I had been on the look-out for an exercise bike, as Hilo is not what you’d call a bicycle-friendly town: No bike-lanes, a higher-than-average number of drunks on the road, and, being on the slope of a shield volcano (Mauna Loa), most roads either go steeply uphill or down.
Plus, it rains a lot (the average rainfall is 130 inches per year—see here).
So I was pleased with my find, and rode that little bike for hundreds of imaginary miles, in my quest to keep in shape whilst in Paradise.
Alas, the little bike was on its last legs—or rather wheels—and it was not long before its axle broke and ball-bearings started spitting out in all directions. I duly tracked down a machine-shop and bought new parts, and managed to get it going again, only to have another part break—this time the gadget that puts friction on the wheel, to make it harder or easier to pedal. Fixing that problem proved beyond my abilities. As it was only a few weeks before leaving town, I just started running instead for my workouts.
Now we’re back in Hilo, though, and in the last year my knee has made it clear that under no circumstances should I run anymore. At least not more than about a quarter mile at a time.
So it was time to buy another stationary bike. As soon as I got here, I looked on Craigslist and Freecycle. Nothin’ there.
Next I tried Sears. Eureka! Not only did they have a small exercise bike (one I could transport home in the car), but it was 25% off—only $150! The warehouse guys loaded the box into my trunk, and I managed to drag it downstairs to the basement—my new training grounds.
After several hours of sweat, swearing, and swilling water, I succeeding in putting it together.
Here it is, all ready to go:
The next morning I took her for a trial run. Unlike my last bike, this one has a computer gizmo that shows me how far I’ve gone, how long I’ve ridden, my mph, and my calories burned. (Though I think the calorie-counter can’t be right: First of all, this number varies according to one’s weight, etc., and my little bike doesn’t know anything about my physique. Plus, it consistently tells me I’ve only burned 300 calories in one hour, and I know I’m doing at least a “moderate effort”; I feel like I’m workin’ pretty darn hard. See chart here.)
I listen to my iPod when I ride. For the first 45 minutes of my hour-long work-out, I listen to podcasts of the Food Chain, What’s Eating What Radio. After that I listen to a shuffle of the various songs I’ve downloaded: a variety of new wave, country, jazz, opera, and classic rock, so it’s always a surprise what I’ll hear next.
My rule is that when an hour is up, I continue riding until whatever song I’m listening to is finished. This morning it was Dylan’s “Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again,” which clocks in at 7 minutes and 6 seconds, so my ride was a bit longer than usual.
Although I ride first thing in the morning, usually from around 7 to 8 a.m., I get really hot after just a few minutes. This is the tropics, after all. So I have an electric fan hooked up, which I turn on full blast. (Seems silly that I can’t power a fan with my pedal-strokes; they really should market exercise bikes with power sockets to run a fan or other electrical device off of while you’re riding, don’t ya think?)
Even though I’m in the basement, I do have a view out of the lattice-work that surrounds the base of the house:
ti plants line our home, to ward off evil spirits
Here’s a close-up through the lattice. You can see that I have a view of the coconut palms across the street, as well as the red ti.
Not the same as real cycling, but so much better than a gym!