In Praise of 5:00 AM

07.6.2010 | 12:37 pm

I am not a big fan of waking up. To illustrate my lack of unexcitedness about waking up in general, I would like to provide to you the following list of things about which I am not excited, stack-ranked (with most unexcitedness at the top) to give you some context:

  1. Brocoli
  2. My receding hairline
  3. The letter “C”
  4. Waking Up
  5. Flat stages in the Tour de France

Ordinarily, I should point out, “Flat Stages in the Tour de France” would be much higher (i.e., providing even more unexcitedness) in this list, but so far, the carnage in these stages (haven’t watched today’s stage yet so don’t give it away) has made them much less unexciting than usual.

(Note to self: write a post about how conflicted I feel about the fact that I scan through flat stages of the TdF at 4x speed, but stop and rewind for crashes.)

And in short, I don’t much like waking up.

But this time of year, I gladly set my alarm for 5:00 AM. And while I don’t like — and will probably never like — the moment of waking up, it’s totally worth it.

Because this time of year, early mornings rule.

Getting Away With Something

More than ten years ago, as Dug and I were first discovering night riding, we stood at the top of a climb that overlooked the lights in Utah County. “Look at all those chumps, watching TV. Eating. Sleeping. Whatever-ing,” said Dug. “They don’t know what they’re missing.”

“It’s like we’ve found a huge chunk of time in the day we never knew existed before,” I replied. “Like we’ve found out that the day actually has 28 hours if you buy the right clock.”

“It’s like we’re getting away with something,” Dug concluded.

We were so freaking deep. But we were also right. And, as it turns out, the same applies to the early morning, as well. If you’re willing to do with a little less sleep, a little less grooming, and can make yourself feel OK about telling your little twin princesses that from now on they’re in charge of their own breakfast, you suddenly have a big chunk of time that nobody else has.

Oh, Cool.

So there’s the “more time factor.” Fine. But around here — and in some places, probably year round — that’s only the tiniest benefit.

What I love the very most about riding in the morning is the temperature. Through the simple act of setting my alarm clock, I am able to take a daily vacation from the heat of the day. There’s something fantastic about feeling cool — maybe even a little bit cold — when you’re outside exercising on a day that’s going to have a high of 101 fahrenheit (or, for those of you who prefer metric measurements, 255.37 kelvin).

In fact, I’d go so far as to say it makes you feel a little bit like a genius. With just a dash of smugly superior.

Plus, when you’re not miserably hot, rides are just better. Here’s The Runner yesterday — we rode up Grove Canyon to the top of Timpooneke, then to the Ridge Trail and down Tibble Fork — about three hours and 4500 feet of climbing into the ride:

My Photo_13.jpg

I should point out that — judging from the rate of evaporation from my brow — it’s about 9:40 AM and 68 degrees f (293.15 kelvin) outside when this picture was taken. In the middle of the day, it doesn’t matter how beautiful a ride is — you’re just thinking about how brutally hot it is outside, and how soon you can get near an air conditioning vent.

If you start out early, on the other hand, you’re a little more prone to notice that you are, in fact, riding singletrack across a mountain meadow, with aspen trees in the background. On an epic mountain bike ride you started from your house, no less.


Maybe the most awesome side-benefit of the early morning ride, though, is how it leaves you feeling for the rest of the day. If I get a ride in before the day gets started, I’m calm, friendly, and happy. I can deal with everything and anything.

If, on the other hand, I don’t get a ride in, I’m…um…less calm, friendly, and happy. And while I can still generally deal with everything, my methods of dealing are perhaps less…calm, friendly and happy.

Unless you consider sarcastic remarks calm, friendly, and happy, that is.

Of course, this is an easy post to write this time of the year. It’s light, even at 5:00 AM, and that makes it, apart from the moment of disorientation and resentment upon first awakening, easy to wake up.

Stay tuned for my post in a few months, however, which I am tentitively titling, “5:00 AM Sucks. Bad.”


  1. Comment by Golden | 07.6.2010 | 12:42 pm

    first!! Great post Fatty!

  2. Comment by Eric L. | 07.6.2010 | 12:51 pm

    When you speed through the stages at 4x, you miss the never ending variations of Phil pronouncing Boasson-Hagen.

  3. Comment by JamesInPhoenix | 07.6.2010 | 12:55 pm

    255.37 Kelvin = -0.004 degrees Fahrenheit
    101 degrees Fahrenheit = 311.483333 Kelvin

    just sayin…

  4. Comment by Brandon | 07.6.2010 | 1:01 pm

    Early AM is the only time to ride. Lately at 5:15am we are already on the Payson Canyon Trails.

  5. Comment by Dave | 07.6.2010 | 1:04 pm

    FYI – Number 2 on your list? Your “receding” hairline? Come now Fatty, it has long since left the receding stage.

