Whether new to endurance sports, or doing them for years, every athlete whose sport involves cycling will tell you the same thing, “The hardest part about riding, is finding the time in your schedule to fit it.”
Given that training rides can range anywhere from 1 to 8 hours, it’s no wonder that carving out time on your bike can be nearly as challenging as the ride itself.
With this in mind, here are five simple, yet effective ways to fit your rides into any hectic schedule.
Tip 1: Work Your Riding into Your Daily and Weekly Schedule.
Plan your rides into your week like you would any appointment, schedule it. By doing so, you’ll prioritize your rides like you would a business meeting, or a visit to the dentist. Additionally, this habit will help make your rides a consistent part of your routine instead of something that you are constantly trying to fit in between a million other commitments.
Be specific. Write your scheduled rides directly into your calendar, planner, or fitness app. Specify the day, start time, route, and allot the total amount of time that the workout is going to take. For example, Tuesday 6:00am-7:30am, “Rancho Loop”, Ride 90 minutes. I suggest using a planner or calendar that breaks down each day by the hours so you can really “see” how the workout will fit into your day.
Tip 2: Always Have Your Gear Ready to Go.
After logging tens of thousands of miles on a bike while training for triathlon and cross training for running, I can tell you that there is no such thing as a one-hour ride. The prep and the clean up time alone can add enough minutes to curtail a workout.
Save time by keeping your gear box and nutrition pantry stocked and ready to go at all times.
Put together a checklist of the items you need for your scheduled rides and have them organized and ready to go. Save time by setting out your riding gear, shoes, and helmet the night before any workout. Also keep extra spare tubes, tires, air cartridges, and wrenches at home, and make it a habit to refill any depleted supplies immediately after every ride. This preparation can be the difference between completing a full 60-minute ride, or just squeezing in an abbreviated 40-minute ride. Moreover, if an unexpected window of time presents itself, you can fit in a ride that you were otherwise going to miss…or better yet, get in a bonus ride!
Tip 3: Use Your Bike to Commute To and From Work or School.
Bike commuting can be used very effectively as part of training for events of just about any distance. The latest U.S. Census data tells us that Americans spend more than 25 minutes driving to work each day, and nearly twice as long in population-dense areas like San Diego and Los Angeles. That’s 50 minutes to almost 2 hours of the day that you could be riding. Since you’ve already put the time aside on your schedule, it’s the perfect time to get a workout in. In many cases, it may take less time to cycle to work than it does to drive.
You’ll be shocked how quickly you can accumulate time and miles on your bike with this strategy.
If you doubt bicycle commuting will get you fit, think again. Here are several quick tips to kick-start your training rides while on your bike commute:
– Use the extra weight of your work gear—even a couple of pounds—to make your quads burn on a solid uphill.
- Cycle hard to and from traffic lights. The stop and go is excellent power training.
- Push the pace to catch other cyclists. Make a game of catching as many riders as you can, or catching a rider and seeing how long you can push the pace after you catch them.
- Choose a route that you enjoy, and time yourself once a week on it. See if you can match or beat that time once per week.
If you need a little added incentive beyond the time savings of bike commuting, check this out. There may be financial bonuses to doing this as well as fitness and scheduling advantages. Depending on where you live, there may be a tax benefit. Your employer may offer incentives, or reimburse you for your supplies as part of their corporate wellness program. (Check with your employer and agencies like the National Center for Transit, and the Bikeleague.org for more info on commuter benefits.) By taking advantage of these opportunities, commuting to work could make you feel like a sponsored athlete.
Tip 4: Purchase a Trainer.
Investing in a simple indoor turbo trainer will add tons of flexibility to your schedule and save time. Riding a turbo trainer is amazingly convenient for a number of reasons.
Let’s start with gear. Simply throw on your riding shorts, bike shoes, your favorite “T” and start pedaling in the comfort of your own home. There’s no need to suit up in your full kit nor strap on your helmet. You don’t even have to worry about whether your socks match.
Riding the trainer enables you to accomplish a quality interval session without the distractions of traffic lights, road hazards, other vehicles, daylight, and, of course, the weather. Additionally, because you won’t have to deal with the inconvenience of pedaling to a location just to start your workout, the trainer will keep your ride focused and on track with both your workout schedule and your daily schedule.
One of the best time saving features of the trainer is that it turns your rides into hard-core multi- tasking sessions. While you can get down and dirty with an interval session on the trainer, you can also spin your legs steadily and get caught up on your emails, conduct a board meeting, call your mom on Skype, or even catch up on current events.
I once called a girl while riding my trainer to ask her out. After explaining why I was breathing so heavy, she actually agreed to the date, and my riding schedule never missed a beat!
Tip 5: You’re Going to Miss a Ride (or two, or three), It’s OK.
Even with the best planning, life can still get in the way of your rides. The goal of your training should be to get as many workouts in as you can and still remain balanced. Remember, the key to gaining fitness is consistency. One or two rides are not going to make or break your training if you are consistently getting in a majority of them. A good way to look at is this: if you have 15 rides scheduled over a month, and you miss one, you’re still drawing fitness from 14 rides that month (that one missed ride is less than 7% of your total for that month—probably less than 2% if it’s a shorter workout).
When you miss a ride, let it go. Even the best athletes in the world miss a ride or two here and there. Dwelling on a ride that you missed wastes time (and energy) that is better directed at positively impacting your next outing on two wheels.
Using these time saving tips—maybe even being a little creative with them—you can stop worrying about how your going to fit in all your two wheeled workouts. Instead you can input that next ride into your schedule as a commute to the office, where you’ll hop on your turbo trainer—extra water bottle and energy bar ready to go—and finish the ride while you nail that big presentation.