6am Group Ride? Here’s How to Go from Sleeping to Pedaling in 15 Minutes

I love to sleep. And I’m not a morning person. Not a good combo for a cyclist. In order to ride during the week, it’s those early morning hours that I’ve had to make friends with over the years in order to get the miles in. But I usually can’t think straight right when I wake up. Maybe you’re the same. For years, it took me 30 minutes or more from the time I woke up to the time I rolled off in the dark to meet up with the Group Ride. I just move slowly. Searching for knee warmers, fiddling with the floor pump, even struggling with the ratchets on my shoes…I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rolled out the door without bottles.

So over the years, I’ve had to develop a routine that involves planning the night before so that I don’t have to think when the alarm goes off. Here are a few tips I’ve learned for making the most of those early morning minutes. The key is preparing all I can and laying it all out so I don’t have to think in the morning. All of this occurs the night before:

  1. Check the weather and temp for the morning, especially for the colder months. The Weather Channel iPhone app has a temp predictor that’s fairly accurate.
  2. Lay out appropriate kit based on temp in order of how I put it on. Socks, knee/leg warmers, bibs, base layer, jersey, arm warmers, gloves, hat, helmet, vest/jacket.
  3. Prepare one bagel with Nutella. Put it in a baggie so it keeps ’til morning.
  4. Fill bottles and put in fridge in the front next to the bagel I’m going to eat in the morning. I’ll forget the bottles if they’re not right next to food. Again, it’s early and dark and I can’t think straight.
  5. Pump up tires. Leave bike by the door. Check to make sure bike lights work. Put phone/ID/keys next to bike.
  6. Fill coffee maker. Set timer on coffee for 5 minutes before I get up.

Here’s the routine in the morning:

  1. Wake up to my ridiculously loud, annoying alarm. Think of 10 reasons why I should stay in bed. Visualize my riding buddies calling me all kinds of names if I skip the ride. Drag myself out of bed.
  2. Dress while checking current temp. Hopefully, I don’t have to look for more layers.
  3. Coffee.
  4. Hit the fridge. Grab bagel and bottles.
  5. Roll out and eat while riding to the Group Ride.

Unless I forget something, I can usually go from getting out of bed to pedaling in 15 minutes.

Any tips from your morning routine? Can you get out the door in less than 15 minutes?

Ride on…


9 responses

  1. Been There not much fun till you get peddling

    March 31, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    • The Art of the Group Ride

      Ahh yes…the victory is in getting up early, the ride is icing.

      March 31, 2011 at 8:49 pm

  2. Andy Wilson


    I’m a early morning rider. I do the same routine except I skip coffee and food. I’ve been following Hammer Nutritions advice and do not eat before riding. They suggest that you don’t eat unless it’s 3 hours before a ride. I even do this for real long training rides and it has not caused any ill effects at all. On any ride over 1-1/2 hours I’ll take a gel 15 minutes in and then every 30 minutes (plus energy bars, electrolyte drink, etc depending on the length). My weekday morning rides are usually just an hour or maybe 1-1/2 hours at most, so no food or gels. I have breakfast and coffee after the ride.

    April 1, 2011 at 8:50 am

    • The Art of the Group Ride

      Early mornings for me too. Only way to get it in before the day starts. Have you found that not eating before morning ride works? I usually wake up hungry and if I don’t eat something I’ll bonk even on a short ride.

      April 3, 2011 at 8:16 pm

      • Andy Wilson


        Hasn’t been an issue, but I think I’ll experiment with this a little and see if I notice any advantage when adding some pre-ride food.

        April 4, 2011 at 5:31 am

      • The Art of the Group Ride

        Gotta go with what works right? I think I’m a bit hyperglycemic. Or is it hypo? I can never remember but I get hungry quickly and eat more often than my riding buds

        April 6, 2011 at 9:17 am

  3. Great article. I follow a very similar routine. I ride early every day of the week (the alarm goes off at 4:50 AM) but getting prepped M-F aren’t as structured as Saturday. On Saturday I drive to a shop to ride with a group so I make sure everything is ready to go as I don’t want to get there and find out I forgot my socks or something like that.

    I rode for a long time with no pre-ride food M-F but have recently changed it to 1/2 a banana plus 4 oz water mixed with 4 oz of juice. It seems to help me ride better.

    On Saturday’s the pre-ride fuel is 1/2 a Clif bar, 1/2 a banana, and 8 oz of water mixed with 4 oz of juice. Nuun goes into the water bottles from the start and I eat the remaining 1/2 Clif bar at the 1 hour point, a gel at 1.5 hours, and continue that cycle through the ride.

    April 1, 2011 at 9:24 am

    • The Art of the Group Ride

      That’s an early wake up call Bryan! I’ve found too that some food before the early rides help. What kind of juice goes in your bottles?

      April 3, 2011 at 8:14 pm

      • I have the water+juice before I hit the bike. Once on the bike for those short M-F rides I only put water in the bottle.

        I use whatever juice we have around the house. Usually some kind of diet grape, cranberry, apple, whatever.

        April 4, 2011 at 3:56 am

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