    Good post though. I love the morning ride. Get three hours in before any one else in the house is even up. I feel just slightly superior for the rest of the day.

  6. Comment by MOCougFan | 07.6.2010 | 1:08 pm

    Amen brother. Morning rides are by far my favorite. Not much better than riding up AF Canyon when the sun comes up over the mountain. Pure Beauty. Plus that cool crisp feeling. The smell of the mountains….

    I hate Missouri.

  7. Comment by Alan | 07.6.2010 | 1:08 pm

    a friend of mine recently observed that if he rides in the morning before work, he feels great all day, is in a better mood and more patient. BUT HE CAN’T FOCUS ON WORK AT ALL. If he doesn’t ride in the morning, he’s cranky, has no sense of humor or patience, but can focus on the task at hand. It’s a tough trade off, but I’ll take the good feeling of the ride over being able to get stuff done any day.

  8. Comment by MikeG | 07.6.2010 | 1:18 pm

    Come on Fatty! I just can’t get past the irony of you, who lives in Utah complaining about the heat! I rolled out at 4:55am last Sat to lead our group ride and it was already 90 degrees! Leaving before 6am is just plain survival in Phoenix this time of year…

  9. Comment by KanyonKris | 07.6.2010 | 1:23 pm

    I don’t like getting up early, but love it every time I do (because I’m doing something fun). Yes, I have a learning disability.

    Good to see you and The Runner on the trail yesterday. It was a gorgeous day for a ride.

  10. Comment by dug | 07.6.2010 | 1:26 pm

    “Stay tuned for my post in a few months, however, which I am tentitively titling, “5:00 AM Sucks. Bad.””

    come ski with me and you’ll never say this again.

  11. Comment by Lucas | 07.6.2010 | 1:35 pm

    wow… early mornings don’t matter much here, what with the radical humidity… at 6am it was already in the high-80s with a dew point to match :(

  12. Comment by rich | 07.6.2010 | 1:35 pm

    Great Post Fatty!
    I love getting up early to ride. That way you have the rest of the day to do the normal stuff and don’t feel like you’re rushing through the day to try and cram in a quick after work ride…

  13. Comment by Kovas Palubinskas | 07.6.2010 | 1:43 pm

    Getting up early is awesome. Finishing workout for day gives you more time with the family and a happy feeling for the day. Welcome to the early bird club.

  14. Comment by JennC | 07.6.2010 | 1:55 pm

    I’ve been getting up extra early to try to get my running done before it gets too hot. Of course, the overnight low here in the Valley of the Sun has been hovering in the upper 80s, low 90s with a daytime high of 110+. It’s miserable even at 5am. But it feels good be done by the time others are just getting up.

  15. Comment by Jim | 07.6.2010 | 2:30 pm

    I don’t know what you people are talking about with the heat. I went outside a minute ago to test the weather for my 25 mile commute home in D.C., and it feels like it’s barely 312 in the shade. 312 fahrenheit, that is.

  16. Comment by bikemike | 07.6.2010 | 2:32 pm

    sooo, the higher the kevin(easier to spell) number the lower the frankenheimer number. or, is my math as bad as my spelling?

  17. Comment by Lars Larson | 07.6.2010 | 3:22 pm

    Four out of Five isn’t bad.

    1. Broccoli ROCKS!
    2. Hair is WAY over-rated. I wish I were bald so I could quit thinking about getting my buzz cut every 5 weeks.
    3. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with the letter “C”.
    4. The pre-dawn are the finest hours of the day…for ANYthing.
    5. But…Flat stages at the TdF DO suck…and so does sprinting for the line. BIG deal!

  18. Comment by Lars Larson | 07.6.2010 | 3:24 pm

    “Kelvin” isn’t “metric”…neither is “Celsius”

  19. Comment by philip | 07.6.2010 | 3:53 pm

    Unfortunatly some of us get up at 5:00am and start get ready and head to work. To get a morning ride I would have to wake up by at least 4, probably 3:30!

    Then there would never be sunlight, but might have to try it to stay out of the heat.

  20. Comment by Grizzly Adam | 07.6.2010 | 3:56 pm

    What Dug said. Seriously.

  21. Comment by mtb w | 07.6.2010 | 5:17 pm

    What’s wrong with the letter “C”? Sesame Street taught me lots of good things about “C”, like cookies, creme, candy, cake, carborocket, chocolate, etc. OK, I seem to have a sweet tooth theme.

  22. Comment by roan | 07.6.2010 | 6:12 pm

    Up at 3:45 AM walk the dog, 4:30 cycle to “work”. At “work” before 6:00 AM. “Work” because at that time no one knows, I seize the moment at check…stupid me now I know Fatty is still in bed.
    OH YES! way back in HS there was this kid named ‘C’elvin…’C’ or ‘K’ no difference. He measured “everything” in metric just to get an enhanced number.

