A couple of weeks back a new m2M community member (hello, Adam 👋) popped a question in the forum, asking how people find time to ride whilst juggling hectic lifestyles - work, kids (in this case a toddler + new twins [yikes!]) and family commitments etc.
It's a common challenge people have when starting out in cycling, and can often be the factor that makes-or-breaks whether someone sticks with it (apart from the pain, suffering and lycra😬) so I thought I'd share my response on the blog, too, in the hope that more people find it helpful.
Let's face it, most of us have a lot on our plates and juggling it all whilst keeping everyone happy can be challenging, to say the least.
What works for me won't necessarily work for everyone else as career /life situations are different. As are times of the day when people feel most energetic /productive etc.
I also have an extremely understanding wife (love ya, Tracy 😘) who is comfortable with the amount of riding I do, and understands the positive effects it has on me physically and mentally. This in turn makes me more bearable to live with. I'm also under no illusion that she's just happy to get me out the house as often as possible!
With all these factors being different for everyone else I appreciate that the things I share below, which ensure I get decent time in the saddle, won't always be feasible for others. With that said, here goes. I hope anyone reading this takes at least one helpful thing away...
Typically, in colder /wetter months I aim to bash out 50 -75 miles a week - just to keep the body ticking over until the warmer seasons return. It can be a little demoralising to build up your fitness in Spring /Summer, to then not ride in Autumn /Winter, only to have to start rebuilding your fitness back up from scratch when the warmer months come back around. For me, keeping an eye on the new riding season to restart, and wanting to go into it fitter than the last so I can beat my PBs on Strava etc., is incredibly motivational.
When I'm really 'on it' in the off-season I'll get up at 6am and whack on the lycra, which is literally laying on the floor next to my bed. Having this prepared the night before gives me one less excuse to not get up the following morning. If it's there when I open my eyes I can hear it calling me - "you got me out so you might as well use me... Get up you lazy bastid!" (you know? That kinda thing)
I'll then literally get straight on the bike which, as per the lycra, is prepped the night before and ready go in the hallway. Again, doing this removes further 'excuse-obstacles' and makes the path to getting on my bike at that time less resistant.
I'll then ride 15 - 18 miles whilst fasted (literally no food. I just take a bottle of water with me). I do intermittent fasting anyway so usually stop eating at 8.30pm and then won't eat again until 1pm (ish) the next day. It's worth noting that I can do 15 - 18 miles in approx 45 - 60 mins so tweak this distance based on your fitness levels. Do what you can based on the time you have. (I then need to get home, walk the dog and do school drop-off so I can start working from home at 8.45 /9).
When early morning rides aren't possible - either I really can't be arsed or due to bad weather - I have a turbo trainer. I'll either jump on this at a similar time for an intense 30 - 45 mins or will hop on in the evening, after work /before dinner. For my set-up I have a Wahoo Kickr (treated myself for my 40th and asked all friends /family to contribute to the £pot) and a Zwift subscription.
Then there are the weekends. To fit around social engagements /son's footy training and matches /Uber driver for my 14 year old daughter etc., I ride when I can. This will usually be either early morning or mid-afternoon (depending on chores /commitments etc). Depending on the time I have, weekend rides can either be Saturday and /or Sunday and anything from 30 - 100+ miles (Lower-end in colder months. Mid-to-higher-end when the weathers better).
Again, don't use this as your barometer. I've been riding for 10+ years. In short - don't worry about how far you're doing. Any ride is good. My advice? Plan when you're free and use those slots to ride. Your thinking should be "I have a spare 45 mins. I'm going to ride for 45 mins" NOT "I want to ride X miles" Any riding, done consistently, will improve your fitness, technique, stamina and strength.
Also, before COVID-forced working from home was a thing I used to commute to work a couple of times a week. This was 18 miles each way going in and out of the City of London. I appreciate doing this depends on people's confidence about inner-city riding plus the washing and bike storage facilities at your place of work (amongst other facts that make commuter riding possible or not for people).
Finally, and if we're being totally honest with ourselves, finding time to ride often isn't the issue. As Jim Rohn famously once said:
"If you really want to do something you'll find a way. If not you'll find an excuse"
Everyone has the same amount of time, what differentiates them is what they choose to fill it with. There's absolutely nothing wrong with binge-watching that 'must-see' series on Netflix or laying in bed for an extra hour in the morning. Honestly, if that's your thing then that's cool. 'Horses for courses,' n'all that.
The truth is that where one person decides to have a lay in, or catch up on the two episodes of Corrie they missed earlier in the week, another person will decide to use that time to have a quick blast on their bike. In some respects it really is as simple as that sometimes. It's not about 'having time', its about discipline. There's no right or wrong, good or bad. It's about people doing whatever they decide to do.
Personally, for me, I'd rather use time where possible to experience the sense of freedom I get by being on the road. The time to clear my head, destress and get healthier. Don't get me wrong - I love The Witcher and Gomorra as much as the next guy - but when doing so I'm conscious not to hide behind the excuse for not going for a ride because "I don't have the time."
If you're looking for a bit of help with discipline and motivation (SPOILER ALERT: the former drives the latter ☺️) check out this post - https://www.m2mcycling.com/post/staying-motivated
There's also a helpful section in this podcast episode from approx 33 mins onwards (obviously, the whole thing is great 😉 but for this purpose, I think you'll find this particular bit helpful) - https://www.m2mcycling.com/post/on-your-mic-podcast-6
Good luck. I hope this helps someone out there carve out more saddle time.
Before you go, why not sign up to the community, it's absolutely free (seriously) and it'll ensure you get the help and support delivered to your inbox whenever we share it (never in a spammy way!)