Cycle: There's Always Time to Ride

Jobs, school, family, housework, hitting the clubs, gardening...I mean, who's really ever got time for more than maybe one decent ride a week? Maybe.

As great as bike riding is, it can also sometime be a chore. Whether you're an avid cyclist or a recreational rider it takes time just to get prepped and out the door on a ride, never mind if you're driving to a trail head or starting point. Quite often as much as an hour is spent on pre-ride stuff before a single pedal is even turned.

Don't let this sense of a time sink derail your ambition to get out on the bike. With a little planning even a short ride can carry you through the day.

For the busy working/family types, the best weekday windows of time come in either the pre-dawn morning hours or late at night. Neither are ideal, especially during these winter months when the air is chilly and the sun is still spending more time shining on the southern hemisphere. But, early AM rides can be a better jump start than that $4 cup 'o joe.

Set out everything you need for your early morning's ride so that you can essentially sleep walk onto the bike.
Set out everything you need for your early morning's ride so that you can essentially sleep walk onto the bike.
photo by Jason Franz

REAL DEAL BIKE TIP #11: Lay it out. If you're planning on any kind of early morning ride, be sure to set everything out the night before. Put your lights on the bike, have your helmet, warmers and shoes next to your bike, fill your bottles, and lay out your kit (that's cyclist speak for riding clothes).

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Of course, the downside to riding in the dark is the whole riding in the dark thing. If you're adverse to the darkness but need to get some daily training in, consider a home trainer. These tools can be a cyclist's savior, yet it is also one of the most dreaded items in the cyclist's arsenal. Sure, you can set it up in your living room, pop in an old Tour de France DVD and pace up the Alpe d'Huez with the pros, but that total lack of airflow and sense that you're going somewhere is a killer.

Nonetheless, stationary indoor cycling, often referred to as "spinning" by gym rats afraid to venture out of doors, can be a solid workout. Just be sure to invest in a fan to set up in front of you and some good tunes or videos to keep your legs turning over before utter boredom sets in. And a good towel. You will be shocked at how much you will sweat. If you want a real indoor challenge, try rollers. At first, it's a lot like riding on ice, but once you get the hang of it, coaches say there is no better way to really dial in your pedal stroke and balance.

Of course, the best way to work in a daily ride is to ditch the car and bike commute. Sure, it may take a little longer to get there, but that time and energy spent letting any of the day's anxiety go away is priceless. Plus, you don't have to worry about parking, sitting in traffic, and increasing gas prices. And a bonus to having a bike at work is escaping for a quick spin during lunch, especially during these spring months where the noon hour is perfection.

Just be sure to set up a nice ride kit (the non-bike clothing variety) in your desk that includes a towel, deodorant, and baby wipes. Baby wipes or moist towelettes are a gift from the cycling gods, essentially providing a shower in a convenient disposable, pre-moistened cloth. After a quick dry off and wipe down, you'll be good for any meeting the day may bring.

The point is, there's always a way to squeeze in some kind of time on the bike. You just have to know where to look sometimes.

** Don't forget to submit suggestions for the first Jackalope Ranch Readers' Trail Ride on March 20. Make your suggestions for the ride in the comments section below. It can be easy, challenging, on the road, or on the dirt. Finalists will be announced in the March 2 edition of Cycle, with the readers' choice announced March 11.

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