It's more than just getting up stupid early

Spring is on the way (after a seemingly eternal winter) and the perfect time to grab an early morning ride. Here’s why, how and when to get going.

>>> Is this the perfect way to start your day?


There are fewer people out walking or riding, you can squeeze a ride into a busy day and be back home before breakfast, and spring is the best time to catch a sunrise because it’s not ridiculously early or crazy cold.

It’s more than that though for mtb explorer and snapper Dan Milner: “The blue-hue, cold tinged photos sum up real mountain biking for me — being willing to go after it.”

Our features writer Sim Mainey harks the same lyrical tone. “It’s easy to get blasé about the sun coming up — by definition it happens every day,” he says, helpfully. “But there is something magical about watching light spread over the landscape and watching the transition from night to day.”


“This is a hard one, and I’m guilty of turning the alarm off on occasions and going back to sleep,” says mbr photographer Roo Fowler. “Planning on meeting someone is always a good way of actually getting up, but also, try and convince yourself that it’s a good idea before you go to bed.” In short, don’t think about it when the alarm goes off, don’t snooze it, just get up.

Make sure you get your your bike and gear ready to go the night before, so there’s no faffing and you can just step out of the front door. Pack warm gear that’s easy to strip off when the sun comes up, like arm and knee warmers, and download the MetOffice app for weather and Sun Route to track the light.


Before dawn, obviously. But how soon you need to get up to the top of the hell to catch the sunrise depends on the size of the hill. Obviously again. Aim to start riding an hour before you need to, Dan Milner says. “Faff will interfere with any planned timing. In my experience most dawn raids are about going up something for a big descent afterwards, such as a summit objective, so they usually start with a push anyway.”

The goal

The point is to be out at an unusual time, Roo says. “So I don’t tell myself I have to do a certain distance or certain number of trails, the goal is to get out, and maybe get to the top of a hill for sunrise. If that’s all it is – just a 10k ride – then it’s still well worth it.”