The late mountaineer Alex Lowe coined the term “dawn patrol” during his time at Black Diamond to describe early morning, pre-work ski missions in the Wasatch Mountains. Dawn patrol has since become synonymous with all manner of early AM skiing—from backcountry adventures to skinning at the resort. While most people associate dawn patrol with sliding on snow or other winter activities, the fact is dawn patrol is better on a bike.

Don’t believe us? Here are nine reasons why.

Credit: Tim Peck

1. Warmer Weather

Below-freezing temperatures are a hallmark of dawn patrol ski missions. While such low temperatures are great for making snow (both natural and artificial), along with preserving it, it isn’t exactly enticing weather for getting out from under the covers. Conversely, the best time for riding in the spring/summer/fall is often early in the day before the temperature climbs, providing extra incentive to get out of bed and on the trail.

2. More Light

If bitter weather wasn’t an obstacle enough for skiers, there’s also the darkness to deal with. “Dawn” is generally defined as the first arrival of light in the sky, but many dawn patrol missions start in pitch black and entail the liberal use of a headlamp. While the sun doesn’t shine on early-morning skiers, all but the earliest-rising bikers are blessed to catch some rays and shred under natural light.

3. Increased Options

Dawn patrol ski missions require snow. For many, this means tacking a long commute to the local ski area or trailhead onto their already-too-long drive to the office. While many towns aren’t home to backcountry ski terrain or a ski hill, they typically have some brown pow to shred. No local trails? You can always log some early-morning miles on the road bike (gasp). Either way, this means more time on the bike—or in bed—and less time in the car.

Credit: Tim Peck

4. Fewer People

Backcountry and uphill skiing are quickly growing in popularity (skinning and ski touring are the fastest-growing segments in the ski industry), which means that once-quiet early-morning skin tracks and uphill routes are often fairly busy and no longer offer the solitude they used to. Because it stays light out longer in the spring/summer/fall, many mountain bikers are content to ride in the afternoon, leaving some of the most bustling trails empty early in the morning.

5. Not as Much Stuff

Mountain biking is pretty gear-intensive, but in general, you need way less stuff than skiers who require a ton of specialized equipment and clothing—especially those with a big mission in mind, like skiing Tucks. This not only makes it easier to get out the door in the early morning but also reduces the odds of having your session ruined by leaving a key piece of gear behind.

6. Food for Thought

Whether in the middle of winter or the dead of summer, there’s no better reward for getting your adventure in early than a strong cup of coffee and a tasty treat, like a donut, danish, or pastry. However, the cold days of winter will push even the best thermoses to their limits and freeze the tastiest treats solid while the temperate conditions of mountain bike season lend themselves to a good biker’s breakfast in the car.

Credit: Tim Peck

7. Easier to Get a Date

Dawn patrol partners add accountability and improve your odds of getting up and out the door, but finding a ski sidekick is challenging. Waking up in the dark and going out in sub-freezing temperatures isn’t what most people consider a dreamy ski date. We’re not saying that finding a bike buddy to hit the trail super-early is easy, but at least it’s warm and the sun is out.

8. Simpler to Socialize

Mountain biking’s more pleasant conditions not only make it easier to find a partner but also make it easier to socialize. No one is super excited to hang out in the bitter cold after an early-morning tour, especially if they’ve worked up a sweat. If they do, it’s generally while enveloped in their biggest puffy jacket and just while their car warms up. The comfortable weather of bike season encourages hanging out, so bring your camp chair, throw on some flip flops, and leave some time to kick back and catch up before getting on with your day.

9. Your Own Timeline

If your dawn patrol involves skinning uphill at the resort, there’s a chance you’re stuck to the ski area’s schedule. Many resorts require uphill traffic to clear off the mountain when the lifts start to spin. Conversely, mountain bikers aren’t very likely to get kicked off singletrack by ski patrol, so they can take another lap on their favorite trail or make another loop if they’re feeling good or simply decide they don’t care if they’re late for the morning meeting.

Credit: Tim Peck

Mountain bikers aren’t the only beneficiaries of the awesome conditions of dawn patrolling. Everyone from rock climbers to trail runners will love the great weather, solitude, and camaraderie of adventuring early in the morning during the warmer months.