After your ride, it’s tempting to just sit down, maybe scroll through your Instagram feed, check your email, or do the hundreds of other things you have to get done in any given day. – By Molly Hurford
1. Stop Short
If your final sprint 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,” explains Philadelphia-based doctor Michael Ross. 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 Ross says can make you dizzy or lightheaded.
2. 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 you’re in a hard training block and 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.
3. Fill up on Junk
If you fuel properly during your ride, holistic nutritionist Anne Guzman says that you shouldn’t be ravenous when you finish. It’s a problem she sees in a lot of cyclists: under-eating on the bike may seem like a good way to drop a few pounds, but that’s just not true… And it usually leads to overeating anyway. If you’re worried about over-eating, Guzman suggests avoiding a meal with a lot of fat, and skipping that pastry in favor of a healthier option. “Fat slows up your digestion and you want protein and carbs into your cells as fast as possible for recovery,” she says. “You’d be better to have potatoes and lean chicken—not a lot of fat or fiber so it’s easy to digest. A lot of people tend to think they should eat a sticky bun after the ride. And yes, that’s a good time for replacing glycogen, but you can’t forget about being healthy.”
4. Neglect Your Gear
Pro mechanic Taylor Near has seen a lot of bikes come through the Trek Bicycle Store in Toronto—and the ones that are in the worst shape are the ones that clearly haven’t been cleaned since the last time they came into the store. After every ride, but especially after bad weather adventures, take a minute and assess your bike. If it’s dusty, a quick wipedown still 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!