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  • Jason Ryser

Here's How to Recover From a Bike Ride

Just as it is vital to prepare for a bike ride, it is also essential to know how to recover from a bike ride. Here is everything you need to know to ensure you take care of your body and are ready for your next ride.

Cool Down

Whether you are racing or measuring your own personal ride by distance or time, you may be tempted to stop as soon as you reach your finish line. The feeling of accomplishment and sometimes exhaustion can prompt you to jump ride off your bike and stop cycling immediately.


The problem with stopping that quickly is that all the blood that has been pumping through your expanded blood vessels while you were cycling also stops with you. When this blood collects and just sits, it is no longer carrying oxygen and nutrients to your entire body or flushing out waste and toxins that are harmful to your body. This can often make you lightheaded and end up causing more soreness for you later.


So even if you feel exhausted or are running on adrenaline, it is essential to your recovery that you do a proper cool down after your ride. A cooldown doesn’t have to be that long. In fact, just five minutes of slow spinning or walking can allow your body to properly transition out of a state of high exertion without the adverse side effects of completely stopping immediately.


Protein-rich Snacks

Recovery can actually start before you even get on your bike. To give your body the fuel it needs to cycle a long distance, prepare upfront with a snack that is high in protein. Eating a snack with 15 to 20 grams of protein can help your body build muscles during your ride and recover more quickly after.


But you don’t just need protein before you take a ride. After cycling, having another snack or meal that includes protein can help you recover from a bike ride. Protein is essential for your body to go from a catabolic state in which you are burning your muscles for energy to an anabolic state in which you are using the protein as fuel and amino acids to build muscle.


Rest

Cycling is one of the best forms of exercise because it is a low-impact activity that activates multiple large muscle groups. There are benefits from cycling that affect your entire body. But that also means that your whole body needs to rest to recover.


Studies show that it can take up to 48 hours for your muscles to recover. It is important to take the time for your muscles to fully recover before high levels of exertion so that your muscles can continue to perform without injury or being overused.


Cycling has also been proven to provide mental stimulation, so even your brain may need a rest after a long ride.


Sleep can also be an excellent way for your body to recover. The natural restorative process your body goes through can happen more quickly and efficiently while you are sleeping. Even a 20-minute power nap can help your entire body, including muscles and hormones.


Some of the most critical tissue growth and repair are only possible with the release of human growth hormone that happens while you sleep.


Contrast Therapy

Some people swear by using heat therapy to help their body recover from a workout, while others insist that ice and cold packs are more effective. In reality, using hot and cold in contrast therapy can be the most beneficial approach to distributing blood flow and decreasing inflammation after a long bike ride.


Usually, contrast therapy consists of immersing your body in warm or hot water for 1 to 3 minutes, then switching to a bath of cold water for about 1 minute. This is repeated for 20 to 30 minutes and finishes with immersing your body in the cold water.


However, not everyone has an ice bath and a jacuzzi readily available at home. The good news is that contrast therapy can be adapted by using different temperatures in the shower or switching between ice packs and hot water bottles for the same increments and duration.


Keep Moving

This might seem to contrast the previous point of rest, but it’s just as important to avoid becoming sedentary for an extended period as it is to take it easy. And actually, it is crucial to do both to recover from a bike ride properly.


When we say keep moving, we don’t mean jump right back on your bike. Instead, keep in mind that when you stop your body from moving after a lot of exertion, like a long bike ride, your body may become more stiff and sore.


You may just want to park yourself on the couch for an extended date with Netflix, but that can prevent your body from flushing out the lactic acid that collects in your muscles. Short intervals of low exertion can help keep your muscles and joints from getting too sore or stiff.


Yoga or deep-breathing exercises can be beneficial in restoring your mind and body after a hard ride.


Hydrate

Staying hydrated during a long ride can be tricky. Still, many professionals suggest drinking small amounts every 10-15 minutes throughout the ride to replenish the water you will lose from sweating.


If you experience a lot of cramping in your muscles, be sure to include electrolytes in your hydration process. Drinks with added electrolytes can help your body compensate for the nutrients and salt lost during dehydration.


Proper hydration can help your body recover faster and improve your future performance, especially on a hot day.


Saints to Sinners Bike Relay

Las Vegas is possibly one of the best places to recover from a bike ride, and it also happens to be the destination of the Saints to Sinners Bike Relay.


Since 2009, the Saints to Sinners Bike Relay has brought people together to raise awareness and funds to fight ALS. The race travels from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Las Vegas, Nevada, and was created to honor Ron Frandsen and his battle with ALS.


Contact us today if you are interested in participating in Saint to Sinners Bike Relay as either a rider or volunteer.


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