Post-Ride Recovery Ales

Recovery Ale Recepticle
The cause of – and solution to – all of life’s problems.

The most important moment in a man’s life is the first time they have a beer. I place it on the list above sex and having a child because sex usually only happens as a direct result of drinking beer. As for having children, I’m given to understand they are poop factories at first, then promptly become loud, and then obnoxious before they resent you for the next fifteen years. If my math is right, it isn’t until after about twenty-five years that you can stand them and the investment starts paying off. Given the instant gratification of beer verses the ROI on child rearing, its not even a close. But the real clincher is that men love solving problems and there is no chance of solving problems if you don’t create them first.

As Cyclists, beer also forms an important part of our training regimen; after a day of crushing our opponents and laying down enormous helpings of The V, it is critical that we give our muscles the rest and nutrients they require in order to rebuild and become ever stronger. Required nutrients include things like carbohydrates, sugars, and proteins. As it happens, beer is made of things like – wait for it – carbohydrates, sugars, and proteins. According to alcoholic nutritionists I’ve spoken to as well as some recent studies, beer taken in moderation is the ideal recovery beverage after a hard workout.

But there’s that annoying word again, “moderation” – always with the moderation, these scientists. Apparently, you can’t go and get hammered every time you ride a bike or the alcohol will have other effects like making you fat, stupid, and bloated. Alcohol slows your metabolism and lowers your impulse control, which forms a double-whammy as after you get drunk and stuff your face, your body will have a harder time burning those extra calories.

When I started getting serious about losing weight and improving my climbing (this was immediately after my first ride up Haleakala), I completely ignored the possibility of giving up on booze as I’d much rather starve myself than stop drinking. But the fact is that dieting and training only yielded limited results. When I finally accepted the notion of reducing my alcohol intake, my weight started to drop and my riding immediately improved. The most surprising side effect was how much better my sleeping patterns became which also feeds into post-ride recovery.

I’ll never give up beer completely because I’d hate to be without problems to solve, but for anyone who is struggling to lose weight, take note: diet and exercise are key elements, but you won’t get there without taking a hard look at your alcohol consumption. I’m not suggesting you stop drinking altogether; drink a beer or two after riding to help your recovery, but beyond that alcohol will get in the way of reaching your goals. Unless your goal is to drink more, in which case I remind you that your liver is the only organ that can regenerate itself.

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145 Replies to “Post-Ride Recovery Ales”

  1. @ChrissyOne

    For many years I’ve been known at one of the Seattle tech industry’s most visionary drinkers. That reputation my be slightly mythologized (by me) to Dean Martin proportions, but like all good myths, it’s based on a grain of truth.
    I spent my 20″²s as a proud binge drinker, my Celtic and Germanic background clear advantages in the party sphere. This allowed me to cultivate a reputation as a heavyweight consumer, but also as A Professional. I don’t get falling down drunk. I great really, really intoxicated. The problem has always been that my iron German control enables me to be much more wasted than I look, and this leads me to unwise descisions and potentially harmful situations.
    Last summer, while still regularly drinking, I lost 23 pounds, mostly on the bike. And by drinking I mean at least 1/2 a bottle of wine per night, celebratory MRB’s, and liquor, mostly in the form of vodka, Fireball, and scotch to wash it down.
    But a confluence of events over the past year have forced me to take a long, difficult look at my drinking. The first being the fact that my best friend began a relationship with an alcoholic. Not a drinker, mind you. This person has no taste or moderation. This is a “put away as many ice-beers as possible” kind of guy. Not a bad chap when sober, but those fleeting moments grew increasingly rare as their love blossomed, so my friend and I began to drift apart. Her man’s performance at parties and other social functions made me less and less inclined to drink at all, as I felt someone had to be responsible if Shit Went Down.
    The other part was my performance on the bike. I’m getting the legs of my mid 20″²s back and it feels fantastic. It’s been 15 years since my guns were this magnificent. And back then, I could drink with the best and ride just as hard. But these days… well, the numbers don’t lie. Fucking Strava. But the numbers are there in black and orange. The more I drink, the less I perform.
    So ever since last fall, I’ve scaled back. As of the new year my drinking has become rare. I did a 130 km on Superbowl Sunday and recovered with a round of Fat Tire. Since then, nothing.
    I don’t really miss it – it became a habit, not always a pleasure. I don’t think I’ll ever *quit*, per se, because I’m not a quitter. But for now at least, I just need a break. Some space to grow.
    That said, I don’t really feel any different. And I’ve gained a little weight, but that’s perhaps only because I’ve traded alcoholism for an addiction to Snapple. The staff at my favorite Irish bar think I’m sick. My friends think I’ve been replaced by an android. The fact that it freaks people out so much that I’m *not* drinking tells me that I’m probably making the right choice.

