Friday Group Ride #15

By almost any ordinary definition the season is spring. The Spring Classics have begun. Spring training is on the minds of cyclists and baseball fans alike. Some schools are on Spring Break. Snow has stopped falling in most states and most European countries.

Not that it’s necessarily warm, mind you, but the weather is cooperative enough in theory to allow most cyclists to train. Now’s the time when many cyclists are trying to build or complete their base miles for the season.

You’ve been at this a long time and know that there’s more to logging base miles than just decent weather. Work, children, better halves, any of these can derail a three-hour ride faster than instant coffee.

That said, we know your heart. We know you want to be out there. So tell us, just how cooperative has your life been? How many hours a week have you been able to train on average?

Image: John Pierce, Photosport International

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33 comments

  1. Gandalf

    Hi,
    Nice blog you got here, I came via BKW and since then I follow you. This year, outdoor riding started bad with the brutal European winter we had till March. Then it all dissapeared and I went for one little tiny ride and I got a deadly cold. That, in combination with the same weather that brought snow to Tirreno-Adriatico kept me of my bike till earlier this week. Since then it has been all good. Riding every day for an hour, an hour and a half. Loving every single second of it..

  2. SinglespeedJarv

    A bit fat zero, life has been most un-cooperative of recent times. It has now been nearly five months since I rode a bike properly; illness kept me off the bike for November and then someone drove into my car in December and ruined my back. I was wondering the other day whether I can even call myself a cyclist anymore or whether I should just call myself a cycling fan.

    I have still to be properly diagnosed, I have a couple of suggestions and am awaiting an appointment for an MRI scan. Until then I have to wait and sit and watch the classics and any other race I can find and try not to think dark thoughts of not being a cyclist anymore.

  3. Souleur

    Interesting question. Life for Souleur recently has been very cooperative. It has not always been so, for years it was not cooperative. Earlier, I passed invites to be on teams when I was in my early 20’s, in lieu of graduate school, career and gainful employment. It all worked out well, and best in my opinion because I would have not been any PRO, but rather I would have struggled to buy a happy meal. Then children came, and the life obligations of dad. First things first, hands down. That meant many years that rides were passed up and cob webs collected on spokes, friends talked about what i missed, and that was ok. Now, 15-20yrs later, however, my son is in the navy doing well, my daughter who is 15 is needing more moms time, mom needs less of my time and i have a little more saddle time. I started seriously training this season, riding more, my base is good, and am heading into my return if you will. Top 10’d my first race back, in a field of 70 on a steel-clad 1×8, (49×21-12) when others brought some very worthy rides to this ‘training ride like race’. Sure, remember, racers are liars on race day. I was the old coot in the group which I absolutely love, & it was fun as they wondered (by the looks) when I would drop back. One by one they did, and the breakaway group stuck. I did however utterly pronouce the RKP that afternoon.

    Souleurs last week was ~10hrs. Later will be more, but weather is trashy. Today, later I will head out for a short one today w/20-30mph SE wind, and cold rain promised, which I will respectfully send Robots way tomorrow.

  4. Adam

    I manage about 12-13 hours a week. Don’t think it’s possible to squeeze in more; as it is that’s a couple of hours in Saturday and Sunday, and then morning rides that start at 5:15.
    I’d like to ride more – and who wouldn’t – but in a law of diminishing returns I don’t know that if you ride 12 hours/week you’re going to see notable improvements unless you’re ready to commit to getting up to 20 hours +.

  5. Michael

    I am averaging around 10 hours per week, 5 hours worth of weekend riding that is pure pleasure, and 4 days per week of bike commuting on average 30 km/day to get to work and back, which I use to toss in some intervals and sprints as I can – luckily the round trip is quite lumpy and provides some good opportunities for staying in reasonable shape.

    That is about as much as I will ever be able to get in, so I try to make the most of those precious times on the bike.

  6. Andy.O

    SinglespeedJarv: That’s f**king rough. Hang in there.

    How many miles I logged: Less than I planned for this week. Life stuff happened.

    Note: Does anyone notice how insane that dude’s (pictured above) left calve muscle looks?

  7. Lachlan

    2nd child of 4months means next to nothing.
    Hour and a half rides here and there. Couple of turbo sessions… some weeks zero.
    : – (


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Everyone: Thanks for sharing your riding life with us. I realized after reading SingleSpeedJarv’s comment that I’ve asked you all to divulge something that may not be your favorite life detail.

