People keep asking me how I’m able to find time for a 2 month long bike ride and still keep my job. The short answer: I’m still figuring it out.
I get four weeks of vacation time a year, but it’s unusual for anyone to take more than two weeks off at a time. I told my boss that I want to take all 4 weeks, and he was OK with that. On top of that, I have asked for a month’s leave of absence. I wasn’t sure how OK my boss would feel about that, but frankly, I wasn’t going to take “no” for an answer. We’re in a good position financially, pretty close to being ready to retire, and if I have to resign my job, so be it. The good news is that I’ve been very upfront with my management about this – we’ve been planning it for several years after all – and they are being supportive.
I manage a very senior team of software developers and I am writing up detailed plans for what they will need to do while I’m gone. For the most part, I expect they will do well without me – and with the cell phone and tablet, I expect to stay in touch with them day to day via email and Skype. I know you’re not supposed to do that sort of thing on a bicycle tour, but I think that’s what I’m going to have to do. We expect to ride 4 or 5 hours every day, which will leave plenty of free time. I will simply choose to spend some of my free time “at” work.
Carolyn is not thrilled with this plan. She believes that if you are on vacation, and not getting paid, then you should not be at work. We have agreed that she will keep track of my email and Skype time, and I will get it back somehow. But I’m not that worried about it, because I have always been fortunate to have a job that provides me with the flexibility to fit biking and other personal activities into my work schedule. So now I will repay some of that flexibility.
The folks at my office are very aware of my love for biking. Last summer I tried to ride every day. Some days I commuted by bike to and from work – it’s about 15 miles each way with a couple of tough hills. There is a decent locker room at the office where I could shower, and I kept a few days’ clean clothes in the office. The nice thing about bike commuting is that it saves driving time, so I got two hours of riding for the cost of only one extra hour out of my day. It also saves gas and makes me feel very green.
The biggest downside with bike commuting is that if the weather goes bad during the day, I’m stuck riding home in it. Carolyn will come and rescue me if it gets really bad, but I hate asking her to pick me up. I have to watch the weather forecast closely and pass on any day that might turn bad. Also, bike commuting splits my exercise into two sessions, which makes it harder to enjoy for some reason. Then there’s the time pressure of getting to work on time, so I always take the same route, which is both hilly and boring – a bad combination. Lately I’ve been working with folks in Europe and India and I need to be at work quite early, so I’m not sure that commuting will work for me this spring.
Another option is to leave work a bit early and ride in a loop from home. I generally like the ride options from home better – at least I have options!
This spring, I’ve added a third option – I can drive my bike to work on Monday, then go for a ride in the afternoon when I can find a gap in my meeting schedule. So far, that’s been more the late afternoon, which has worked out so far – it’s been the warmest part of the day. Here’s a picture of my bike in my office. I think it fits into the office decor quite nicely.
So in general, I’ve been able to get out riding without cutting into my work schedule. Obviously, that’s not so true for this ride to Florida, which is why I will be flexible about checking into work every day. But if I don’t get the time back somehow, I think Carolyn is going to kill me.