The Importance of the Easy, Active Recovery Ride to an Avid Enthusiast Cyclist.
I normally have an effort problem whenever I clip into my pedals. I find it difficult to take it easy… I just like to go fast. Unfortunately, an utter inability to slow up now and again can, without proper rest, have terrible consequences.
I’ve ridden every day for the last twenty days. 818 glorious miles without a day of rest. I have, however, managed a few slow days to spin my legs and look around a little bit. This keeps me going.
If you’re so afflicted, you feel like you’re missing an opportunity to get stronger if you don’t hammer the pedals, there’s hope. I employ two*** different strategies to relax a bit. Taking the time to enjoy a true active recovery ride can take your legs from tired and tight, to loose and raring to get after it again.
Nope, not this bike for the recovery ride…
First, I never take the good bike out for an active recovery ride. I too easily get lost in the “race” part of the race bike. If I’m out on the Trek, for whatever reason, I can disconnect that part of my brain. I justify it by repeating, “this will help me ride strong tomorrow, take the speed down, spin easy”… and before long, my head is on a swivel and I’m noticing things I’ve never seen, riding the same route I have for years.
Second, when I’m really in a bad way for an easy ride and we don’t have rain in the forecast for days, I’ll take the gravel or mountain bike out for a spin. Especially on dirt roads, because they’re slower by nature, anyway, I find it a little easier to chill for a ride.
I can tell you with utter certainty, without a strategy to ride easy now and again, I’d be forced into taking days off because I injured myself. That’s just how I roll.
And so it was last night. A perfect night if ever there was one. Sunny, 82°, a mild southeasterly breeze… oh, how I wanted to hammer. I was truly smoked, though, and tonight is going to be a tough, hot, windy mess.
I needed to fix my legs.
So I wheeled out the Trek and suited up. The first mile was a little quick with a tailwind, but I fought myself off and took it down three notches on the second mile, and every mile thereafter.
I pulled into the driveway with 23 miles and some change, and a much better tan. The average was in the upper 16-mph range and I felt fantastic – even better this morning.
The only way I know to stay happy, healthy and riding every day is to take an active recovery day or two during the week. That’s the only thing that keeps the T-Rex legs from being T-Wrecked.
Ride hard, my friends. Until you need to ride easy. And then, enjoy what you’ve worked for and smell the fresh air.
***Actually, I thought about this a minute and I employ a third strategy. I ride with my wife on easy days, too. There’s nothing better than riding with my wife for an easy day.