Time poor and chomping at the bit to get out on the bike? You’re certainly not alone. For many of us when precious bike time comes up it’s tempting to kit up, check the tyres, and start rolling.
But it’s important to remember that prior to or shortly after any sort of exercise, vigorous or otherwise, stretching and preparing or relaxing your body can make a huge difference to overall performance. In this week’s ‘Ask Dan’ column Clare Classic ambassador Dan Bonello gives his advice on body preparation for the social classic as well as the 110km and 160km Gran Fondo rides.
“For me stretching has always been a important part of my off-the-bike preparation and maintenance,” says Dan.
Stretching, as well as the use of a roller and trigger ball, can help relax the body and assist with recovery.
“Over the years I have put a greater focus on using my trigger point ball and foam roller to try and target the more troublesome areas that deal with the high workload and repetitious patterns of cycling. Hip Flexors, ITBs calf muscles and hamstrings are all obvious target points, but shoulders and pectoral muscles also get a static hammering from the position that your road bike puts you in.”
Stretch Before Or After?
“It really is crucial to dedicate small pockets of time off the bike to your body maintenance as issues can build and build if you do not pay them any attention. For me I never stretch before a ride as I just do not have the time before the sun comes up and my sleep/ your sleep should be as much a priority as your own training," said Dan.
“I try and dedicate time after I have had dinner and before I go to bed. The easy movement and relaxation can also really help with digestion so it is never just the one element that you should be thinking about.”
Dan’s Post-Ride Routine
We asked Dan what happens immediately after the ride – is it a case of getting off the bike and having a beer? Or is there more to it than that.
“Dan how would you advise fellow cyclists to go about their post-ride routine to best start recovery and preparation for their next outing?”
“I used to always find myself in a bit of a dilema post ride, especially after longer rides in summer,” he said.
“Should I get off the bike and get clean and showered right away or use that all important window of the beginning of your recovery phase to take on some nutrition and really kick start the recovery.”
Nutrition & The Importance Of A Foam Roller
“The hygiene argument always wins for me unless I have made some dietary error out on the ride and have totally gone hunger flat. Get off the bike get clean and then get some real food into your body. Smoothies are simply the best way to go. The nutrients are delivered to your body in such a way that all of the crucial ingredients for replacing all of those burned calories are readily accessible.
There are always immediate benefits to stretching or foam rolling shortly after training, but I usually keep that ritual in the same part of the day prior to going to bed.”
According to Dan there’s one other critical piece of advice, a tip that overrides all others as soon as the ride is over.
“Of course after a big event like one of the Classics all of this gets thrown out of the window,” he said.
“I will go straight for an ice cold beer from the fridge and sit around in my cycling kit just a little too long.”