Every avid cyclist watches competitions like the Tour de France and wonders what the training schedules of these heroes must be like. While training contributes heavily to your success as a cyclist, what you do to recover after a ride is almost as crucial. How you choose to recover will not only affect how you feel after your ride, but also how efficient your next trip will be. Here are 5 post-ride rituals that you should incorporate into your recovery routine to improve how you cycle.

1. Drink a recovery drink, or eat something healthy

While you may not feel hungry after an intense workout, it’s important to eat something within the first 30 minutes after activity. During this window, your body works to replenish and repair the multiple systems and fluids impacted by the workout. The 3 main things your body craves during this period are proteins, carbohydrates, and fluids/electrolytes. To find out how each of these crucial elements specifically improves performance and results, check out this article called “The Recovery Window.”

If eating after cycling isn’t something you can see yourself including in your post-ride ritual, consider drinking a recovery shake. These drinks can be made in seconds by adding nutrient-rich powder to your water bottle or to a cup of milk. There are many options and flavors to choose from; however, try to find a powder that has a 4:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio for the best results.

2. Stretch or get a massagewoman using foam roller

After an intense ride, it’s not uncommon for your body to feel stiff or sore. The best way to break up this lactic acid build-up is to get in a good stretch. It’s important to note that stretching should occur after the workout, in addition to whatever dynamic warmups you may do before your ride. By stretching once your muscles are already warm, you can get a deeper, more effective stretch without causing injury. Spend extra time stretching your lower back and hamstring muscles since they’re common problem areas for cyclists.

A massage is equally as beneficial as stretching, yet feels even better. A massage can help increase blood flow and flush out lactic acid. However, if you can’t go fro a massage, a foam roller will get the job done.

3. Clean your bike

This one should be obvious. A clean bike is an efficient one. Cleaning your bike after every ride can help you discover minor damage to your bike that may have gone unnoticed. If you catch these issues quickly, you’ll avoid greater problems down the road.

4. Take an ice bath

Now, admittedly, this sounds like the most unpleasant tip on this list. However, sitting in an ice bath after your ride helps flush out waste products, like lactic acid, by constricting blood vessels. You can experience the benefits of an ice bath by either submerging yourself in a tub of ice, or simply massaging your muscles with ice.

5. Take a napMan napping on bike

Taking a nap after your ride can jump-start your body’s recovery process. Your muscles are never as relaxed as they are when you’re asleep. While this tip will most likely be welcomed with open arms due to the exhaustion and fatigue that follows a serious ride, try not to sleep for more than half an hour. One of the key strategies for successful cyclists is getting a good night’s sleep the night before. Don’t accidentally hinder the next day’s progress by taking too long of a nap and not being able to sleep that night.

Now, try it out!

Perhaps too often, we pay too much attention to what we do before a race with little consideration of the precious window for recovery. By including these tips in your post-ride ritual, you can help reward your body for the energy it just exerted and encourage it to do even better the next time. Reap the benefits of your recovery and discover how these post-ride rituals can make you a better cyclist.


Images courtesy of Zouhir Kharmaz and Rodrigo Suriani via Flickr