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: