Diary of a daily rider

Chetan Shah – Aug 2020

As I complete 80,000 kms on Strava in about 6.5 years plus another 10-12000 kms before 2014, I penned this small article for those who aspire to ride a bike regularly or daily. Well, it’s a big number of course for a city cyclist. But that’s not the whole story. It all about the riding daily, the consistency and the discipline of living the “My Day, My Way” life daily.

Most articles on the benefits of cycling daily are written by journalists or medical experts, who give theoretical advice about the benefits of cycling daily. I presume most of them don’t ride the talk. So here is my version after living this reality for a few years. To help people get started as daily riders, I have kept this article short covering just the WHY and HOW of cycling daily. People from all walks of life, who aspire to be consistent in their chosen activity will enjoy reading this article.

The WHY of cycling daily

After undergoing a knee replacement surgery in 2011 and a torturous heart bypass surgery in 2013, I started riding a bike regularly. Soon, I saw a tremendous shift in my fitness levels; I was becoming lean and generally had a higher energy level through my working day. Seeing the tangible changes in my life from this one simple activity, I shifted to riding daily by 2014.

In fact, the biggest reason for me to continue being a daily rider is the good feelings and positive vibration I would get after an early ride. My daily morning ride (about 2+ hours/50 kms) would generally end on a high. This is the biggest reason why I continue being a daily rider after so many years of doing it. Apart from this, I like the fact that cycling really takes me places. I know Mumbai city now much better as a cyclist. Also of course my bike tours mean that I could ride across many beautiful places in India and some lovely countries. Also, a ride means that I am happier and motivated through the day.

As a bonus, cycling daily brings a plethora of health benefits such as increased cardiovascular fitness, increased muscle strength and flexibility, decreased stress levels, and more. As a cardiac patient, I am witness and testimony to these as well.

On the professional front, cycling daily has made me a better worker with highly improved mental and physical agility. The high levels of fitness also help cope with work demands and pressures much better. This is completely opposite to some people’s thinking that 2 hours of strenuous riding every morning would slow down a person at work.

To Summarise the WHY of cycling daily :
• Saddle time is bliss
• Cycling sets you free
• Keeps you energised through the day
• Plus the multiple health benefits as a bonus

The How of cycling daily

With most people leading a busy professional life, fitness often takes a backseat. It is crucial to make time for cycling in your daily life, or else you will never really get to be a regular/daily rider.

With a 3-hour commute and a 6-day work week, I would normally also have struggled to achieve my cycling goals. Therefore, I do things differently. I put cycling at the centre of my daily life. My sleep, work and other activities are adjusted to fit my 5 am wakeup time and a 2+ hour daily ride. Often, I sleep just about 6.5 to 7 hours on most days, ride about 2+ hours and then also go to work as usual.

I believe that riding 2-3 days a week is more difficult as the body never gets into the routine of waking up early and adapting to the demands of long-distance cycling. So, riding 6 days works better for me, as the mind and body is attuned to this routine. One day of complete rest per week is advised to ensure muscle rebuilding time.

To Summarise the HOW of cycling daily :
• Make time for cycling and make this non-negotiable.
• Make your ride time as the centre of your daily life.
• Adjust your other activities around your bike time.

The Maths of cycling daily    
Riding daily for about 50 kms, 5-6 days a week is a normal occurrence for me, with a weekly ride time of 12-15 hours, which adds up to 12-15,000 kms every year. Besides riding daily in the city of Mumbai, I have done about a dozen bike tours in India and other countries including Canada and Switzerland. Some of these tours are detailed on this website.

In Summary of the daily rider’s stats
• Daily rides matter – not the distance.
• The distance piles up unknowingly. You don’t need to pursue it.

To sum it all up

Understanding the HOW of riding daily is very important to get started. So, make time for cycling. Make this non-negotiable. Then you will happily adjust other aspects of your daily schedule to make way for your passion. And yeah, starting with riding small distance is perfectly ok.

I do hope that many cycling enthusiasts will benefit from my experience and advice and go on to be Daily Cyclists.

I would love to hear feedback at chetan@thebikelife.in

Cheers, keep riding
Chetan