5 min read

5 Things you Should Always do After a Bike Ride

Mitchell Dick sits on his bike in a grassy field on an overcast day drinking foodspring Energy Aminos.
By: Mitchell Dick

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve returned from a ride wondering whether to eat everything in sight, grab a beer, or just jump straight in the shower. The struggle is real, but we’ve all been there.

Maybe you’ve just purchased your first bike, or you’re already a seasoned cyclist searching for a few tips to add to the collection. Either way, you’re probably wondering, “What should I do after a bike ride?” Of course, you’ve already had all those endorphins running through you and felt the wind rushing through your helmet, but how do you prepare yourself and your bike after the fun’s been had?

Whether you’re on a road bike, mountain bike, e-bike, or tricycle, these are a few things that can contribute to your quality of life post bike ride.

1. Eat & Refuel

You just got back from a ride, and your stomach is talking to you. That ride burned through all of your energy, and, to be more specific, your glycogen stores. Glycogen is stored in your muscles and liver. It’s required to produce energy, and if you haven’t consumed enough carbohydrates throughout your workout, get ready for fatigue to set in and your battery to go from 100-zero, really quick. Bonk incoming! If you’re not hip with the cycling lingo, bonking is that moment when you start to experience sudden, serve fatigue (just check Merriam Webster).

You’d be surprised how many calories and essential nutrients you lose while cycling. Fortunately, there are many ways to replenish them, depending on your needs. Nutritional lifestyle choices may affect your intake, but the principles remain the same.

First and foremost, try to stay away from the sweets when you’re done with your workout and instead choose nutrient-dense foods that will contribute to your recovery. Don’t get me wrong, I love a Zimt Schnecke from Zeit für Brot after an early morning Rapha group ride, but it doesn’t do much for me but tantalize my taste buds. A superfood salad with sweet potatoes, any dark, leafy greens, salmon, or even a seasoned chickpea dish make for great nutrient-packed meals. Another great way to give your muscles the fuel they are craving is with a protein shake. One 30 g serving of our Whey Protein has 24g of muscle-building protein.

Protein is absorbed more efficiently right after your ride, and according to NCBI whole food protein—grass-fed whey we’re looking at you—is best consumed 30-60 minutes after your ride to aid in maximum muscle protein synthesis. Therefore, it makes sense to slug down a protein shake right after. Find yourself a good protein source that’s essential for muscle building and will benefit your overall recovery.

2. Sweating is good for you, but so is taking a shower.

Alright, this may seem like common sense to you, but bear with me here. You’ve been taking a shower every day of your life–at least I hope so anyway–and by now, it’s become a ritual. Now you may not want to talk about this, but if you don’t take a shower and let all that sweat dry up, you’re much more prone to the downsides of sweat reabsorption. The what? The moment when the toxic waste–not the green radioactive kind–that you’re literally sweating out gets reabsorbed into your skin leading to things like jock-itch, fungal infections, acne breakouts, and other skin irritations.

If you’re cycling in bib shorts with a chamois pad, we highly recommend jumping out of your cycling kit and straight in the shower. At a minimum, changing into something else will help you eliminate the chances of infections and sores in those sensitive areas.

When you arrive home in your sweaty clothes, this isn’t time to sit back on the couch for an hour while binge-watching a new Netflix series. It’s essential to get rid of the toxins released while sweating during a workout. For that reason, we can’t stress the importance of showering off when you get home enough. Believe me, I’ve learned my lesson already after busting out a nice tempo ride in the morning and then working the whole day with colleagues. Let’s just say I keep body wipes, deodorant, and extra clothes at the office now.

3. Hydrate!

Oh man, that after-ride beer tastes like liquid gold after a hard ride, doesn’t it? I mean, it’s mostly water, right? In all seriousness, try a couple of glasses of water instead or, better yet, grab a foodspring shaker and throw in a scoop of Recovery Aminos–with water, not beer–and bring your muscles back to life. The addition of L-Glutamine means you’ll be less sore after a hard training.

As mentioned before, when you sweat, you lose water and essential nutrients needed to perform. The hotter it is, the more you’ll sweat and, therefore, hydration is super key. It’s a simple equation but if you want to prevent some of the side effects of dehydration, like heat stroke, headaches, or simply dehydration, drink up! I know some of you just reached for that glass of water.

If you need consistent reminders, Wahoo has a really cool new feature on their computers that allows you to set alerts for whatever you want. “Chug your bidon now!” pings every 30 mins when I’m out for a ride now. Check out this video from GPLama for his thorough overview.

Refuel Post-Ride with These Essentials
Nutrition plays a huge part in post-ride recovery, keep these on hand for hard rides.
Whey Protein Chocolate
Whey Protein Chocolate
Recovery Aminos
Recovery Aminos
Sparkling Aminos
Sparkling Aminos

4. Stretching & Active Recovery

Cycling is what would be considered a low-impact sport. Most of the time, you’re seated in one position, and unless you’re getting off your bike to stretch multiple times, your body can begin to tense up the longer and further your ride.

After bike ride stretches aren’t only good for loosening up your muscles and tendons, but you can use that opportunity to bring in a bit of active recovery and get the lactic acid out of your muscles. Focus on key areas that are affected while cycling, like your hamstrings, lower back, neck, and shoulders.

Related: Learn more about why stretching is a great performance booster.

When you stretch, you’re increasing your range of motion and flexibility. If, like me, you’re on a road bike most of the time, having tight hamstrings or a stiff neck is the last thing you want. Maintaining length in your muscles is key to good, lasting performance.

Bonus: Take a power nap to recoup some energy. Never underestimate how good you’ll feel after a nice little snooze to bring back some of your lost energy. Then you can dream about all those nice bikes you want to buy.

5. Clean Your Bike

If you live in an area with variable weather conditions like I do, you’re probably used to your bike coming home with a somewhat abstract-looking paint job. We ride through puddles, dirt, and mud, and if you’re out on a gravel bike, you know exactly how dirty your bike can be when you return. Although it may be a reminder of a fantastic ride, it’s horrible for the paint and components on your bike.

The problem with letting the dirt sit is that the dirt can cause a chemical reaction that corrodes or eats away at your precious paint job—I’m talking to all of you with those shiny bikes—and can ruin essential components. The chain is one of those pieces that should always be maintained because if it’s left wet or dirty, it can rust and wear out the links much faster.

Plus, you know what they say, “A clean bike is a fast bike.”

Do these five things–and the bonus–after a bike ride, and you’ll be on your way to having more fun out there, riding longer, faster, and having a healthier lifestyle. There’s no magic formula to this, but you’ll thank yourself later for dialling in your after-ride routine. Now go take a shower and drink something.

More recovery tips from foodspring:

Mitchell (Mitch) Dick is foodspring’s cycling columnist. Originally from Los Angeles, he’s been pedalling through Berlin for the past 3 years. Always a fan of storytelling, Mitch uses writing, photography, and his love of cycling to encourage everyone to find their freedom through riding a bike. His keen insights and know-how about the cycling community will give both beginners and pros the tools they need to make every ride their best one yet. So grab your helmet, fill up your bidon, and stick around for more of Mitch’s weekly cycling knowledge.

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