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Getting Up Early to Ride a Bike: 12 Tips for Success

Have you decided to adjust your cycling routine and ride in the mornings? Although it isn’t always an easy transition, starting your day with a solid bike ride is an excellent way to maintain a regular training routine. If you’re struggling to adjust, here are a few tips that will help.

What are the benefits of early morning cycling?

Man cycling in the morning in the field as the sun comes up.

Morning cycling may not come naturally to everyone, but there are plenty of great reasons to get an early start riding:

  • You’ll boost your mood and energy for several hours after your ride. (No coffee necessary!)
  • Fewer cars are on the road, so you don’t have to worry about heavy traffic.
  • The temperature is cooler in the morning, which is ideal during summer or if you live in a warm area.
  • You’re more likely to make it happen. Let’s face it—there aren’t many schedule conflicts at 5 a.m.
  • You’ll sleep better and be ready to head to bed earlier in the evening.
  • You’ll start your day with a good decision and (hopefully) continue the trend throughout the rest of the day.

Now that we’ve done our best to convince you to take up morning cycling, let’s look at a few tips that will help you make it happen consistently.

1. Start slow.

Woman drinking orange juice in her kitchen before starting her morning.

When you’re used to waking up at 8 a.m., it can be a struggle to start getting up at 5 a.m suddenly. To soften the blow, gradually adjust to an earlier waking time by setting your alarm for 15 minutes earlier each morning. On your very first day, set your alarm for 7:45 a.m., then 7:30 a.m., then 7:15 a.m., and so on, until you reach your desired wake-up time. 

2. Lay out your clothes and gear the night before.

Cycling gear laid out on wooden floor.

It’s difficult to get your clothes, gear, water bottle, and other accessories ready to go when you’re still groggy and half asleep. Make morning rides easier by setting everything out the night before. That way, you can simply wake up, grab a quick snack, and head out the door—no fumbling around searching for your cycling socks in the dark.

3. Get a good night’s sleep.

Man restfully sleeping.

It’s wise to plan on getting plenty of sleep if you want to cycle early in the mornings. Getting up and out of the house will be so much easier with at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep. However, that also means you’ll have to get to bed on time! Set a regular bedtime for yourself and do everything you can to stick to it.

4. Plan your routes.

Map with a route and red pins with destinations and where to stop.

Early morning rides aren’t usually the best time to explore a new area, especially if it will still be dark when you head out for your ride. Instead, plan ahead and choose routes you’re already familiar with. Whether it’s a park near your house or a loop around your neighborhood, plan ahead and know where you’re going to ride before you wake up in the morning.

5. Cycle virtual routes with Vingo.

A male cyclist setup his bike in living room while virtual cycling.

If you just can’t get out of the house early in the morning or the weather isn’t cooperating, indoor cycling on a bike trainer is an excellent alternative! Vingo is compatible with any indoor bike, and you can use manual mode if you don’t have a sensor. It even offers group chat options so you can ride and chat with an accountability partner virtually.

6. Put your alarm across the room.

A phone with its alarm app open and 7 alarms activated to set for the early morning.

Plenty of us fall into the trap of hitting the snooze button and falling right back to sleep before we even get out of bed. To prevent this, move your alarm clock or phone to the opposite side of your bedroom, so you’re forced to get out of bed to shut it off. You might still climb back into bed every once in a while, but you’re much more likely to stay awake and make it out of the house for your early morning ride.

7. Don’t eat a heavy breakfast.

Woman eatting an apple on the floor next to her couch while looking at her computer.

Unless you plan on cycling for several hours, a simple snack is all you need before an early morning ride. Your muscle glycogen and fat stores should already be full, but eating a small amount of food will boost your blood sugar first thing in the morning. Some examples of great early morning pre-ride snacks include:1

  • A banana with peanut or nut butter
  • Toast with peanut or nut butter and honey
  • Oatmeal with berries and brown sugar
  • An energy bar or energy chews

If you usually have coffee first thing in the morning, a small cup before your ride will also help boost your alertness.

8. Meet up with a friend to cycle.

Two cyclists silhouettes stopping with the sun coming up.

If you have a friend waiting for you, you’re more likely to get up and move in the morning. Make riding plans with an accountability partner or cycling buddy to motivate yourself to stay consistent. Plus, cycling with friends is fun!

9. Ride to a favorite coffee shop or breakfast cafe.

View of a coffee shop and its menu.

Need some extra motivation to get out of bed for an early morning bike ride? Plan your route so it ends at one of your favorite local coffee shops or breakfast cafes. Then, you can reward yourself with a hot cup of strong coffee or a healthy and hearty breakfast afterward. 

10. Don’t check your email or social media first thing in the morning.

Woman looking upset she is looking at her phone.

It’s easy to get into the habit of checking your email or social media first thing when you wake up, but doing so might cause you to lose track of time and ultimately miss out on riding time too. Instead, catch up on those things once you complete your ride. Don’t worry; your emails and notifications will all still be waiting for you. 

11. Make your morning rides short.

3 male cyclists at the side of the road stopping laughing.

Although you could potentially tackle a long-distance ride in the early morning, it’s not always ideal. In many places, it’s dark in the early morning for much of the year, which can make visibility difficult. Plus, a shorter ride might feel less daunting when you wake up at 5 a.m.

12. Stick to it.

Male cyclist looking into camera on a field while the sun is rising.

Even if you’re struggling to wake up early for morning bike rides, stick with it for a few weeks, and don’t give up! Eventually, it will become a habit, and you may even grow to enjoy the earlier riding routine.

Fall is one of the best times to go for a bike ride. The cool weather is perfect for an invigorating workout, and the changing leaves provide a beautiful backdrop for your ride. However, cycling in the fall can present some challenges, such as shorter days and cooler temperatures. Here are 15 tips to help you enjoy cycling in the fall!

Key Takeaways:

Early morning cycling is a great way to start your day! While adjusting to an earlier routine can be challenging, you can take a few steps to make things easier. For example, setting your gear out the night before, riding virtually with Vingo, planning your routes ahead of time, or meeting up with a friend to cycle are just a few ways to improve your chances of success.

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Sources:

  1. Rutberg, J. (2021, November 17). Nutrition and Fueling Before Morning Workouts and Races. USA Cycling. https://usacycling.org/article/fueling-for-morning-workouts 

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