How To: Top 10 Post Ride Rituals

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Taking a post-ride ice bath is a great way to jump start the recovery process.

So you’ve just wrapped up a hard 3-hour training ride with 5,000 feet of climbing. Now what? Though your first inclination may be to go pass out on the couch in front of the TV (which isn’t a bad idea), there are a few other important things to tick off your post-ride ritual list before grabbing a little shut eye. Here then is our list of Top 10 Best Post Ride Rituals. Have a read and then tell us what you like to do post-ride in the comments section below.

1. Drink a recovery drink – or better yet eat some healthy food:
Recovery drinks are easy and often the only alternative during that critical 30-minute window after your ride. But if you can opt for real food instead of powder mix, all the better. Either way the goal is to get some protein in order to shut down cortisol production, which is the stress hormone that causes things to break down so you can fuel yourself while you are riding.

2. Re-hydrate:
You’d be amazed at how much fluid you actually lose during a hard ride. Many pro teams actually have scales on their team buses so riders can weigh themselves before and after race to make it easier to calculate fluid loss. You don’t have to go that crazy, but make sure to get plenty of fluid and electrolytes back into your body after your ride. One easy test method is to follow the tried and true mantra, “A happy mountaineer always pees clear.” That clear pee is a sign that you’re well hydrated. If it’s more yellow, keep drinking.

3. Clean your bike:
It’s the easiest — and arguably most critical — piece of bike maintenance you can do. When a bike is clean it runs better. It’s also easier to spot issues like a crack in the frame. The best method is basic soap, a sponge, and a hose at low pressure. That will get dirt and grit off but wont hurt any of the parts. It’s the same way you’d wash a car.

4. Check your stats:
This might not be critical to actual recovery, but it’s (usually) fun to look at your ride stats and track things like improvements in power output or the time it took to get up your favorite local climb. And now charting progress is easier than ever thanks to the myriad free smartphone apps.

5. Get a massage:
The science is not 100 percent proven, but idea is that post-ride massage promotes blood flow and helps flush out toxins. And hey, it feels good, too. If you can’t afford get massage regularly, save it for after a particularly hard block of training. Foam rollers are also a great Do-It-Yourself alternative.

6. Eat a healthy meal: This is always a good idea, but even more so when you’re training hard. When possible opt for locally sourced food over the processed variety.

7. Stretch: Like with massage, the science isn’t 100 percent concrete, but the idea is that stretching can help improve circulation, which benefits recovery. Getting limber also means you’ll have an easier time maintaining that aero position the next time you’re out on the bike.

8. Take an ice bath:
Plunging your legs into cold water constricts blood vessels, which can help flush waste products.

9. Stay off your feet:
There’s an old saying among pro cyclists that goes something like this: Never stand when you can lean, never lean when you can sit, and never sit when you can lie down. Bottom line, when possible, only use your legs for riding your bike.

10. Take a nap:
Rest promotes recovery. Period. Just don’t sleep too long during the day or you may have a hard time going down at night.

For more info on these post-ride recovery tips, check out this video from our friends at the Global Cycling Network:

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympic Games, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the / staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying time with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora.

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  • Cupcake says:

    Step 1: Stop taking yourself so seriously. Relax and enjoy riding because let’s face it, you’re a mildly overweight weekend warrior and no matter what you do, you’ll never race bikes for a living.
    Step 2: Have a beer
    Step 3: There are no other steps. Repeat steps 1 and 2 as necessary.

    • Eric says:

      Amen… this is all way too foolish. Ride your bike, have fun and don’t feel bad if you (god-forbid) have to stand with nothing to lean on!

  • Bill Card says:

    I liked the article. The author gave me a couple of ideas I hadn’t thought of, and I appreciate the effort.

  • Don Ellis says:

    Ah, guys & gals, why minimize recovery techniques or rituals. Ever hear of having another ride the next day? A three-hour ride, unless you’re chasing some rabbits or challenging 10% grades, shouldn’t knock you out if you’re fit. Try spinning twice a week to stay sharp. And if riding your bike and having fun while you’re doing it is the goal, why limit yourself to one good ride a weekend. It’s more fun for me to know I can recover enough to look forward to a 4-hour ride the next day! (67-year old century rider)

  • Johnny on the Spot says:

    Eric, If you keep doing #2 you will never get rid of #1 … (-: Good one mate. Enjoy your ride!

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