How to Make More/Enough Time for Cycling

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This post really is to do with how to find more time to go cycling I promise but in the meantime indulge me in my ramblings for a little while as I start in a galaxy far away from the days when it literally feels like we can’t squeeze it all in by announcing that…………..

I love Doctor Who. (Dear god isn’t this supposed to be a cycling blog…..)

I remember literally hiding behind the sofa from the Daleks as a kid, I remember the twinge of excitement as an adult as the series was resurrected and the joy of watching with my own children. I love the imagination, the romance, the Tardis and the spectacle……….

…..but mostly it’s the sheer audacity of time travel. To have broken the shackle that we are all bound by, to be master of one’s own destiny – to be (big deep voice with lots of echo) – a lord over time……erm sorry no, I mean A TIME LORD! And what a majestic sounding title that is – oh how I yearn to be a time lord!

Back to reality and moving swiftly on it’s said that there’s only a few absolute certainties in life and they include death, taxes and the fact that we all have exactly the same 168 hours in every week.

And here’s a fact.

You have a choice as to how you spend those 168 hours. It’s your life, your choice and your time is the most precious commodity you have.

To be serious for a moment, there are some of us incarcerated in situations completely beyond our control and I don’t want to make ignorant sweeping statements about other people’s lives. Broadly speaking I have lead a comfortable middle class life and had choices available to me that I know that many others haven’t through no fault of their own. I am as much berating my own perceptions of how hard it is to find time to get on my bike and giving myself a bit of a hard time for it so please don’t take any of this post too personally!

Ahh yes you cry but I have to go to work, I have to pay my mortgage, feed my blossoming offspring, run grandma to the chiropodist twice a week, walk the hamster, mow the carpets and wash the lawns on a Sunday morning before eating roast beef dinner and snoozing on the sofa to prepare for another week of going to work, paying the mortgage, feeding my blossoming………..paying bloody vets bills for the cat.

And have you seen the amount of time it takes to watch a whole season of Breaking Bad/The Wire/name your current binge watch?

The point is having a mortgage is a choice, having children is a choice, going to work, or at least how you work is a choice.

It’s a matter of priority and working out what is the most important and, given the 168 hours per week we all have, how the hell are you going to spend them?

Far too many of us drift through the hours, make it up as we go along, waste them away, forget that we can’t get them back once they are passed.

The hours are out most valuable currency. You probably wouldn’t pour money down the drain but sitting on the sofa for eight hours a week watching soap operas in your pyjamas whilst surfing cat videos on You Tube is like chucking your time currency down the plug hole. It’s a waste of your life.

Sorry, sorry, yes – this is me too and I love drifting around wasting time and I constantly berate my teenage daughters for this sort of thing like a good, boring middle aged Dad should do.

The point is that we can pretty much all make time for anything if we have the will power and determination to do it. Cycling is a “money in the bank” activity, it’s positive, life affirming and nurturing. Time should be made for it at the expense of lesser negative and passive activities that do little, in the long term, to nurture but slowly erode our well being.

So, where to start?

Make a plan and stick to it

I don’t know about you but I’m great at coming up with great ideas, big grand plans of self improvement and I love plotting and scheming. However, I have very little will power, am so easily distracted it’s not funny, I have a mind that wanders like a nomad on speed and before I carry out any of the things I need to …………………………..erm, sorry what was I saying?…….. do to make my big plan work I’m completely involved and consumed by planning the next one and so the cycle goes on.

Basically you need a plan and you need to stick to it.

It comes back to being a lord over your time, or even becoming, in your own small way a time lord. Take control of how you spend your time and make a conscious decision to spend time each week regularly cycling (at last he gets back to the point!)

Schedule cycling time into your diary, share your cycling time with your family and friends so that it becomes integral to your week. It has to be immovable, whatever happens come rain or shine these times are cycling time and they are sacred. As soon as they become a habit then you are pretty much there. If they are a habit (try to remove nun images from mind) you have removed any thought processes from around your cycling time ie “it’s too cold, I have too much work to do, let me just check Facebook for an hour or two……” As soon as you have to make decisions or think about whether it’s cycling time or not then our natural propensity for procrastination kicks in and it becomes remarkably easy to talking ourselves into eating chocolate and watching cat videos.

Have a long term goal in mind

It can sometimes be hard to motivate yourself if you basically plan that, for the rest of your life you will cycle at the same time every week without there being at least a medium term goal in mind.

Maybe think of three months down the line and plan to review your progress then so that you can see ahead in a manageable chunk of time. Having a final goal for the three month period will help give you purpose and focus as you schedule in your cycling – maybe you want to do a sportive, maybe just improve your personal time over ten miles or maybe just simply be able to say that for three months you cycle five hours every week to improve your fitness.

Think about what will motivate you, give yourself a three month goal and then plan and schedule your weekly cycling towards achieving that goal.

