From nutrition, to recovery, to catching up on some much-needed Zs, we all have a slightly different routine when we get in from a ride.
Cyclists are often meticulous by their nature, so cleaning the bike and properly refueling are popular post-ride pursuits, however, show us a rider that claims to never have slumped in a smelly heap against the radiator in the aftermath of a particularly tough winter training excursion and we’ll show you a straight-up liar.
Whether organised or anarchic, ill-advised or perspicacious, here are 11 things cyclists do after a ride.
Stare into the fridge
This one is a firm favourite, but can be sub-divided into a couple of different types of staring – dependent on how well-organised you are and how recently you did a big shop.
For the well-prepared, the post-ride fridge stare is a real treat: “Which of these many delights shall I feast upon first?"
However, for those of us with a less meticulous nature, it’s something akin to self-torture: “What can I eat? Is ketchup a meal? Who bought those bloody gherkins?"
It’s not uncommon to make several trips to stare into the fridge in the one-hour window that follows a ride. Remarkably, new items never appear between one opening of the door and the next.
Why would you have to apologise after riding your bike? Well, it’s a good question. Apparently, some cyclists tend to bend the truth a little bit when explaining to their partners just how far they plan to ride, when they expect to be back, and whether the route comprises a pub stop on the way home.
While RCUK would never condone fibbing to one’s significant other, we can see how it might ease the wheels of cohabitation to whisper the occasional half-truth.
The only problem is when you do inevitably arrive back, two hours later than planned and try to explain, with beery breath, how ‘someone on the ride had a puncture and then we got blown by a crosswind into the Red Lion on the way back’.
Spread the word
Wife, boyfriend, the neighbour, the family gerbil – a major post-ride ritual for some cyclists is telling basically anyone who’ll listen about how far they rode, how fast they went, and what a big tough guy/gal they are.
While some do take this to extremes, we’ve probably all been guilty of talking a bit too long about our exploits on the bike to those who have neither a reference point nor interest in cycling.
Indeed, the glazed-over stare and occasional automatic nod as you recount your epic tale of ‘how you conquered the Cotswolds’, are probably familiar to us all.
Sometimes if your ride has been particularly taxing, all other post-bike activities fade into the background, as the first priority is to find a warm spot and collapse. Slump yourself up against that radiator, and let it pump some lovely warm life back into you.
Perhaps babble to yourself a little bit about how much cake you earned. Just try not to stay there so long that the paint starts to peel off the wall.
Usually curl up against the radiator for up to an hour, festering. I once sat against a wall and was so minging it made the paint peel ???? @IntrepidSarah hasn't forgiven me for that yet.
— James Ward (@jamesward01) November 27, 2017
Whether you use the phone app or have a bells-and-whistles gizmo that syncs straight to the cloud, virtually every cyclist will find themselves uploading their ride to Strava (or one of its competitor ride-tracking apps) as soon as they get in.
Then, once showered, it’s time to pore over the ‘data’ to see if you’ve registered any PRs.
Despite the three beers you drank the night before and the fact you’ve ridden that same training route hundreds of times, the hope still remains you might have ‘improved’ – it’s important to celebrate any achievements, even a third-best time on a 45-second segment. You earned it, buddy!
What could be better after a long ride than a nice hot cuppa? Maybe a biscuit? And what about a quick sit-down on that comfy-looking sofa?
Cut to an hour later and a slumbering cyclist – still clad in sweaty lycra – on the sofa, nursing an undrunk cup of tepid tea.
Let your dog lick all the salt off you
When I sat down to put together this article, I really didn’t think the above was a sentence I’d be writing, but, lo and behold, the beautiful weirdos of cycling Twitter stepped up and proved me wrong.
Lay on the floor and let my dog lick the sweat off me ????♀️????????
— Peachy (@Peachy_Mark) November 27, 2017
sit and have @lifeasawookie lick my beard clean....
— Brian Travis (@ErinForks) November 27, 2017
Apparently dogs love a bit of salt, and find that licking it from the exposed parts of a tired cyclist is one of their absolute fave ways to get it. Nature is weird. Cyclists are weird.
You know you’re supposed to stretch, right? Of course you do, you did PE at school. We all know this, but how many of us actually do it?
Especially when there are so many more appealing activities, like collapsing in a heap, or immediately pouring oneself a beer, or eating processed ham directly from the packet.
In fact, there are few things we like more after a ride than not-stretching.
Ahhh, is there anything finer than the post-ride shower – especially after a long and chilly winter training ride? Just be careful not to inadvertently cook yourself pink by spending too long with the heat turned up to maximum.
Other post-ride bathroom pitfalls include being unable to climb into or out of the bathtub if your legs have seized up, and getting cramp as you try and take off your bib shorts and toppling over comically like a lassoed steer.
For the pros, a post-ride massage is an absolute essential. However, for those of us not wealthy enough to employ a personal soigneur, there’s always the self-massage.
We are by no means experts on self-massage, but try really digging into your quadricep with a wooden spoon for 10 minutes after a big day on the bike. What’s the worst that could happen?
Clean your bike
Another one that falls firmly into the ‘supposed to’ bucket of post-ride activities, especially when it gets into winter and every ride constitutes a full-on assault on your poor beloved bike’s moving parts.
Remember though, as the lure of a nice warm kitchen calls to you, clean your bike little and often and it’ll last way, way longer before it gives in completely – and save you loads of cash in repair fees and the like.