Gear Prudence: I’ve been struggling my whole life with the fact that I’m not a morning person. I can’t get myself out of bed before noon on the weekend, and by then my friends are halfway done with their centuries. And forget about bike commuting: I can barely stumble to the Metro and have no motivation to even try to pedal to work. I do ride in the afternoons, but I feel like I’m missing out on so many opportunities because of my need for sleep. Any ideas? — Someone Lacks Exercise, Enjoyment, Pedaling
Dear SLEEP: The struggle is real. Your body clock is set to snooze, and while your chums are up with the chickens, you’re still sawing logs. In the winter when daylight is precious, sticking to afternoon rides limits the number of hours you can enjoy in the saddle. And you curtail your time on the bike further by not cycling to work. Surely you’ve already attempted the obvious chemical enhancers (e.g. coffee), but GP suspects these too have failed to rouse you. Maybe pushing back your bedtime a few hours earlier would quench your need for sleep. But if this is a lifelong issue, changing sleep patterns may be too difficult to be worth trying. Simple things like setting your bike by the door or sleeping in your bike clothes will make getting out easier, but it sounds like you might need some external motivation.
Will rewards motivate you to get on the bike earlier in the day? You said your friends are out there riding without you, but this doesn’t seem to be enough to get you going. Have you considered making more interesting and attractive friends? That might help. Or is the lack of a compelling destination what’s holding you back? GP wonders if you can find something you want more to do/see/eat more than sleep, which could outweigh your desire to stay in bed. Ideally it’d be some kind of morning activity. Are you super excited about cow milking or watching sporting events in eastward time zones?
Then there’s the opposite tack. Mild discomfort could be a good (if slightly masochistic) way to get you going. If your alternative to biking isn’t blissful sleep, but grating noise, morning riding won’t seem nearly as bad. Move next to a construction site. Borrow a friend’s toddler. Ask your significant other to take accordion lessons. Anything disruptive enough to drive you from home will work wonders.
Or maybe it’s just not worth fighting your body. If you’ve never been a morning person, morning biking might just never happen. That’s OK! The day has 24 hours either way, and so long as you’re able to carve out time for riding, it hardly matters when you do it. —GP
Gear Prudence is Brian McEntee, who tweets @sharrowsDC. Got a question about cycling? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.