rock. Corny, but useful. Bluesman Joe Bonamassa is at the helm. Look out; its prog rock time – a very double edged sword (for every ‘Paranoid Android’ there’s at least one ‘Invisible touch’). It’ll do. I’m not going to waste time looking for the perfect set. Using the rhythm of the song to dictate cadence, songs replace topography. Then it started.
I’d never heard King Crimson’s ‘21st century Schizoid man’ before. What a riff. A ‘weasel-into-your- head -and-run-around-your-brain’ kind of riff. But better than that, its a hill climbing rhythm. A song that carries a cadence of 16% with the thigh burn to match. This would be my climb. I got out of the saddle and ground it out. Big gear, high resistance, big effort. The heavy riff descended into ludicrously fast solo; the downhill. I’m no longer in my igloo, I’m now in the Southern Alps, the Rockies, the Cairngorms. Sit down, drop the gears and spin like a catherine wheel. It went on. And on. And on. The song is 7 bloody minutes and 20 seconds long, with the solo probably accounting for 3 minutes of it. I thought my legs were going to detach and fly off like loose propellers. Then the riff started again. That riff. Get out of the saddle. Grind. It felt exactly like a race that finished on a hill.
That’s one to file under ‘G’ for grind. I’d better go and track a copy down for my next hill session.
‘21st century schizoid man’ by King Crimson is undoubtedly available in a decent independent record shop near you and the artwork is spookily appropriate. ‘Best descents’ image courtesy of Bicycling