From Kevin Weiss,
Your Guide to Bicycling.
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The concept of recovery is a vague one. Most of us would rather spend time thinking about how to gain speed and strength in our rides. The truth is that recovery does just that.
One of the most common misconceptions is what recovery really is. Recovery is not about taking a day or two off after a particularly hard ride. In fact it is best to ride an easy pace the day after a particularly rough ride. Though it is best to only ride six days a week, even the champs need a complete day of rest. Try to plan accordingly.
The easy day is to help you heal from damage that gets done to your body. This actually helps you build on the strength or speed that you’ve gained in the hard training. In fact, taking two easier days can also be helpful depending on how hard you were riding.
This applies to speed work, races, big hills and interval work. These stress the body as they encourage you to grow in your riding. By separating these days with easier days you’ll actually see the gain you were hoping for, without any loss. Being tempted to ride hard again may be a problem some have. Try not to give in to it. A good way to ensure a slower ride is to ride with people who might normally be to slow. For me that slower person would be my wife, though it could be anyone. Just come back tomorrow and ride again!