Rise and Ride
I both am and am not a morning person. I do like to wake up early. But mornings are a still, quiet time, and while my mind is active (I can get a full day's work done before 9am), my body is not. So I sit and work, and drink endless coffee, until my body starts to feel more energetic and I am ready to face the world. Riding a bike before that point is not something I feel compelled to do. And yet, lately I've been doing it. Group rides tend to meet in the mornings, and friends with 9-5 jobs can only ride before work. My desire to join them has lured me onto the bike at some ungodly hours.
There is a lot to be said for early morning cycling. It's quiet. There is hardly any traffic. And it's beautiful - in a magical and almost eerie way that makes you feel special to be there. The world is allowing you to see it in its softest, least aggressive state. Once I am out there pedaling, I am glad to be doing it. But getting myself out of the house in the early morning can be difficult.
What I found helps, is to force myself to be organised and to develop a routine. I check the weather and lay out everything I will need for the ride the night before - everything, from socks to jersey and chamois cream, in one accessible pile. This way I can shower and immediately get dressed without thinking. I fill my water bottle at the same time as I fill the kettle to make coffee in the morning. I put my phone, keys, and money in my jersey pockets as soon as I put it on, so that I don't have to scramble and search for them at the last second when I can potentially forget something. Then I eat breakfast, top up the air in my tires, and go. Things that I put on right before leaving - such as gloves and sunglasses - I keep inside my helmet by the door.
If meeting up with another person or a group in cold weather, I've learned to make sure the meeting point has the option of seeking shelter. Somebody's house, a cafe, a building with a lobby, or at least a gas station that will let you wait inside with your bike. This way, if someone is late you do not have to wait in the freezing cold - it is extremely difficult to stand still in the cold for long, particularly first thing in the morning.
Now that it's spring and the days are longer, more rides will be scheduled for the afternoons. But I am still glad to have developed a morning routine, and it will especially come in handy once it gets really hot out. What time of the day do you usually ride?