Riding time

When do you ride?

In my perfect world, I would ride when I wanted to. I might get up and pound out 50 miles at sunrise, or I might sleep in and get a nice ride in at 10am. I might even ride late in the evening, pedaling through the sultry summer evenings with the fireflies and mosquitoes. I won’t even set other restrictions on this perfect world; it can be hot, cold, whatever, so long as it’s semi-bearable and will sustain human life. As long as I get to choose my time to ride, I will ride.

I do not live in my perfect world.

The start of the Fall semester has left this parent/businessman/cyclist/student bereft of many favored options for cycling. My schedule pretty much has me involved in work, school, and family time. Cycling now must compete with homework as my recreation of choice.

A typical day:

  1. Get up
  2. Drag eldest daughter out of bed for early band practice
  3. Drive to band practice
  4. Teach trombone to 5th graders
  5. Drive to school early while consuming coffee and Pop-Tart
  6. Sit in car doing homework
  7. Class
  8. Class again
  9. More homework, this time while eating lunch
  10. After lunch, more homework
  11. Yet another class, this one from 3pm to 5:30pm
  12. Drive home
  13. Dinner with the family
  14. Homework time, math help, showers, clean up, bedtime stories and “snuggle time”
  15. Homework/collapse
  16. Bedtime

I know some of you will see some gaps in there that–just maybe–could be filled with something other than “homework.” Probably so, depending on the day and my schedule. I’m already considering some bike commuting. School days require me to be on campus most all day, but I could definitely get some ride time in there during the commute. I live quite a long way out, but I could certainly park my car at my daughters’ school and use it to pick them up and drop them off, riding the rest of the way in. I’ve got to get past one thing that will kill this: I hate to be stinky at school.

Oh, sure, kids at school are stinky, too. Stumbling in to your 8am directly from a night of hard partying and some desperate vomiting will create a bouquet. I know cycling isn’t THAT bad. Still, there’s something unpleasant about not being able to get a good shower in before having to deal with people in close proximity. Still, there is an athletic center close by on campus, and I might even be able to shower there. I will be soon running a test pattern to see if this is going to work. If I can, and it doesn’t add a pile of stress to my already-busy life, I will be posting my routes, tricks and tips for Tallahassee bike commuting.

Otherwise, I’ve just gotten started figuring out my non-commuting cycling schedule, and it looks like I’m going to result to my winter schedule though it’s but September. A good set of lights (I prefer the big Princeton Tec 3-LED system, with a Superflash blinky) and a nice 1.7-mile paved loop in a nearby neighborhood works well for after-hours cycling. Additionally, I’ve purchased a Computrainer for the upcoming “bad months.” It will use user-created courses, so the hills of Six Gap are definitely on the menu. Unfortunately, it does have some gradient limitations; 15% is about all it will take. Of course, that’s a bear of a climb, but I won’t be accurately simulating Brasstown Bald or any other hell-climb except in duration. Hopefully, I can do enough that Six Gap won’t be impossible after a few weeks of cycling flux.

The resentment of the wife is another story. My schedule, though I’m certainly doing stuff for the family, takes me away from home for long stretches at a time. I work out of town, and being in town is really being at school all day. It’s not fair to her that I can only do a few things, mostly telephone related, to help her get through her day. Most of what she NEEDS is help cleaning the house, but it’s hard for me to put in a long day, then come home and do housework when HOMEWORK is the thing I feel most pressured to do. Yes, we have a housekeeper, but she’s only here every other week and the ritual PRE-cleaning we have to do beforehand adds more stress than her cleaning relieves. Thus, daylight-hour long rides occur on early Sunday morning, before the family activities get started. Even so, 4-5 hours of training is just too long to be gone, though I can get away with it occasionally.

I’m not about to quit cycling, but it must be ONE of my priorities, not my ONLY priority. It’s amazing to recall those college days of my youth, when I thought I was so busy and avoided training like I should have.