Bike/life balance

How does one reconcile a simultaneous deep urge to regularly embark on epic endurance adventures with a non-negotiable urge to be present with one’s growing family?

My wife and I are days or possibly weeks away from greeting our second child (our other daughter will be three in August). With one, it has been a challenge and a balancing act to feed my cycling (and triathlon) addiction without overly burdening my wife or spending too much time away from my daughter, but I’ve been lucky enough to get some soul-filling riding and racing in by getting up early and being efficient. I am having a hard time envisioning it with another kiddo in the mix.

Of course I’ll be scaling way back during the newborn phase; that is a given. I’m interested in how you mama and papa athletes with multiple kids and jobs (I have a growing business that is also increasingly time-hungry) make it happen.

To this point I’ve had some success by integrating my family into riding as much as possible. For instance, I’ve planned point-to-point century rides that end at a campground. I’ll load up the car the night before, then get up early and ride so that my wife just has to get the kid there by late morning, and then it’s fam time for the rest of the weekend. I also do lots of easy rides with my daughter in the baby seat on my gravel bike. But some of these logistics are going to change as the family grows.

Please share your kid-hauling rigs! I haven’t done much research yet, but I’ll be looking into a ride-along bike that trails mine; envisioning the older kid on that with the new babe in the kid seat (when old enough of course), and my wife on her bike. Anyone do a similar or better setup? Links to helpful products are appreciated. The main problem I’m looking to solve is hauling the kids AND their bike(s) on my bike.

Thanks in advance! Happy spring.

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I’m not in your shoes (single and no kids), but I’ve always thought that Vegan Cyclist does a good job of explaining his thoughts on this life balance subject. Here’s a vid that may help. He has a few others if you search his channel, and he even asks direct questions of his wife in some videos to share the importance of communicating with one another to meet each other’s needs and wants (she deserves a life away from the kids too).

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There a lot of factors to consider…

Is your wife an active person like you?
Does she run/bike/swim or any other endurance sport?

From my non scientific evidence, it seems if your significant other do endurance sports then your endurance life will not change much. Your spouse will understand that sports is not necessarily a hobby, but a way of life.

now, with kids this will be harder since you want to do stuff with them.
I have 2 daughters (almost 9 and 5). They are mostly self sufficient. My wife is not an endurance person, so although she does understand that me working out is not optional, it will has always been a point of contention when and how much time i spend running/cycling/swimming.

Right now, I can only do wo in the morning. I wake up at 4:15 in the morning so I can be done by 630. Some days I dont have enough time and I have do stop by 6:30 and resume once she leaves for work.

Anyways… This is something you will need to clear with your wife… negotiate what days she will not give you too much grief when you leave for a 4hr ride with friends…
Most of the time my wife is cool with me on the trainer. She has no problems if she is working downstairs and I am doing a 3hr Zwift ride… She will not be happy with me leaving for 4+ hours on Sunday before dawn and getting back home at 11 when they are having breakfasts…

It will get better tho… once you guys find a rhythm and make compromises…

Best advise… make sure your wife agrees with your wo schedule… that should make things much easier!
If all fail, then jst wake up before everyone else and do your things… that way no one can be unhappy (well except you and your lack of proper sleep)
best of luck with your new child!

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Dad of 3 here (2.5, 6, 8). My wife doesn’t have a sports background so it’s been a long process of getting on the same page. I selfishly did some things during my wife’s second pregnancy that I regret. As in, I rode too much, and wasn’t available to help out when needed. We talked, a lot. Lesson learned.

This is what has helped find balance:

  • Having only one or two key races on the calendar. Along with embracing cyclocross, which is less time demanding. This allows me to only train for a couple of important races per season. I’m not required to always be on a training plan, and therefore less pressure or requirement.

  • Talking it out. I said, please let me train for this race and then I will dial it back after. With agreement, I scheduled a race at the end of May that is in a beautiful location and will make a long weekend out of it with the family. Up north, cabin time plus a race.

  • Accepting reality. I can only fit in 6-8 hours of riding per week w/o impacting availability and time with family, time for housework, etc. Essentially this limits my weekday rides to 60-90 min plus one longer weekend ride that usually ends up being around 3 hours. It is what it is and I have to make due with what time I have available. This means I do a lot of quality training and am extremely diligent with how and when I ride.

  • Getting crafty with when I ride. Before COVID I used to be on the bike daily by 5:30 AM. This was clutch in allowing me to fit cycling in w/o ever conflicting with family obligations. That has since changed due to kids’ sleep schedules that don’t allow for uninterrupted ride time in the early morning hours. My daughter likes to be up around 6. So early rides require my wife to be available should one of the kids wake up early—more burden on her.

