Working out at work: How to squeeze in that lunchtime ride

Credit: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
Personally, I cant get in enough riding, as evidenced by my lawn, my garage or any other part of the house that falls under my domain.

Id ride all day if I didnt have to work. Id ride every morning before work and every evening after work if I didnt leave for work by 6 a.m. and sometimes get home with just enough time to eat, walk the dogs and take care of stuff. I do squeeze a ride in here and there on the weeknights, and Ive got a race or ride most weekends during the season. But I still want more.

The only other time Ive got at my disposal is my lunch hour. Sixty minutes to do as I please, unless some psycho schedules a lunch meeting. Sometimes I have an 11-to-12 meeting followed by a 1-to-2 meeting, making those 60 minutes (3,600 seconds) even more precious. Is that enough time to get a good ride in? Im certainly trying.

Some people have a distinct advantage in this situation. If you work in an environment where you can spend your afternoon a little sweaty, or if youve got a shower nearby, youre set. If youve got your bike close at hand, youre lucky in that respect, too.

I have to walk down and around to the mens room to change, then walk back to my cube to drop my clothes off, then I make the long walk to my car to get my bike. After dropping my bike off at my car, I walk back to my cube to get my clothes and walk back to the mens room to change before returning to my cube to work. It is a huge hassle sometimes, but it is worth it.

Business-casual attire, status meetings and gray cubes drain the soul. Cycling revives it.

Ive developed a few tricks to make it work.

First, Ive got my bag packed and ready, under my desk. I usually like to eat before I ride, and because I eat breakfast at 5 a.m., I usually get hungry before lunch time anyway. By noon, Ive already eaten, and I can sprint down to the mens room.

I try to grab the handicapped stall because there is more room to change in there. In addition to my traditional cycling garb, I bring a pair of sweatpants or baggy shorts to wear as I walk around my office and back out to the car. My co-workers think Im strange as it is without walking around the IBM building in Bianchi bib shorts and matching jersey. I drop my office clothes back at my cube (hung on a hanger) and run to my car.

I unlock my bike (yes, it is locked inside of a locked car because Ive heard the horror stories of bikes being stolen from cars), and head out.

At this point Ive usually blown at least 10 minutes of my precious 60. Id love to ride for a couple of hours, and many times during the ride I weigh the pros and cons of simply riding off into the sunset and not returning to work. Reality, in the form of the 35-minute timer on my watch, forces me back to work.

I ride past the people who like to get outside for a nice cigarette during lunch (i.e., losers), lock my bike back up, throw on the sweats or whatever and make my way back to my cube.

Without a shower handy, I have to get creative. I have a bag that I keep in one of my drawers at work that has a little bit of soap, a wash cloth, cologne, deodorant and baby wipes. The baby wipes rule.

Using all of this stuff, I can bring myself back to a presentable level, all before my 1 p.m. meeting.

On warm days, I try to take a little bit of time to cool off before I change back into Business Casual Man. This can either mean sitting at my desk in cycling garb with my little pathetic fan on, hanging out in one of the bathroom stalls nearly naked or sitting in my van with the AC cranked. I wish the van option worked better, but trying to cool off in a van that probably has an initial interior temperature of 150 degrees during the hot months is a losing battle.

Another note: Ive thought about leaving my work clothes hanging in the mens room. Who would steal some tall guys khaki pants, somewhat wrinkled shirt and size 12 shoes? I dont know. I worry more about them falling on the floor the day that the toilet backs up.

Is it worth all of the trouble I go through? Some days I wonder, when the weather isnt all that good, or for one reason or another the ride isnt that good.

But all in all, Id have to say yes. Id rather be out there riding than stuck inside any longer than I have to be.

And if my co-workers have to deal with me being a little less than fresh for a couple of hours in the afternoon, then theyll have to bear that cross. Although that might explain the little green tree air freshener I found pinned to my wall.

Want to ride 100 miles? Check out our Century Challenge section

Online training diary: Use Training Bible to record your mileage and vital stats, and gear up for your next race.

Shop for cycling gear and much more at the Active Sports Mecca

Find and register for a bike tour or race in your area!

Discuss This Article