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How to Fit It In: Cycling in a Busy Life
Ted King shares how cycling fits into the puzzle of life in as busy an age as ever.
By: Ted King, King of Gravel
Let’s state the obvious, I love riding my bike. The chances are good that if you’ve found yourself reading this blog, you enjoy pedaling a bike as well. Not so coincidentally, it’s a passion that’s shared with my wife Laura too, and therefore you likely wouldn’t be surprised to hear that we met on a bike ride.
Times have changed since when we first met; our family of two has grown to three, we have a house and mortgage, and we moved clear across the country together. So, while many things in our lives have changed, the desire to ride a bike hasn’t gone away.
We live in an age that's as busy as ever. With seemingly everyone on-call with powerful computers in our pockets that take spectacular photographs and answer phone calls, in addition to the constant rate we're fed media, that demand for immediacy makes completing the daily checklist a race without a finish line.
Far from certified, therapeutic martial advice, this column offers my suggestions for ways to fit it all in among couples where bike riding is a part of the equation.
Tagging in/out of ride time/Hazel hang out time.
Another obvious observation: it can be difficult to find time to ride when half of a couple's passion is singular. Explicitly, one person loves riding their bike and their partner does not. When both partners have a shared passion that happens to be an activity that takes an exorbitant amount of time, ohh, let's take cycling for example, it presents an equally challenging puzzle as well. It's all the more important when there are dependents at home.
Regardless of which scenario pertains to you, success starts with communication. I'm not sure there's any marital advice that hinges on "talk less", so opening lines of communication will be a great launch point between you and your partner. Expressing the desire to get out the door or log that trainer time is important and will serve you far better than just stealing some time away to sneak in a ride.
Beyond just opening lines of communication to the tune of, "Hey, I'd like to go for a ride today", creating a longer-term schedule will prove massively beneficial. One of the first tasks you'll receive if you work with a nutritionist is to write down what actually goes into your mouth every single day. By taking a pen to paper and listing everything you consume, you become very cognizant of the mid-afternoon triple venti lattes that might otherwise go down the hatch without a second thought.
Along the same lines, it can be a good idea to chart out your day to see where those 24 hours mysteriously go every single day. Manually write down what an idea day, week, month look like and you'll likely see where you can manufacture an extra 60 or 90 minutes or more as you become much more efficient with your time.
Training up the new in-house mechanic.
Having ragged on those supercomputers in your pockets, let me take it back a step since there's enormous benefit to them as well. Here, the trick for me is to use them to their potential, and not let them eat away at time which could be better spent elsewhere...like on a bike.
I can't stress enough the benefit I've found in establishing phone limits. There are countless apps that do this, or just take simple steps like leaving your phone in the kitchen when you go to bed, or even leave your phone with your car keys when you walk in the door. If you're out on a ride and there's something critically pressing, sure, knock out ten minutes of emails when you're at the coffee shop and your friend are chewing the fat.
Whether cycling is just your thing or cycling is "both of your thing", if you and your partner aren't already constant training partners, I recommend that you try to make it a priority to get out and ride together.
Walking through the scenarios, if your partner doesn't ever ride, it's fun to show them your passion. (Often mixed results will ensue, but the simple gesture can mean the world.) If your partner does ride, but is faster/slower than you, it's good to push yourself/take it a touch easy for the sake of the shared experience together. Don't be the hellbent on chalking those days up as training days, let them be what they are meant to be, which is together. If you have a kiddo or more, I can't express enough the joy you'll experience when you bring the littlest family member along via MacRide or a trailer so that the whole family can enjoy that time as one.
Obviously, this is all quite circumstantial depending on your job, life, family dynamics, and so forth. These are a handful of the things that have worked for me. There’s no magic bullet, no secret flip to switch to make more time in the day, so 4:30 am alarm clocks, rides in the cold, and sacrifices will be made.
It’s common on rides to suddenly catch yourself staring at a particular tree rather than looking at the entire forest. That leap can be made to cycling. As far as addictions go, we’re lucky to be hooked on a pretty healthy one in cycling.
My suggestion is to treat it for what it is, which is a source of inspiration and motivation, it’s what kicks our butt and gets us fit, it’s where we pour ourselves out and recharge our batteries. But very few people make their livelihoods in cycling, so embrace the magic of cycling with those who are closest to you. There will never be enough time in the day, but with the right framework and conscious effort it’ll uplift the entire family.
This is a five part series spearheaded by the King of Gravel, Ted King, as he dives into his favorite cycling topics. After a ten-year career in the World Tour ranks of professional road racing, Ted thought he was hanging up his wheels and setting off towards the horizon of retirement in 2015. But his fondness for the sport of cycling was too strong and it’s like he never left! Ted is a brand ambassador, gravel cyclist, racer, advocate, and consultant on all things two-wheels.