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Old 05-27-16, 06:16 PM   #1
pat0115
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Proper "Recovery" Ride?

I've been cycling for the last year, riding a Cannondale Quick Speed 1 Hybrid Bike. I've biked 3,000 miles in the last 11 months. I just read an article on Bicycling.com about Recovery Rides, after long, tough rides, Supposedly, these Recovery rides allow you to get stronger over time, versus going all out every time you ride. Yesterday was my longest ride yet (35 miles in a little less than 2 and a half hours, 15.0 MPH) so I figured tonight would be a good time to try out a recovery ride. I rode 10 miles in one hour, 10.3 mph. Is anyone else a proponent of Recovery Rides and am I doing it correctly? Thanks for your help.
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Old 05-27-16, 06:22 PM   #2
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I would say recovery rides are only needed for people putting 10+ hours a week. Otherwise most of us under-train, if anything.

The not going all out every time you ride thing is true, but there is much more to it than that. The idea is to mix some long, easy rides (zone 2 for 2+ hours) with some days where you do hard intervals.

Recovery days would fit in somewhere in there if you ride a few hours every day. Otherwise, you get plenty of recovery on the days you don't ride. The idea is that spinning at very, very low intensities helps your muscles recover faster than just sitting on the couch. If you have time for it (and fatigue to recover from) then suit yourself.
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Old 05-27-16, 06:34 PM   #3
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Thanks for the insight. It is appreciated!
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Old 05-27-16, 06:39 PM   #4
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PepeM accidentally gave a thorough, accurate, helpful, non-sarcastic answer. I hope he is feeling okay.
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Old 05-27-16, 06:47 PM   #5
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all of my 'recovery' rides end up being like every other ride...
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Old 05-27-16, 07:21 PM   #6
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tough one. Recovery ride for me means a day when I simply go slow and don't hurry. On most rides I try to kick it up a notch, but some days just not into it. These are days I'm not as time conscious, and guess they qualify as recovery. Pretty unscientific for me
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Old 05-27-16, 07:30 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
PepeM accidentally gave a thorough, accurate, helpful, non-sarcastic answer. I hope he is feeling okay.
I must be getting old.
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Old 05-28-16, 08:38 PM   #8
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I would do a recovery ride the day after a race or long training ride (100-200km). These rides would be just long enough for me to get warmed up, in an easy gear, at an easy pace. As the name implies, they help you "recover" from soreness and stiffness more quickly than if you simply sit on the sofa. The only problem with recovery rides is that once I was warmed up, it was tempting to ride farther and faster (which I often did). Regular riders who ride hard every day are often hooked on endorphins, and once these get circulating, it is hard to get off the bike.
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Old 05-28-16, 08:45 PM   #9
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Regular riders who ride hard every day are often hooked on endorphins, and once these get circulating, it is hard to get off the bike.
Yup, that's how I was in my 20s. After commuting 20 miles a day, playing racquetball at lunch, working out in the gym after work and sometimes taking the long way home, I'd still feel the itch to ride even longer on weekends.

Nowadays 20-40 miles two or three times a week feels like a lot. Maybe once a week or so I'll ride the hilliest route we have locally to work the legs (which isn't very hilly by most standards). On some off days I'll ride 3-5 miles on flat roads just to loosen up if the legs feel stiff and sore. But if it's neck, shoulder or back pain, I'll take the whole day off and just do stretches.
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Old 05-28-16, 10:02 PM   #10
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All my rides are "recovery" rides, inasmuch as I am usually recovering from a hangover...
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Old 05-28-16, 11:24 PM   #11
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I only pay attention to HR for recovery. The transition zone from my Z2 to Z3 is right on 140bpm, so I make an effort for the average HR for the ride to fall below that, along with not going above threshold. As soon as I start attacking a segment or something, it's not recovery anymore. And I'd like to point out that I'm not training for anything. I don't race, I don't do group rides. I ride because I like it. But it does get tough to balance wanting to go fast against wanting to ride every day. Some days i just need to take it easy.

I've found it genuinely tough to do recovery rides solo-- especially with Live Segments popping up-- so I look forward to the 2 days a week I get to ride with my wife. I use those rides as recovery days.
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Old 05-29-16, 07:49 AM   #12
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Recovery rides are just another form of active recreation/relaxation. The theory is that periods of activity below the training threshold (the point at which the stress of the activity produces an adaptation response) increases circulation and metabolism allowing for more rapid repair of damaged tissues and neurological recovery from the physical stress. It doesn't have to be a ride either, any recreational physical activity will do, which makes it a good chance to get in some alternative activities like hiking, swimming, etc. The goal is to keep the intensity down to enhance recovery not create an additional need for it. In addition to enhancing oxygenation, circulation and metabolism, light activity also helps prevent muscle soreness and tightness and improves sleep (which is where the bulk of recovery takes place).

