It’s 30 degrees outside and the roads are slick with ice – perfect conditions for a bicycle ride in Riverfront Park.
Thanks to a new virtual scenic ride from Peloton, I did just that last week.
For 20 minutes at the home of a colleague, I soft-pedaled my way through a midsummer day at Riverfront Park. Folks were in shirt sleeves and shorts as they strolled along Centennial Trail.
In the depths of another COVID winter in Spokane, the transformational qualities of a Peloton scenic ride can’t be beat.
Within a few minutes I was virtually transported into a beautiful summer day in the shadow of the Riverfront Park Clock Tower.
Even better, I could pedal at my own pace, or not at all. That’s quite a departure from the Peloton classes and the lean-bodied instructor demanding that you “dig a little deeper.”
No thanks, I already shoveled enough snow this month.
The best thing about owning a Peloton bike – base price $2,495 – is that you can work out in the comfort of your home. The live classes will tone and shred, but the scenic rides offer something more: escape.
Until last spring, folks could access scenic rides through an app on their mobile device. Last spring, at its Homecoming event, Peloton announced a scenic workout relaunch, with three new types of scenic rides: guided, distance-based and time-based.
Peloton is in the business of making money. With the new rides came a new restriction: The rides would be available only on Peloton hardware.
In other words, you have to pay to ride in Paradise.
When the news broke last spring, app owners went off the derailleurs with rage on social media.
Peloton stuck with the plan, then geared up with new rides.
For those who don’t want to sweat too much, the time-based rides are the way to go. You can pedal at your own pace, setting the resistance as you choose. Unlike other choices, time-based rides aren’t affected by your own pedaling; instead the image moves forward at a steady pace.
The offerings are breathtakingly exotic, from the Andalusia region of southern Spain to the Italian Alps and the jungles of Costa Rica. Just below is the irresistible image of the Clock Tower, which compels the rider to strap on his Peloton shoes (another moneymaker) and begin the Tour de Spokane.
The folks at Visit Spokane ought to be pumping this up. In the world of Peloton scenic rides is in the same pack as the hills of Tuscany, the glaciers of Iceland and the beauty of Big Sur.
The 20-minutes is more of a meander than a purposeful ride. It begins – where else? – at the Clock Tower. The first few minutes take the rider along the Centennial Trail and toward Gonzaga University, past smiling pedestrians and other bicyclists.
None of them was wearing a mask, which led to a question that nagged throughout the “ride”: when the heck was this filmed?
I didn’t know what to expect as the ride took me eastward toward GU. I knew that the picturesque scenery of the Spokane River was about to give way to a parking lot and the traffic on Hamilton Street.
But just as the image of Gonzaga’s Kennel comes into view, it’s wrenched away and the ride resumes heading the other way. This happens several times during the ride, as if the camera operator got a tap on the shoulder from Visit Spokane and decided to look elsewhere.
Soon I was heading west on Spokane Falls Boulevard, riding the sidewalk back into the park.
And there it was, plastered on the façade of the First Interstate Center for the Arts: a poster advertising the upcoming performance of “Les Miserables, Aug. 6-11.”
That meant it was the summer of 2019, which explained the lack of masks but not the delay in putting Spokane in front of the Peloton masses.
A lazy ride through the park brought me back to Spokane Falls Boulevard – against the traffic now but thankfully still on the sidewalk.
The video teased me again as I headed around the corner toward the Division Street Bridge – then instantly teleported me back to the Clock Tower.
I took another ride through the park and under the bridge (yes, that was a homeless guy in the shadow) and back toward GU before magically reappearing back at the Clock Tower.(Yes, it’s that iconic.)
The ride finished, I checked my stats: 3½ miles ridden and 168 calories burned – just enough to justify grabbing a couple of pieces of Bruttle’s.
But that wasn’t the point, was it?