  23. Comment by cece | 07.6.2010 | 6:27 pm

    Early morning rides before work are the way to go! I love to smell the morning dampness and see the sun rise…and I love to take pics while I am cycling. A friend and I plan various routes…one day climbing the other fast and flat…we have a blast and I agree…it is like a secret time that no one knows about….at least in New Mexico!

  24. Comment by Triflefat | 07.6.2010 | 8:11 pm

    To all you smugly superior northern hemisphere early risers, remember Fatty’s last comment.

    What goes around comes around, and this also applies to planets. The sun is heading back down under and soon we will be able to get up and ride in the light and you will again be banished to the dark and cold.

  25. Comment by Kathleen@ForgingAhead | 07.6.2010 | 8:38 pm

    Early morning rides rock!

  26. Comment by TommekeTommekeTommeke | 07.6.2010 | 9:22 pm

    Does 5:00 a.m. actually exist? I’ve never seen it. I’m not sure it’s for real.

  27. Comment by John | 07.6.2010 | 9:30 pm

    I didn’t mind my 100* ride this morning….till I wiped out!! Now that I need a new helmet do you have any suggestions for a triathlete?…assuming I bike again :-)

  28. Comment by evil3 | 07.6.2010 | 9:30 pm

    I just hate getting up early, although for the tour it isn’t a big deal as it is always best to watch it live (although I am in IN and am on central time so it’s not like it is that early lol).

    As for heat 100*F is nothing in dry heat like down there in the desert (I know what it’s like as I once lived in NM). However once you factor in the humidity with temps that are in the upper 80’s or 90’s it really takes all of the energy right out of you (yes in norther IN the temps can get in the 90’s during the summer, although when winter comes along for all I know it can get down to -5*Fish or even -40*F like it did one year (normally it stays in the low single digits)

    But in any case a nice work out in the morning always helps you feel gear though out the rest of the day, although I am always up for another session later on before/around night time).

  29. Comment by Dan O | 07.6.2010 | 10:51 pm

    Getting up super early just ain’t in my DNA. I wish it was – not gonna happen, unless under duress.

    Lucky for me, here in the Seattle area – it rarely gets hot. Cool and comfy most of the summer…..

  30. Comment by Bee | 07.7.2010 | 5:06 am

    I am so not an early morning person, but when I lived in Arlington, I did used to get up at 5AM to go ride for a few hours. I’d be out the door by 530 and rolling home at 8AM, just as the smog warnings started going out.

    I do notice that when I workout early- i.e., as the temperatures start to rise, I am much more heat tolerant during the rest of the day.

    Now if only I could get up the guts to go swimming in the open water, I’d be that much better off.

  31. Comment by Cardiac Kid | 07.7.2010 | 5:34 am

    Does anyone hum the theme song from that Cialis commericial where the women is saying that mornings are her favorite time of day when they go out for an early ride?

  32. Comment by Dave Criswell | 07.7.2010 | 6:07 am

    Glad I’m not the only one who speed through the flat stages and stops for the crashes. I also stop for the interviews and some of The Shack commercials with Lance are pretty good too.

  33. Comment by Kate | 07.7.2010 | 6:12 am

    Here I was debating on whether I should ride or not before work tomorrow, and now I have to! Thanks a lot Fatty.

  34. Comment by Miles Archer | 07.7.2010 | 6:42 am

    I don’t know about 5am, but 6 works pretty well in the summer where I live. Here on vacation in Boston, the low temp was 83degF (too lazy to convert to Rankine, Kelvin, Celcius, Centigrade, whatever) this morning.

  35. Comment by Papa Bear | 07.7.2010 | 8:00 am

    I’m up and out the door at 0430 every day for my commute to work. I get in 4.5 miles before work, then I do a 15 mile route home after 10 hrs at work. great way to start and end the day!

  36. Comment by André | 07.7.2010 | 8:20 am

    Dear you Fat Cyclist,

    I’d like to thank you now and in advance for disturbing the agony to write my BA. As I’ve recently started to do sport on a very regular basis, you’re site, Lämmlers comments and such, have prooven to be a perfect distraction from my BA.

    Please do not take it personally if i’ll start to to ask you more and more ingraciously to take down your site as my final date is approaching.

    For that matter, it would be kind of yours to write only content like “I’ve been out, had good weather, cool. Bye” in the first weeks of Aug.


    distressed student

  37. Comment by Kit | 07.7.2010 | 8:36 am

    My morning starts at 5:00, just me and the raccoons. I commute into work at 5 and get into downtown Portland by 6 (were I can take a shower and eat breakfast at work). As I now have two kidos under the age of 1&1/2 I find that if I want to get a good long ride in I need to start at 5:00 or earlier. The plus side to getting up that early is that the bats eats any bugs that would bother me on my ride.

    In review: Bats good, dont run over the raccoons, and set alarm clock.

