Cyclists are a fairly predictable bunch; most of us follow a familiar routine, or if you're from the south, your cycling ritual. The ritual is supposed to make the lead up to each ride as relaxing as possible so that the ride itself can be an enjoyable experience. Even on the ride most people have a fairly consistent ritual, even if they don't realise it.
My routine starts the night before any big ride. First things first, make sure the legs are silky smooth. In reality I'm yet to figure out what genuine advantages having smooth legs makes, but in my head they're worth a good handful of seconds per mile so it's worthwhile giving them a shave, even if it's only psychological. Once they're silky smooth they get a little rub down with some amino recovery balm to stop them aching before the ride.
The following morning is where the real routine begins. I'm no morning person so getting out of bed is a bit of a nightmare for me; rather unfortunate then that most rides start at 8:30am for me. The first part of my ritual has to be never waking up too early. I'll never be found out of bed more than one hour before I have to leave the house; I'd rather dream than dawdle.
Coffee is one of the most important parts of my ritual. Without coffee I'd probably never fully wake up and get out of the house. Every single big ride starts with a good cup of coffee. I invested in a nice cafetiere so that I can weigh out just enough coffee to kick start the day. I'm a coffee snob for sure so it's got to taste good or that's my day ruined. Nothing beats a good fresh coffee! I'm definitely 95% coffee and 5% cream egg.
Breakfast has to be another key part of my ritual; I'm slightly less conventional that the hardcore cyclist and absolutely love jam and peanut-butter on toast. I absolutely swear by two slices of toast heavily laden in goodness and very rarely break from routine. On the biggest days I'll sneak in a BCAA shot as part of breakfast to help make sure I'm less fatigued. I admit it's not they typical athletes breakfast, but I aren't a pro so I'd rather enjoy myself.
Breakfast and it's all about the favour outfit. Let's face it, we all have our favour bibs and jersey. All too often I'll opt for the same combination as often as possible for maximum comfort. My favourite pair of bibs are three years old now and at some point soon are probably going to start showing off far too much of my backside, but for the time being they're far too snug to let go. As long as I don't become that guy that's showing off the local Grand Canyon then I'll continue. If it's a really cold day I'll slap some warm up cream onto my legs for a bit of a kick start beneath those yet to be see-through bibs. Get it on those sensitive regions though and you'll definitely feel the burn on the ride...
Out on the bike cyclists tend to stick to the same ritual; it might not be as obvious but when you look closely it's obvious. We all tend to stick to similar routes, or a combination of routes that we favour the most. I love riding up the Dales towards Halton to take in the scenery. It's my first choice of ride but doesn't mean I won't stray away from time to time.
Cafe stops are another part of the ritual. We always head to those cafes we love and order the same things. If you're even buying then I'll always have a latte, preferably the biggest they'll do. One of the guys I ride with will always, without hesitation order a toasted teacake; nothing more, nothing less. We're creatures of habit in the cycling world.
Once we've dragged ourselves out of the cafe and back onto the road the ritual continues along those favour roads until we get to the end of the ride. Again, we tend to stick to as post ride ritual. In summer all social rides end in the pub over a pint of some description, for me it's water because I'm boring. It's an opportunity to catch up on the Strava segments from along the ride and the different funny things that might have happened. In winter, it tend to be straight home to curl up against a radiator with a Rego protein shake. Ritual does change, just depending on the season.
Some peoples ritual is longer, others shorter, but nearly all cyclists follow some kind of routine and the more you look, the more you realise we are creatures of very consistent habit.
One funny routine I always recall is that a lot of racing cyclists have a very ritualistic weight loss program in the hours before a race, or maybe we call that nerves?
What's your routine?