Rides: Southern California

Doug Katona
Year Released: 2009

Categories: Indoor Cycling

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“Rides: Southern California” is the fourth in a series of virtual reality cycling DVDs produced by Endurance Films.

The series uses an on-screen dashboard showing your Critical Power, RPM, Heart Rate Zone, interval timer, and type of interval, for example, standing climb. An interactive menu explains these features. There is also a countdown clock in the top left-hand corner of the screen for the entire workout. The occasional coaching tip also appears on screen; this is handy if you are cycling without the optional coaching track featured on the more recent “Rides” DVDs.

From time to time, motivational sayings and facts about the region also pop up on the screen. At first I found this distracting, but as I have become more familiar with the rides, I find they add interest.

On “Rides: Southern California” you will be riding with a large group of cyclists. The DVD uses a combination of shots filmed from the cyclists’ point of view, shots of the cyclists from different angles (riding straight at the camera, from the side, and from behind), and the occasional “saddle cam” and “helmet cam” shot. In this way, the DVDs give you the feeling of riding in a pack. This is great for someone like me who is far too much of a wuss to ever ride on the road.

“Rides: Southern California” follows a popular cycling course, the Como Street Ride, a hilly 18 mile route through Saddleback Valley in Orange County. A pop-up map at the beginning of the ride shows the route. I appreciate this because, while it’s highly unlikely I’ll ever ride Southern California, I like to visualise where I’m going. The map, showing the distance travelled, also pops several times on the ride, which I always find motivating.

The ride lasts for 54 minutes, including a three-minute cool down.

The DVD has a choice of two soundtracks. You can listen to either soft rock instrumental music and coaching from Doug Katona – President of the Motor Tabs Cycling Team in Southern California and veteran of over 15 24-hour events - or vocal rock tracks from “some of the coolest indie bands around” and no coaching.

Doug capitalises on your competitive spirit to wring every last drop of sweat out of you. At about 13 minutes into the ride, when you suddenly realise that the group you are riding with has changed, Doug says “The deadwood has already has already drifted off the back of the group – the selection has been made!”

At around the 17-minute mark, as you approach a milestone on the route, the Cook’s Corner bar, Doug says “Cook’s Corner is ‘the’ spot on Como Street. It’s where everybody watches the cyclists come by, it’s where the separations are seen – how many sections behind or ahead are you?” At that point, you notice all the motorbikes parked in front of the bar!

Although the coaching is geared towards cyclists using a trainer rather than spinners, I found it very easy to follow.

The DVD includes a bonus 10-minute hill climb which Doug describes as “a leg-breaker of a climb, a nasty hill called Modjeska”, as well as a segment in which the riders introduce themselves and talk about their cycling experiences.

You can see clips of the “Rides” DVDs and buy them from http://www.endurancefilms.com.

I would highly recommend “Rides: Southern California”. A great deal of care and thought has clearly gone into the production, the hilly terrain gives you a tough workout, and the alternative soundtracks offer a varied experience. Five stars out of five.

Instructor Comments:
Doug Katona's experience shines; has clearly cycled this route many times and is very motivating.