    Good for you. If your friends are “freaked out” by your (almost) abstinence, then I think you’ve clearly made the right choice. I don’t know how old you are now (early 30ss?) but it sounds like you’re growing older and wiser.

  2. @wiscot

    Good for you. If your friends are “freaked out” by your (almost) abstinence, then I think you’ve clearly made the right choice. I don’t know how old you are now (early 30ss?) but it sounds like you’re growing older and wiser.

    You’re sweet. I’m 40.
    I’ve found that with a little work I can get back to the fitness of my 20’s. I just can’t seem to get back my tolerance. ;)

  3. Not sure who to respond to here, but this is someone that may have only a few beers only a few times per every 6 months — only. The single purposed beer before the ride (and this was the first group ride of the season last time) is just a standby last reserve idea that “just may work” for any of us.

  4. @prettymucheveryoneexceptFrank

    It feels like I’ve stepped into a long overdue Alcoholics Anonoymous meeting here – not something I was expecting from the V-community!

    I’m glad to see I’m not the only one to find the benefits of easing off the sauce. I like my booze, particularly beer, cider and wine (spirits less so, or they don’t like me anyway) to the point where ten years ago I’d think nothing of getting utterly shitfaced until the wee small hours and then racing motorbikes first thing in the morning. How I survived, I’ve no idea, but my results improved drastically when I stopped the race weekend booze-fests.

    This year however, I’ve gone almost the whole hog and managed a month with no booze followed by a night of curry and a couple of pints, and I’ve been dry since. I’m not going to keep it up permanently, as there’s way too much good wine to drink at home, but I’m hoping this is the last effort I need to go up another race cat. It’d better be worth it!

    Of course I’ve got to keep this going for as long as my regular training buddy does, as I’m not doing anything that makes it any harder to hold his wheel. Not that we’re at all competitive or anything…

    @kixsand

    Chapeau Sir, that is a big move indeed and well done for sticking to it. One day. Maybe. Once I empty the wine rack…

  5. @Gianni

    @EBruner

    @antihero

    Just one, mind you…any more than that saps your virility.

    Reminds of my favorite movie. “I don’t avoid women Mandrake, I just deny them my essence”

    Purity of Essence. P O E It might be my favorite movie also.

    Peter Sellers. Fucking genius. Right there in the Brilliant Folks Who Went Too Soon File.

    Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!

    or

    Well, let me finish, Dmitri. Let me finish, Dmitri. Well, listen, how do you think I feel about it? Can you imagine how I feel about it, Dmitri? Why do you think I’m calling you? Just to say hello?

    It is no surprise, Gianni-Boy, that every time you and I talk about shit that gots to get done, we say, “Lets put it on the big board!”

  6. @Jamie

    I don’t drink any more.

    That said, I don’t drink any less either.

    Ba-da-bum!

    Badum-tiisssssssss.

  7. @ChrissyOne

    Good stuff! 

