Unless you make your living off of mountain biking, you don’t have a lot of time to ride. Other obligations, like work and family, fill up most of your waking hours. So how can you squeeze in more riding time? Here are eight things you can do to gain more time in the saddle without taking time away from your other priorities.
Ride at night or early in the morning
Seeing the sun rise over your favorite trail is a great way to start your day. Photo by Bryon Dalton.
As a newbie, I only rode during the daylight hours. Then my son was born. I needed daylight hours to focus on the needs of my family instead of myself. In order to keep mountain biking, I started riding in the early morning. That allowed me to get in a ride, and still have the rest of the day for family and work obligations. Additionally, I began to ride more consistently.
Riding first thing in the morning also has some added benefits. It gives me more energy during the day, and helps me improve my skills as a mountain biker since some of the riding is done in the dark.
If you’re a night owl, consider ending your day with a night ride. It’s a great way to unwind, and will help you sleep better at night. Either way, I strongly suggest extending your day to incorporate either an early morning ride, or a late night ride, where a bike light is needed. You will enjoy it and it will make you a better rider.
Prepare for rides ahead of time
You can free up more time for riding by preparing for your rides ahead of time. I prepare for my rides the evening before by laying out my bike clothes, and putting my gear in my truck. I also look over my bike, and check my tire pressure and shock pressure, so it’s ready to go the next morning. By doing the prep work the night before, I can roll out of bed when my alarm goes off, get dressed quickly, and head out the door, easily saving 10-15 minutes. Doing the prep work for a ride ahead of time will definitely pay off with more trail time.
Incorporate mountain biking into your daily commute
There are parts of Tallahassee that have trails connecting neighborhoods to prime singletrack, and to parts of the city itself. Riders can enjoy riding great trails to and from their job, while saving money on gas and getting a good workout. Not every city has this option.
Even if your city does, it still takes careful planning on your part. You will need storage for your work clothes while riding (and either wrinkle-free work clothes, or a steamer at the office). You will also need a workplace with shower facilities and storage for your bike.
Weather plays a big factor in how often you can commute by bike during the week. However, if you can incorporate mountain biking into your daily commute, you’ll have even more opportunities to ride.
Take a MTB lunch break
Say you can’t bike to work or fit in an early morning or evening ride into your schedule, but happen to work near a trail and have shower facilities at work. Why not use your lunch hour to fit in a ride?
My riding partner, Bryon does this fairly often. His job is close to 20 miles of great singletrack. He’ll often take an extended lunch break and bike to the trail, logging some miles before heading back to work and showering. It’s a great way to break up the work day, and blow off some steam if you are having a hectic day at the office.
Take your bike with you on business trips or vacations
Enhance a fall foliage trip to the mountains by bringing your bikes along and exploring some new trails.
Traveling with your bike, whether on business or vacation, gives you an opportunity to explore new trails in places you’ve never been before, and meet some cool riders along the way. Obviously, your destination will determine whether this is feasible (not much singletrack at the beach), as well as the length of your stay there.
If you know you’ll be going somewhere that has trails, and you have the time to ride, take your bike and gear with you. Or, look into renting a bike at your destination, and take gear and clothes with you on your trip. Use mountain bike forums to inquire about riding options at your destination, and which bike shops rent bikes. You might even find a riding partner. It’s a great way to continue riding even when you are away from home.
Make your rides a family affair
There is no greater joy than sharing your love of mountain biking with someone you love. However, it takes patience and planning to make it happen. Spend some time with your kids practicing their skills on a pump track. Make date night into an evening out on the trail with your significant other. Or book a family vacation to a mountain bike resort. Any of these options will give you more time on the trails.
Just don’t be selfish when riding with your loved ones. Remember that the rides are more about their enjoyment than yours. Go at their pace, and ride the trails that they feel comfortable riding. Stop when they stop, and walk when they walk. Do these things, and they will want to keep riding with you. They might even become as good as, if not better than, you.
Don’t waste time
There are a lot of unimportant things in our lives, like television and the internet, that can easily suck up all of our free time. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, watching television was the number one leisure activity among Americans in 2017, consuming an average of 2.8 hours a day. Think about how many miles of trail you could ride in that time.
Plus, cutting out cable or satellite television gives you more money for bike clothing and gear. If you are having trouble finding time to ride, then you might want to do a self-audit of your daily routine, and see if there are any unimportant things that are sucking up your free time and keeping you from the trails.
Do a skills session in your own backyard
You want to go for a ride, but don’t have enough time to load up your bike and gear, drive to the trail, ride, and drive back home. What do you do? Well, you can work on your skills without leaving home.
Practice things like bunny hops, manuals, wheelies, cornering, and more in the comfort of your own backyard (or front yard). A 30 minute session is a great workout by itself, and helps improve MTB skills. Then, when you have time to hit the trails, you will be a much better rider, and enjoy your rides even more.
Maximize the time you have
Not every rider has the good fortune to make a living off of mountain biking. Most of us, myself included, have careers, families, and other obligations that constantly compete for our time. Still, I cannot imagine a life without mountain biking. By doing some of the things I listed above, and being blessed with a very supportive family, I am able to consistently ride every week, while still being a good employee, husband, and father. I hope that these tips will help you find more time for riding as well.
Know of other good ways to carve out more time for mountain biking? Please share them in the comments section below.