      SingleSpeedJarv: Sorry to know about your struggles. I’m sure things will improve for you. As to your question, ‘Are you a cyclsist?’ The answer is in your heart. If you still feel like one, then you are. The miles don’t make us cyclists.

      Andy.O: We’re pleased to introduce you to King Kelly … and his mantastic calves. (Apologies to Greg Behrendt.)

      Adam: You make an interesting point. That jump from 12 hours per week to 20+ hours per week makes for a quantum leap in fitness. It can mean the difference between winning in the 4s and winning in the 3s or Masters.

      Lachlan: Congrats to the addition to your family. My little guy turned eight months Thursday.

  8. sophrosune

    @SingleSpeedJarv Damn right you’re a cyclist. No question about it.

    I have nowhere near the travails of SSJ but since January 1 I have logged 266 fewer miles than last year. I have been averaging 3 rides a week and just 80 miles a week. I’m not going to meet my personal targets, but it’s just about having fun afterall, isn’t it?

  9. SinglespeedJarv

    The miles might not make us cyclists, but the ability to ride a bike does.

    However, injury or not, I won’t get much riding in this year, as we have twins due in July. So I have other things to look forward to.

    As a whole, life has put many constrictions on my ability to ride a bike in the last few years. I now having a job for which I have a 45-minute car commute and which can have erratic hours, which can make it difficult to schedule regular riding time. I had managed to incorporate a once-weekly bike-commute, riding home one day and then to the office the day after. This system meant I have no choice but to ride the return leg and automatically gave me around 4.5hrs on the bike.

    Long gone are the days of my 20’s when I was working 37hrs a week and training 20hrs. I sometimes dream of being that fit again, it made riding effortless, but life is more than just bikes.

    Padraig, I’d suggest that it was a good question to ask if it returned answers you weren’t expecting. Besides, we’re not obligated to comment. Re-reading my comment, it reads a lot darker/depressed that it should have done. In a couple of months I will have plenty to distract and delight me and my concerns for my fitness go further than just riding bikes.

  10. Robot

    Since my kids were born (I have a 3yo and a 5yo), my riding hours have gone the way of most things. For the last few years I’ve turned myself from a recreational hammer into a die hard commuter and round-towner. I used to go on long group rides, road and mountain. Now I mostly just commute, and on that rare weekend where the family and the weather cooperate I sneak in another ride. I also ride to the grocery store, the doctor, the daycare, etc. etc. Again, after the kids were born, I realized that the constant fatigue of fatherhood would land me behind the wheel of my truck nearly every day, so I just sold that fucking thing. It’s forced me to ride, and I have no regrets (ok, occasionally I have a regret).

    I dream of a day in the not so distant future, where I’m able to fit more long rides in. Maybe this summer, along with some of my other daddy-cyclist friends. These will probably be lazy, chatty spins punctuated by lung-bursting, vomit-inducing town-line sprints.

    At least I hope so.

  11. Doug

    I’ve been doing OK, not great. Maybe 3-5 hours a week. Got thrown off this week by a fairly serious mechanical, so the bike’s in the shop.

    I’m guessing this is my last summer for any sort of regular cycling, with kids planned in the nearish future. Also, work’s a little slower this year than normal, so, though the wallet will hurt from it, I may get to spend some more time on the roads.

    I’ve really only two goals for the summer…Ride lots for lots of fun, and drop the 15 lbs. I put on last year when I had to miss a whole summer of cycling for work.

  12. James

    Living Portland, OR. one can ride all year (which is quite cool!). So, I’ve been doing my usual 4 day a week commuting and have started doing some weekend rides with more miles getting ready for all of the century rides during the summer (my racing days are well over). I don’t have kids but I do have a wife who, for some reason, likes to spend time with me so that can cut into bike time once in awhile. We’re off to Roma in a few weeks so I’ll have a week off the bike then but will get some quality cross training in by walking all over the place! Ciao!

