In October 2012 I completely redesigned the cardio section of my home gym: I added a fluid trainer, a laptop and some other stuff that would allow me to do structured indoor training using my road bike. If you’re interested, you can check out the initial version of my Bike Torture Chamber (BTC) here.
My BTC has served me well over the past couple of years, but recently I decided that some changes were in order. Many of these changes were inspired by the very cool and innovative massive multiplayer indoor cycling software Zwift, which is currently in Beta.
Zwift requires a fairly beefy GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) to run well (CPU is not as important). The low cost Alienware Alpha console is more than up to the task, and even the base model does a phenomenal job of running Zwift. While the Alpha’s primary function in life is to run Steam games, it is also a fully functioning PC (it ships with Windows 8.1 installed). So you can install any Windows software you like on it, and run it just like any other PC. Very versatile, and highly recommended as a Zwift engine.
While Zwift is engaging, sometimes you just want to ride along and watch a movie or whatever. I’ve got that more than covered with a tablet, a smartphone and a laptop–all easily reachable while riding (along with a wireless keyboard/touchpad to control the Alpha). Of course I’ve got my MP3 player for tunes, too.
Although it’s rumored to be in development, right now Zwift doesn’t have anything in the way of structured training programs. With a second ANT+ dongle, however, it’s easy to run software like TrainerRoad in its compact horizontal mode just under the Zwift GUI. This setup allows cyclists to take advantage of TrainerRoad’s extensive library of workouts while riding on Zwift Island. Awesome!
Another piece of software that I find indispensable for post-ride number crunching is Golden Cheetah. This free and Open Source software also has a large library of structured training workouts, as well as real-time data while training. There’s a learning curve, but it’s worth it. Very powerful stuff.
Okay, I’ll shut up now and get to the pictures. 🙂 Click any image to zoom. A complete parts list (with links) follows the pictures.
Here is a complete list of items (with links) that I have the BTC section of my gym:
BIKE & FLUID TRAINER
- 2013 Trek Madone 5.9 Di2
- Stages Power Meter
- Shimano Ultegra PD-6800 SPD-SL Pedals
- Kurt Kinetic Road Machine
- Kurt Kinetic Fixed Riser Ring
- Tacx Trainer Tire
- Aeromax Road Bike Comp 700c Wheels (Trainer use/backup wheelset)
- Profile Design T3+ Aero Bars
- Shimano Ultegra Di2 Remote TT Shifters
- Selle Italia Max Flite Gel Flow Saddle
- Sidi Genius 5 Pro Carbon Road Cycling Shoes
- Shimano SPD-SL Self-Aligning Cleats
- Camelbak Podium Big Chill 25-Ounce Water Bottles
- CycleOps Bike Thong Bicycle Sweat Protector
ELECTRONICS (HARDWARE & SOFTWARE)
- Alienware Alpha (2.9 GHz Intel Core i3-4130T Processor, 4GB DDR3, 500GB HDD, Windows 8.1)
- Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 (10.1″)
- Toshiba Satellite Laptop
- Toshiba REGZA 32″ 1080p LCD HDTV (no longer sold)
- Garmin Edge 810
- Garmin ANT+ USB Stick
- Docooler ANT+ USB Stick
- CyberPower Intelligent LCD UPS (1500VA 900W AVR)
- CyberPower 6-AC Outlet Surge Protector with 2 USB 2.1A Charging Ports
- Samsung Galaxy S4 Smartphone (soon to be Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge)
- SanDisk Sansa Clip Zip MP3 Player
- MEElectronics Sport-Fi M6 Noise Isolating In-Ear Headphones
- Gold Plated 3.5mm Male to 3.5mm Female Stereo Audio Extension Cable (6′)
- Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard with Built-In Multi-Touch Touchpad
- Antec Advance Accent Lighting Blue USB-powered 6 LED Strip
- AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI Cable (9.8′)
- Monoprice USB 2.0 Male Female Extension (15′)
- Lasko 18″ Remote Control Cyclone Pedestal Fan
- Golden Cheetah
- K-Edge Handlebar Computer Mount for Garmin
- Quik Lok Adjustable Laptop Stand
- ARKON Slim-Grip Flexible Mount for Smartphones (used to hold wireless keyboard)
- BESTEK Gooseneck Flexible Cell Phone Stand (used to hold phone)
- BESTEK Gooseneck Flexible Tablet Stand (used to hold tablet)
- Peerless Articulating LCD HDTV Wall Mount
- Creative Connectors Corner Floating Wall Shelf (Walnut, 12″)
- Allsop Tidy Cable