You’ve been riding by yourself for a while, perhaps ridden with a friend or two, but now you’re going on your first bunch ride. So … how to prepare? First of all you want to make sure you have insurance for your riding and a bike in good working order, but that’s for another blog, another time. This is about how you get yourself ready to roll out with the bunch on time in the morning, without forgetting things and feeling like you’re in a chaotic rush – an organised and peaceful first group ride.

We’re all different, we all have different routines for our lives, so this is a system I use, but there are many other ways to get ready too, hopefully this helps you develop your own system. I like to make sure everything is ready the night beforehand.

  1. Bike, bottles, snacks and lights:

    • Start with your tyres, make sure they’re pumped and in good condition.

    • Fill your water bottles (water, sports drink with electrolytes +/- carbohydrates). If you like to have your water cool for your ride, leave them in the fridge overnight, but perhaps leave a reminder on your bike so that you don’t roll out without your bottles (I leave something like a light or an empty water bottle on my seat).

    • If you take snacks with you (gels, bars etc…), leave them out.

    • Are your bike lights charged? If not charge them overnight and leave yourself a reminder (like you may for your water bottle)

  2. Choosing your cycling kit. This can be more complicated. Is it Summer, a shoulder season or Winter? A long or short ride? Do you go with multiple layers or simply a jersey and jacket)? I think through my set up from shoes to helmet, from bottom to top:

    • Shoes

    • Socks (is it deep in Winter and do you want shoe or toe covers?)

    • Knicks (leg warmers for Winter)

    • Jersey (arm warmers for Winter). So in Winter what else do you wear? People usually opt for a jersey or two, plus or minus either a gilet or a jacket. Unless it’s going to be really cold – rather long descents – then my preference (for a Sydney climate) is 2 jerseys and a gilet with arm warmers – it allows more options to “unlayer” if the ride is long, the sun comes out and you get hot up those longer climbs.

    • Gloves. In Winter your options are standard gloves with a thermal under-glove, or thick gloves designed for Winter riding.

    • There are more complications if it’s likely to be raining, you can look at , or stay at home and ride on Zwift 🙂

  1. Lastly I lay all my cycling kit out in the order I will put it on. It’s a shocker if you’re in a rush in the dark on a cold winter’s morning and you put everything on and forget  that you need to put your leg warmers on before your knicks, only to have to strip it all off and start again. So for me, the order I put it on, for a Winter’s ride is:

    • Leg warmers

    • Knicks

    • Arm warmers

    • Jersey.

      • For Winter I typically then put on another jersey and a gilet.

      • Alternately you could simply put on a jacket, or a second jersey (without gilet) and a jacket, depending on the temperature.

    • Snacks for the back pocket

    • Sunglasses (to put in the back pocket for when the sun comes out)

    • House keys (lucky cycling shirts have 3 back pockets 🙂 )

    • Phone

    • Helmet

    • The last thing I put on is my gloves, particularly in Winter, as I need my fingers to start my Strava for the ride.

  2. Now it’s time to set your alarm. I like to work backwards,

    • if you need to meet your bunch at 6am, budget to get there 5 minutes early

    • You need to work out how long it takes you to get to where you meet your bunch, say 20 minutes

    • Then how long, once you’ve got all your kit on, does it take you to get out the door, say a maximum of another 5 minutes.

    • How long does it take you to get your kit on. Perhaps allow 5 minutes for Summer and 10 minutes for Winter (lets’s assume this is Winter)

    • Before you even start getting your kit on you probably want some bathroom time to splash some water on your face etc…, say 5 minutes. So, there you have it, an alarm going off 45 minutes before your bunch start (5:15am in this example)

Everything up until now has been the night before. The key to an unstressed preparation for your first morning bunch ride comes down to the preparation the night before, the next steps should be autopilot (even if in the dark and you’re trying not to wake up the kids).

  1. So, now it’s morning, your alarm has gone off at 5:15am, now you need to simply:

    • put your clothes on in exactly the order you lay them out on the floor the night beforehand,

    • get anything that you have left reminders out for (eg: water bottles in fridge),

    • start Strava

    • and perhaps share your live location with your group (great idea for communication and safety)