  38. Comment by Adventure Monkey | 07.7.2010 | 9:31 am

    I hate my job. I would have to wake up at 3:00 to get in a ride in the dark. I just go to work everyday oozing with sarcasm, waiting for the day to be over so I can roast in the sun on my bike.

    Really, I’m not usually this negative, just in need of a ride – BAD.

  39. Comment by Clydesteve | 07.7.2010 | 10:04 am

    thanks for the vicarious morning ride enjoyment, fatty. i really really love early morning summer rides. it is supposed to reach 96F here today, so the subject is very on-topic.

    alas, no riding for me for about the next two months except the stationary. just had shoulder repair – detached labrum – yesterday, and i will be in a sling for 6 weeks.

    btw, about the temperature conversions. i notice that you keep getting flack from people about the accuracy of your conversions. they do not seem to realize that you are converting from English to Romulan to Kelvin in your head. its tougher than it looks, folks – give the man a break!

  40. Comment by FF | 07.7.2010 | 11:17 am

    One benefit of riding/living in Canada, you get those “morning” type temps, all day long…unfortunately, in a few months highs of -20 really put a dent into motivation and definitely makes the top 5…

  41. Comment by Al | 07.7.2010 | 12:34 pm

    I’m with Triple Shot Cycling in Victoria, where the early morning wake up is required. Weekday rides meet at 6am, Sunday rides at 7am. Took some getting used to (particularly in the dead of winter) but after a year and a bit, I consider it “normal”. It’s quiet, there’s little traffic and I get my ride in without any significant impact on family time.

  42. Comment by melicious | 07.7.2010 | 12:43 pm

    Color me jealous that you (and The Runner) can have such a scenic, gorgeous place to ride that STARTS FROM YOUR DOORSTEP!! Enjoy!

  43. Comment by a chris | 07.7.2010 | 1:37 pm

    Thank you, JamesInPhoenix. I’m glad to see someone else noticed.

    To try to avoid making a possibly-offensive presumption about you, I’ll assume, until I know otherwise, that it’s more important to me than to you that a humourous cycling post contain accurate Fahrenheit to Kelvin translations.

  44. Comment by John | 07.7.2010 | 5:27 pm

    OR if you’re like me, you get up at 5:30 AM to do a 30 mile ride with friends and forget as you pull into your garage when you get home that your bike was just two seconds ago on TOP of your car and is now a crumpled mess . . . on top of your car, but your car does now in fact fit in the garage.

  45. Comment by Steve the BigRide | 07.7.2010 | 6:06 pm

    My biological clock says 4 am, no alarm clock needed.
    My wifeological clock says I better be damn quiet rolling out of bed that early.

  46. Comment by Barbara | 07.7.2010 | 7:12 pm

    Hey Fatty, Have you noticed Bob Roll’s new hairdo this year? You have inspired him to go with the bare head. No need to worry about the receding hairline or the ridiculous tuft of frontal hair.

  47. Comment by Celeste | 07.7.2010 | 9:58 pm

    For obvious reasons, I myself am a huge fan of the letter “C.”

    To each his own.

  48. Comment by rjb | 07.8.2010 | 6:54 am

    Don’t feel bad about watching the crashes over and over again. It’s like a toothache. Ever notice that when you have a toothache you just cant resist poking at it with your tongue, a toothpick, or a 10-penny nail? Your brain is saying “man that tooth hurts, I wonder if it will hurt when I poke it…. OUCH!!!… .yep, hurts a lot. Hmmm, wonder if it hurts now…. YOW!! yep, still hurts.”

  49. Comment by Andrew | 07.8.2010 | 7:22 am


    Couple of things:
    255.37 Kelvin = -17.78 celsius definitely not hot…. Water freezes at 0 degrees celsius

    Early morning rides in here in Sydney are accompanied by a good dose of Frost at the moment, unusual cold snap going through. So your post has me longing for our summer.

    Good post



  50. Comment by Brad Schildt | 07.8.2010 | 2:54 pm


    It was great to read your post on the joys of “Dawn Patrol”. Whether it is riding, running, skiing (water or snow), surfing or swimming, getting outside before sunrise is one of the joys of life.

    And I love your metric conversions!



  51. Comment by Mike - Bicycles | 07.9.2010 | 3:08 am

    Hai.. These look good. great presentation, i love this. Thanks

  52. Comment by Brian | 07.9.2010 | 8:05 am

    You know, your TdF flat stage viewing technique would work equally well for any and all NASCAR events too.

  53. Comment by cindyrides | 07.12.2010 | 7:22 pm

    I also HATE early mornings. However, living down in St. George requires dragging my lazy butt out of bed to beat 90 degrees. Riding down Snow Canyon and feeling a chill is splendid. The 100 degree evening rides are treacherous, and that’s with the sun on the way down.


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