Keeping a Normal Bike Commuting Schedule When Life is Anything But


By Jamie Morningstar — For most of the world, these past few weeks have been times of massive disruption, change, fear, and uncertainty. No aspect of our lives is untouched, from shopping norms to job certainties, and that includes our cycling patterns and self-care!

Jamie commuting with Chorney. Photo by Jamie Morningstar

Cycle commuting is one of my most cherished habits. I commute daily to work by bike year-round. According to my bike computer, since I began cycle commuting nine years ago I’ve logged 9,000 commuting miles and spent almost 30 days of cumulative time commuting on my bike. I really love riding to work.

Biking to work ticks several important boxes for me: it’s a natural way for me to get in a daily workout, cycling is ecologically sound, and I don’t have to compete for a parking space at work. But the biggest benefit to me of cycle commuting is that I get time at the beginning and end of my work day that is completely set-apart – it’s this delicious transition time between home and work when I get to be totally alone with my own thoughts. As a busy manager and mom of four, there’s not a lot of quiet, contemplative space in my daily routine. My commuting time is one of the few regular times when I create that space.

Enter: the chaos of the past few weeks. In my 1700 square foot house there are now four people elementary through college-aged doing school-from-home, two people working from home, plus two dogs and a cat. I need quiet space in my days now more than ever, but a cycle commute is no longer built into my daily routine. I know that there’s nothing stopping me from hopping on my bike before, during, or after my work day, but without the touchpoint of my normal cycle commute, it’s been much harder for me to find time in the saddle.

Jamie and her daughter Sasha take to the streets to run errands by bike. Photo by Jamie Morningstar

I’m keenly aware that I’m not alone in this struggle! Many of my fellow cycle commuters are in similar work-from-home situations. Some have been furloughed from jobs and businesses that are currently unsustainable. Mixed-modality commuters don’t have the public transportation options they once relied on. Kids and loved ones need us at home now more than ever. Normal routines are disrupted for almost all of us.

Yet these times of social distancing seem tailor-made for cycling. The roads are far less busy than usual. With all of our normal gym and indoor workouts cancelled, it’s one of the few ways to get one’s blood pumping. And we are naturally distanced by six or more feet when cycling.

So, how do we get into the cycling habit when all of our normal habits are disrupted?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Get an indoor trainer. With gym closures, several of my friends have ponied up for Peletons or indoor trainers to keep fit when they’re unable to go outside. Personally, I’m not a huge indoor trainer fan – I’ve tried them over the years but the habit never stuck with me. However, there are tons of folks that are passionate about their Zwift and there’s never been a better time to try it!
  • Make excuses to ride. I now run all errands on my bike – need to drop by my kids’ school to pick up a packet? Bike. Cleaned out a closet and need to drop the donations off at a local bin? Bike. Touring grocery stores to figure out who has potatoes or pasta? Bike. I thought I was a pretty avid around-town cyclist before, but I’ve taken it to a whole new level over the past few weeks!
  • Start or end your day with a commute. One of the hardest things for me as a new work-from-homer is maintaining a daily rhythm – one hour just oozes into the next in the perpetual twilight of my basement “office”. One thing that has helped is setting an alarm to indicate the end of my work day and then taking a half hour ride. It gives me the solitude and transition that I love in my normal daily commute and helps me bookend my day.

This is a time when we each need to be a little more mindful about our health and safety and also how we’re going to stay balanced in mind, body, and spirit in this tough time. For most Cycling West readers, regular bike rides are an essential part of our self-care routines.

Right now, many of our routines are disrupted, including our self-care routines. But if we don’t take care of ourselves, we won’t be in a good place to take care of our families, coworkers, and communities. So take a minute, right now, and think about how you’re going to get on your bike tomorrow and make your day a little brighter.

If you have a suggestion for a commuter profile, have a commuter question, or other comments, please send it to [email protected].

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