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Day in the life: Reggie Miller

Nine questions with the former NBA pro turned mountain bike aficionado.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought professional cycling to a halt. In the coming weeks we will be reaching out to pro riders and other personalities from the sport to understand how their lives are continuing amidst the shutdown.

March Madness is usually a busy time of year for basketball commentator Reggie Miller, but this year’s tournament might as well have been called March Sadness.

Normally, this week would have seen the former Indiana Pacer pivoting from the NCAA Final Four back to his post commentating NBA games. Miller, who has spent the last 15 years since he retired from professional basketball as a commentator for the cable network TNT, says that during a typical season, “we have one more week of NBA games, and then starting around tax time is the NBA playoffs. I would have been working all the way to May 31.”

When the NBA suspended their season on March 11, after a player tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Miller found himself with more time to focus on something else he picked up during retirement: mountain biking.

day in the life
Miller trains and rides in the Santa Monica mountains.

Location: Calabasas, California

What are the current regulations for where you live about going outside?
You can go on walks, but they just closed all the hiking trails and the beach access because everyone was going to the beach and going hiking.  Yesterday, I took the mountain bike out, and there weren’t a lot of people out, I saw one biker, and two hikers on a 20-mile ride.

Luckily, biking is part of the essentials. Our local shop is still open. I’ve always been a solo rider anyway, so for me to still be able to get on two wheels and pedal is essential.

day in the life
Miller’s local bike shop is considered an “essential business.”

What races were you planning to do to do that have been canceled or postponed?
I did the first race in the Team Big Bear series at Vail Lake, that was the one where Kate [Courtney] and the other pros were able to do the short track race before the XC race got canceled. That series all got canceled. There’s another race series called PedalFest in Santa Clarita, that’s been postponed.

But, the big race, what I was really training for was the Breck Epic. I still believe that’s going to go on, but I had to pull out because of the NBA. At some point we’re going to come back. I have no idea when, but I’ve heard it could be mid to late June and that playoffs could go ’til August. That’s not enough time to train for the Breck Epic. Normally, I’m done with work by May 31, so I have all summer to train. I still don’t see the NBA coming back then, but these owners are trying to find a way.

I was gonna do the first three days of the Breck Epic to get my feet wet in stage racing. Now, I guess it gives me another year to build a bigger engine, so maybe next year I can do all six days.

day in the life
Whenever the NBA comes back online, it means Miller won’t be racing Breck Epic in 2020.

What are you doing today?
We’re doing homeschooling. I’ve got a great mama-bear and partner. She takes our son, and I take our daughter and we go to separate rooms. That’s gonna be going on ’til June. We just did homeschool from 9a – 11a, and now it’s recess time. I have another TNT conference call after this to talk about what we’re doing going forward. Then I’ll probably go on a ride for a couple hours, then come home and do dinner.

Scheduling is huge. I’m a Virgo, you know? We’re trying to keep the kids routine just about the same.

day in the life
Homeschool = hikes for recess.

Are you doing a workout? If so, what specifically?
I’ll probably do intervals today, 3 x 15 minutes, keeping between 310 – 315 watts. Probably a two-hour workout, so after the 3 x 15 minutes, I’ll probably ride for another hour just cruising.

You’re training more than most of the pros I’ve spoken to! What is your motivation?
It’s hard because when you’re training, you’re training for specific goals. When I was training it was for Breck or Team Big Bear. Now with the unknown, I don’t know when I’m gonna race again. It’s hard finding that motivation. I do know, I don’t wanna just sit around and lose it all. It will be too hard to get it back when things open up. I want to stay around 70-75 percent-ish so when it is time to turn on the engine, it won’t be so hard. The gas tank will be at 70 percent full, not 40 percent.

What indoor gear are you using?
I have a Wahoo trainer. I signed up for Zwift two days ago. People kept saying, ‘you’ve gotta be on Zwift.’

day in the life
Miller spent 18 years in the NBA and says Zwift is the hardest he’s ever worked out.

I’ve done one ride, and it’s one of the hardest rides I’ve ever done. There’s so much info popping up at you — you gotta read, you gotta keep up, you gotta pass people. I was just trying to pass people! I told my trainer, ‘I don’t know what I did, but I’ve never sweated like that.’ It seemed fun, but there’s so much coming at you. Once we’re not on lockdown, I’ve gotta get someone who really knows what they’re doing to come show me the pros and cons.

How are you communicating with friends and family?
FaceTime, telephone.  The old-fashioned way!

Have you received any helpful advice?
I think what I’ve been telling people — and it’s for life in general — is that when we’re going through difficult times in personal and professional lives: this too shall pass. It might be a little longer, but at some point in time, this too shall pass.

I think this will make us better people. It’s been great to be home. Normally I travel Wednesday, work Thursday, and come home Friday. I miss all that time with the kids. Now it’s 24/7. It’s been great for me to really appreciate — and I hope the men understand this — my partner. And what moms do. That’s the toughest job ever. When we’re gone and they have to be mom and dad? That’s the toughest job ever.

day in the life
If you’re looking, you can always find a rainbow.

As people, we’re getting back to how it used to be. Communicating more. Walking down your street, saying hi to your neighbors. We didn’t used to do that and now we’re being forced to do that. Going out on walks with the family and being forced to communicate verbally and with your eyeballs to talk to people. It’s old school, and I like it.

When do you think you’ll race again?
It depends on what the CDC and WHO guidelines are. But for me, probably not until September or October, unless we get the news that we’ve flattened the curve. I really don’t know.