Pedal’s Off the Metal

Pedal’s Off the Metal

Dispatch by Lena Desmond
Photos by Daniel Puiatti

Four hundred and fifteen (415) kilometres of open road stretched before Dan and I, as we embarked on our third day of biking through the Eastern Townships. We started in Piopolis, a picturesque waterfront town that sits on the west of Lac-Mégantic. The town itself resembled my grandmother’s Christmas Village without the snow, and as it seems most towns here do, the little village has a colourful history. Founded in 1871 by the Papal Zouaves (Roman Catholic volunteers who assisted Pope Pius IX against Italian unification) they were given the village as a reward for their loyalty to the Pope. 

After taking in the view of Lac-Mégantic from Piopolis’s small pier we began with a daily stretch, loosening our hamstrings and trying to shake out our hips, and thankfully we did. The rest of the day would be comprised of stunning vistas… that we had to work for. 

So far I’ve learned that the top of a hill anywhere in the Eastern Townships boasts pastoral views that stretch far enough to make me forget the city even exists, and that the September air is warm enough to make me forget about winter, and that each day we’ve cycled I’ve been filled with bagels, cheese and maple sugar pie, which, every time, are enough to make me forget that the road is long and that in the Eastern Townships it often points up. That is, of course, until it does. 

To see the view, you have to get to the view. When you’re travelling light and biking for 10 days straight, this means a little self-care. Here’s a few strategies for post ride recovery that Dan and I have used. 

Fuel and Hydrate

With the fresh country air and constant visual stimulation, I found myself forgetting to take a pit stop and re-fuel. Thankfully, Dan has a pannier full of CLIF Bars and occasionally allows me to steal one from him. While fuelling up mid-ride gives me the energy to keep going, after a long ride, your glycogen stores are exhausted and your body is screaming for a replacement. The best remedy? Load up on carbohydrates within 30 minutes of getting off your bike.  

Stretch

In my heart, I am a yogi. So "stretch and strengthen" is my recommended plan for post-cycle recovery. Three poses I would recommend are pyramid pose, low lunge and thread-the-needle. Always use common sense while stretching and don't push yourself to the point where the stretch hurts. Also be sure to consult a physician before trying these poses.

Pyramid Pose

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Take a short Warrior I stance. Feet, hip width apart like you’re standing on train tracks, your front leg about two feet in front of your back leg. Press down through your feet, suction your femur bones back into the hip socket to keep your hips square and legs active. Hinge from your hips, keeping your spine long and fold your torso over your front leg. Always have a micro bend in your knees. You should feel a nice stretch in your hamstrings. After about five long, slow breaths, switch sides

Low Lunge

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Starting in downward dog, step your right foot between your hands and lower your back knee to the ground. Keeping your front knee over your front ankle, energetically draw your feet towards one another to activate your legs. Curl your tailbone under and lift your torso up. For this variation, you can keep your hands on your hips. For a deeper thigh stretch, catch your back toe, draw your sit bone back to meet it, and then gently lean forward until you feel the stretch in your back thigh. Trust me, you’ll know when you’ve gone far enough. After about five long, slow breaths, switch sides. 

Thread the Needle 

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Laying on your back, draw your right thigh into your chest. Place your left ankle over your right knee, ensuring that your left ankle bone is on the outside of your right thigh. Keep your ankle firm. Thread your hands around your right thigh, and gently pull your right thigh towards your chest, keeping your bottom positioned toward the floor. Press your ankle into your thigh and your thigh into your ankle. I would hold this one for a bit longer, around 15 seconds per side to get the full effect. 

Sleep

The most important thing in recovery is to catch some deep sleep. Your body needs time to repair. Developing a consistent sleep schedule is paramount!


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