Do you like to ride early? I do. In fact, I’d say at least 75% of my 9800 Zwift miles have been done before the rest of my family is awake! These early morning fasted rides help me build a lot of base fitness, teach my body to burn fat, and are just a nice way to start the day off with some activity.

This morning as I rode around Richmond with my buddy Zane I began thinking about how my mind and body travel through a fairly consistent set of phases as each early morning ride progresses. Perhaps you have experienced something similar? Let’s compare notes… here are mine from this morning’s ride.

Phase 1: Waking Up

The phone alarm goes off at 5am, quiet so as not to wake the wife. Do I really need to get up now? It’s dark outside, the bed is warm. I delay a few minutes… then roll out of bed.

Phase 2: Kitting Up

It’s cold. I put my socks on first because the tile floor feels like ice. Brush my teeth so I don’t have to ride with morning breath. Visit the toilet, where an important decision needs to be made: to poo, or not to poo? If I stick to pee only I’ll be out of there quick and on the bike. I don’t really feel a need for #2. Let’s make this quick.

Throw on the kit (today’s it’s my comfy Castelli Zwift World Champ’s kit), regret not drying my shoes after yesterday’s rainy ride, fill a water bottle. Grab my phone and exit the bedroom.

Phase 3: Get Riding

Walk to the garage, hoping nobody left anything in the dark hallway for me to trip over. Turn on the trainer power strip, wake up the computer, start Zwift (why does it take so long to start up? was it sleeping too?) then we have a decision to make. Where do I ride? Some days I’ve already decided on a particular workout or event, but many days I just free ride in the mornings. Today my friend Zane is on course, so I click to ride with him.

Phase 4: Regret the Route Choice

Freakin’ Richmond flat. Why did Zane pick Richmond flat? Now we get to ride a crowded 3 mile flat loop for 90 minutes.

Phase 5: The Jacket Comes Off

A few miles in and my body starts to warm up. I take off my jacket and toss it in the corner.

Phase 6: The Fan Turns On

5 miles later and I can feel a bit of sweat coming on. Time to turn on the fan. Luckily I’ve got a handy network-connected power strip for my fans, so I can turn them on via a phone app. Best $15 I’ve ever spent.

Phase 7: Only 10 Miles?

That first 10 miles always seem to take forever. But I also know the next 10 will not.

Phase 8: Nausea/Hunger

45 minutes in and my stomach gets that feeling… you know what I’m talking about. That kind of upset stomach feeling, but it’s actually a hunger pang? I’ve been doing this long enough that I know it’s just hunger (I haven’t eaten in over 12 hours, after all) and it will go away soon enough. Keep pedaling.

Phase 9: 20 Miles Down

As I get close to the hour mark I start doing the math in my head to calculate our average speed. Yeah, I know Zwift speeds are a little generous, but it’s still a decent gauge of overall effort on a flat course. We’ve ticked off 20 miles and we’re only 54 minutes in, so we’re doing fine at this fasted zone 2 pace.

Phase 10: Should Have Pooped

It happens. Every. Time. It’s like my bowels don’t wake up until I’ve been riding for an hour. But this isn’t a Tom Dumoulin-level emergency, so I’m not going to stop now!

Phase 11: Let’s Make It 30

Zane ditches me at the 1-hour mark because he has a real job. But I generally ride until around 7am, so I decide to keep going, riding for a least 90 minutes. That’s about the limit of what I can do on a fasted ride before I need some nutrition.

Phase 12: Impromptu Sprint

One nice thing I realize about the Richmond flat course it is takes you over a sprint section every 8-9 minutes… not unlike London’s Classique. I glance at the leaderboard and decide to hit the sprint in a bid to steal the green jersey. I don’t have a useful powerup (a feather on Richmond flat?!) but I follow my own suggestions and get third place. Only half a second off the green jersey, and I know I could have gone harder. Next time around.

Phase 13: Call Me Cavendish

I take the green jersey on my second and final sprint. Just barely. But it still feels good. So I take a snapshot.

Phase 14: Another Few Miles Won’t Hurt

I’m over 32 miles after 90 minutes. Might as well make it 35.

Phase 15: Done. And Happy I Did It.

That post-ride feeling is the best, isn’t it? The endorphins are flowing, I know I’ve started my day off responsibly, and oatmeal is waiting upstairs. Time to hit the showers.