TCI Friday

A quick note on how TCI Friday works: This is meant to be a forum for our readers to share their thoughts and experiences on their own cycling lives. What I have to say is just one perspective. Please consider weighing in on the topic and participating in the conversation. Thanks.

There was a time, a long time actually, when I had a base cycling fitness based on daily commuting. For a decade or so, I rode into and out of Boston every day, about 9 miles at the time, so regularly that there was no weekend ride I couldn’t take on. It was weekdays full of the hurl and burl of urban cyclo-combat and weekends full of idyllic cruises around the western suburbs.

I don’t know how a series of 15-20 mile days translates into being able to ride a hard 60 mile route, or more, but back then I had that fitness in my locker. Even if my legs felt dead on a Friday from the unintentional intervals of sprinting from stoplight to stoplight, I could still rock up on a Saturday morning and acquit myself without too much trouble.

Maybe it’s just that I was younger.

When I took a job in the bike industry, my commute shortened to just 5 miles, so I had the irony of being closer to cycling in my daily work, but riding less as a result. I made up for that mostly by taking longer routes, often involving detours through the woods. I’d say I had less fitness, but still a good base, and the hours I spent in between basking in the glow of bikes and riding, stoked my ambitions and led me to a lot of great experiences riding all over the country.

Fast forward to March 2020 and the dawn of the work-at-home age. As much as I love the comfort, convenience, and quiet of working from my couch, I do miss those base miles. Now a 40 mile ride is an epic. I’m not proud to type that, but it’s true. My cycling fitness reservoir is as empty as it’s ever been.

And I wonder if many of you find yourselves in the same situation, or whether you never depended on commuting for base miles in the first place.

This week’s TCI Friday, asks where do your base miles live? Did you/do you depend on a bike commute, or a series of trainer sessions, or weekday group rides? And how has the pandemic affected your bike fitness, if at all?

Join the conversation
  1. Barry Johnson says

    I had a 7 mile each way commute which lasted for about 6 years starting with my first year in a full 4 season climate at altitude. I’d ride year round with a variety of bikes, especially the frankenwinterbike with studs. It also gave me great weekend fitness with a regular 70+ fast team/club ride on Saturdays and a personal 40 mile climbing Sunday in the Wasatch always waiting. But yeah, age will put you in the car, especially when your personal temperature range shrinks. Now my commute is a few steps downstairs, so…..

  2. DaveinME says

    I commuted year-round for 20 years to all the jobs I held. The commutes ranged in distance from 10 – 35 miles each way and were phenomenal for keeping a huge reservoir of fitness.

    Since the pandemic and always working from home, my fitness depended on Zwifting or lunch rides during the week and then small group rides on the weekend. That seemed to do the trick to keep me in the mix on fast group rides.

    As of now, however, the reservoir is empty as I am in the middle of a three-month recovery after getting crushed by a car. Once I get the all-clear, hopefully in December, that my spine is healed I can get back on the trainer and begin building back up. I am unlikely to ever return to road cycling in the States.

    1. Dan Murphy says

      Ugh. Good luck in your recovery.

  3. smratalleck says

    I’ve actually found it easier during the pandemic. Since I’m mostly remote, I find I can be a bit more flexible with my schedule and carve out an hour and a half sometime in the day, whether it’s before or after work, or even in the middle of the day if I know I don’t have a meeting. I’ll often make the tradeoff to take a long lunch break to ride, and just work a bit later into the evening.

  4. tcfrog says

    My bike commute is only 4 miles each way, so it gives me a bit of a base, and I add in weekday group rides to supplement. Fortunately none of that has changed in the past 2 years, save for mental health breaks and a periodical shift in focus away from riding.

  5. Dan Murphy says

    A different perspective since I’m retired.
    When I worked, I rode at noon for 1-2+ hours a day. Once a week, I’d ride after work for 50+ miles. I would often take a rest day on Friday to be fresh for any weekend rides. Gotta say, this worked out well, riding-wise.
    I probably should have commuted with a 7-mile ride, but I liked the mid-day break.
    Now that we’re retired, I will often get the “Honey, what would you like to do today?” thrown at me while eating breakfast and planning where I’d like to ride that day. The routine rides are gone, but I honestly get pretty much all the riding in I want. Let’s just say rest days are a good idea as an older guy.
    Covid didn’t change a thing with regard to riding.

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