Never do these 5 things after a bike ride!

From skipping a cooldown to eating everything in sight, these common post-ride mistakes could be slowing you down

After your ride, it’s tempting to just sit down, maybe scroll through Facebook, check your email, or do the hundreds of other things you have to get done in any given day. It might seem harmless, but you could be missing some key components of a good workout and a proper recovery. If you find yourself committing any of these post-ride faux pas, here’s how to clean up your habits and finish your ride right.
Stop Short

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.

Get too Comfortable in Your Kit

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.

Fill up on Junk

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.

Skip Stretching
Maintaining mobility is important for every athlete, and as a cyclist you’re in a hunched position more than others. Skipping mobility work can hurt you in the long run. I recommend spending some time before and after each ride (it doesn’t have to be a lot) just moving your shoulders—pinch your shoulder blades back, try to lift your arms over your head, and windmill your arms a few times. It’s also a good idea to make friends with your foam roller, which can help work out knotty muscles when a real massage isn’t on the cards. There are some important stretches and strengthening work we cyclists should try and do a few times a week – this is a great article on some of these.

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