Benefit of a Recovery Ride

How good is your recovery?  You hear of people going for recovery runs and stretching but the same should be applied to the bike also.


British Cycling have a whole section on their website about how to recover from cycling that can be found here:

‘If you have done a hard training ride or event, going out for a recovery ride the next day can enhance the recovery process. Ride for 30-60 minutes on a flat course, keep your bike in the smaller chain ring and spin easy.’

My cycle club, Romford CC, offer a beginners ride that more seasoned riders use as a recovery ride on a Monday evening so this serves the perfect purpose for me to add as part of my training schedule.

Your recovery ride should be the easiest ride in your training schedule and yet this should not indicate that it is not just as important as other rides on your plan.  Your body needs to repair muscle fibres that can be worked hard on longer/harder/faster rides.  This in turn allows you to return and be stronger, progress quicker, reduce risk of injury and all of this in turn improves motivation – win win!

How hard should you go on a recovery ride? It is simple:

  • make it easy on yourself!
  • pick an easy route
  • don’t extend the time spent on it – absolutely should not be a long ride, probably a maximum of an hour and a half
  • set an easy pace – if you work off heart rate then you should aim for about 60% of your maximum heart rate – think conversation pace
  • pick an easy gear – don’t over exert yourself with a heavy gear that requires more from the very leg muscles you are trying to help recover
  • cadence – if you work off cadence (I do as my husband likes to scream the word cadence when I am going too slow from a heavy gear, which is often) then you should be increasing your cadence from the norm ie if you usually average 90 RPM this should be approximately 100/105 RPM for recovery
  • power – if you work off power then think about reducing it for recovery to approximately 50% of your FTP

Most people will go harder than they should – I know I do sometimes.  It is easy to do especially if in a group or if you pick what would be an easy route for you, to suddenly up the pace and therefor gears.  Don’t.  That completely undoes the good work that will come from a recovery ride.

An alternative is of course the turbo or rollers for a short spin of the legs and using the same basis as above will give the same result.

In addition to all of the above some other areas that will help include:

  • sleep – a regular sleep pattern with around 8 hours of sleep will help
  • drink – not gin sadly, but ensuring your fluid intake is good will prevent dehydration which will effect performance and slow down recovery
  • nutrition – have that protein – it will aid with rebuilding muscle tissue

I saw a quote recently that read ‘Ride Hard, Recover Harder’, which are wise words!

And if you don’t want to get back on the bike for the recovery you can always look at yoga, foam rolling and other forms of stretching as active recovery.


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