Back in the good old days, when I spent a lot of time and effort seeing who could run fastest, no one had to ‘rein in the horses’ the day after an intense workout. Our legs were so thrashed that summiting the threshold of the door the next day was monumental. The inability to walk without severe, sharp pains in the calves and quads served up the ‘message du joir’…TODAY’S A RECOVERY DAY!
But not so with cycling.
Because there’s no leg-shredding impact on a bike, it’s surprising what can be accomplished the day after an extreme workout. Sure, the legs are sluggish at the beginning of the ride, but before long it’s…
Violating the cardinal rule of training (proper recovery is necessary for improvement to take place) comes naturally on a bike. Especially if you make the mistake of riding your recovery day with ‘Buttcrack Ben’.
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Here’s how it goes…
He can hardly get his sorry gluts up the climbs, so you wait for him at the top. He expresses his gratitude by going right by you without stopping or acknowledging your magnanimous gesture and then bombing the downhill.
Of course he’s probably just trying to get a bit of a gap before faltering on the next climb, but that doesn’t matter. You take it as a personal snub (or at least I do!)
You take after him and on the next climb you bury yourself to demolish him.
And so it goes…
Your necessary recovery ride is but a wisp of smoke from a fading campfire. After all, there are lessons to be dished out, and your legs are just the guys to do it!
This is where submission to the wisdom of a good coach is invaluable.
Notice that I didn’t only say that a good coach is invaluable…you must also submit to his wisdom when he prescribes recovery days.
My good friend, coach Bruce Hendler of Athleticamps suffers more than his share of frustration when his athletes won’t back off when they need too… usually because they’re sure there’s a group ride that needs to be ‘won’.
Coach Dave Heatley tells his athletes ‘to ride their recovery rides no faster than the guys riding by them in thongs’.
And I thought bike shorts were revealing.
Of course if ‘Buttcrack Ben’ went by me in a thong, that might stifle my herd-dog instinct to give chase.
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