  13. MattS

    I’m in Ottawa, Ontario, and we get full on winter here….normally. This year there was enough snow for the skiers to be happy (and some are still at it), but it was actually one of the most meager winters in many years. We got in a 100k ride in January and a few mtb rides on hardpacked singletrack (singlepack?). I spent 5 or 6 days a week on the trainer, far more than I’ve ever done in the past. I was motivated, working for Battenkill and our local spring classic. In February things improved, 5 days on the road and one on the mtb. Life was generally conducive to getting in 5 days a week on the bike, and getting outside was a treat. I started working on power in February. March has been outstanding, the best ever in my lifetime for weather. I’ve been out for 14 rides, many above 120k, and happened to be off for March break with my wife and daughter when we experienced temps up to plus 16 celcius! Crazy, I had more than one ride without knee warmers, got a bit of a tan, and pulled off a 170 day. The work in January and February is bearing fruit, and I’m feeling better than ever (losing 10lbs kinda helped). My wife and daughter know how important the races in April are to me, and are fully supporting me as I put in the time on the bike. Whatever comes of the races, they will have played a significant role in my performance, and their optimism and encouragement will bring me strength. My daughter will be so happy if I win a race; I hope I can in her honour (shared with my wife of course).

    So all in all, since January 1st, I’ve averaged 9hrs/week. Listening to my body ( I don’t even have a computer on my bike) is serving me well.

  14. Cedrik

    I’ve ridden all of six times since 1/1, but with the time change the frequency will increase. Been skiing mostly (~25 days).

  15. dacrizzow

    not counting commuting miles, not much. mostly running (i know, iknow, what a sell out). started out real early and real strong last year and by the time ‘cross came around i was worn out. trying something different this year. trying to figure out the balance. looking at this for long term. i’m 44 and i want to be like the 60 yr. olds who jump in on my races every so often to kick my ass. this sport keeps me young but i do to myself what i did last year. remember, nothing makes you appreciate biking like running does.

  16. Lachlan

    Thanks Padraig – congrats back… its a great time when they’re small for sure : o )
    Compensates us for the cycling downtime we trade for a few years.

    Was just remembering back to my teens and 20’s and I’m pretty sure even then I was rarely above 12-15hrs a week of proper training time (ie in allocated heart rate zones). But then the max race length I was doing was rarely over 80miles, and often only 40 to 50, and the vogue at the time was lots of threshold and lots of interval work, not LSD.

    So I am well impressed at you guys up around the 15-20hr mark!!.. thats the same or more than Chris Boardman used to do back in the day if I remember right!!

  17. Souleur

    Looking at the commonality we seem to have struck is that of fatherhood or other obligations that at times rank one higher than the bike. Sure, its makes me grumble about it, but as men, we make it happen when it comes to our responsibilities. Really, with little hesitations actually since I would bet most of us realize that the bike will still be hanging, just ‘vintage’ by the time we ride it again.

    Padraig seemed a bit hesitant to have found the grumbles, darkness, and struggles that we all have, I find it at least reassuring that there is some common ground, that I am not the only one that was pissed off that my ride time is shorter than I like. I also appreciate that there are other good men out there that are doing the same, and women/mothers that are as well.

    Its IMHO that its through struggles that one may become stronger and more complete as a person/cyclist/father etc, perfecting weakness. Indeed its unpleasant to see shadows, scars, gripes but its where the potential lies to change. Whereas some of my friends tend only look at or recognize the positive polly outlook in life, it seems quite attractive, its perpetually positive and a life of abundant fun. It to me however seems weak in an area in and of itself, as this only allows them to recognize something they may be doing well, but doesn’t tend to make an allowance for improvement, in fact, it shelters them from weakness.

    I personally see this weeks question as quite good, sorta like that steep 15%’r w/cobblestones & w/a corner coming up ahead. Its gonna hurt, but clipping it will make all better.

  18. Steve

    I’m logging my 7-8 hours per week, but it wouldn’t be possible without an alarm clock that goes off at 4:45 AM and a basement that remains 62 degrees year-round. And all that for about 24 days of riding outside each year. (Wow, that sounds insane!)

  19. Rusty Tool Shed

    Being that it is march in Wisconsin I’m amazed that I’m on pace to get in 900+ miles in for the month. Real, honest miles, none of those pansy trainer “miles”.

  20. Mellow Velo

    I’m stuck trying to figure out the work-life-wife balance. I feel guilty doing rides from 5:30-7:30 p.m. more than two or three nights a week, because it means that I’m not making a fresh dinner. My husband is a great cook, but is also a teacher, so he almost always has homework. On those nights, the slow cooker is a fantastic solution, but I don’t want to have a late dinner every night.

