It’s the eternal question that each and every one of us need to consider, morning or afternoon cycling? Here Lee ‘Hollywood’ Turner looks at the pros and cons of both.
For the vast majority of us, cycling isn’t just a mode of transport, but a way of life.
It’s our fitness regimen and a social hangout with friends. However, one question that keeps coming up among my mates, and particularly in the summer months, is the ideal time to go for a spin.
Is it best to cycle in the early morning or after work? Here we look into the science of both scenarios to help you decide your best time to go for a spin.
Of course, I’m joking about the science, it’s just a matter of what you prefer.
The Early Morning
1. There’s less chance of excuses creeping in: You set the alarm you get up. You can’t see if it’s cloudy outside because it’s pitch black. There’s no time to procrastinate as the bunch leaves on the minute and if you miss it, your morning is ruined.
2. Jumpstarting Your Metabolism: Early morning cycling acts as a catalyst that kickstarts your metabolism for the day. Engaging in physical activity before breakfast, also known as fasted cardio, can help to increase your fat burn, contributing to weight loss and overall fitness.
3. Improved Mood and Energy: Cycling in the morning releases endorphins, commonly known as ‘feel-good’ hormones. It sets a positive mood and high energy levels for the entire day. Anyone who rides with me knows I’m very up and about in the early morning (and I don’t even drink coffee!).
4. There’s Less Traffic: As most people are still at home or just starting their commute, early morning hours are generally less congested. This provides a safer and more peaceful environment for cycling.
5. Consistency: If you cycle first thing in the morning, there’s less chance that other commitments will push it aside. Afternoon and evening plans can often get caught up with work, but the morning is usually a more predictable time.
Morning Drawbacks: On the flip side, early morning cycling may mean sacrificing some sleep, especially for night owls. It’s also generally colder, which might be uncomfortable, especially in the winter months. That said, in Melbourne there is usually less wind in the early mornings.
Evening Riding: The Advantages of after Work Cycling
1. Stress Relief: Cycling after work can be an excellent way to decompress and alleviate the stresses of the day. Physical activity, like cycling, increases the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins, effectively helping you relax and potentially improving sleep quality.
2. Social Opportunities: After work, more people are available and engaging in recreational activities. This presents opportunities to ride with friends or racing the summer crits, turning your fitness routine into a social activity.
3. Warmup During the Day: By afternoon or evening, your body has had ample time to wake up and warm up, potentially reducing the risk of injuries that can come from jumping straight into 500 watts off the traffic lights.
4. Daylight Saving: In most Australian States there are longer evenings in the summer due to daylight saving time allowing for more light in the evenings, making riding after work more enjoyable.
Drawbacks: Traffic can be a downside as after-work hours often coincide with peak travel times, leading to busier streets. Further, fatigue from a long day at work could affect your motivation and your will to smash yourself. I also struggle to sleep if I’ve done a hard ride after work as it takes a while to unwind and you tend to eat dinner a lot later.
In Conclusion: Personal preference prevails, but mornings are always the best for me.
When choosing between early morning cycling and after-work cycling, it boils down to personal preference and what fits best into your lifestyle and schedule. Tradies who start early don’t have the choice. Early risers might find the morning to be their ideal time for uninterrupted cycling, while others may prefer the stress relief that a post-work ride provides.
For me, I’ve been getting up at 4.30am since I was a paperboy. I don’t even need the alarm most mornings.
It’s also essential to remember that any time spent cycling is beneficial, contributing to fitness, mental health and better overall fitness. As with any form of exercise, the best time to cycle is the time you can commit to consistently. So, whether you prefer the tranquillity of the morning or the winding down of the day, keep your legs spinning.
Personally, I’d rather ride at 4am than 4pm. I like to get out early and get it done so I’ve got the whole day ahead of me. If the weather’s that good I can always go for an easy ride after work and sit in the Acland Street mall in St Kilda and eat Piccolina ice-cream with my cycling cap on, and the luft on point.
Over to you, mornings or evenings? Have your say on the Bicycling Australia social channels.