Using Bike Commuting as a Form of Training

I started thinking, “why not use my bike commutes as a form of training?” I’m not sure if you all knew this, but I race downhill (mountain bikes) The Fontana Nationals will be happening in 3 weeks and I think I can get in enough training within that time to get into some sort of shape. I figure there are others out there that have used their bike commute as a way of getting fit. When I typically train for my races, I’ll use the spin bike in my living room, jog, walk and ride my Single Speed on the local mountain bike trail. For the most part that has worked for me.

But for some odd reason, I never thought of this, if I use my bike commutes for training, it could help me get the edge I’ve been needing. The way I figure it, if I incorporate sprint sessions from light to light and hills as well as taking longer, uninterrupted rides, then this should work, right? Now the tough decision to make, do I use my single speed commuter bike or my flat bar road bike?

My “distinguished” Single Speed Bike

My Fast Road Bike

Now with all this talk of training and riding bikes, not sure if any of you go through this, but right after I get off my bike I am RAVENOUS! I could eat a horse! So what I do is eat a protein bar right when I dismount. This helps me stay away from the junk food that might be at the office. We reviewed some protein bars by Purefit over at Super good stuff, keeps me full! you can get them at

So this leads me to the question, do any bike commuters out there use their commute as a form of physical training. If so, what sport? Do you have any recommendations on what type of supplements and etc to take to enhance my training?


  1. Chris (@PavementsEdge) March 6, 2012 4:11 pm 

    I’ve always incorporated training into my commutes. Being a cubicle monkey I am typically shackled to “the man” for 40+ hours a week and rarely get adequate time to dedicate to my fitness, and specifically cycling, goals.

    I am a huge fan of the mountain bike commute, where I deviate from the suburban streets between my Point A and Point B and grind away at the trails in the local open space. In my case (Golden, CO area) that is two mesas, some significant foothill areas and a lot of greenbelt. I can do singletrack, some long road climbs with significant elevation gain, and metro area MUPs for maximum mileage.

    Being willing to get up a couple of hours early and ride with a light opens up countless possibilities.

  2. Tom March 6, 2012 5:14 pm 

    Even though I’m pretty much just training for more commuting and a charity ride or two, I treat my non-winter commutes as training, always trying to beat my high score (13 minutes to work, 22 minutes home) :)

  3. cyclo March 6, 2012 8:01 pm 

    I commute mainly to train especially in the winter months. I feel like I am hitting 2 birds with one stone doing so. Instead of being on a bus or driving a car getting stuck in traffic, it is much better to use that same time training on the bike:

  4. Ghost Rider March 6, 2012 8:20 pm 

    While I don’t have a need to “train” for any specific events, I always found that being active by commuting helped me maintain overall fitness. So, when I did find myself going for long recreational rides or charity events with my bike club, I had the stamina to have fun rather than suffering through a long pedal.

  5. Brandt A. March 6, 2012 9:32 pm 

    I don’t use my commute to train for a specific event, but just to get in shape. When I first started cycling, riding just half a mile was all I could do before I was out of breath. Now I can do 25 miles and my butt will hurt before I’m out of breath (or energy). I’ve also lost 20 pounds since then. I do occasionally try to “beat my high score” also, in terms of commute time.

  6. Mike Myers March 7, 2012 5:03 am 

    When I was working, my commute was more endurance training. I had long sections of road with no stops.

    Running errands in town is where I do my intervals. I sprint away from stops, and pedal my butt off to get through and around traffic without dying.

  7. Graham March 7, 2012 5:53 am 

    You should definitely train on your single speed. Not only is it the handsomer bicycle, it will also push your legs more coming off the line.

    Having no hills or fun trails or really anything at all interesting to help me train, I have to use wind gusts. Every blast of wind (there are no tailwinds in Eastern NC… ever) is a challenge to my manhood and requires me to attack it. If my speed slows in the face of the wind, I lose. It’s a bitter contest to be sure, but I’m determined to win more than I lose.

  8. bigbenaugust March 7, 2012 3:29 pm 

    Short of toddler-chasing, bicycle commuting is most of the exercise I get– there isn’t much time to ride on weekends. I do manage to get in a metric century or two a year, though, and 23mi a day makes that possible and easy for sure.

  9. Burley Trailers March 8, 2012 12:29 pm 

    Great post. Some of us were just talking about commuting and how it’s prepared us for some of the longer rides we like to take. Also got us talking about the money we’re saving on gas…so we decided to blog about that. Happy riding!

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