Five More Minutes

I always look forward to when the days slowly start to become more and more autumnal.  Crisp mornings and leaves crunching under my wheels as I take my early foggy rides to work are some of my favorite days all year, and combine it with fall colors and pumpkin everything and it's pure bliss. 

Ready for my morning voyage!
While this is my favorite time of year, the one aspect of the seasonal change that makes it bit rough is the darkening morning hours.  In the midst of summer I'd sometimes wake up to natural light well before my alarm went off, but lately dawn hasn't even begun before I need to get up and leave.  It's tough some days to get motivated and head out into the dark and chilly mornings, so I developed a bit of a system to help me get going when all I want to do is stay in bed.  

I'm a total night owl.  I'll stay up all hours of the night given the chance, and then sleep until two in the afternoon.  Even if I do force myself to get to bed at say, eight in the evening, I'll still sleep until noon.  So what do I do to keep myself motivated when it starts getting harder and harder to get up?  

Lay everything out the night before.  Keeping all of my cycling clothes next to my bed keeps me from having to face the cold and hunt around in the morning.  

Don't go to bed hungry.  Getting home late makes it tough sometimes to have a decent dinner, but even if just have a bowl of cereal or a banana it's better than nothing.  No one likes to wake up hungry and having to ride to work - your body will thank you.  

Get thee some adequate gear.  Good cold weather and rain gear is expensive, but anyone who rides in these conditions frequently knows it's well worth it.  If you're not comfortable on your rides, you won't want to keep doing them!  

Light the way.  Along with gear, you need good lights for those dark mornings (and evenings!) and you need a way to power them.  There are lots of USB chargeable lights these days, but use whatever works for you, makes you visible, and lets you see.  

Change it up.  Maybe you feel unsafe on your ride.  Maybe it's starting to get a bit old.  If you can, try taking a different route - even if it will add on a few miles.  An exciting, safe route that you look forward to is a big factor to getting out of bed in the morning.

Seek out a bit of friendly competition.  "If I don't ride today, so-and-so will give me crap!" It might seem petty, but having a friend to either ride with or otherwise push you can be a great motivator for some of us (especially those of us with a competitive streak).  A riding buddy is ideal, but even a coworker or friend who can give you some good-humored motivation does wonders.  

If it breaks, fix it.  Keep up with maintenance.  Get a fitting.  Upgrade parts if you need to.  Make sure your bike is something you want to ride, and you'll look forward to riding it no matter what time of day.

Have a good attitude.  "Man, I *have* to get up early tomorrow" will put you in a negative mindset.  "I get to ride my bike tomorrow morning!" is much better, as cheesy as it sounds.  

Put yourself in someone else's shoes.  There are people that have to ride much further than you.  There are people who have to ride much further than you who maybe are missing a leg, or an arm.  There are people who wish they could ride a bike.  Appreciate that you can ride! 

Don't kill yourself.  If something is hurting, or you have to take care of your family, or you're not feeling your greatest, take a day off.  It's okay to miss a day every so often to catch up on sleep or let your body heal, if that's what you need.  And if you have joint pain, get a proper bike fitting!  

This is what has been working for me, but everyone is different.  And while I am still sleepy getting on the bike in the morning, watching the seasons change and looking forward to a few months of fall colors during my commute is worth it.  

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