Making the most of your time off the bike…

As much as we’d like to think we could, you can’t be on your bike all the time. Real life tends to get in the way, but sometimes the body just needs a rest.

However, that time doesn’t necessarily need to be wasted. There’s a lot you can do with your downtime to make the time you have on the bike more enjoyable.

  1. Work on your core strength
    As your rides get longer it isn’t necessarily your legs that will give up first. Chances are it will be your core, particularly if you are on a road bike, that will be the first to throw in the towel. However, spending your time off the bike, or indeed getting into the habit of doing a spot of planking (front and side) before heading for a post-ride shower will pay dividends later on.
  2. Go for a walk…
    As good a form of exercise as cycling is, it isn’t perfect. With cycling being a low-impact activity, it does not stress the skeleton in a way that promotes new bone growth. Over time this can lead to weak bones and potentially, osteoporosis. So, getting some weight-bearing activity in while you are off the bike, not to mention getting sufficient calcium in your diet, is important. For most of us this shouldn’t be a problem, but if endurance cycling is your primary activity, it is worth bearing it in mind, particularly as you get older.
  3. Plan a route…
    Here in Wales there’s so much to see and do, especially with the Brecon Beacons a relatively short ride away. We’ve got a number of formidable hills to test yourself on and a whole host of castles, monuments and areas of outstanding natural beauty. Why not spend your down time planning a route that’ll take in some of these. It’ll help to keep you motivated and give you something to look forward to.
  4. Wash your bike…
    Keeping your bike clean will help to keep the moving parts in good condition for longer. Things do inevitably wear out, but they’ll wear out so much faster with a mixture of sand, grit and oil grinding away at them.
  5. Experiment with food…
    Diet, believe it or not, is the undoing of many of us. Our bodies often have far more to give when we feel like we are “hitting the wall”, but when we make a sow’s ear of our eating strategy we fail to reach our potential. Rides are shortened, randonnee’s and sportives are not completed and we take an emotional and physiological hit. However, finding foods that we enjoy; that provide energy for long periods and are easy to carry in our jersey pockets are the key to a more enjoyable riding experience. We’ve talked about recovery before, but recovery doesn’t have to wait until you’ve stopped.

Whether you are riding to and from work, or hoping to take on a sportive, an audax or a race there are plenty of things you can do to fill your downtime.

Riding your bike can will improve your health; offer new experiences and make room for more food, just as enriching your life with new experiences; improving your health and eating the right food can improve your bike riding. It’s a cycle, you could say.

Gavin

Bike commuter, randonneur and cat wrangler

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