Is there a consensus as to how long after waking up is ideal for exercising/riding/working out? I know everyone is different physiologically, but there must be an average or acceptable range that is recommended.
Here is what seems to work for me, and my reasoning about why it is better: Late-morning to late afternoon seems to work best (and this is assuming I wake up around dawn and go to bed between 9PM and 11PM).
For a while after I get up, I have a more limited range of movement, and I need to eat to help fuel myself for later, and to keep my stomach happy. Later in the morning, after moving around, I feel more energized and flexible, and am ready to ride for a few hours. Whether I begin before mid-day, or wait until after lunch, it just feels better, and I am ready to get into it better than I am first thing in the morning.
I can ride in the late afternoon/evening, but it is usually a short (less than an hour) outing; my body is starting to wind down for the day, and if I go too long, far, or hard too close to bed-time, I am not able to sleep as well. A little weight and flexibility training a couple of hours before bed is OK - the muscles have the opportunity to recover over-night.
I suppose stretching would help to get an earlier start, but with the current negative observations about stretching before the actual exercise or activity being counter-productive, I have found the natural stretching that you get just from being up and active more advantageous.
Unfortunately, busy lifestyles and work schedules rule out the "best" time for riding for most people; since I have gotten back into cycling the past several months, I have sadly found myself way more enthusiastic about training and fitness than the job I have to work at 50-60 hours/week...