After a long, hard effort on the bike, it can be tempting to take the easy, convenient way out, but we’re begging you to reconsider.
Discipline helps you get the most out of your workout and recover properly before your next ride. Avoid these seven mistakes, and thank us later.
1. STAYING IN YOUR BIKE SHORTS
There are many things to tend to after a bike ride from cleaning your bike to replenishing your body with the nutrients lost during exercise, it can be difficult to prioritize. Removing your cycling shorts, though, is a quick task and helps prevent saddle sores and bacterial infections that could force you off the bike.
2. SKIPPING THE COOL DOWN
After an intense ride, more cycling is probably the last thing you’re thinking about, especially if you’ve got a good meal waiting.
Skipping your cooldown can make recovery more difficult and hurt your cycling moving forward. A 10-minute cool down with easy spinning in a high RPM helps remove lactic acid from your muscles and prevents blood from pooling in the lower extremities when you hop off the bike, which can cause you to faint.
3. SITTING DOWN AND RELAXING
Once you’re off the bike, the natural inclination is to sit and relax. While you certainly deserve down time (and perhaps a nap), opting to sit at the computer and obsess over your mileage and average speed immediately isn’t wise.
Instead, stretching, rehydrating and replenishing your body with a well-balanced meal, in that order, should be your focus.
4. EATING JUNK FOOD
It’s possible you’ve burned 1,000 or more calories during your ride. The temptation to reward yourself with sweets and fatty foods can overtake even the most disciplined cyclist.
Avoid this irrational behavior by planning your post-ride meal before heading out. Knowing what you’re going to eat, or better yet, already having a meal prepared, will make it much easier to resist the temptation of empty calories instead of necessary nutrients. Try to consume a well-balanced meal within 30 minutes of getting off the bike.
5. FORGETTING TO REHYDRATE PROPERLY
There are conflicting studies about how much you need to drink during and after your ride to rehydrate properly. The truth is, every person is different. Sweat rates, ride intensity and weather conditions play a factor in your individual hydration strategy.
With that said, there are some basic principles you should follow for rides lasting more than 1–2 hours. This includes a sports drink consisting of carbohydrates, sodium and electrolytes and weighing yourself before and after your ride to determine exactly how much water and salt your body has lost.
6. TAKING OFF YOUR HEART-RATE MONITOR
Though monitoring your heart rate on the bike is important to measure your body’s response to exercise stress, it’s equally important — and commonly overlooked — to use a heart-rate monitor to determine how well your body’s recovering post ride.
This data, known as heart-rate variability, can determine how well you’re recovered and when your body is ready for its next big effort.
READ MORE > POWER VS. HEART RATE: WHICH METRIC IS BETTER?
7. STORING YOUR BIKE WITHOUT CLEANING IT
While this shouldn’t be at the top of your priority list, you should clear your bike before you store it. Depending on the weather, this could range from a full bike cleaning to simply wiping the dirt and grime your chain collected during your ride.
Cleaning it sooner rather than later gives you less to worry about the next time you set out. Waiting to clean it until your next ride makes getting yourself out the door more difficult.