    I can’t imagine being a mother and trying to ride regularly. No offense to the guys, but in every relationship I have observed, it always ends up being much easier for Dad, rather than Mom, to slip away to hang with friends or play sports or have personal time.

    At 24, I’m impatient to take advantage of my youth with regards to cycling, but unsure of how to balance life as a new wife and a young person wanting to bound around all the time. The Mr. and I are adventurous, and often things come up that are a lot of fun but mean I don’t get to ride. For example, the high school where the Mr. teaches is in the state playoffs, so after work we’re going to the game. I also take an art class one night a week. The roller derby season starts soon and there’s always an art festival of some sort downtown. No ride, no ride, no ride, no ride.

    I refuse to let fun things pass me by so I can go ride, but then I have angst because I want to be a stronger cyclist so I can suffer less on group rides and do better at cyclocross. I know I can’t do it all (or my house would never get clean), but I usually really want to!

  21. todd k

    I’m averaging about 6 hours per week. I have a 2.5 old and a 7 week old, so I consider myself extremely lucky. I has been critical for me to adopt a high degree flexibility in my plans is critical for me to get those hours in. I have a plan each week, but I can’t get attached to things unfolding in a precise manner. I often have to improvise. I may or may not get my efforts in a bike, let alone a road, but if there is a 45 minute period of time available I will put in what I can because something is better than nothing.

    Each day there is a good probability that an illness, meeting, or unplanned outside event will through all my plans out the window. But I also find I just as often luck out and get a bone thrown to me about once a month… Last Tuesday, for example, I lucked into a 90 mile ride with a small group, it was a clear and warm spring day and we got in a tough but happy ride… totally unplanned and that won’t likely happen again any time soon, but when these things do happen it makes the indoor efforts and working around inconvienences worth the effort.

    I’m also extremely fortunate that my spouse is very supportive of my riding habits… she is often the one throwing me the bone! I try to repay her by doing my part to keep my riding during times that don’t ask too much from my family. I try to minimize the number of events and rides I define as the “critical few”. I try to make sure I thank her when she makes an effort on my account.

  22. Gus_C

    4-6hrs a week indoors, interspersed with a childcare-brought cold every other month. fit enough not to embarass myself on group rides, tho racing shape i’m not. oh well. this week promises some good kms after work as the lady is on vaycay, so i get to ride guilt-free. if all goes well i’ll be toeing the line at a local training rumble this sunday. am motivated, frisky, and *just* shaved my legs this past sunday. new meaning to white legs, argh… never thought fatherhood would be so energy-consuming, to be very frank. am normally an above-normal energy guy, but fatherhood started a strong trend of going to bed at 9pm (for 5am wake up in order to ride). can’t complain, though. i do what i like, kid’s healthy, wife is pretty and bike is delish.

  23. someguy

    Well since my (now) ex-girlfriend decided to turn into a coke head whore and bring back some dude to our house I now have to move …..
    so between that and work I havent been able to put in crap for rides.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Someguy: I’m praying you’re joking. Otherwise, you get my vote for the rider most in need of a group of friends to drag him out for 100 miles in the hills. You’d slay.

  24. rich_mutt

    i guess i’m lucky. i’ve got no kids and i’m self-employed as a freelancer. i’m racing, so mileage is up. i regularly ride between 12 -20 hours a week. it won’t last though- marriage looms, and since the clock on my partner is clicking away furiously, i’m sure it my “vacation” will be over in about a year. i’ve managed to parry the inevitability of family responsibility for longer than most. let’s see if i can race next season with a wife and a baby. i know there are others on the team who are in this situation, and have managed to somehow ride as much as i.

  25. Lachlan

    @Mellow – sounds like you’ve doing a pretty good job at the balance thing right now. Enjoy it : o ) and definitely maximise the bike time while you’re young. Once you have 2 kids on top of 12hours work load a day it gets real tough! And so many folks I hear in their 30s+40s say “I wish I had the time of my 20s and what I know now about racing.”… race to the max now, as you may not have the time later.

  26. someguy

    @Padraig , I wish I was kidding.
    Its ok though , I got a raise at work and met a nice lady who is into bikes.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Someguy: What you’ve been through is like training in the rain for weeks. You’re going to break legs once you’ve got your situation sorted out. Best of luck to you.

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