The Mountain Bike Life

Riding indoors on a trainer or stationary/spin bike is par for the course if you live in a four-season postal code. While indoor spinning is good for maintaining fitness, it lacks the ‘joie de vivre’ of riding on real singletrack. Being stuck in a basement watching someone pedal in their virtual room gets boring quickly. This is where the Trail Trainer videos piqued my interest with their promise of fun indoor workouts on real mountain bike trails.

Chris Allen, who produces the Trail Trainer videos in the burbs of Salt Lake City, gave us three videos to review: Bearclaw Poppy, Corner Canyon and Wasatch Crest. His current collection also includes Gooseberry Mesa and Bootleg Canyon. Every video offers a different workout. Bearclaw Poppy is a short ‘hard and fast ride’ to improve cardio – its 20 minutes of desert wash roller coaster with some drops is perfect to get you pumped before going to work. Corner Canyon is 45 minutes of interval training on smooth singletrack with a flowy downhill finish. If its endurance and stamina training you want, then Wasatch Crest fits the bill with 75 minutes of steady mid/high tempo pedaling…after you’ve survived climbing up Puke Hill.

The video dashboard gives a lot of workout information but the scenery can be distracting

The video dashboard gives a lot of workout information but the scenery can be distracting

I’ve done my share of spin classes and using a stationary bike at home. I love the concept of spinning along a real trail in a real location. The closest virtual singletrack I’ve ‘ridden’ is My Ride® videos and amateur videos from friends. Trail Trainer may not be a slick production like My Ride® but the scenery and the real-life perspective from the seat of a fellow mountain biker really appealed to the single track soul in me.

Taking drops adds an element of fun in the Bearclaw Poppy video

Taking drops adds an element of fun in the Bearclaw Poppy video

These videos give you a good workout too. I chose the option of riding with a coach to guide me through the workout which I found especially useful the first couple of times using these videos. You can ride by yourself too; each video features a dashboard at the bottom of the screen that tells you where you are in the workout, what tempo to spin at, etc. There is a subtitle option if you need visual reminders on what you should be doing when and all the videos include a mix of techno, rock and alternative music to keep you pumping the pedals.

The Bearclaw Poppy video uses a rider chase to amp up the workout

The Bearclaw Poppy video uses a rider chase to amp up the workout

My husband also sampled these videos and, like me, preferred the coach option to keep you motivated and working harder. We liked how the videos included facts about the trail and tips on specific skills, such as taking drops or riding switchbacks. This is good for visualizing what you would do on the trail but attempting to ride a berm on a stationary bike can get a little dicey!

Every Trail Trainer video includes a map and information about the trail featured in the workout

Every Trail Trainer video includes a map and information about the trail featured in the workout

These Trail Trainer videos would make a great addition to your spin library or the perfect stocking stuffer for the snowbound mountain biker. Riding virtual singletrack will keep you more motivated to train on those dreary weather days until your riding season starts (I’d love to see some of my favourite Pacific Northwest trails featured as workouts!). Give the free demo a try at http://www.trailtrainer.net/ The videos are available as DVDs or purchase the cheaper downloadable option for $17.95.

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