Recently I asked the Femme Cyclist community what your number one challenge is as it relates to bicycling. Can you guess what it was?
Finding time to ride! Yup, it didn’t have anything to do with bike fit, or winter weather, or even flat tires. Women are just struggling to even find the time to get on their bicycle.
As a mom and a business owner, I can totally relate. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done–let alone take care of ourselves!
Still, riding your bike is SO IMPORTANT. For your physical health. For your mental health. For the health of your family and friends. Heck, even for the health of our planet.
So, here are a few ways that I’ve figured out how to fit in more hours and miles in the saddle. It’s not always easy, but with a few tricks, it is doable.
Make Riding a Priority
Before we move onto anything else, we need to talk about whether or not riding is actually a priority for you. Are you at a stage in your life where you can commit to it being a priority?
If not, maybe you should just be content with sneaking in the occasional ride on a warm spring day. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
But if biking is a priority for you–if it’s the thing that really makes your heart sing in this life–then you need to TREAT IT LIKE A PRIORITY. Or figure, out where it falls on your list of higher priorites.
For me, my priorities are: 1) My family, 2) Riding My Bike, 3) Being Outdoors (closely related to #2), and 4) My Businesses. My life isn’t always structured so it is spent in that order (some days I have to sit in meetings rather than hitting the trail), BUT over a week or a month or a year of my life–my time should reflect these priorities.
And so should yours. If biking is high on your list, it should come BEFORE cleaning your house, or throwing dinner parties, or scrolling through Instagram.
Make It Social
Ride with your friends and kill two birds with one stone. Rather than sitting for an hour or two at the coffee shop, you and your best gal pal can catch up WHILE riding your bike. That might mean that you recruit your best friend to start biking OR that you actively start building your social circle to include other cyclists.
For me personally, I have very few people I spend time with that don’t ride bikes. They like to do the things I like to do AND they understand why I’d rather put in 50 miles on a Saturday morning rather than going to a boozy brunch.
Get Your Significant Other Involved
Similarly, try to recruit your significant other to the dark, er bike, side if they’re not already. Or, if you don’t have a significant other, make sure that you start actively looking for romance in the saddle.
A partner that loves to ride will help make your life so much easier. My husband and I spend all of our kid-free time riding bikes rather than eating out. And when we don’t have kid-free time, we happily swap parenting duty so that the other person can go ride.
If your partner is obsessed with bikes, they’ll understand how important it is for you to ride. If, sadly, they aren’t into bikes, make sure they recognize how important biking is to you. SPECIFICALLY ask for their support in making sure you get out at least a couple days a week.
Ride With Your Family
If you have kids, you know how tough it is to find time to ride. There are bedtimes and birthday parties and baseball games.
Our family has set aside Sundays to ALWAYS ride bikes as a family. (Unless it’s snowing, in which case we ski). No, rides with kids aren’t as challenging as a ride alone, but it’s still saddle time. And it’s great quality time.
When my son was really little, I’d ride with him in a bike trailer or bike seat. Carrying that extra weight is an amazing workout, let me tell you. I’ve done a ton of “training” by hauling a kid.
(For more info on riding with kids visit our sister site: Rascal Rides).
Ride Indoors (Once In A While)
Riding outside is great for your physical and mental health. All that fresh air and sunshine can be as good for your body as the exercise is.
Still, riding inside is often better than no ride. When it’s cold or icy out, a ride on the trainer or rollers can help you get in miles when the only other option is the couch and a tub of ice cream.
When my son was a baby, I also rode the trainer while he took naps. And now, I’ll sometimes ride the trainer while he watches a movie. It’s a good way to sneak in a ride when you have responsibilities at home.
Finally, riding on the trainer is a good option if you’re short on time. It’s hardly worth it to get all kitted up and drive to a trailhead if you only have 30 minutes. But a quick half-hour spin on the trainer is still totally worthwhile.
Work at home? Spend your lunch break doing some quick intervals!
I should also mention you don’t have to actually limit trainer (or roller) riding to the indoors. If the weather is nice outside, there’s no reason not to set up in the backyard or driveway.
Schedule It In
This one goes hand-in-hand with my first tip about prioritizing. If cycling is a priority for you, SCHEDULE it.
This might mean setting a regular weekly schedule, where you ride Tuesday and Thursday at 5pm and Saturday at 7am. Or, it might mean sitting down every Sunday night and looking for open blocks of time in your week.
In either case, you should have time actually BLOCKED OUT on your calendar, just like you would for an important appointment. And, make sure you respect those blocks.
Daylight (or the lack thereof) can be one of the biggest obstacles to getting in a bike ride, especially during the fall and winter months when days are short.
Consider investing in some good lights so you can lengthen your riding days. A high-powered headlight (and tail light if riding on the road) can provide plenty of lumens to ride at any time.
If you feel intimidated by the idea of riding in the early am or late pm, check out our guide to riding in the dark.
Use Your Bicycle As Transportation
One of the best ways to “sneak in” extra miles, is to ride where you need to go. Have to work? Don’t drive. Bike there instead. Need to get groceries? Pick them up by bike.
No, it might not be a training ride, but pedaling short distances several times over the course of a day or a week, can add up to big miles. Some of the fastest ladies I know make good use of the time they spend community each week.
Prep So You’re Ready To Go
You realized you have an hour or two to ride. But first you have to find some clean bike shorts. And pump up the tires on your bike. And fill a water bottle.
By the time you finally have a spare tube and granola bar in your jersey pocket, half of your ride time is gone. In order to maximize the precious ride time you get, which sometimes comes out of the blue, make sure you’re always ready to ride.
Keep your helmet, shoes, gloves, and tools in a bag that’s ready to go at a moment’s notice. Have a water bottle filled and in the fridge. A couple times a week, when you have a few spare moments, check on your bike. Pump up the tires or lube the chain so it’s ready to go the next time you are.
The better you can get at getting out of the house quickly, the more time you’ll end up having to ride.
Ride Out Your Back Door
Most of us spend a lot of time GETTING to where we’re going to ride our bike. Next time you notice it has been a while since the last time you got in a ride, commit to just pedaling somewhere from your backdoor.
It might not be that gnarly mountain bike trail or that scenic bike lane, but an hour or two of pedaling around your local ‘hood can be a lot of fun. You might notice new things or meet new people.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve come home from a ride to tell my husband about the new restaurant opening or the gravel path I found that I didn’t even know existed.
Most importantly, by biking from your house you skip the drive time that might keep you from getting in a ride at all.
Restructure Your Life (Yes, Really)
This one will get some eye-rolls and nay-sayers, but I’m dead serious. If cycling is a priority for you, restructure your life to create more time to bike.
I literally quit my job so I could travel the country for a year and mountain bike more. (Read that story here).
This might not be something you can change over night, but over time, you absolutely can. What restructuring your life means will be different for everyone.
It might mean buying a house that’s closer to trails so you don’t have to drive to a trailhead. It might mean getting a job where you work from home so you can ride the trainer on your lunch break. Or, it could mean scheduling a babysitter every Saturday morning so you can go on that group training ride.
How Have YOU Found More Time To Ride?
Have something that’s worked for you, that we haven’t listed here? Tell us below. Your ideas might just help another lady out!