adapted from Selene Yeager’s article in Bicycling Magazine
Method: Ice-water immersion
Don Vanderslice introduced me to this painful task during Bike Out Hunger. I assume it works, but I still had trouble keeping up with him on the ride. I did find it easier to get into a cold but ice-less tub of water and add the ice as I sat in it. It’s a similar theory to the frog in a boiling pot of water.
Science: Some studies suggest that a cold water dunk after a hard ride helps clear lactic acid and reduce inflammation. Others conclude that it helps athletes feel less fatigued and sore.
Convenience: Unless there’s a spring-fed lake at the end of every ride, you’re out of luck. And you’ll deplete your ice supply if you frequently do this at home. In the middle of a ride, I have actually called my wife and asked her to buy a bag of ice.
Dork Factor: At home, low. Setting up a garbage can ice spa at a venue? So ridiculous, it might be cool. At the recent HH100 ride, I didn’t see anyone in a garbage can full of ice water, but it most definitely would have been high on the coolness factor scale and I would have gladly stood in one. The high for the day was 109, the hottest HH100 on record.
Method: Compression clothing
Again, after the recent HH100, and a good cold shower thanks to Texas Baptist Men’s Mobile Shower Unit, I donned full leg compression gear. Admittedly, I was the only one walking around in such garb, but I didn’t stiffen up during the drive home, so I’ll call it a success.
Science: Research suggests that compression tights can help reduce blood-lactate levels and speed recovery. Studies show athletes feel fresher and experience less muscle soreness after wearing them. For optimum effect, you may need to wear them during hard efforts, not just afterward.
Convenience: If you pack ’em, you can wear ’em.
Dork Factor: As high as the knee socks, but cancelled out in similar company.
Method: Drinking chocolate milk
After some rides, I’ve made chocolate milk and drank it. A couple of things I like about it are the taste and the lack of the chemicals in recovery drinks and bars. At first, it seems strange to drink a milk product after a ride and if I’m going to drink chocolate milk for recovery, I wait until my body cools and I’ve consumed a good bit of water.
Science: In a study of cyclists who rode until fully depleted, the pedalers who chugged chocolate milk afterward were able to hammer about 50 percent longer on their next ride before fatiguing than those who consumed a commercial carb-protein recovery drink.
Convenience: As close as the nearest 7-Eleven.
Dork Factor: Zip. Chocolate milk’s hipness never expires.