I like riding my bicycle. I like being outside; I like getting exercise; I like that I can do it solo and leave all my daily concerns at home as I cycle on a dedicated paved path which winds its way between crop fields and over bridges.
Or at least I did until I moved house from somewhere I could be on that path in seconds, to somewhere where I have to dismantle my bike, put it in the boot of my car, drive to the path , reassemble the bike and then set off – quite a different experience. I’m sure a bike rack for the car would make things easier, but it’s sort of not the point. Ease of access is key.
So a year ago I bought a turbo trainer and got a subscription to Zwift (wikipedia and official site). I set up my bike in the garage and hooked up my phone to a cheap projector over its USB-C connector and now I get to cycle around the Champs-Élysées or a volcanic island whenever I like.
I tried several alternatives to Zwift, in particular some of the free ones, but sadly none of them were as good.
It’s not quite a substitute for being outside, but it does tick the boxes for ease of access, gets me some exercise and the gamification and MMO aspect do mean that I forget about everything else whilst I’m cycling, a precious commodity since remote working kicked in and the gap between home and work reduced to zero.