I have two daughters, two fish, three dogs, a house, a yard and all the commitments and upkeep that everything on this list require. Not to mention a full-time job, soccer, dance classes, summer camps, vacations, birthdays, school, etc. So, with all this going on how do I find time to ride? Most of the time it takes a little creative thinking.
Riding to work instead of only riding on the weekend. This one is a no-brainer for me. I have to go to work, I have to use a vehicle to get there, why not take the bike. While it’s not carving up curvy mountain roads, it is riding. I use commuting to hone my defensive riding skills. I get to practice situational awareness, lane position, anger management, creative sign language, and other essential commuting skills. I think of it this way, most of the trips I take I’m trying to get somewhere and I have to ride to get there. Commuting is just practice for those days when I have to slog it out on the highway to get to that sweet mountain pass tucked into a state park where the rangers haven’t found a place for the speed trap yet. It also beats the heck out of not riding.
Early morning can also be a way to sneak in a ride. This falls outside the normal times most people ride, but I can get up on a Saturday at dawn (5:30 am) get in a 3 1/2 – 4 hr ride and pull in the driveway at 9:00 – 9:30 am, just as my family is getting ready for breakfast. I get a nice ride in and still have the rest of the day to take care of the yard and shuttle the kids around to their swim meets, soccer games, or other obligations. This one takes a little more planning. I look for loops that are pretty specific in their time and mileage. These are not the lazy all day Saturday rides where I can take new and interesting roads on a whim just to see where they go. I have to choose routs where I’m sure of where I’m going and how long the ride will take. Who doesn’t like planning new routes though? The trade-off here is that I will sacrifice some sleep, but for me it’s worth it.
Another option is to run errands on my bike. It’s not always the most exciting riding but it’s better than sitting in my garage staring at my bike and wishing I was riding. With panniers and a top box I have a lot of room to haul pretty good-sized loads. Even for the not so big stuff like running out to grab a RedBox DVD is a chance to ride. I once rigged up a cooler to fit on the back of my Ninja 1000 so I could run out and get ice cream for my wife and I. Worked great and I got a little dusk-time, after dinner riding in. I call that a win-win.
Trading time-off with my wife is also a way to get a longer ride in and still make it fair to for everyone. This is a negotiation and planning process (in terms of the ride planning, not the negotiation planning). My wife and I sit down with our schedules and take a look at what week or weekend I want versus what time she wants or her own hobbies. We barter and trade so we both get some personal time and space to do our own thing. I find this the most equitable way for us to get time to do things we love and still feel like we are partners.
Even with all the obligations of a family, house, yard, and everything else, there are many ways to still get riding time in. I manage to get in about 7,000 – 10,000 miles a year using the tips I’ve talked about. There are many who ride more, but at least I’m riding. We always find time for the things we love.