Going out on regular bike rides is a major time commitment that can be hard to squeeze into a busy life. Even the most avid cyclist will have days, or even weeks, when consistently getting out for a ride becomes a challenge. I’ve been there — and still find myself in that predicament occasionally! But I’ve come up with a few tricks that work for me in my professional race training and that have also helped my coaching clients train consistently without sacrificing their career or family commitments.
1. Put Your Cycling Time on Your Calendar (and Make It a Commitment)
The first thing I do when I schedule my weeks is block out time for movement and training. These blocks are usually just before noon so that I can work in the morning then take a break midday before tackling more tasks in the afternoon. I will usually train for 90 minutes and take 15 minutes on either side to prepare and recover. Working this into my calendar makes it harder to schedule calls, skill sessions or tasks into that time. This tactic works especially well for my executive clients. A few clients even make up code words for these appointments! Once it’s on the books, it might have to be shifted around, but it’ll always be there urging you to get out and train!
2. Schedule an End-Time for Your Ride
We all have obligations, but if you find your rides are cutting into other commitments — or running so tight you have to brush your teeth in the shower while tweeting your post-workout selfie and drinking a smoothie — you likely need to add more buffer time to allow for recovery and proper transition between your tasks. Scheduling a firm end-time so that your rides will be shorter than you planned if you leave late is often a good motivator to get out the door on time, or even early.
3. Set Up Your Gear Ahead of Time
Set up your gear in a way that reduces the chance of delay and makes getting dressed much easier. For example have several ready-to-go kits (complete with socks and base layers) in a bin that’s designated only for kits. Next, have a bin for tools/sunglasses/helmet and another one for warmers/hats. Have one more spot for coats and vests for bad weather. This system minimizes choices and makes packing a bag or throwing on the day’s uniform easy. I generally have a travel bag with my cycling clothes and gear (I like the Cat5 suitcase style) and then a little duffel of my street clothes. These bags pack well without being bulky, but they also open up with compartments where each piece of clothing and gear is stored. These bags then settle nicely in my closet at home. Post-ride, take the time to refile your tools/sunglasses/helmet, food and unused vests into their assigned compartments, and refill your kit bags after each laundry cycle. Basically, just create a system and stick to it!
4. Put On Your Shorts and Shoes
Often it is the first step we should focus on, rather than the entirety of the workout ahead. An odd tactic that works very well for me is setting an alarm that tells me to get dressed to ride — not a reminder to ride but to put on my shorts and shoes. This makes you look and feel awkward walking around the house in your cycling kit and generally prompts you to start your routine of filling bottles, lubing chains and putting your leg over the saddle to begin.
5. Use Ride Partners to Keep You on Time
One of the best motivators to get out the door is finding people to ride with or to meet at a certain time. Most people will be very careful not to be late to meet friends. I find the best tactic is to arrange a neutral meeting spot so that everyone must be rolling and ready to ride when they get there. If your friends don’t ride, try booking an appointment or meeting at a specific time after your ride to help you stay on track. You will always use the time you give yourself, so give yourself less time!
Scheduling your ride start and end times, organizing your gear in advance, setting an alarm to get dressed and using friends to make sure you get out the door on time each day should help you stay committed to your rides even when you’re busy. These tactics can be hugely performance-enhancing. Embrace being a cyclist and optimize your cycling life today!