The Spin: rest day

Monday, 11 July 2011

There’s no racing today. Instead the riders have a so-called rest day. It’s a chance to recover from the first week but it’s hard to escape the race. Most riders will aim to do at least an hour on the bike if not two, even those with injuries will try to go for a spin or maybe sit on a stationery bike.

The riders will sleep for longer than usual and emerge for breakfast a bit more slowly. The normal race routine is broken twice, first because there’s no need to wolf down pasta and rice for breakfast and again because when riders go back to their hotel room they don’t have to pack because they’ve got another night in the same hotel.

You might think the last thing the riders want is a ride but the body gets used to it and the aim today is to ride gently, as if going for a walk rather than a run. This helps the muscles stay loose and also stops water retention, the chance to sweat stops the legs ballooning. It’s the easiest ride of the race and if the weather allows, some will stop for a coffee… or even an ice cream.

Some riders will get stuck into interviews and press conferences, the chance to supply the waiting media with the stories they need. Lesser riders will lounge in bed, get a massage and generally aim to do as little as possible. After all, they are in a hotel in rural France on a Monday, there is not a great deal happening.

Garmin hotel

Fit for a king of the mountains

Some teams get more rest than others. Garmin-Cervélo relax in a château ensconced in a private park with a swimming pool and its own restaurant. Each room has individual decoration, some even have jacuzzi baths. By contrast Liquigas get a chain hotel near a busy road junction where each room is probably smaller than the bathroom enjoyed by the Garmin guys.

Note some riders enjoy the rest day more than others. When the race resumes tomorrow, some will profit from the rest but others risk finding their legs feel like hardwood.

  • Finally, note the HTC-Highroad press conference could be a tough one as the team gave itself a deadline to find a new sponsor and today is the day.
GreaseMonster July 11, 2011 at 10:05 am

Nice update.
Is the hotel selection is it done at random with names out of a hat or will say Garmin be assured a spot in the local F1 motel chain at their next port of call to compensate for their luxury surroundings for last night and today? What is in place to stop bias or for example giving a Saxobank a run of bad hotels throughout their time in the Alps?

The Inner Ring July 11, 2011 at 10:13 am

Grease Monster: it’s random and fixed in advance. But some team seem luckier than others. See for more on the subject.

Alex July 11, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Isn’t the 2nd rest day the Highroad deadline?

Alex July 11, 2011 at 1:44 pm
Gingerflash July 11, 2011 at 2:52 pm
jsachse July 11, 2011 at 3:48 pm

You forgot one thing to mention: For some journalists the restday is also a chance to relaxe 😉 My tachometer says 3681km after 13days in France, time for a break!

Thanks for your daily service, it’s a great additional input to the main cycling sources.

Matt Rose July 11, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Cyclists do take advantage of the good hotels tho.

C Grade Cyclist July 12, 2011 at 4:26 am

I’ve always found the ‘science of the rest day’ fascinating… Intuitively, it makes sense to think that a full day of resting with the legs up would be best.

But of course the body is an amazing machine, so this idea that you need to actually keep riding to ensure your body doesn’t ‘shut down’ into full repair mode is incredible. I’m always interested to see who has a ‘flat’ day after the rest day, and who seems to be on fire…

Its a bit like the magical alchemy of trying to work out how to taper before an event – so many variables, and so many individual differences……

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