Taking flight on my exercise bike. Where should I go?
March 14, 2020 5:46 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for virtual journey videos to watch on my computer while I peddle on my stationary bike. I want to be able to click play, hop on and peddle away to beautiful new places. I'm not just looking for good virtual bike rides. Drone footage or a run through your favourite video game would be wonderful. Is there a video tour of your city that would be immersive? Do you have any favourite videos that you use on your bike, or on your treadmill that you can recommend to me?

I've been meaning to post this question for awhile now, and this seems to be the time to do it. Maybe some other people would enjoy taking flight too.

Videos ideally would run longer than five minute. Implausible speed or being off the ground is fine, and so is going along on the ground on terrain a bike couldn't actually manage. Videos meant for treadmill runners work great. Jumping hurdles, or seeing the runner's knees, or the horse's head in the foreground are no problem. I can just pull back on the handles during the jump, the same way I lean in to the turns, and I'd be happy to pretend my bike is a horse, or a pterodactyl.

Some of the videos I have found are unsuitable because they spend too much time with the camera focused on the poor fitness professional trying to brand himself. I don't want to see the fitness trainer or the butt of the person in front of the camera, especially if she is a female with an "attractive" butt.

It has to be videos that I can play on my computer, as I can't keep pressing buttons to move, but Google Map trips that have been turned into videos are good too. I would love to see architecture and places that are new cultures to me. I would even consider virtual walks indoors if they keep moving and are beautiful or interesting. I adore the outdoors and would be happy to ski down an alp on my bike. I'm not so fond of deserts and dry areas, and would prefer not to be looking into the sun so there is a light flash in my view a lot of the time.

What's your favourite game? Are there any play-throughs or tours that might work for me? Skyrim? Red Dead Redemption? My bike is great for running along roof tops and doing parkour. Stunning views of the medieval city below would delight me.

Doesn't have to be YouTube but YouTube is the simplest source for me.

Movie clips would be fine too, even if there is a rare cut away of the person traveling, as long as the video is almost entirely what the person traveling sees and not too many camera jumps.

Good background music without someone talking is a bonus, but I'm happy to turn the sound off if there is a voice over that is annoying instead of immersive. I can provide my own music.

Please help me feel like I am zooming through new and amazing places!

Additional ideas to make riding the bike fun would also be welcome. I sometimes play a game where each kilometre I peddle counts as a year into the past and I follow up by researching my destination year and posting a picture that goes with that year. If you have similar ideas so that send me on amazing journeys I would love to hear them.
posted by Jane the Brown to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: There's an entire genre of fixed-camera train videos. Here's Bergen to Oslo for starters. It runs for over 7 hours, so you'll need to keep track of where you're up to at the end of a session to pick it up from there for the next one. Or perhaps you could just pedal from station to station.

You'll want a head torch for the tunnels.
posted by flabdablet at 6:28 AM on March 14, 2020 [7 favorites]

There are entire services dedicated to showing you videos while you ride a stationary bike, and if you've got a "smart" trainer, they can control the trainer as well. Here's a roundup (note: these are all trainer apps; not all show videos). Kinomap is probably the best known.
posted by adamrice at 7:11 AM on March 14, 2020

For video games look for 'let's play' videos...those are usually just playing the game with minimal narration. I suggest No Man's Sky...it's always different and weird...alien planets, outer space, cool synthesizer music etc.
posted by sexyrobot at 7:41 AM on March 14, 2020

Best answer: The BicycleDutch channel has lots of immersive virtual bike journeys showcasing the excellent Dutch bicycle infrastructure (and, inadvertently, charming city architecture and lovely rural landscapes). For example:

Riding through the wintery countryside
Newly updated bike paths through Utrecht
A relaxed ride from a suburb into Utrecht's central train station
Showcasing a route through Eindhoven
An inter-city bike highway, including a railroad bridge
Another inter-city ride, half an hour long!
posted by datarose at 9:54 AM on March 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Bike-o-Vision! They offer streaming now, and it looks like a few are on YouTube.
posted by Flannery Culp at 9:54 AM on March 14, 2020

Kees Colijn's walking tours of various cities around the world are pretty great. He does a bunch of bicycling ones as well (they're all on Youtube).
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:02 AM on March 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

The last part of Quadrophenia is a Vespa-ride from London to Brighton. You'll "go" a little faster than you're used to, but it's a real delight.
posted by BostonTerrier at 11:13 AM on March 14, 2020

Best answer: If you like the Norway trainvideo Flabdablet mentioned above, YouTuber HinduCowgirl Has posted dozens of Norwegian train videos of varying lengths. My sister and I are really into Norway and have also enjoyed many drone videos and car drive videos in Norway. There is also a variety of Scandinavian trucker videos, many on rural back roads.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 10:56 PM on March 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

My favorite treadmill walking video channel is Prowalk. Mostly Italy, a few other places. No voiceover, you can turn closed captioning on for some interesting facts about the area, and he doesn't turn the camera on himself. He got a drone a year or so ago and has added drone footage to some of his videos. He's also experimented with VR 360° videos, but I don't own a VR setup so I can't tell you how well they work.
posted by telophase at 1:52 PM on March 15, 2020

Response by poster: For anyone curious I have been getting the best results by entering time lapse dash cam and a geographic place name like "Virginia" or "Sweden" in the search box on YouTube. After that two-thirds of the results are accident or bad driving video compilations, but one third of them are good bets to consider.

Drone videos are generally a bad bet unfortunately as the tend to be short clips and slow speeds. The drone might be going at a high speed but because of the distance from the ground it appears to be hovering which doesn't work well to simulate speed. Time lapse car journey videos or train journeys do work very well. Plane simulators or planes tend to work badly because they mostly point at the sky and feel like they are going slowly with nothing but clouds or a distant horizon to see. Plane cockpits are complex with the result that the wind screen is placed high you can't see much from a pilot's eye view of a cockpit, except during landing when the plane is aimed downward - but simulated emergency landings on a freeway can be fun.
posted by Jane the Brown at 11:06 AM on June 14, 2020

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