The easy answer to the question, “is there a such thing as a much needed day off” in cycling, is, “not if you’re doing it right”.
Since April I’ve taken just four days off the bike. My penchant for riding almost every day goes back several years – I figure if the pros can do it, so can I, only at two-thirds the intensity and half the distance (or less).
So, in southeastern Michigan, this last week was hot. We did a fairly intense 21.8 mph Tuesday Night Club Ride, but Wednesday and Thursday were mercifully easy (between 17 & 17.7 mph). The weekend got pretty crazy, though. Friday we held a 19.5-mph pace over 35 miles between Jonathan, my wife and I. Really, it was a surprising effort. Saturday was a 4:54:30 century, followed by yesterday’s 56 miles at 19.6-mph. The high temps for each day varied between the high 80’s and low 90’s (30 to 34 C)
I woke up this morning a little haggard. Actually, I felt really good for the first hour after waking up, but it’s starting to catch up with me as I’m writing this post. It’s rare I ride that hard three days in a row (before DALMAC).
Thankfully, we’ve got afternoon thunderstorms in the forecast for this afternoon. If it’s raining, I’ll take the afternoon off. If not, I’ll ride but it’ll be an unusually slow ride – I’m talking 15-16-mph slow – and that’s usually better than a day off anyway.
So here’s my experience when it comes to daily cycling:
- If I fuel the effort properly and get a good amount of sleep, I can ride till my heart is content.
- If I intersperse easy, short rides in with the hard efforts, I can ride as many days in a row as I want.
- On the other hand, too many tough days in a row will wear me down in a hurry and I’ll need some low-key rest to keep it going.
- When you only get a few rain days each summer, take advantage of them and take a load off. I don’t need to ride every day.
- Those easy days sure are fun.
- Replace the electrolytes. Nine times in ten, when I’m feeling rough, it’s because my electrolytes are off.
- Daily cycling isn’t for everyone. In Michigan, we’re stuck in the house for two or three months and we’re riding in cold weather another three or four. When summer hits, you’ve gotta pry me away from my weekday evening and weekend morning rides. We only get so many shorts and short-sleeve riding days – I don’t want to miss any.
Done carefully and intelligently, cycling daily is possible and enjoyable. I’ve been cycling daily for three years now, and it’s been seven since my last side-lining sports injury.
Ride hard and often, my friends… just don’t forget to ride easy now and again, too.