To recover properly and get the most from your efforts on the bike, follow these seven tried-and-true post-ride rituals.
Weigh Yourself1 of 8
Replacing fluid loss and electrolytes after a bike ride is a crucial part of recovery. But because sweat rates vary depending on a number of factors such as temperature, ride intensity, genetics and how well hydrated you are before your ride, weighing yourself can help determine exactly how much fluid needs to be replaced.
Here's how: Weigh yourself before and after your ride. If you weigh less after your ride, try to replace at least 75 percent of what you've lost with water and a sports drink containing sodium and electrolytes. If you weigh more than you did before your ride, you'll want to cut back on your fluid consumption to avoid overhydrating.
Eat a Good Meal2 of 8
Pastries, pizza and burgers may sound like the perfect plan after a bike ride, and perhaps your efforts on the road may make it seem like a well-deserved reward. However, if you're aiming to lose weight or improve your recovery time for your next big training ride, you'll need to be smart about what you eat.
Here's how: Eat a well-balanced meal within 30 minutes of getting off the bike. Aim to include lean protein (such as chicken or fish) and carbohydrates. Stay away from empty calories and foods high in fat and fiber to make digestion easier.
Try a Massage3 of 8
Lactic acid and muscle adhesion can make you feel sluggish, tired and tight. To speed up recovery and make moving around a little less painful afterward, a post-ride massage can do wonders.
Here's how: If you've got the money, schedule a massage later in the day after your hard rides. If you don't have the money, a foam roller routine might not feel as good but can provide you with the same benefits at a fraction of the cost.
Clean Your Gear4 of 8
Tidying up your kit and bike are probably the last things on your mind after a big effort on the bike. However, cleaning sooner rather than later will keep your gear in better condition and prolong its lifespan, which can help save you a bit of money down the road. It'll also give you less things to do before you head out next time.
Here's how: Follow these tips for cleaning your bike and washing your cycling clothes.
Upload Your Metrics5 of 8
If you're like us, you've probably got a few gadgets that help you keep track of your efforts. Rather than forgetting about what you've done, take some time after each ride to upload your data and save the files to your computer. It can help you determine exactly what kind of effort you've put into your workout, how long your recovery needs to be and analyze if your training planning is improving your fitness as it should be.
Here's how: If you use a cycling app like MapMyRide or Garmin Connect, all your basic training data should be saved automatically once you log in and hook your device up to your computer. If you're looking to analyze advanced metrics like power meter data, a subscription to Training Peaks can provide detailed feedback needed to fine-tune any training plan.
Take a Nap6 of 8
When you sleep, your body produces hormones that aid in the recovery process. Getting less sleep than the recommended seven to nine hours will affect your fatigue levels, stress and hurt your performance the next time you get on the bike.
Here's how: While you should still aim to get most of your rest at night, taking a nap post-ride will make you feel better and speed up recovery. Just make sure you've done everything else on this list before you head to your cushy couch.
Monitor Your Heart Rate7 of 8
If you're looking to improve your performance, keeping track of your heart rate on the bike can help you analyze how well your body is responding to the stress of training. The mistake most cyclists make is forgetting about heart rate once their ride is over.
Here's how: Taking your pulse in the morning first thing after you wake up can help you determine if you've properly recovered from the previous day's effort. An elevated heart rate can be an indication that more rest is needed and that you may need to alter your workout plan with a slow ride or a day of rest if you've got another hard day on the menu.