Last week I asked you to vote in a poll about when you prefer to ride. 18 of you responded and Early Morning beat out Mid-Morning by a vote of 7-6. Evening came in with 3 while Afternoon got 1. There was 1 other.

I asked the same question on Twitter and got the following replies:

From eqtmgr: “I prefer morning.”

From Eric_McWhirter:”Right in the morning, but the temps get to a point that I like 60/70 range anytime would work.”

From daveydave999: “I prefer to cycling at night. Sometimes after dark. I never was a morning person.”

From mx4789: “ride time: usually anything except *early* AM.. hate getting up to alarm clock on weekend just to ride.. I’ll sweat instead.”

Just looking at the results, it appears that most of my readers prefer to ride in the morning. I couldn’t agree more and believe the morning is the best time for road cycling.

Seven Reasons Why The Morning Is Best Time For Cycling

Before I headed off to Dallas for 18 months I had gotten into a routine of getting up at 5 AM to ride. Getting up wasn’t that big a deal to me as long as I got plenty of sleep the night before. Getting enough sleep is a big problem for me though (a bad habit left over from my military days). Anyway, a long time spent in the military got me conditioned to getting up early so doing so to ride wasn’t a big deal. Now that I’ve returned from Dallas I have pushed my wake-up time to 6 AM. Here’s why I think cycling in the morning is best:

  • It’s a great way to start the day. Getting up and riding before the city starts to awaken is an awesome experience. The roads have far less traffic and you can actually take the time to do a little sight-seeing. I see new things on almost every ride that I can’t see when in my car or when it’s mid-afternoon. Personally, I think the morning feels and smells fresher than any other part of the day.
  • Riding early wakes you up. Riding first thing in the morning gets the blood moving and wakes the body up. I always feel refreshed after my ride (as long as I got plenty of sleep the night before) and am ready to go to work. I find that I have energy throughout the day instead of losing steam in the afternoon.
  • You beat the heat. If you live in a warm environment, cycling in the morning is a great way to avoid the hot temperatures of the afternoon. The temp lately has been around 80F (26C) when I roll out of the garage which is way better than the 105F Heat Index later in the afternoon. I still feel the humidity but the early morning sweat is a great thing.
  • You miss the traffic. I mentioned this up above but it’s an important issue. Getting up early to ride let’s you miss the rush hour and avoid traffic. Having less cars on the road lets you enjoy the ride more and is safer. You can’t get complacent though because there will still be early-risers heading to work. Make sure you bicycle is properly out-fitted with lights and wearing a lighter-colored jersey helps too. (Side Note: I’m currently reviewing the Cateye HL-EL450 Headlight and love it. I’ll have a full review up soon)
  • The ride gets done. By cycling in the morning before heading to work you’ll feel good knowing you’re workout for the day is done. It’s too easy to let work or other obligations trump your workout if you wait to do it. Even if the time is available in the evening you’ll be tempted to just say, “I’ll skip today’s ride and ride tomorrow.” By riding early you don’t put myself into that position.
  • It forces a good diet and hydration. I find that knowing I have to ride in the morning makes me more conscious of what I eat and how much water I drink the day and evening before. I’m notorious for not drinking enough water but having to workout in the morning puts pressure on me to make sure I’m hydrated.
  • It leaves time for family. All of us know that it’s important to spend time with the family. They need our attention just as much as our trusty steed. By riding early, when they’re still asleep, I can indulge in my cycling habit which leaves my evening open to spend time with my wife and girls.

A lot of people will say that working out in the morning in a fasted state (not having eaten food for the last 8-10 hours) will burn more fat. I don’t know if that’s true or not. I tried finding an article, study, or research from a reputable source, either for or against it, but couldn’t. The early morning workout might help but one thing you need to be careful about is thinking you can eat whatever you want for the rest of the day because you’ve already got your workout in. Getting a good road bike ride in first thing in the morning and then pigging out on fast food and ice cream the rest of the day isn’t a recipe for success.

Give It A Try

I know riding in the morning isn’t for everyone. Some of the commentators over on the poll page and on Twitter said as much. Each of has unique needs, family, and work commitments that dictate when we can get our cycling in. There are others among us who will never get up before the sun is up (I have two daughters that way). If you have the opportunity though, I encourage you to get out early for a ride. It’ll give you a whole new perspective.

PHOTOC: Martin Bravenboer