That’s about it. It all comes down to mutual agreement. I wasn’t a cyclist when I met my wife so it’s taken a while to embrace it. I’m naturally competitive and that’s also something that’s taken time for her to understand. Many talks of “Why the training? Why don’t you just enjoy the race and not worry about how well you do?”

There’s no way I could do something like a triathlon and enjoy it. I wouldn’t be able to invest the time needed to be even remotely competitive. Therefore, I have focused on one sport, cycling, because it allows me to maximize my time available for that one sport and be competitive. I’ve also learned to be satisfied with only doing one long (for me that’s ~3-4 hrs) ride on the weekends.

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I do a lot of 45-60-90 minute rides. There is just not the time for frequent 3-4 hour epic adventures on the bike. What worked well was negotiating Saturday morning as my ride time. I’d get up early and do the group ride and then tack some more Z2 time to make it 3-4+ hours.

I’ve been thinking of trying two-a-days. I could move into the 10+ hour bracket if I tacked on an extra 45 minutes of endurance in the morning. The only thing that is stopping me so far is my laziness! I do fear thought that this will result in my wife saying “but you already rode today”. :slight_smile:

BTW, I quit racing in my 20s because I had no life balance despite being single. I was spending 20-25 hours per week racing, training, or driving to races. I had no life other than that. I wanted to be out meeting girls and finding one to settle down with but you tend not to meet girls at bike races.

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I do 60% of my riding while everyone is sleeping. Even though they are sleeping it still does impact them to some extent as my wife is kind of on duty for the 4YO when I get out of bed and if he wakes up early and wants me to transform some toy I’ve asked him not to bother me during that time. With the rest of my time, I have sort of asked to be able to do a long ride of my choice on Saturdays, but I leave Sunday flexible. I’ll usually grab a shortish mountain bike ride while my wife is at church or when it’s convenient for her.

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I’m not a parent but think about this a lot as I plan to become a mom soon. I think the feedback you’re getting is great, what is most important is having these conversations with your partner, checking in often and learning to accept that you won’t have as much time to workout/race as you want to.

The idea of incorporating your kids into your love for cycling is a great one. Getting kids into cycling is the most fun thing ever. Maybe look up Dave Noakes and Juliet Elliott on youtube, they only have one kid but they have many versions of kids seats/bike setups for family riding that could be useful for you.

Finally, make sure your partner has time to do what she likes as well. If you take 5-10 hours out of the week to cycle on your own, does she get 5-10 hours a week to do things on her own that she would like? I think getting this balance right will ensure that the family is happy.

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Wow… is really fascinating how most of us have gotten basically the same answer on how to deal with this.

Do mostly everything before everyone is out of bed.
Negotiate with the spouse on a day (or days) of the week where you can do a longer wo…

Cool stuff!

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I started riding with my son with a Burley trailer, then transitioned to a trail-a-bike. For both set ups I really wish I had fitted a power meter on my bikes to tell how hard I was actually working. The trail a bike is good for straight forward terrain, I found that on actual single track it wasn’t typically a lot of fun for either of us, despite the cool you tube videos.

I finally got him riding his own bike over the summer (late to the party at 7), but now he has his own proper mountain bike and has done very basic trails with me. Obviously there’s zero training benefit for me there, but we’re lucky enough to have a community cycling track that’s very kid friendly. I can ride with him there and I suppose I could do an outside TR workout while he’s doing his thing. There’s even a playground right there when he gets bored of the bike.

As far as keeping your spouse happy, I’m divorced, so I’ll stop there.

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Father of 3 (15,12,9). Career in the concrete construction industry (May - November is like one big fire drill) Training/ riding is done early in the morning. Starts before 5:00 am to allow for bringing daughter to school and get to work on time.

Having realistic expectations is the first thing you need to do. Be honest with yourself and goals you might have and then take your expectation down 10% from that so you don’t set yourself up for a letdown. Don’t expect your kids and/or spouse to be pumped with cycling but be extremely greatfull if they are. Tried to get my kids into MTB and it just wasn’t their cup of tea. They wanted to find their own activity so they could have their own identity. Can’t blame them… I got stuck in a fishing boat as a kid because my family liked it and I can’t stand fishing to this day.

