Tips & Resources

Recovering after a long ride – Five quick tips

It’s easy to get carried away when enjoying time on the bike and find yourself pedalling for 2-3 hours, only to wake up with legs made of jelly.

Particularly if you’re doing some training or preparation for an event – like United Energy Around the Bay or the Great Vic Bike Ride – where you’ll need to clock some kilometres, recovery is an important consideration.

So, here a few quick tips and tricks to help you recover after a biggish bike ride.

Hydration is key

Riding bikes comes with some great traditions, including mid-ride coffees and post-ride beers, but you have to think about water first, particularly when you get into the longer rides. The general rule of hydration is one bottle per hour on the bike, and more if its hot, but once you get off the bike its important for recovery to keep up the fluid intake.

For optimal results, the electrolytes, sugars and carbohydrates found in a specialised sports drink will help your body best absorb fluid for performance and recovery.

Tip: Carb-heavy sports drinks are for restoring energy, while electrolyte sports drinks focus on replacing vital fluids. You can learn more in this article if you’re interested: Energy drinks for cycling: hydration explained.

Refuel the right way

Though the temptation to reward yourself with something greasy can be strong, ensuring you refuel after a ride with the food your body needs is an important part of recovery.

The amino acids found in protein are proven to decrease exercise-induced muscle damage and promote muscle repair, so a high-protein meal – like beef, chicken, eggs, fish, nuts, and legumes – after a ride is recommended.

Hard rides also use up your carbohydrate stores, and the best time to replenish them is within 30 minutes of your ride. Sneaking in a carb-rich snack in that window will do your recovery a world of good.

 

Rest up

Rest is perhaps the most important part of recovery. Muscle-building hormones surge while you’re asleep, so sleep time is literally healing time, and you should aim to get a solid night’s shut-eye after a big ride.

However, before you hit the hay after a big ride it can help your recovery to limber up with some stretching or massaging. Your blood vessels expand while you’re pedalling hard, and when you stop abruptly the blood stops circulating, limiting your ability to get fresh nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood in and built up fluid out, which are both keys to muscle repair and recovery. Leading to the next point…

 

10 tips for getting a good night’s sleep.

Active recovery

Resting up is super important, but being active between rides is also beneficial to recovery. This can mean a light ride to turn the legs over after a harder ride, or casually riding/walking to work during the week to help recover from weekend workouts.

Another less strenuous activities is stretching, which prevents stiffness and helps keep your body limber for future efforts, or using a massage stick or foam roller – which helps push out the fluid and encourages fresh blood to flow in and help rebuild.

How to use a foam roller: exercises and stretches

Listen to your body

The most important thing to remember with training and recovery is that everyone is different. What works for one person may not work for you, and you should always listen to your body to understand your own personal strengths and weaknesses.

Recovery is impacted by age, weight, strength, lifestyle and a whole number of other factors. For the vast majority of us who are not professional athletes, it is advised by most coaches to pick a training plan that fits in with your lifestyle, not the calendar. 

 

United Energy Around the Bay training plans

For United Energy Around the Bay 2020, we’re lucky enough to have Specialized Women’s Racing pro Kate Perry put together a range of 16-week training programs to suit riders of all distances and abilities – from the family-friendly 20 and 50km rides, right up to the 300 kilometre loop of the bay.

CHECK OUT THE TRAINING PLANS

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