How to Recover during Multi-day Rides

By Shem Flitton

Riding centuries day after day for a couple of weeks will wear you down, but there are a few practices that can help your body recover and to get ready for the next day. What you do off the bike is just as important as what you do on the bike when it comes to going day after day.

Here are some of the things we’re doing to make sure we can keep pedaling:

Prepare beforehand

One of the first things you can do is preparing your body by providing the proper nutrients and supplements. Starting next week, we’re starting to take Endurance 360 to prevent cramping and enhance recovery. Beginning a month out allows the body to build up the nutrients we’ll need to perform well during this endeavor.

Our eating habits are pretty important as much as possible. I’m eating whole grains, vegetables, and good proteins.

Obviously, having a good training plan help too. We’ve been working our plans since late winter.

Hydrate

Each morning as I get up, I’ll drink 16 ounces of water. I’ll drink another 20 ounces over the next couple of hours before starting my ride. Just before the ride, I hop on the scale and weigh myself. I do the same as soon as I finish the ride. For every pound of weight I’ve lost, I drink 24 ounces of water and electrolytes. During the ride I work the make sure I’m staying hydrated, even during the last hour, when I’ve traditionally stopped worrying about it.

As I mentioned, electrolytes are an important part of staying hydrated. We’re drinking GU Roctane and using GU’s electrolyte capsules.

Beetroot Pro

At the end of each ride, we’re taking Beetroot Pro to enhance our recovery. It raises nitric oxide levels, which helps your body deliver more oxygen to tired muscles. That might sound like a performance enhancing drug but it’s a naturally occurring compound in the body and is safe to use. I’ve used nitric oxide in the past. The supplement is based on the all the benefits of beets, but tastes a lot better. It’s also vegan for those who are concerned about that.

Sleeping

Getting eight to nine hours of sleep each night helps our bodies recover from this crazy ride and get ready for the next day. Sleep is the single biggest thing we can do. We also plan to take a nap after the ride to kickstart the recovery.

Food

Stage rides like this feel like all you do is eat, sleep, and ride. And that’s because those are the best things you can do. Riding requires a lot of fuel and takes glycogen out of the muscles. You have to restore the thousands of calories you’re burning each day. You have to eat, and you have to eat carbs.

My favorite breakfast is ¾ cup oats; ½ cup blueberries; one tablespoon each of flax seed, hemp seed, and chia seed; a handful each of almonds and walnuts, other berries or fruit if they’re lying around; a dash of cinnamon; a dash of turmeric (to reduce inflammation); a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, and some milk.

We’re aiming for 300 to 400 calories each hour while on the bike. These are simple carbs: white flour, white rice, sugary foods: The main things I’ll will eat on the bike are bacon burritos; peanut-butter-and banana tortillas; a muffin-sized pie with beef, sweet potato and rice; maple, bacon and nut butter rice cakes; apple-pecan sticky bites; savory bread cakes; and French toast cakes. Between that and the Roctane, I’ll be well fueled.

Right after rides, we’re drinking the Roctane Protein Powder Recovery Mix, followed by a recovery meal. After the nap, we’ll eat again, then have dinner later.

My favorite recovery meal is two slices of homemade wheat toast, with half an avocado and a fried egg on each. I top this with some Sriracha sauce.

Just before bed each night I’ll take a casein protein shake. The slow digesting powder will keep a supply of protein going as my legs rebuild in my sleep.

Stretching

After each ride, we stretch for fifteen minutes to relieve tired muscles and to decrease muscle tightness. It also relieves some of the discomfort of hunching over the handlebars for seven hours every day. Each morning we have a routine to reduce soreness.

Muscles

Riding 1700 miles and climbing 68,000 feet will leave your legs sore. We’re using Lactigo, a topical gel to reduce leg pain, and promote recovery. We can also put it on before the ride if we’re feeling We also plan to use a foam roller each night and we have a massage gun to treat sore muscles.

I have a set of compression tights I’m planning to sleep in, and a pair of compression socks to wear in the afternoons and evenings after the ride. This will help the legs recover and keep fluids from building up.

Cold Water

The last tool in our recovery arsenal is cold. Cooling down the muscles as soon as possible reduces inflammation. Cold showers and soaks in creeks along the way will help.

Yes, this sounds like a lot. Heck, it feels like a lot. We have made a checklist so our spouses can shepherd us through all this after we’ve ridden all day and have the approximate cognitive function of a sloth on Quaaludes. Hopefully these practices will keep us going until we cross that southern border.

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