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Screen capture of Strava 'commute' ridesAdelaide is arguably Australia’s best city to be a cyclist in, and at the moment, with the Tour Down Under (TDU) in full flight, this is particularly the case! It is so good to see so many cyclists enjoying our beautiful roads, and in particular, the number of interstate riders that are here in organised tours.

I’m sure that with this activity going on, cycling apps like Strava would be seeing lots of kilometres adding up!! For myself, and my ‘Leukaemia Foundation – Ride As One’ team members, starting to accumulate some bigger kilometres on the bike is very important, as we have our 7-day 1000km ride in about 3-months!

One great way to beef up these kilometres can be achieved by commuting to work! 

As you can see from the image above, my travel distance from home to work is a short 5.7km, which would, by cycling standards, hardly count as a worthwhile effort to pull the bike out of the garage. But even such a short distance can add up to something significant! Using my stats as an example, if I commute to and from work over a week, each day contributes 11.4(ish)Kms and about 140m of elevation. Over the week, this is 57km and 700m of elevation! That’s a decent enough ride if you were to do it in one go, and contributes a solid base to the rest of my weekly distances! Not too bad at all!

So, other than the kilometres on the saddle, I think commuting can provide a number of other benefits:

  • Easy roll of the legs – You know that heavy leg feeling you get the day after a big ride? I find that my morning commute works wonders to get the system moving again, increase blood flow to those heavy muscles, increasing delivery of nutrients, healing agents, etc, and clearing up the inflammatory waste products!
  • frequency of rolling the legs, including multiple rides in a day! – As a flow-on from the point above, as we are increasing the kilometres, and especially when preparing for a multi-day event such as the Melbourne-to-Adelaide ‘Ride as One’, the capacity to back up ride after ride is very important! While the commuting distances may be short, they will help to getting used to getting on the saddle and turning the legs after shorter than usual recovery periods.
  • specific training outcomes – There are days when I’m pretty stuffed from the overall load of my regular riding + work, etc, so the commute home is an ‘easy’ ride. But there are days when I want to hit some higher intensities, especially after some shorter but steeper hills, so i’ll take a little detour on my way home, and really het the heart rate and lactate production up, to teach my system to deal with those stresses better; or it may be practicing some acceleration and faster work on flatter stretches of road… whatever it may be, knowing that you are not in the middle of a 3hr ride, and that home is not too far away, may encourage you to open things up a bit more than you may normally do!
  • Improved productivity at work! – There’s nothing better than getting to work wide awake, having gotten your heart and breathing rates up a bit, and benefiting from the physiological and hormonal benefits we know that this brings! The research is strong showing that a short bout aerobic exercise increases your cognitive capacity (creativity, capacity to learn, etc) by as much as 20%.
  • switch off from work before getting home to the family – One thing I have learned, is that when I get home, my beautiful wife and kids don’t necessarily want me to be ‘there’, they want me to be ‘present’. My ride home gives me those 10-15mins of time to transition from work mode, to me mode, to family mode… hopefully making me a better husband and dad!

So there you have it friends. Don’t under value those short Kms between home and work!

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