Recovery rides. What is the function?

How do you view recovery rides? Is the thought that they help you recover better/quicker than you would if you just stayed off the bike? Or is it more like the lowest level of exertion that allows you to recover somewhat?

I ask because I am fairly inexperienced to structured training, and 49 YO. Currently, I am nearing the end of SSBLV, which I have modified so that a lot of the 1 hour rides become 45 min, and the 90 min become 60. I am cheating it because currently my work is pretty physical, and in an unheated space in winter in Maine. I am also skiing a few times a week, and I am tired and sore pretty much all of the time. Sometimes I wonder if throwing in a 30 minute recovery ride here and there on off days would help me feel better, or if it would just add to the load and fatigue.

Interested to hear your opinions. Thanks all!

General idea of a recovery ride is to warm the muscles, encourage blood flow, aid in minimising delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS, and keep metabolism ticking (burn a few easy calories).

Recovery rides should be dead easy though, like 50% FTP or less and keeping the heartbeats low. Nice low gear and just spinning. You should be able to breathe through your nose.

If you are sore from your daily grind and exercise then a recovery ride will aid you. You may not feel the benefits early on, but stick at it and it will really help.



Really need to keep it easy… like so easy that you are barely even pedalling!

Lots of people do these 60-65% FTP rides and are like “recovery”, no, you’re doing z2 and its very much not recovery.

Gotta go low to reap the fruits :wink:


Honestly - if you are pretty physical actively in the day, a recovery ride might be a waste of your time.

Maybe try some yoga or stretching instead…

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If you do a half-hour recovery workout, such as Dans - TrainerRoad for example, the workout instructions discuss all the pros and cons of recovery workouts (as opposed to simply resting).

I think the workout notes are a distillation of this article: L1 Recovery: An Updated Understanding - TrainerRoad Blog

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i much prefer just going for a walk to warm up, then stretch and hit some yoga poses. It also keeps the mind away from having to kit up, get ready for the ride, etc…and then I miss the bike a bit, which keeps the fire HOT, excited for the next day’s ride.

I’d save the time and do something else.


I do all of my riding outside now and do recovery rides mostly in the little ring and keep the power numbers under my heart rate.

I used to take days off and found the next day I’d feel kinda stale and blocked up. A lot of people would hate it, but I started doing recovery rides in erg mode (to force me to behave) and don’t have that stale feeling any more. Does it actually improve my recovery? Who knows. I do it because it subjectively makes me feel better and there are other aspects of riding (mind-body connection, etc.) I can enjoy at the same time. I do something similar to Lazy Mountain / Lazy Mountain -1.

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I could only get myself to do them if I stuck a skills section at the end. 30 minutes or so of embarrassingly slow riding around followed by goofing around doing a 1 person parking space crit or picking up/putting down bottles, etc.

That said, I skip them a lot of the time.

Thanks everybody for your responses. I just did Dans instead of the prescribed workout, planning to get back to it tomorrow. It was real nice and easy.