A rest day still means riding

Monday, 23 May 2011

Team Sky rest day ride

It’s a rest day in the Giro d’Italia today. With two weeks of racing you’d imagine there are some tired riders by now but yesterday saw riders doing seven to eight hours across the mountains, with 6,500 vertical metres in one go. I think it was the most mountainous stage of any race ever seen at pro level.

Add in the cold weather to mean even more calories get burned up, not to mention the previous day’s leg busting climb of the Zoncolan and if there was every a welcome day of rest it’s today.

But what do the riders do? It varies. Many simply have nothing to do. Used to a daily routine of eating, racing, travelling and sleeping, suddenly there’s a change, a lot of time to waste. It’s welcome but can feel awkward too as time can pass slowly, stuck in a sleepy hotel in a ski resort normally that’s more at ease in winter.

Most riders ride
It might sound strange to ride if you’re close to exhaustion but it’s very different from a race. The body gets so used to racing that it expects effort every day. The riders will go for a spin but think of it as a “walk on the bike” instead and don’t forget these guys are used to racing hard every day. So a little ride is quite pleasant, some will do up to two hours but at an easy pace.

Gelateria

Rest and recovery?

Those who are injured will often ride too, but a much shorter ride. Some will stop for a coffee and since we’re in Italy, maybe a gelato too. One aim is to sweat, to stop water retention and you’ll see riders donning thermal wear for a ride even if it’s warm, plus nobody can afford a chill in case it weakens the body and a virus gets a head-start.

For the big names the day can be spent with press conferences, having to supply quotes to journalists needing to file stories on a day where there’s no action. It’s easy to sit in a room and hold court but all the same, minds as well as legs are tired. The top names have to earn their money today, whilst domestiques get to nap in bed.

Everyone will be eating. It’s easy to imagine a massive hunger but often riders are unable to replace the calories burned with ease. The trick is to eat plenty and graze in the day, taking on board extra energy when possible. But within reason, nobody wants to start the next day overloaded or bloated. It’s a chance to eat some protein and even red meat since there’s more time to digest it.

It’s also time to home, to update the blog, to read and to sleep. Many will be studying the Road Book in order to get information for the next few days. With only a few days left teams and riders alike are counting down the number of chances to win, especially for the Italian teams in what is their biggest race of the year.

Bundle May 23, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Good post. But better not mention red meat on a rest day. It can spark a discussion on the levels of veterinary cattle oversight in Spain..

Starr May 24, 2011 at 12:49 am

Water retention is the absolute worst. Guys that take the day off, end up having to squeeze their feet into their shoes and even worse, have blocked legs that do not free up until the second day.

The GC guys MUST ride at keast a coule hours and find a few short climbs or get behind the car to make a nice sweat. The thermals help as you say too.

Yates looking beast as ever in the above pic!

Tim May 24, 2011 at 9:41 am

Bikram yoga on rest day to avoid H2O retention (that’s a serious questions).

It gaunts the fk out of you.

Mark May 24, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Interesting post , I didn’t really know about the water retention thing , I just knew the riders would still do a couple of hours on the bike . Is that Sean Yates with the grey hair ??

James May 24, 2011 at 11:39 pm

It’s funny to see Sean Yates with long shorts on! He always raced in his mid thigh shorts.

Rider Council May 25, 2011 at 10:56 pm

They could gain a couple of kilos very fast if they ate too much on a rest day. By the way perfect pic of Hamilton in Phonak gear in front of the CSC bus on other post.

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