Everybody has heard of the age-old recovery acronym R.I.C.E (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). Although this acronym covers some of the steps to a quick recovery, below are a few more suggestions to help speed up the recovery process and get you back on the bike. Do not sit down After hours of physical exertion, this sounds like the worst suggestion. However, do not slump right down in to a chair. Walk around for at least 15 minutes to cool down your muscles, while doing some gentle stretching. Sitting down immediately will cause your muscles to relax too quickly causing stiffness. Protein & Carbohydrates Within 30 minutes of finishing an event, it is important to feed your muscles a good dose of protein and carbs. A 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio is recommended to help provide your body with muscle glycogen. Eating more protein than that, however, has a negative impact because it may slow rehydration and glycogen replenishment. Hydrate When it comes to hydration, it is not only important to hydrate post-ride. What you drink during your ride can greatly affect your recovery time. While out on a bikepacking tour or race, it is nearly impossible to consume enough water to make up for what you are loosing, so drink up before, during and after your ride. Your post ride hydration plan should include some electrolytes to help restore the balance. Compression There are many options on the market for compression garments and technologies these days to help speed up recovery. Whether you have compression tights, knee high compression socks, or Elevated Legs– compression proves to be a successful way to help minimize muscle swelling by promoting blood flow back up to your heart. This is especially helpful if your lifestyle involves a lot of time on your feet or at a desk. Sleep Sleep? Easy. After a bikepacking race or ride, your body will want to sleep, need to sleep. However, aches, pains or your mind may keep you awake at night, but it is important to get some shut eye, and here is why: when you sleep, your body produces hormones that are critical to recovery. So, when you have just raced the CTR and were awake for nearly 3 days straight with very little sleep, your body needs to catch up quickly to help in the recovery process. This might mean sleeping a solid 50 hours in a 3 day period before getting back to your regular routine. Refuel the right way Eat often, but eat clean. With more and more food products on the shelves these days containing so many preservatives and chemical additives, it is important for all humans to pay attention to what they are eating. As a recovering athlete, it can be even more crucial for you to be eating the right things for your recovery. Eating a lot of hydrating veggies, lean proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats can be the difference between a 2-3 week recovery, and a 1.5 month recovery. That being said, a burger and milkshake once in a while is not going to set you back too far. Ice bath I know it hurts like hell, but the fact is, it works. A 10 minute ice bath at 55-60 degree water will constrict your blood vessels allowing your muscles to rid themselves of lactic acid. If your body is particularly sore and you need to take a more mellow approach to this concept, simply alternate your body from warmer temperatures to cooler temperatures in intervals. Take a dip in the hot tub, and then jump in a pool, and back to the hot tub, etc. This will keep the circulation on overdrive and help you purge lactic acid. Stretch Stretching is a critical part of recovery, however, it is often times over looked and/or people don’t know how to stretch correctly. Be sure to only stretch muscles that are warmed up. Stretch slowly and gently and remember to breathe. Be sure not to forget areas that promote your range of motion. As a cyclist, your hips are important. Be sure to throw a yoga style pigeon or other hip openers in your stretching routine. Active Recovery If you sit and sleep for days and weeks on end, your recovery will take longer. Get active the day after the event with a long walk, a short spin, or some form of light cross training. Keep it light and gentle and ease yourself back into your regular riding routine or training program. Mental Recovery After a long distance bikepacking or cycling event some athletes will experience post event depression. You rode such a high for so long, pushing your mental capabilities to new heights. You’ve been training, planning and thinking about crossing the finish line for months now – who wouldn’t be on a mental high? The best thing to do for mental recovery is to continue on a routine, but instead of a training routine, make it a recovery routine. As always… listen to your body!