Monday, June 22, 2015

My version of Caitlin Giddings's early AM primer

I saw Molly Hurford's link to Caitlin Giddings's Bicycling article about ways to make riding in the morning easier.    My riding time is dictated by my family obligations and there is very little wiggle room, with most time slots very early in the day (say 5AM).  As a frequent early morning rider, I was definitely interested in what she had to say.  The article was fairly accurate for me.  My comments follows Caitlin's headings below:

1) Lay out your clothing and gear the night before. Yes! And I leave everything in the basement and change  there, hoping that everyone stays asleep while I sneak out of the house.  I once left socks upstairs and rather than going upstairs and waking up my boys (and consequently skipping my ride) I rode without socks - sometimes you have to do what you have to do.  A couple of weeks ago while getting my bike ready, I forgot to put the pump on the frame and didn't notice until I was back home.  I rode 50 miles, much of it with no one around and no gas station open, so I was happy that I didn't get a flat.  Moral of the story: get everything ready when you are awake.

2) Dial in your coffee.  No. I can't afford to wake anyone up so I always pass on coffee.  And  I get away early in part by dialing in my wife's coffee so she just has to turn on the burner for the moka pot.  This makes her happier to see me when our young boys are running her ragged at 9 and I just rode 50 or 60 miles.

3) Make plans to meet a buddy.  No. I don't have many friends who think riding at 5 AM is worth it. One friend joined me for a few early AM rides but he quickly lost interest. I remember my first ride without him.  I saw his buddy waiting for him on my way back into town.  He needed that extra 2 hours and more - he was still late, I heard later.

4) Have a ride plan.  Yes.  I usually have a route planned out and will have the course in my Garmin, if there are turns I'm unsure about. There is something more risky about being on the road early, especially when 5 AM means 2 hours until sunrise late in the year.  So I manage that risk somewhat by knowing my plan in advance.  And, yes, I have gone out in light rain when I planned a ride.  What else will I do when I'm already awake at 4:30?

5) Don't hit snooze.  Does my alarm clock even have a snooze button?

6) Don't check email.  No. I will check email and check the weather and read the news for 20 minutes.  I have to wake up some before I get on a bike.  But set an alarm so you don't get lost in it because that's possible.

7) Consider skipping breakfast. Yes, always. Making breakfast and eating it gives me more chances of waking up my boys, which would cancel my ride.  A couple of years ago a friend visiting from Norway stayed over so we could get an early start on a ride.  But she couldn't do without breakfast and we did wake up the boys.  (We made it up to my wife by taking them bowling in the afternoon.)  Usually I will just grab more bars if I am heading out for 60 miles and hope to stop for a more substantial snack if the timing is good.  Yes, it is pushing it to ride for 60 miles before breakfast so I try to have a bigger dinner the evening before a planned longer ride.  I often won't even eat a bar on a 25-30 mile before work ride.

8) Bask in the smugness that comes with being a "morning person." Guilty as charged. That said, I wish I could go latter in the day when my muscles are fully awake.  Dawn and dusk are often the most beautiful parts of the day but riding with companions is better than riding alone and finding company is more likely for me if I go at a more reasonable hour.  But riding early is far better than not riding.

9) Stick with it and make a habit.  Yes.  For a few decades I was a morning runner (and will be again). Once in the habit of waking up early and finding time, you will never go back.  And you probably won't find time during the rest of the day, if your schedule is anything like mine.

10) It was not suggested in the article but have lights.  Even this weekend, on a ride starting at 5:30 AM, half an hour after sunrise, I had my lights blazing - dyno front and rear lights and a flashing red in back to alert drivers that aren't expecting anyone up at that hour.

And, yes, getting exercise early does lead to a more relaxing day.

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