Who could argue with the benefits of commuting by bike? It’s a no-brainer when you consider the health and environmental benefits, the cost saving and the fact that it’s usually quicker than driving anyway. Obviously, there’s the problem of our crap UK roads with inadequate cycle infrastructure, and the small but dangerous minority of drivers who shouldn’t really be allowed behind the wheel, but hey, it’s better than sitting in a traffic jam!
I pack in a lot of commuting miles over the winter, riding up to 15 miles each way to do cycle training and other work whenever possible. Admittedly, much of my commuting is urban and fighting for road position to stay safe isn’t quite as relaxing as my local leisure rides, but it’s still good exercise.
I like to think that the addition of panniers makes for an even tougher workout. I recently weighed my panniers with all my cycle training gear in and the scales told me that I’d been lugging an additional 7.5kg around with me. I’ve been hoping that I’ll feel the benefit when summer comes and I get on the light bike.
So you’d think that over 100 miles of loaded commuting every week would put me in peak condition and ready for the spring. So how come I ended up spending weekends on the couch instead of enjoying super fit country leisure rides? Well…
There’s a trap that pro cyclists and other athletes sometimes fall into called ‘over-training’. Basically, the body isn’t recovering properly and it just keeps getting more and more fatigued. Symptom’s include irritability, low mood, poor sleep and a lack of motivation to exercise that’s ironically coupled with an anxiety that you should be exercising more. It’s not a great situation to be in.
Apparently, another symptom of over-training is a lack of appetite. Annoyingly, I seem to have experienced the complete opposite, so therefore I must have had a slightly different strain of over-training. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’d been suffering from ‘over-commuting’ which i reckon is the non-professional version. Fortunately, having a week with no work and plenty of rest seems to have got me back on track.
So now, against all my ethics and personal preferences, I’ve been using a car to get to work some days, or sometimes I’ll ride to a job and then get the train home. And even though I’d rather be on the bike all the time, I’m feeling better for the reduced workload and fatigue. I’m back to loving my weekend Peak District excursions again and I’m feeling twice as fit for the rest. All that commuting did make me fit and strong, my body just needed the chance to catch up and adapt.
So the moral of the story? If you’re tired, you probably need to rest. Pretty obvious really.
Making the most of the commute with a scenic detour