John T, a biking friend of mine, got in touch last week to tell me he’s back on the bike. He’s trying to build up his leg strength and cardio fitness after not riding all winter. Winters being as mild as they are in Austin, I was surprised to hear this from him, but he said he got tied up attending to his two elementary school-aged boys.
“I wonder how many folks with elementary-aged kids ride regularly — consistently,” he asked. “There always seems to be something else I need to do.”
That’s something I haven’t considered. My wife and I have been empty-nesters for almost 20 years now, and we can pretty much come and go as we please. John T thinks people in my age group are best suited to ride recreationally.
“It may be just me, but most cyclists that I talk to or meet on the road or Veloway don’t have kids or they are older,” he said.
My circle of cycling acquaintances is mostly limited to the members of my club, and John may be on to something there. We do skew a bit older, with most people having grown children who no longer live at home. I envy some of the retired members who have regular group rides on weekday mornings.
A few who do always seem to struggle to juggle their biking routines with baby-sitting routines. One member is close to my age bracket, but adopted several years ago, and so has to deal with the kinds of scheduling demands that affect people 20 years her junior. Sometimes, she cuts a Sunday club ride short, in order to get home and relieve the sitter. Other times, she bows out of the club ride altogether, because she’s unable to come up with a sitter.
Another newer member of the club is a single woman with an 11-year-old at home. She turns out for the Sunday club ride regularly, but if we go a little longer than usual, gets antsy. She has no problem with him being on his own during the morning, but she wants to minimize that.
Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, has been in the news lately because of her book, “Lean In,” about women in the workplace. One of her comments that’s getting attention is her assertion that there is no such thing as life-work balance, especially when the working woman is also caring for children.
Of less import, perhaps, but one that concerns us all, is whether we can find life-bike balance. Is it possible to make time for biking amid all the other distractions and demands of our daily lives?
Let me know what you think. How’s it all working out for you?
What about all the men out there that are single parents too? I worry about them because they perhaps haven’t had the role models (of their gender) that women have had. My mom was selfless, Dad always worked.
Great thoughtful piece.
I raised my “child” and after 18 years, he divorced me. I stood relieved, and happy that we never had children. One was enough 😉
An unknown blogger once wrote about the bicycle being part of a healthy lifestyle instead of a remedy. Balance contains connotations of false choices.
I’m new to the bike world, and it’s a frustration I’ve had–only being able to ride on the weekends. I’m a graduate student in my twenties, and even so, I find it challenging to schedule a ride on any day other than a Saturday or Sunday. I’m still working on how to get the most time out of riding I can, it’s definitely a learning process.
Jeff A says
An interesting subject, and as I read, I realized that I also got back into cycling after my sons got out of High School. I can ride weekends, but I find it hard to ride during the week before we really have daylight late into the day.
I am a mom of school-aged children and it’s terribly frustrating to try to fit riding in with the million other things that go along with school age children. Besides school events like band and choir concerts, conferences, and after-school programs I also lead my daughter’s Girl Scout troop and volunteer on the board for the local bike club. Everyone I ride with is at least 15 years my senior and get out more frequently than I at every turn.
I’ve taken to bike commuting (16 miles each way) just to get out on my bike more. I joined a local bike club but never seem to be able to make the rides populated by people in my age-bracket (mid-thirties).
I realize I will have more time later – but I need the sweet stress relief of riding now. 🙂
If you’re cycling as a hobby, then its a hobby that requires many hours of time. It goes in the category of golf, hunting, fishing, etc… for amount of time commitment. It stands to reason that people with many other commitments (like young families) are less able to dedicate the amount of time the hobby requires. I know that was the case with me – I took a fifteen year break to coach little league, attend boy/girl scout functions, etc…
I think it’s about balance… I’m a mom of a child with cancer, a business of my own, and a side job. We’ve been in and out of hospitals, living in them, for years. Our schedules are NUTS. But, I still had time last summer to train for a century and complete it. I think it’s what you make time for… Scheduling is HARD, but it can be done. All choices. 🙂
I too can find some time to ride and train in fall, spring and summer . Riding in the winter is especially challenging for me as the best time for me to ride and still get work and daddy duty done is wheels down at daylight. Even in Austin it’s cold that early in the morning during winter. Spinning class is a good option for staying in riding shape if it wasn’t so mind numbingly boring….