How to stay sane, ride your bike and still have a family that loves you

October 25, 2018

My wife and I have three kids. Life is loopy.

In between work, house and cabin maintenance, kid-related activities, the dog and a long list of other responsibilities I tend to ignore (or start, but never finish) I'm all over the place.

For me, extra money and time are rare and precious. If you're in the same situation, this will sound very familiar.

Here's how I deal with the lack of both.

No money

I bought a new road bike this spring. I'd had my previous road bike for five years; I'd spent $2,300 on that Kona and it was by no means a truly high-end bike.

To me though, the Zing Supreme was sufficient and what I could afford. Carbon frame and fork, Shimano 105 drivetrain. Good enough.

My Cervélo R3 is very different. It's been a significant upgrade over the ride and feel of the Kona. I feel the Cervélo was worth all of those early mornings and late nights spent working freelance jobs to save up the money.

I walked into the bike shop with a bag of cash to pay for the R3. I felt like I was seven years old again, getting a special toy I’d carefully saved up over a year to purchase.

We barely get by on my and my wife's income. We save and scrimp as much as we can, so taking money out of our main budget is impossible. I have to find other ways.

My new mountain bike, also purchased this summer is a Norco Torrent hardtail. I sold my more expensive Kona Hei Hei to buy it, as I wanted something burlier and more durable.

It only cost me a minimal amount to make the swap between the Kona and the Norco. The Torrent has lower end parts, but they work well and have so far been reliable.

I don't think people need as high-end bikes as they buy. Yes, even the doctors and dentists. To each his own, but mid-entry level bikes (CAD $2,500 or less) are quite capable these days.

No time

This past summer, I'd get up at 6 a.m. on Saturdays to go on a group road ride with a bunch of other cyclists. We'd finish by 9:30 a.m. so we could be home and available to our families.

I also try to commute on my bike to and from work at least three days a week. This saves gas as well as maintenance costs on our vehicles. Doing so also allows me to maintain a base level of fitness.

Commuting puts me in a better frame of mind when I get to the office or arrive at home at the end of the day.

First major snowfall of the winter
Fat bike ride ride after the first major snowfall of the winter

In winter, after supper (or after our youngest is asleep) I take the dog cross-country skiing or fat biking. Both activities often last less than an hour. These skis and rides happen at night, in the dark and usually by myself.

I find it really difficult to join others on long, mid-day weekend bike-related adventures. These events happen for me perhaps once a year, sometimes never. I know other parents who can swing it, but I'm not one of them and that's okay.

You will likely be riding by yourself, maybe with a dog but it's still you out riding your bike, getting fresh air and exercise; that's what really matters.

All is not lost

As a parent, you need to be available both physically and emotionally to your spouse and children. Raising a family whom you love and whom love you is really hard.

Often what occurs, especially when your kids are little is that potential for your own self-care goes out the window. You get fat, lazy, tired and cranky. I've been there. It sucks.

It's also really important that you have a supportive spouse. This goes both ways. If they support you, you have to support them. My wife and I spent many a winter night over the past 10 years where one of us would go out while the other stayed home to be with the kids.

There's lots of different ways you can fit regular bike rides in; you just have to change expectations and do things out of the norm. You simply have to find a way to make it happen and stop making excuses.