Cyclists aren’t different from everyone in the likes of even they play host to a busy and hectic lifestyle. Cycling as an activity could well be a way to escape from the hustle bustle of their lives (amongst other reasons of course), but the minute they’re off the saddle, the return to reality hits, the tasks come knocking and other things begin to demand attention. This not only leaves the cyclist with less time to enjoy the aftermath of a ride but also leads to him ignoring some of the major practices that should habitually follow a bike ride.
Probably among the factors that distinguish the novices from the pros, the post-cycling practices followed in the aftermath of a ride, often tend to be ignored or are left out of the spotlight. It’s easy to give credit to the training elements, performance levels etc. but note that it’s the nitty-gritty of these post cycling practices and rituals that add quality to a cyclist.
Why Post Cycling Rituals Play an Important Role
Whether you’ve been out for a leisurely spin, are an avid cyclist, or are a newbie to the sport, there’s nothing more satisfying than the endorphins induced high you’ve reached when coming to the close of your ride. The feeling of achievement is often followed by the desire to chow down on a whole lot of food, or just lay down and rest those tired legs after cycling, but believe it or not there are actually some specific post cycling practices which are not only beneficial for your physical health but also are an integral part of cycling recovery. Plenty of cyclists face burnout or put themselves at a point of risk for injuries all because they aren’t following the proper cycling recovery techniques.
Cycling recovery is a very common jargon in the cycling world and it doesn’t just comprise of some particular exercises that need to be inculcated into a plan or a strategy. In fact, the time spent in cycling training rest days off the bike recovering is as important as the amount of time spent in training. Below, we’ll be discussing some of the beneficial post cycling practices that will help add quality to the cyclist in you.
Post Cycling Practices for Optimal Cycling
Use the three R's to get the correct post cycling strategy - Rehydrate, Replenish and Repair.
1. Slowing Down the Pedals - Cool Down
A cycling recovery ride means taking some time spinning the wheels to cool off.
It’s always advisable to gradually begin to slow down your speed when reaching the end lap of your ride instead of just stopping short at your very doorstep. What happens when you allow for a cool down, is that your muscles move without any resistance which is helpful in clearing out the lactic acid build-up.
Know all about Lactic Acid: Know About Muscle Pain While Cycling
If you skip this step altogether, not only are you not getting rid of the metabolic by-products, but you’re running the risk of blood pooling in your lower extremities or legs, which could leave you feeling lightheaded, faint or dizzy.
Recovery ride vs Rest Day: A recovery ride is simply turning over the pedals, without reaching any sort of training stimulus. In other words, the level of cycling should be so easy that it isn’t considered as training. On the other hand, a rest day is what it states, a day of rest with zero cycling or riding taking place. Rest days normally follow hard training sessions.
Are You Overtraining?
2. Maintaining Mobility Post the Ride
It’s very easy to give in to the temptation of slouching on your comfy couch, but it’s important to keep the body moving even after you’re off the saddle. A good way to incorporate this is to stretch!
Move your shoulders, lift your arms above your head, rotate your shoulders back and forth, swing your arms in circular motions etc. are good ways of not letting your body cramp up. With a good stretch, you’ll slow your body down, calm and relax you and all the while you can take the time to reflect on the ride you’ve just returned from.
Learn about Post Cycling Stretches Routine for Cyclists
3. Rejuvenate the Body
So, what to do after a workout?
There are multiple ways of soothing out your sore muscles and assist them in pushing out the metabolic by-products produced during muscle breakdown.
- Compression socks are popular to ease out fatigue and swelling and diminish muscle soreness. Speaking scientifically calf muscles return blood to the chest, and compression socks are known to accelerate this blood circulation.
- The next on the list is a massage. A massage or smooth rub down will help break the knots formed due to muscle overuse and improve your blood circulation, allowing fresh blood to flow more freely towards the muscles which require repair. Since a massage after every ride isn’t necessarily possible, your best friends should be foam rollers or a couple of tennis balls fitted into some socks, which are handy as home massage tools.
