Follow These Post Ride Rules To Extend Your
Body and Bike’s Lifespan
Whether you do weekend trips to the bike park, or you rip some trails close to home every day, you and your bike are going to need some maintenance. Check out the tips below for all the essential things you are going to need to do to keep you and your bike running in tip top shape.
1. Repair your body with the three “R’s” of nutrition
We all know how important it is to drink copious amounts of fluid while we are riding. It is important to replace all the fluid we are losing to perspiration while we are working hard. It is just as important to drink after our rides are done.
You should aim to drink 250ml of water every 30 minutes, drinking that amount at least twice (500ml over 1 hour). Increase that to 350ml to 500ml if you have been racing, or if it is very hot or humid. Water, milk, coconut water, electrolyte mixes and sport drinks are all great choices. Just stay away from beer, wines or alcohol.
When you are riding hard, your muscles are naturally working hard. They need to be refueled so they can start their own repair process. A good source of carbohydrates eaten after a ride will help get this going.
Eating a balanced meal, with a good potion of carbs (rice, sweet potatoes, pasta) is a good way to replenish. But if you are out and about after your ride, aim to get two grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight from convenient sources. Make a sandwich before you go and leave it in the car. Ham and cheese, or a rice and tuna, washed down with some milk is a great option. Or you can do a meal alternative protein shake.
Sometimes your ride can feel like an hour long training session with a personal trainer. With all your pedaling and heaving the bike around, you pretty much have gone to the gym. You need to ensure that your muscles are able to repair adequately.
Muscles need quality and complete proteins after riding to help them repair and synthesize new proteins that help repair any damage done. Aim to have a source of protein as soon as possible after riding and another dose 1 to 3 hours after riding. A whey protein shake is an excellent quick fix, and 20 to 30g total protein from a powder mixed with milk is simple and effective as well. Follow up later with a natural animal source of protein (chicken, beef, or pork) or a vegetarian option like quinoa, beans or lentils within a few hours.
2. Go For A Recovery Ride
Gradually slowing down instead of stopping at the car and loading up is going to help you return to your normal muscular strength, reduce muscle soreness and the chance for illness, and even potentially improve skill acquisition, some studies suggest. Why wouldn’t you take a quick lap around the parking lot trail head before loading up to head home?
After bombing down trails as fast and hard as you can, you should be doing a quick cool down. 10 minutes of low intensity riding (1-2 on a 1-10 scale) is enough to get your body in to its recovery phase.
Doing a good stretching session after your ride will help you slow down, reflect on your riding and get a better sleep. Focus on major muscle groups like your glutes, quads, chest, upper arms and lower legs.
Find your favorite stretching routine and start by going to a comfortable spot. Never push yourself through pain or move your joints in a way they aren’t supposed to. One of the biggest benefits of stretching is the relaxation time it can provide. This comes from the autonomic response to the muscle spindles – the sensors inside your muscles – being stretched.
The best thing you can do for recovery, is to get some shut eye. Nothing helps your body fix itself like putting it to sleep. Most studies recommend a solid 8 to 9 hours of sleep. Try to get a consistent sleep by having your room cool, airy and dark. Also put the phone, tablet, tv and computers away at least 45 minutes before bed.
5. The Post Ride Bike Check
I did an article early on about a pre-ride bike check for every trip out on the trails. The same basics apply to your post ride inspection.
- After riding give your bike a good clean. Most trail heads have hoses for washing down.
- Have a rag to give your drive train a quick dry, but the rest of the bike should be fine with an air dry.
- Next move on to the basics. The A-B-C’s.
- A is for air. Check your tires tread, sidewalls and air pressure.
- B is for brakes and bolts. Check your cables and do a full bolt inspection to make sure everything is tight. Give your pads a look and see how much life is left in them.
- C is chain. Check for and damage, and if you have done a thorough wash give your chain a good lube.
- A few other important spots are to check your spokes for bends or looseness. Give your bike a good once over for cracks or dents in the frame as well.
Doing these essentials after every ride will ensure that you and your bike are fresh and ready to go for that next session!