So it’s ten degrees outside. Sleet falling. Ice patches all over the roads. You look over at your bike and think, “Man, I wanna go for a ride…but baby it’s cold outside!”
Well, do not despair bicyclists of New Paltz (and environs)…you have been saved! There’s a new indoor “track” — actually many “tracks” — just opened this past November at the new New Paltz Indoor Cycling Center.
“The what?” you ask, “Where is that?” Since there has been no spate of hippodromes, vellodromes or dromes of any type built around here in the past few years, you may wonder where you can toss off the Winter blues (and clothes), don that riding gear and go for a 50-mile ride. Well, look no further, bicycling obsessives, right here in downtown New Paltz, in fact right there on North Front Street in the village, right there at the Bicycle Rack, is the New Paltz Indoor Cycling Center.
“Where?” you ask, looking around from The Bakery next door for the new field house.
“In the Bicycle Rack.”
When long-time Bicycle Rack owner Mike Kilmer was approached by local cycling guru Don Davis about putting virtual bike race courses in the back of the shop, Kilmer was non-commital…he wanted to try it out for himself. “It only entailed moving a couple bikes around, but I thought it was just another game…I should have known better, knowing Don.” Kilmer was quickly hooked.
With riders all over the world mapping out their courses, these courses could be made virtual: visual interpretations of the specific courses. Add to this a computerized resistance trainor that can be calibrated to fit your weight and subsequent ability on a bike, and SHAZAMM!…You have an indoor cycling center. One where you can virtually ride in the Tour de France.
So, how does it work, right?
“First,” says Kilmer, “you make an avatar, a cyclist on the screen that weighs what you weigh. Then you take a nickname and we put you into our 3-D cycling program. We can do five riders at a time on ready-made courses that include Minnewaska, Mohonk, as well as great courses like Penticton in British Columbia or the Kona Coast in Hawaii. We can add wind. It uses watts — the energy unit required to move yourself along and is constantly adjusting itself within a tenth-of-a-second as to the energy you put out. It gives great feedback as to your performance, plus vital signs like heart-rate, cardiovascular information as you ride along. The computer images are duplicate of the hills and dips you would ride on say the Tour de France. So you can climb the Alps right here in New Paltz. Or you can compete with yourself, your ‘ghost” we call it.”
Davis, the originator of the Survival of the Shawangunks (SOS) iron-man race (started in 1984), purchased the trainor in December 2013 looking to stay in shape during the racing off-season. “It was the best of the indoor cycling programs I ever tried,” says Davis, about bringing it to Kilmer and a possible wider group of enthusiasts.
“Lots of people have tried it, and lots seem interested,” says Kilmer, mentioning the crowd that gathered outside the rear-window of The Bicycle Rack when he hopped on to give-it-a-ride Halloween night. “They were ooooohing and aaaahing as I went up and down the hills. When I got off it was as if I really did that particular ride. I ached in all the same places and I was just as exhausted.”
So, this Saturday, December 20, you can cycle the last five miles of the SOS course, straight up Route 44/55 from Route 209 to the Lake Awosting parking lot…indoors…at the New Paltz Indoor Cycling Center and SurvivorFest. There will be three heats of five riders (1:30-2:30 p.m.; 3-4 p.m.; 4:30-5:30 p.m.). The fee is $12 (charge) or $10 cash) — prepaid and non-refundable. For more information about the race or about membership for the 2014/2015 season (November through April) go to: www.thebicyclerack.com/survivorfest.php or Survivorfest@The Bicyclerack.com.