- Last, but not the least do not underestimate the power of a contrast shower. Alternating blasts of hot and cold water create a pumping type action which is a great way to ease out any soreness.
4. Replenish your Fuel Stores
It’s no mystery that a ride is going to be using up all your energy stores and you’re going to be left famished.
Burning all of those calories, what else could you possibly be left with?
- Returning from a ride feeling so can very easily lead you to unhealthy junk food items. Instead of giving the cravings, make sure you consume healthy portions of a good meal.
- Remember to eat only cycling recovery foods. Do not indulge in sweet and fatty food options. To make it a bit easier to resist the temptation, try and plan or prepare your meal before you head out for your ride. Having a meal to attack when you get back, will lower the risk of you giving into your cravings, plus once you have some food in you, your mind will be stronger to resist consuming junk food. Ideally, you should eat within 30 minutes of returning from your ride.
- Not to forget your fluid restoration. It's essential to rehydrate yourself. This would vary from person to person since weather conditions (a rainy ride isn’t going to leave you as sweaty), the intensity of the ride and rate of sweating would also play a role in the hydration levels of each individual.
- An easy way to keep track is to weigh yourself before and after your ride. If there is a reduction in your weight after the ride, then you need to replenish 75% of that fluid loss with an intake of water and possibly a sports drink boasting of sodium and electrolytes. Should there be an increase in your body weight after the ride, you’ll want to reconsider your fluid intake to avoid overhydrating yourself.
- Avoid popping any painkiller to soothe the muscle sore and pain. As it can easily affect your digestion, kidney function.
Recommended Read: Cyclists Diet: What Should an Ideal Diet Plan consist of?
5. Sense of Pride
Living in a day and age when technology plays such a big part of our lives, how can we exempt cycling from interacting with technology? Amidst all your post cycling practices and actions, don’t forget to upload your ride statistics to wherever it matters. Why hold back on sharing with others the extent of your ride, your cadence level etc. Monitoring your heart rate is also essential. Appreciation comes from within, but there’s no harm garnering it from exterior sources as well.
Know all about Bike Cadence: Techniques to Improve Cycle Efficiency
6. The Kit is Only for the Bike
From the time you’re off your bike, you are obviously going to be spending some time still in your biking gear while you store your bike, move around the house, grab some water or a sports drink.
While all of it is acceptable to an extent, you’re touching the edge of dangerous waters if you’ve become too comfortable and end up lounging around in your biking shorts. Avoid staying in your bike shorts!
Well, not withholding to some ridiculous fashion standards, the simple reason you shouldn’t treat your gear as lounge-wear post the ride is that it’s unsanitary.
Stewing in your own sweat never did anyone good and you’re exposing yourself to conditions like saddle sores and infections and even worse in extreme cases – not to forget a stench that accompanies the process of sweat drying.
It’s best to try and rid yourself of them once you’re done riding, jump in for a shower – you’ll feel much better carrying out other activities once you feel fresh.
7. Your Sole Tool - Bike Check!
Your bike has been with you through thick and thin, down all the winding pathways, through all of the potholes, ignoring maintaining it would be the worst.
If you put it off now, you’re going to put it off later as well. Along with cleaning it after your ride, you might want to also check for its proper functionality – the brakes, the gears, the chain – regular maintenance will go a long way in keeping it running smoothly and efficiently and will also increase its life.
8. Sweet Sweet Sleep - Sleep is Healing
Nothing can grant you the satisfaction of cycling recovery the way a good sound sleep can. The best answer to ‘what to do after a workout’ makes the time to get a proper consistent sleep. Why slouch around the house when you can just lay down sleep? There’s no better way out of cycling fatigue recovery but to sleep it off.
Don't believe us?
It's actually true!
Check out - Why Sleep is an Important Component for Cyclists
So, as you can see, all of these aren’t very tough things to put into place. Once you make a habit of following a post-cycling routine, all of these practices will automatically fall into place. After that, all you have to do is reap the benefits of it.
If you Love Cycling: Check out the Top Cycle-friendly Cities in the World
A cycling recovery week doesn’t just have to mean a rest day or recovery rides…it’s so much more. So what are you waiting for?