Riding a bike involves balance. Lean too far to one side and your spouse complains you are never home and you miss your kid’s soccer games. Lean the other way and you won’t have trained enough causing misery on the big ride you have been looking forward to. So how can you fit in this new obsession without disappointing your current ones?
Sadly, you already have a time sink – your job. Just driving there consumes 5-10 hours a week. Here are some commuting ideas. The sweet spot for bike commuting is 30 minutes or 10 miles. Less than that and you are still warming up when you pull into the parking lot. What should you do? In the immortal words of Supertramp, “Take the long way home.” My new job is only 3 miles from home, almost walkable. So I am planning to ride a few hills before starting work.
My buddy Jim has a 25 mile commute, too long, eh? But it is into Cambridge so riding is not much slower than driving. So he bikes down the Minuteman Bikeway, dodging strollers and in-line skaters instead of the cars on Rt. 2.
If your commute is much longer or is mainly highway, taking the bike adds a big chunk of time. Plus, what if you need your car during the day at work? When my office was 30 miles away, there was no way I could bike 60 miles a day. Solution, reverse the commute! I drove in, biked home, then rode in the next morning and drove home. The 2 hours of cycling was tolerable once a day.
On the weekends, the solution is to ride early. Here in New England the sun is up at 5am in the early summer. I left for a 60 mile group ride at 6am and was home by 10. Heck, I could just about squeeze in a century and be home by the time my family was eating lunch. Still plenty of time to take my kids to afternoon soccer games and music lessons. Evening movies were challenging.
Quick tip: Lay off the juice. If you are riding for less than an hour, commuting, or in cold weather, just drink water. Skip the electrolytes, energy drinks, and other additives. You probably don’t need the calories, won’t sweat enough to bother with the extra salt, and will easily recover with your regular meals. Save the special stuff for long hard workouts.