Know How – Every minute counts

We all have a limited time to ride so here's how to make the most of what you've got


We all have a limited time to ride. When you’re young you’ve got all the time in the world to have fun, but as an adult time gets stolen by various commitments. It would be great if we could all be pros, requiring 30 hours of training a week to live off our race earnings, but sadly not all of us are born with the legs of Jan Ullrich.


Devoting 10 hours a week to riding puts you in a minority; most fitness riders will scrimp and borrow time to average an hour a day and that’s on a good week. This is about fitness in harmony with the rest of your life, not trying to be a pro. You have to be time-savvy not time-selfish.

The solution to making every second count goes beyond the immediate and flawed logic that you just go harder every time you can get on the bike.

Cruise the lion’s share of your training and anything you do you will turn into fitness.

This actually leads to anaerobic overloading caused by pushing the body too hard, too often. While you get an endorphin buzz from the rides, you fail to actually make the progress that all your sweat and toil suggests you should. You can also begin to hate riding and despise the bike you once loved.So, when you are time-poor, be sure that you make every second count by riding at least three quarters of your weekly time allocation at a steady-state pace. Cruise the lion’s share of your training and anything you do you will turn into fitness. Hammer every time and you’ll come unstuck. Believe me, I’ve seen it all too often – I’m giving you the permission to enjoy what you do.


Cruise your riding; even when your time to ride is limited and you’re on the bike less often than you’d ideally like to be. The flip-side of this advice is that you can do some hard pedalling for around 10 to 25 per cent of your weekly riding time. This makes the odd short and sharp ride ideal. Great when you need to vent some anger or test yourself up your nemesis hill or personal time trial. See the box below for ideas.

More time or smaller stints?

Some riders wrongly assume that if it’s not an hour it isn’t worth doing, or if they do it, it’s not worth writing down in their diary. Short rides can have a massive benefit in the long run. Perhaps you can dovetail in small rides that add up to a significant weekly gain in riding time. More importantly, you are spinning your legs in circles more days each week; a short commute to work, spins on the indoor trainer or rollers for 20 minutes between getting home and supper will all count. Three extra 20-minute mini-rides per week adds up to over 50 hours per year. So please don’t knock the small stuff – for many of you that’s your bread and butter riding until the next oasis of a weekend where you can get one, two or three hours in the bank.


The smallest of sessions still count because your legs still go in circles, you still raise your heart rate way above resting and you get to feel like a cyclist (albeit for less time than you’d like).

Stealing time

Adding a spin on the indoor trainer or working on your technique on rollers before getting in the shower in the morning before work, is a great way to steal an hour or two a week. If you get up and dress immediately into your cycle gear with work clothes at the ready for after the shower, you could create a quick 20-minute session before you’ve even left the house. On the process of starting the day well, Mark McCormack, the business guru, said, “Plan backward to keep moving forward.” In other words, figure out how much time you need to get dressed, work out, shower and get off to work, then work this backwards to best calculate when to get up to fit in a workout.

Conversely, look at end-of-the-day slots or any time where you intend to get a ride in. Plan ahead and you’ll have a better chance of making the session happen.


Be innovative with ways to fudge rides into your day. Be sure to allow for other considerations so that your work and home lives are in harmony with your riding, not suffering because of it.

Remember, every second counts, not only for fitness and health, but also enjoyment. Have fun.


Fun and Fitness
Making steady miles more enjoyable
Warm up
Steady 10min

Throw in alternate variations of eight seconds fast sprint or 100 rpms for 30 seconds. Do this every 3min
Cool down
Spin 90rpm for 5-10min

Short and Sharp
How hard is hard enough?

Warm up
Steady 10-15min with 2x 30 seconds hard towards the end
Four efforts of 4min at the most you can do in the 4min, then an easy spin to finish
Cool down
Spin 90rpm for 5-10min

Technical Time
Thinking about technique

Warm up
The warm up is included

Either 10-20min on rollers at 100 to 120 HR. Or on an indoor trainer alternating one-minute on each leg, then both legs, then back to each leg


Cool down
A light spin for 5min