With regards to carrying kids and/or their bikes. I used to put a seat on the back of my MTB for our youngest son while the oldest rode in a cart/trailer behind me. Was one heck of a workout! Then as our kids started to ride bike I’d still bring the trailer along with a bunch of bungee cords. That way when they got tired they’d ride in the cart and I’d bungee their little bikes onto the back of the cart while they slept. My wife was along for most of these rides too. She was stoked to be out riding while the kids slept in the cart and I pulled like a tractor. It’s one heck of a workout. Before becoming a TR member I used to hook up the cart behind a road bike and put 60 - 120 lbs of sandbags in it for “training” .

Good luck to you and figuring out a system that works for your growing family.

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Early morning rides are key. Most of us have a lot of morning training time, even if we’re otherwise pretty busy. Lunch rides are your friend too. Standing rides (Tuesday Worlds, etc) are good because they can be clearly on the schedule and something your spouse expects. Mine is also is more amenable to rides that I’m doing with friends vs solo. Not sure why.

Maybe because she is afraid you dying on the road?
At least that what my wife fears when I go by myself… She doesn’t like it either… :man_shrugging:

Similar here. Spouse likes me riding inside or with friends if outside

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I’m monitoring this as I’m not there yet, but we will likely be in the next couple years. Already starting to think about what maybe cycling will look like for me for a few years after.

Spouse is same. She prefers inside or groups if I’m on the road. The State Parks here have nice pavement and tons of bikes, so she doesn’t worry if I go solo in them, and vehicle speed limits are low.

I started by going to the gym at 5am on Tue/Thur and getting on a Stages stationary bike for 60-75 minutes, but getting enough sleep is tough when you are helping with homework in the evening! After a year of that I took up road cycling when my daughters were 17 and 14. That meant epic events were built around family vacations or interesting destinations, for example my first century I drove them to Napa and did the club ride while they went to breakfast and all day shopping trip. Five years later it still works that way - happy wife, happy life - as they say.

These days the girls will come home and I’ll do a 3-4 hour Saturday one way ride so we can go somewhere interesting for lunch or hike. Or they simply go shopping and we go to dinner. I’m surprised my wife hasn’t started calling that a double date - my first date is with the bike, and then :rofl: with my wife. This approach is probably around 10 years out for you, but keep it in mind!

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I have 9 and 11 yo boys. Get the trailers, strollers etc, they can save your marriage. There is a lot of speculation out there about endurance sports and their affect on marriage… make sure your family is taken into account with training. I publish my workouts on a shared google calendar. My wife and I frequently in the past discussed how I could change things to make room for workouts. Read that sentence again - do NOT get this wrong and think you are “making room for family.”

I see a lot of talk about unsupportive spouses… how can they be supportive of the thing stealing their spouse??? Look at things this way and you will be more balanced and bring more to the family table. I know it is harder for me when I just did 100 TSS of VO2 to finish a work day, and then be with the family. But if it limits me, I do try to look at what needs to change. I have hit walls that were family related, and they are just as bad for fitness as any more cycling related issue. Recovery weeks I am more available. Take this in account when planning a season, along with vacations, spouse’s goals, kids’ events, etc.

I feel like I am rambling, but this is an area that has been as important if not more so than nutrition, sleep, etc, in getting faster. You gotta have balance!

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I think most people here (or at least I) don’t intent to call out spouses unsupportive. I would say if anything, they support us.
My point was that a wife that is not into endurance sport might not get why you need to train every day and why you don’t take any time off and why you wake up at 4 am every day…

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It wasn’t my rig, but last year I saw a family going up Mount Evans in 2 bikes (not electric). The guy was carrying 2 lil kids, one in the front, one in the back and the wife had her own bike. I was impressed, a little nerve wrecking going down I imagine. Cheers

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I’ll repeat what @erickeahey wrote:

My wife works out at the gym 2-3 times a week. Total of 3 hours max. I’m working out 8+ hours a week. How can you not see things from her perspective, from her POV cycling is like ‘a girlfriend’ stealing time away from her spouse.

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Tennis used to be my thing. I had to cut way back from 5X a week to maybe 1-3 times a week. I had to be flexible and creative, such as 6am indoor matches on Saturday or night owl tennis leagues so I could also have time to help the wife and be with the kids.

Right now for cycling, the kids are older and so it’s easier. I mix in indoor training rides to get the most out of what little time I have and I shoot for early rides on the weekends so I can be home by 1pm or noon at the latest.

The most key thing was communicating and being willing to be flexible. Also, while sports are fun and cool, missing out with the kids is time you can’t get back.

From what I’m reading, sounds like you’re on the right track.

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