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How to find more time to ride

Nick Soldinger
5 Oct 2016

Eight strategies to ensure you and your bike get to hang out more – without neglecting other parts of your life!

Family, work, shopping Facebook, Twitter, smartphones, tablets, business meetings, social commitments, hundreds of channels on your TV screen - modern life is complex and busy with a never ending din of things demanding your time. No wonder one of the most common cyclist grumbles is that they struggle to find the time to ride. So how can you juggle your hectic schedule to make sure you get some saddle time in while not neglecting your partner/kids/career? Here we look at some tried and tested strategies… 

Make a list 

Huh? You’re already super stressed and we ask you to add another chore to your workload? It’s OK, this job isn’t going to take too long and at the end of it you’re going to have a list that will help you de-clutter your life. Right, so get a piece of paper and a pen, and write down everything that you regularly do over the course of a week. Everything. So that’s daily commute, the school run, going out with mates, overtime at work etc. Go through a typical week methodically in your head and note down the lot. Once you’ve done it, cross out everything that isn’t essential. You see the key to effective time management isn’t working out how to squeeze more into your busy day but how best to free it up, and that means getting shot of the non-essentials. 

Take responsibility for your schedule

As well as cutting down on stuff that burns time, you also need to commit to the stuff you’ve decided to stick with – in other words, take responsibility for what’s left on your schedule. So, no more moaning that you can’t find time to ride because of the kids or a business project. If you’ve committed a certain amount of time to personal relationships or work  (and if you don’t want to end up lonely or broke we recommend that you do!) realise that these are your choices. Take responsibility for them, because until you make hard choices about what to commit to and what to let slide, you’ll always be a slave to your schedule rather than master of it. 

Commute by bike 

Yes, we know you bought that beautiful road bike for your down time, but why not make your commute part of that down time? Using public transport in Britain – particularly in the big cities – can be monumentally stressful and for some people, the worst part of their working day. Think of your commute as bonus saddle time, and when you’re on the way back – if you’ve still got the legs for it – why not include an extra few kilometres of somewhere you love to ride locally before heading home?

Find the right time to ride

When it comes to finding more time to ride, it’s also worth working out when is the best time for you to ride. Essentially, this is when you know you can confidently switch off the phone, get in the zone and not worry about potential interruptions or distractions. Getting out first thing in the morning works for a lot of cyclists. Life is pretty peaceful at 6am. Most of the world is still snoozing and the roads are also largely free of traffic and pollution. In fact, when the weather’s right, there are few finer ways to kick off your day. What stops most cyclists from doing it is the getting out of bed bit, but you can remedy that by preparing your riding clothes the night before and placing them where you can see them when you wake up. Also pre-prepare your bidons and have them in the fridge ready to go. 

Be better prepared 

Make sure that part of the time you devote to cycling is spent on maintaining your bike. If your bike is in good working order then your saddle time will be just that – not tinkering-around-in-the-garage-while-your-cycling-chums-go-off-without-you time. If you’ve ridden in poor conditions, make sure you clean and lube the chain when you get in. If you’ve had a flat, replace the spare inner tube and CO2 cartridge if you’ve used one. Also keep your cycling clothing clean and stored together in the same place once you’ve washed it. That way there’ll be no rummaging around looking for lost sunnies or socks when you’re supposed to be out enjoying the road!

Lunchtime riding 

Another distinct advantage of commuting to work is that you’ll have your ride with you should you fancy going for a quick spin in your lunch hour. If you work in a city or big town, head for the local park and do a couple of circuits. Alternatively, if you’re in a more suburban or rural setting, work out a 15km loop (use Strava to find popular roads in the area – these will offer the best riding). You’ll feel refreshed, happier and your boss will love you because your productivity will increase as a by-product. And don’t sweat it if your work doesn’t have shower facilities – Muc-Off’s Dry Shower (£5 for 200ml) will help keep you office friendly for the rest of the afternoon. 

Go in for a digital detox 

Remember all those distractions we mentioned at the start of this feature – your smartphone, social media, all those TV channels to surf? Well, you’d be shocked how much they might be eating into your time without you even realising it. So try going in for a digital detox – ie spending some time away from emails, blog sites, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, Google searches, Snapchat conversations, and Instagram accounts. A study undertaken last year took a group off into the Moroccan desert for four days and stripped them of their smartphones. The neuroscientists who observed them noted that all the subjects benefitted from improved memory, more efficient sleep as well as boosted levels of motivation. We’re not suggesting you need to go and live in a desert but clearly the occasional digital detox is good for your wellbeing as well as freeing up a lot of wasted hours. So give it a go one weekend and see how it feels. 

Get the most from weekends

Of course, most cyclists use their weekends to do their big riding, but that’s also the time when they get to see most of their partner or family. So how do you juggle both? Again, mornings are great for getting some saddle time in. Forgo Friday night’s after-work drinks ritual and you’ll be fit to hit the road at 7am on a Saturday morning. Get two glorious hours in, and you’ll be back in acres of time to drive the kids to whatever birthday party or playgroup they’re signed up for. Weekends are also where being in control of your schedule will work wonders. If you plan and commit to spending a certain amount of time with your family, you can then plan in time to cycle which doesn’t conflict with that. Time that you can then enjoy without any nagging feelings that’s you’re letting loved ones down. You could even make one of your weekend rides a family affair. Your all-important recovery ride, for example, could easily be one that’s done with the whole family in tow. 

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