If your final sprint or hill climb finishes at your door, you’re missing a key component of your workout (and you run the risk of breaking your door). The role of the cool down is to let the muscles move without any resistance, which helps clear metabolic byproducts such as lactic acid from the muscles. If you skip that cooling process, not only do you let the lactic acid build up, but you risk blood pooling in your legs, which can make you dizzy or lightheaded.
It’s easy to come in from a ride and make a recovery smoothie, check your emails, return a call you missed, or just lay down on the floor to enjoy those endorphins. By the time you finally hit the shower, you might have marinated in your cycling kit—sweaty shorts included—for far too long, which can lead to saddle sores, infections, and even illness if your immune system is already working hard. Do yourself and your friends a favor; drop your shorts and jump in the shower as soon as possible post-ride.
If you fuel properly during your ride you shouldn’t be ravenous when you finish. It’s a problem I see in a lot of beginner or female cyclists: under-eating on the bike may seem like a good way to drop a few kilos, but that’s just not true. It usually leads to overeating anyway. Carbs taken in during the bike ride will help you cycle better and maximise the effort you are making. As soon as you return you are best hitting the healthy smoothie to get protein and carbs into your cells as fast as possible for recovery. A lot of people tend to think they should eat a sticky bun or muffin after the ride. These may be good for replacing glycogen, but they do nothing for your muscles and are filled with junk. If you want to drop kilos by cycling – never forget about eating healthy despite the effort you put in during the ride.
Neglect Your Gear
After every ride, but especially after bad weather adventures, take a minute and assess your bike. If it’s dusty, a quick wipedown just takes 30 seconds. If it’s muddy, consider giving it some true TLC and a full clean so you’re ready to spin next time. Once the bike—especially the chain—has dried, it becomes a lot harder to clean, so do it fast! Whilst we are not promoting bike snobbery there is nothing worse than turning up to meet your bike buddies on a messy bike with oil from the chain all over the frame. They will see you as a liability and that’s probably true – poorly cleaned and maintained bikes are more likely to have some mechanical incident whilst out on the ride slowing down the whole experience for everyone.