From “Training Tips“, published on ILoveBicycling.com
Many cyclists have different ways of cooling down after a long ride. In fact, each person will find that they have different needs when it comes to their muscles, depending on the bike ride itself. Of the multiple post-ride recovery rituals, here are a few of the most popular.
Not everyone is in to stats, but the ones that are, are obsessed. One of the most common things to do after a ride is to upload your stats and check them, even before you take off your shoes. Did you capture that KOM? Did you have a higher average power output? How fast did you climb that hill?
Fluids and Food
One of the most efficient ways to recover is to replace the lost fluids in your body. During your bike ride, you will most likely find that you sweat quite a bit. Sweat is the body’s way of cooling you down so that you don’t overheat. But, it can also cause dehydration. Because water drives nearly every metabolic function in your body, dehydration is no joke. You can also lose the salts in your body through sweat. Both the fluids and the salts need to be replaced.
Eating food after your ride will also help you recover by replenishing the fuel stored in your body. By eating the proper food, you will be able to recover energy more quickly and your body will also be able to repair any tissue damage caused by exercise. The ideal time to eat after your bike ride is within 60 minutes of finishing.
An important part of a post ride recovery is stretching. Don’t bother with strenuous stretching but rather, very gentle stretching. This will keep your loose muscles from becoming too rigid too quickly as they try to return to their resting state. This will also help prevent muscle soreness.
Massage is also going to help clear the lactic acid out and help you recover; however, not everyone can afford a massage after every ride. I recommend using a foam roller, if you do not already — it will change your life.
Rest is the most important thing you can do to recover from any sort of exercise. Even if you just take a few minutes to rest, you will feel better than if you didn’t rest at all. A 10-30 minute nap is ideal if you are able to sneak it in, but a good night’s sleep is the best thing you can do for yourself. Not only will you be able to recover fully but you will be more prepared for the next time you get on your bike.
When you are in recovery mode, remember: Never stand when you can lean, never lean when you can sit, and never sit when you can lie down!
Your post ride recovery ritual will depend on how hard of a bike ride you had. By tailoring your ritual for what your body needs, you will be able to recover quickly and efficiently. By recovering properly, you will also be able to prevent the injuries that come with tired or strained muscles.