Don’t waste time looking for your cycling socks when you could be out riding! Instead, follow these tips from former pro rider Ben Greenwood (Rapha Condor-Sharp, Team IG-Sigma Sport) to get from bed to shed at speed.
1 Rise and shine
As soon as your alarm goes off, get up. Once your feet hit the floor, that’s it, no turning back. The best trick is to put your alarm too far away for you to reach it from the bed. That way you either have to get up or listen to an annoying noise until you do. And don’t give yourself too short a time to get ready. Being awake 10 minutes earlier won’t change the way you feel in the slightest but it might prevent you being 10 minutes late for a ride.
2 Get your kit on
Make sure all the clothes you need are ready before you go to bed. Given that the UK climate can be somewhat unpredictable, have a few options laid out. That way, if it’s raining you won’t spend ages looking through your drawers for your waterproof cape or wet weather gloves. The best plan is to look out of the window as soon as you get up and then put your kit on immediately. Once that’s done you’re committed to going and backing out isn’t an option.
3 Stoke up
If you’re going to eat breakfast, have everything set out the night before. And if you want milk or bread then don’t wait until the morning to find that you’ve run out, because going to the shop will take too long and the thought of not eating might put you off training. If you like toast, pop bread in the toaster as soon as you’re in the kitchen. Likewise, put the kettle on straight away. Waiting means wasted minutes. Caffeine will help you wake up but a glass of water will also make you feel more alive.
4 Plan ahead
Put your energy drink powder in the bottles the night before, but it’s best to wait until you’re just about to leave for a ride to add the water, so that they taste fresh. Everything else can be prepared in advance so place all the food, including your bars and gels, in your helmet. That way you won’t be able to forget them. Put your shoes and helmet near the front door; you’ll know exactly where to find them. And remember to put any emergency extras with them too.
5 Think bike
Your bike should be washed and prepared the day before; you won’t have time come the morning. And make sure you check your tyres before you go to sleep. There’s nothing worse than being halfway out the door and finding you have a puncture. The ideal scenario is for the bike to be gleaming and oiled, with a set of fully inflated tyres, so all that you have to do is get on it and start pedalling.
Bike shops aren’t normally open early in the morning so this isn’t a good time to deal with any mechanical issues. And don’t even think about making position changes to your bike at this late stage. Rushed measurements can often result in discomfort or, even worse, injury.
6 Buddy up
Arranging to meet someone to go riding with, ideally a cyclist who’s always on time and will give you some grief if you aren’t, is an efficient way of staying motivated in the early hours. If you don’t have a time schedule to keep to, looking at Twitter or watching some breakfast TV suddenly becomes an option. It’s all going to be there when you get back, so just ignore any time-wasting activities. The simple rule is, if something won’t help you get out on the road, leave it until later.