Words: Sara Sheets
Photos: Ben Ward
I’m not talking about the bike handling skills it takes to ride well. I’m talking about the balancing act of having all that life has to offer when all you want to do is ride your bike. If you’re an avid cyclist like I am, but also someone who has a full life off the bike, this can be a challenge. Balancing time spent riding versus time spent with loved ones or working, must be done with intention.
Whether you are a person who rides casually, or someone who rides for training purposes, biking can quickly become an addiction - after all, it's almost a guaranteed good time! The number of hours a week it takes to race at a competitive level more than likely takes time away from important relationships. I would bet that if you ride more than 15-20 hours a week, and you have a family or a career, you’re losing valuable connections with those that are important to you. Even riders who don't have a job and train 15-20 or more hours/week will sometimes sacrifice relationships during recovery weeks because they cannot be social and don't want to leave their homes.
Yes, this is challenging when all you think about is getting on your bike. Align your expectations and recognize the cost of spending too much time on your bike. It’s fun to become better and to see improvements in your speed, but be mindful when relationships start to suffer for your obsession. Be empathetic to your partner, friends, or your pets and realize what it’s like when you’re never home or never there when they need you.
Know that it’s okay to take a break from racing, or training, while your kids are young or your career is escalating. There are many things in life that should take precedence over riding. You don’t have to give up riding altogether, but know when something that should be enjoyed becomes an obsession.
There are plenty of local races and rides to satisfy your need to ride. It might take an early morning or late evening ride. Invest in a good set of bike lights so you’re prepared to ride in the dark if necessary. Adjust the expectation that your rides may need to be shorter. You will still feel a sense of accomplishment after doing a short front side loop or short track race.
The balancing act is a challenge. The good news is that it can be done. Be deliberate in your choices. Set priorities. Don’t let relationships suffer for riding. Your bike will always be there, but your job, partner, or your friends may not be.