Take control of your time. Have a purpose and schedule in time to help you achieve that purpose. Wow, yes that feels good and wholesomely virtuous!

Be prepared!

Continuing on the theme of removing decision making and the opportunity for procrastination to get in the way of your wholesome cycling schedule it is a great idea to be prepared.

This means putting as few obstacles in the way to getting your ass on that saddle as possible.

Firstly get into the habit (nuns again!) of doing a bit of regular cycle maintenance. At least check your tyre pressures and brakes etc so that any mechanical issues don’t get in the way of your ride. It’s really frustrating looking for a bike pump for an hour when you really should be out riding!

Also get your route and kit ready beforehand. It takes very little time the night before a ride but eats away disproportionately at your cycling time if you are scrabbling around in the washing pile looking for your cycling socks.

Also, if your kit is sitting there all set out and waiting to be worn, there’s something compelling about getting into it and getting on the bike. You will be far less likely to talk yourself into wasting an hour of your life Snapchatting stupid selfies of yourself with bunny ears on to your friends (sorry, slipped into boring middle aged Dad of teenage girls mode again there for a moment) if you have everything out and ready to go.

Yes, this is all lovely but when, when, when!!!????

Ok, yes, I’m full of idealistic principles and we would all love to do this nice planning and scheduling but how can you squeeze more time into (your choice) of lifestyle for a spot of cycling?

At last some practical ideas!

Ok, first of all do a straight swap. Commit to swapping an already regular activity for cycling. So, you could give up your Salsa class and get on the bike instead. Simples!

Commute by bike. Yes, you have to work but can you get there on your bike and kill two birds with one stone? Can you get a bike rack and park half way there and cycle the rest maybe.? Come on there may well be a way!

Get up an hour earlier two mornings a week, get out on your bike and feel smug and virtuous for the rest of the day. Realistically this means going to bed an hour earlier two night per week as well. But come on, do you really need to spend that last hour of the day drowsily slumped on the sofa trying to stay awake until the end of a repeat of American Dad – is that really just me?

Or, just to help, as my partner regularly reminds me “there’s plenty of time to sleep when you’re dead”!

Cut your lunch hour and get out on your bike instead. Yes, you heard me and you could do that twice a week as well.

Cycle when you get home from work. This is probably the hardest as your brain will be telling you that you are too tired and that you need to feed and nest but it does set you up for a much more enjoyable and energised evening afterwards.

Stop wasting your time on pointless tasks every week and cycle instead eg washing the car, watching the news (!), checking Facebook, watching soap operas.

Incorporate cycling time into family time. Get the kids out on bikes (there’s an awesome resource on this here), do the weekly shop by bike, do the school run by bike. Ok, so you might not pull on the lycra and mount the carbon just to follow the kids round the corner to school on their bikes but even a short cycle ride is better than nothing at all if you can work out how to fit it in.

For a further kick up the butt……

If you need some further motivation here are a few ideas that might work as well…

You could bribe yourself and say that, if you keep to your cycling schedule, you will buy yourself/let yourself/indulge yourself in/ you really shouldn’t but on this one occasion you could just/check if you can legally…….you get the idea!

Get yourself a cycling buddy. There’s nothing like the thought of letting other people down to motivate you to get something done! Plus which it’s fun cycling with a friend so plan to cycle in a pair for greater success. Even if you can’t find an actual cyclist friend (sad) you could still make yourself accountable to a friend and ask them to keep a check on your progress.

Join a cycling club. This is a great for motivation, morale and getting you out on the bike on a regular basis.

Nope, sorry, I really still can’t find enough time

Ok, I’m sorry about that but first of all start by trying to define what “enough” time is. There’s little point in berating yourself about not having enough time to train like a pro if you have a full time job, three children and a YouTube habit (nuns)!

You are only in competition with yourself and the only thing that really matters is finding a bit more time in a way that works for you. It might be that doing two more 15 minute bike rides per week is the only thing that is manageable and that would be progress and that would be great! There’s no point in thinking that you “should” be doing ten hours and 200 miles per week. We would all love to have the time but it’s a matter of priority and compromise and being realistic as well as kind to yourself and congratulating yourself on your achievement – whatever or however you want to define it.

There is time in your week. You just have to look and find it. It really will be well worth it in the end.

Finally, there are some people for whom none of this is an issue. How I wish I could live my life in glorious happiness, fulfilment and satisfaction simply by drifting from one day to the next, happily letting life happen to me, smelling the roses as they pass by in a rose tinted glow.

Few of us manage this state of benign utopia though and for us lesser mortals we need to take control, become time lords and, as much as we can, shape our own destiny.

At least us time lords are trying. The worst thing to be is is in a state where life just happens to you and you are unhappy.

how to make more time for your cycling

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