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What to Do the Day AFTER a Long, Hard Bike Ride.  It isn’t “Take Time Off”.  Hear Me Out…

For the cycling enthusiast….

The thing to do the day after a nice, hard hundred miles on the bike, contrary to popular opinion, is not sit it out on the couch with a well-deserved rest day.

In fact, now that I’m on this kick, the thing to do the day before a hard hundred on the bike is not polish the couch with the seat of one’s pants either.

At the very least, the best thing to do on each occasion is to ride, short and slow.  My usual group pace average is between 19 and 21 mph for 100 miles.  That means the minimum the day before and after is between 16 and 18 miles in about an hour, give or take (give for 16 and take for 18).

I have seen a lot of people mess this up, so I’m going to lay out how I do what, when, so the legs stay as fresh as possible.

First, the worst thing I can do is take a day off the day before a big ride.  Second worst is ride hard the day before.  The key is balance.  Save the legs for the big days and go easy before and after.  Simple.

For example, I know Tuesday and at least one weekend day will be hard.  That means, without a doubt, Monday will be an easy day.  Wednesday is going to be easy, as will Friday (though I go longer on Friday, 30-50 miles).  Thursday and one weekend day will be moderate.

The trick is to make sure I do my best to have an easy or moderate day before a hard day.  That’s the balance and it requires flexibility.

I have a friend who, God bless him, would choose to do an interval day the day before our club ride earlier this season.  Intervals.  He’d show up Tuesday night with sore or dead legs.  He managed to stay with the group by hiding and sucking wheel, but he complained about it during the warm-up a few times.  Eventually, I did say something.  You have to pick your days for the hard efforts.

The key, in my experience, is to keep the legs spinning the day before and the day after a tough ride.  If nothing else, it’s a perfect excuse to take in the surroundings and enjoy sitting up a bit.  Remember, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Even though riding a bike is play, working too hard at it will make your legs dull.  We enthusiasts need our happy time.  It makes the work that much more rewarding.  Trust me.

Don’t bother with a day off before a big ride.  Take the day off two or three days before the event.  Then use the day or two before to spin your legs up and get ready.