There are also psychological benefits. Training is stressful, if it wasn't there wouldn't be any adaptation and growth. The stress isn't all physical. Among the symptoms of overtraining are mental changes such as irritability, depression, anxiety and/or disturbed sleep patterns. Instead of waiting until you are burned out to do something about it, engage in periodic recreational breaks during which you can just relax and enjoy your fitness.
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Old 05-29-16, 08:33 AM   #13
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Unless you felt like you had worked hard for that 35 miles, it doesn't sound like you are in need of a "recovery" ride.
3000 miles a year averages to 9 a day. Hardly strenuous for most humans.

But for the sake of improvement, rest and recovery are more important than the effort/ workout. Like others here, sometimes I have trouble going slow. But once you figure it out, the gains come better.

For fun, here's an oldie but goodie.

Fat Cyclist Blog Archive The Fat Cyclist Explains: How to Do a Recovery Ride
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Old 05-29-16, 11:05 AM   #14
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35 miles is a warmup ride. ha Have lunch and do another 40 miles. Then have supper and do 30 miles.
3500 miles a year is nothing to sneeze at, unless you did a tour for 2 months plus. Most of us have winter, so that makes it 20 miles a day. Most of us have other things to do, even if retired like me.

What got me strong was going farther every Sunday, 50, 55, 60 etc up over 110 miles. By the end of the season, 80 miles was a piece of cake, even on my 50/ 60 pounder IGH. Riding or not riding 20 milers inbetween mattered little. My recovery was half about dehydration the day or 2 after all day rides. I didn't start doing this until I was 50 and had more time alone and an easy job.
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Old 05-29-16, 11:22 AM   #15
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Everyone is different. Everyone changes. The guys saying "I don't need a recovery ride unless I did a double century" will be struggling to ride a metric century someday.

As others have said, if you feel stiff, sore, tired, irritable after a couple days riding .... whether nine or 99 miles---take a day tio be slightly active. it helps you heal faster.

I strained both legs working out, so i skipped last night's ride and will be riding very very slowly and a very short distance today .... and my "long, hard" rides are probably recovery rides for most posters. But I ride for me.
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Old 05-29-16, 11:24 AM   #16
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Too hilly around here for recovery rides. I would take the day off.

These days I don't ride enough to need it.
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Old 05-29-16, 01:05 PM   #17
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When I was younger and even dumber, recovery rides didn't make any sense to me. Every ride was done at 170bpm and just below max effort. Couldn't understand why I never got faster and all my Dutch and Belgian teammates were so much stronger and faster, despite their slacking, drinking booze and living on french fries swimming in gross peanut-butter/mayonnaise sauce for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Riding slowly seemed a waste of time--what's the point of riding slowly? I can rest on the couch.

It wasn't until I got a power meter and started the Allen/Coggan power-based training regime in the back of their book that I realized how important recovery rides were. Every time you go hard enough long enough, it will affect your spin form. Your muscles get stiff & heavy and don't want to travel in fluid circles. It seems to me that recovery rides are when you focus on and regain that fluidity.
I felt like I was on the right track about this when I saw Froome and Quintana both doing recovery rides on rollers after a hard mountain stage in last year's Tour. Despite living in North San Diego County, I probably ride as many miles on the rollers as I do on the road. And when I get lazy and start skimping on the recovery rides, my HR-to-Watts ratio suffers. What I used to consider a waste of time has become something I really look forward to.
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Old 05-29-16, 01:47 PM   #18
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Wow, great info! Thanks to all that took the time to reply
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Old 05-29-16, 07:36 PM   #19
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Someone described a recovery ride, as the equivalent effort as a leisurely walk. Putter along looking at the scenery.
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Old 05-29-16, 09:17 PM   #20
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Sunday was supposed to be my 3-5 mile "recovery ride". Unfortunately I foolishly ignored the "ironic quote marks" and rode 24 miles. Because it felt good.

Tomorrow I may regret my recklessness. Tonight I'm drinking beer and enjoying my delusional mid-life crisis.
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