Recovery Rides: Benefits and How to Do Them Strategically


Incorporating recovery rides into your cycling schedule is vital, especially if you’re involved in intense training or racing. When you push your limits during training, you’re essentially causing stress to your muscles, depleting energy reserves, and pushing your metabolism beyond its normal functioning.

Recovery is where the magic happens – it’s the phase where your body repairs the damage, refuels, and prepares you to tackle future challenges even stronger. Neglecting recovery means you’re missing out on maximizing the gains from your efforts.

While recovery rides might seem simple on paper – just an easy hour of pedaling – they’re often executed incorrectly. Riding too hard can hinder the recovery process, or worse, reduce your long-term performance.

The Advantages of Recovery Rides

Recovery rides are more than just physical rest; they’re a strategic part of your training. They aid in quicker muscle repair by increasing blood flow, which delivers essential nutrients for muscle repair and helps eliminate metabolic waste.

These rides also play a role in clearing your mind after a race and keeping you in the rhythm of regular training. By incorporating these less intense rides, you create a balance that allows you to perform better during high-intensity sessions.

How Much is Appropriate for Recovery Rides

The key to effective recovery rides is to keep them extremely easy. Think of a perceived exertion level of 1 to 2 on a scale where 10 is your maximum effort. For those monitoring heart rates, aim for about 60% of your maximum. If you’re training with power zones, keep it below 55% of your functional threshold power.

Choose the most level routes for these rides and keep the duration moderate—no more than 90 minutes, with 30 to 45 minutes often being sufficient. The goal is to finish feeling lighter and more refreshed in your legs.

To help you maintain this low intensity, here are seven practical tips for mastering your recovery rides.

10 Tips for Your Recovery Rides

Ride Alone

It’s challenging to stick to a relaxed pace in a group. Take this opportunity to ride solo, unwind, and enjoy some peaceful time with your thoughts.

Bring Company for Fun

If solo rides aren’t your thing, turn recovery rides into fun outings. Ride with your kids or introduce a friend or family member to cycling. The key is to keep it light and enjoyable.

Name It on Strava

Don’t let slow speeds on Strava discourage you. Name your ride something catchy like “Easy Like Sunday Morning Recovery Spin” to embrace the leisurely pace and keep track of your mileage.

Switch Your Bike

Opt for a different bike, like an old cruiser, for your recovery rides. It’s a great way to change things up and naturally keep your speed down.

Casual Attire

Leave your professional cycling gear aside. Dress casually and enjoy a relaxed ride around your neighborhood or to a nearby park.

Utilize Technology

Keep an eye on your metrics during your recovery ride. Tools like heart rate monitors can help ensure you’re staying within a relaxed effort range.

Consider Alternative Activities

If a slow ride doesn’t appeal to you, try other light activities. Swimming, yoga, walking, or jogging can be excellent alternatives for staying active while recovering. These activities can refresh you for your next cycling session.

Explore New Routes

Take advantage of your recovery ride to explore new paths or trails. This can keep the ride interesting and divert your attention away from the pace. Discovering new scenery can be refreshing and invigorating.

Focus on Technique

Use this time to hone your cycling skills. Pay attention to your pedaling efficiency or practice maintaining a steady, upright posture. It’s a great opportunity to refine aspects of your riding in a relaxed setting.

Incorporate Mindfulness

Transform your recovery ride into a meditative experience. Pay attention to your surroundings, breathe deeply, and allow yourself to be present in the moment. This approach can enhance mental clarity and relaxation.


a 35-year-old web developer and cycling coach based in Boulder, Colorado. Over the past ten years, my passion for cycling has transformed from a casual hobby into a way of life. As a lover of all things cycling, I am thrilled to share my journey with others who share the same enthusiasm for this incredible sport.