How do you feel after a big ride? What's your recovery like?

After a big ride (the kind I might do every weekend during the summer), my legs get tired. Duh. But they’re AGGRESSIVELY tired. They don’t just not want to move, they scream, I’M TIRED! In bed, I have trouble sleeping because they’re screaming so loudly (which doesn’t help with recovery). The next day is only a little better. Rides on consecutive days are out of the question (grand tour riders must be a different species than me).

How do you all feel in the hours and days after a good ride? What do you do to mitigate the feeling, and speed up recovery?

No issues whatsoever–I ride everyday, a minimum of 25 miles, and on the long/tough ride days (at least once a week, on Sundays, 75 - 100 mi, on average), am fine on return, shower, take the dog on an hour walk, and enjoy the evening–no issues that day, or the next–just like any other day.


I have similar issues where my biggest rides tend to result in trouble sleeping due to extremely sore legs and generally ruin the following day. But these are rides that definitely push my limits, where I have a hard time just finishing the ride and getting home. I’ll also generally be irritable for at least a day or two. I’ve decided that it’s from pushing too hard and overtraining, and I’ve been working on staying more within my limits.

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I’m just stupid for the next day. My coworkers know they’re not going to get the best from me on Mondays.

I find doing a recovery ride the next day, whether that’s just the commute or some endurance stuff on the turbo has really helped me.

Now it’s more a question of how hard I pushed myself as to how much I feel it the next day. A race or a very hard chaingang and I’m pretty dead to the world the following day, 100-150km of moderately paced stuff and I’ll be fine to ride a similar distance again.


I tend to sleep like a baby when I am tired and my body is sore. Having an orgasm usually solve any sleeping issue thanks to the endorphin release, so maybe try having sex or masturbation on the night after the ride?

You should be able to ride the next day anyway. You just need to lower your expectation and enjoy the scenery more than anything. Gut feeling is you do too much on week-end compared to rides on weekdays in term of volume and intensity so maybe you need to balance a bit more so the week-end do not feel like you are beating yourself up. If you have some roller trainers without resistance it can be a nice way to do something gentle to your body the next day.

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Regular weekend long rides (both days): thirsty, hungry. Not super tired but legs get heavy because it’s end of week. No recovery other than Monday rest day. Ready to go Tuesday.

Long summer road races or race weekends: that can get into salt encrusted, dehydrated, fighting off cramps, heat exhaustion, blown-up legs. No pain afterwards or anything like that. Just general feeling of being tired all over. Staying awake is actually the problem versus not being able to sleep. Watch TV, drink Coke and eat potato chips for recovery. No riding for a couple of days after if it gets to that point. Riding would be pointless.

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Sit on the couch and watch baseball while eating a bunch of Pizza and Pedialyte if it’s the summer and I finished the ride in 110 degree temps.

What do you eat before you head out on the weekend big rides?

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Sounds to me like a fueling issue….how many cals are you taking in while you are riding?

Once I started eating more on the bike, most of my fatigue and post-ride hunger disappeared.


I’m consuming as much as I can. Yesterday, for a 58 mile hilly ride (not a huge ride, but it’s early in the season), I had 3 gels (1 per hour; about 300 calories) and Gatorade (about 160 calories). Followed the ride with a big hot chocolate (450 calories) and later a big dinner of pasta and fish (very roughly 1800 calories). Also, ate shredded wheat for breakfast (200 cal). According to Strava, it was a 1,600 calorie ride.

I’d eat more while riding, but I’m following the 0.5-1g of carbohydrates per kilogram of bodyweight per hour guideline. I did miss one gel yesterday, so that could contribute, though I feel the same when I overeat during a ride.

I’m just happy no one’s jumped in with “ice baths!” suggestion yet.

So you consumed 460 cal for 58 mile hilly ride? You are definitely not consuming enough calories.

And a 200 cal breakfast also isn’t enough….you are underfueling your rides by a significant margin, IMO.

Shoot for a bottle of Gatorade and some form of solid or semi-solid (gel) food per hour. I know it sounds like a lot, but work your way up to it…and then add more.

I have custom alerts set on my Wahoo…every 15 minutes to drink and and every 40 min to eat.

I used to pride myself on barely drinking on the bike, especially in on group rides…I just didn’t “need” it. But once I started increasing my on bike consumption, as noted, my post-ride fatigue was massively reduced. I can do an 80 mile hard group ride on Saturdays and come home and hit yard work, projects, whatever with no problems now.


Almost always an egg/bacon sandwich (bagel or whatever), yogurt with a fresh banana and granola mixed in, and a glass of mixed vegetable juice–never coffee, tea or other forms of caffeine.

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I agree with @Henri_Desgrange

I use to think I was eating enough during rides and figured the exhaustion was a sign of success.

However, I’ve since upped the amount eaten before my ride, eat bananas plus fruit leathers during the ride, and eat more afterwards, I have found I feel fine after a big ride.

I also eat my pre-ride meal about an hour or two before the ride and not right before.

The third adjustment was adding corn starch to my pre-ride fueling ala: Why you should be drinking cornstarch during your rides - Canadian Cycling Magazine

The corn starch leaves the stomach quickly and essentially is a slow continuos drip of carbs from your bloodstream for hours after ingestion. I do typically get funny looks when I tell people but whatever. A box of corn starch is like $3 and it has worked better than anything else I’ve tried

Edit: thought I’d add that I have 3 kids now (all under 5) and sitting around on the couch feeling exhausted after a ride is not an option.


Unless you’re actually racing, I’d suggest bringing real food instead of gels. A sandwich, a banana, some rice cakes, trail mix etc. Gels are for getting fast calories into your body, but they’re not a meal. Even the pros have more than just gels in their pockets.

I bring gels with me on long rides, but unless I start to feel tired in the last hour or so, I generally throw them back in the drawer in the garage when I get home. I used to regularly suck one or two down at halftime in a rugby game, though.


So the 160 cal of Gatorade was something like 750ml? That’s not a lot for about 95km hilly = approx. 3 hours riding?

Rule of thumb 1 l for every hour adjust down or up depending on temperature, humidity, effort level, body size, etc. Some people don’t need anywhere near as much and you shouldn’t force yourself to over drink either.

But… not hydrating enough prevents muscles from firing right. Could be contributing significantly to your muscle soreness which sounds really severe.

I can quite often get cramps in my hamstrings during the night, after a big day out. No matter how much hydration I take. I haven’t found anything that works to prevent it.
And I don’t believe it’s lack of conditioning, as I’m consistently riding 300+ km per week and even happening when I was averaging 400+ km a week in 2020.
As for leg tiredness, generally I find a recovery ride the following day usually loosens everything up and while I might feel a little fatigue, the legs are feeling better right away after that ride.

I had an additional bottle of water as well! Didn’t mention it since I was counting calories. But it is tougher to drink enough on cooler days because you still need it, but your body isn’t asking for it as much.


That is exactly why I set the reminders on my bike computer….and my 40 min food alert says “Eat, you idiot”. :wink:

What exactly are you eating on the bike @Henri_Desgrange? I have such a hard time eating “smart” while riding…most solid foods give me terrible stomach aches both during and after a ride, so I tend to fuel w/ liquids and gels. However, I know I am not consuming enough calories to replace what I am spending.