    I know for me, when I was struggling with the decision to quit…it was very isolating.  I felt like I was the only one in the world that was having a problem with alcohol.  None of my friends were talking about quitting or the fact that they were drinking too much.  Alcohol was one of my very best friends and I had to make the decision alone to cut that friend loose. 

    Now that I’ve quit it’s obvious to me how many of my friends and family and co-workers are struggling the same way I was.  I’ve had several people approach me over the past couple of years wanting to know why and how I quit and admitting that they’ve been contemplating the same.  If you take a close look at your list of favourite actors and musicians you’ll find a very large number of them now abstinent.

    I like to think that each of us has a certain number of drinks available to them before things get bad.  Some of us make it to the number a little earlier than others.  Some can make the number last a lifetime.  Some blow by the number without the self awareness to avoid ending up divorced or unemployed or maybe even dead.

  8. I actually just took a full week off. Yup, slept better, felt more energy and didn’t really miss it all that much. It was good though, as I do drink regularly and kind of thought I’d miss it, but I didn’t.

    I do enjoy the mellowness of having a few drinks, as I have too much energy most of the time, but it’s nice to cut back every so often. Plus, makes it more fun when you pick a party or an evening or whatever to have a few. Such as tonight, post-futbol. Nothing like a few beers after two hours of running.

  9. Oh, but I have recently started drinking more, on purpose. The VMH decided last week that our current Velomidoggie had reached middle age and simply couldn’t live without a dog pal.

    Despite my protestations (it’ll cut into the Budgetatus!), we now have a ten-week old pup. Good lord. I’d post a photo, but there has already been a Cat in a Hat posted…

  10. Oh beer how I love thee. Somewhere there’s a photo of me barely old enough to walk sucking the suds out of Grandpa’s Rainer Beer.

    The trick is as a lot of you have already stated: moderation. As Frank and Geoff can attest, I can get some beers down the gullet. A beer after work or after a ride is super nice, tho I’ve been finding that as I get “on in years” it’s harder to drop that winter spare tire. I suppose if I wanted to be super tip top condition wise, I need to move to a dry county in Kentucky, or to a country that prohibits it’s consumption. But neither of those things are going to happen.

  11. @kixsand

    Ha! This is true!

    Our bodies convert alcohol to sugar. Remove the alcohol and your body still wants sugar. I went from never eating a chocolate bar or ice cream or really dessert of any kind to where I now have to indulge from time to time!

    I LOVE ice cream but have given it up (even the frozen yogurt blend stuff) because my cholesterol is on the high side (and my Dad had a history of this – and heart disease – as well). I do miss it, however. I went for a physical once and the doctor would not tell me over the phone what my number was or that he wanted to talk to me about cutting it (ice cream) out. So, he referred to it as my ‘dietary indiscretions.’ I had no idea what he was talking about and thought I was somehow cheating on ice cream with donuts (I love them too) and didn’t realize it. Anyway, I need to cut out the sweets as well – probably still too many of those. As far as alcohol, I drink a little red wine (good for the blood and heart) with dinner and that’s about it.

  12. @PeakInTwoYears

    All things in moderation. Including moderation.

    Watch out, or @andrew will get you:

    @andrew

     

    Trans-fats in moderation? Added sugar in moderation? Heroin in moderation?

    No thanks. All three will fuck your shit up, even if you’ll get arguments from some quarters.

     

  13. @scaler911

    Somewhere there’s a photo of me barely old enough to walk sucking the suds out of Grandpa’s Rainer Beer.

    Hah, there is a picture of me like this too.  One of the first things I remember learning to say is “daddy can I have a sip of beer?”  Having grown up in St. Louis in the ’70s, the “beer” was actually Budweiser.

  14. @Ron

    Oh, but I have recently started drinking more, on purpose. The VMH decided last week that our current Velomidoggie had reached middle age and simply couldn’t live without a dog pal.

    Despite my protestations (it’ll cut into the Budgetatus!), we now have a ten-week old pup. Good lord. I’d post a photo, but there has already been a Cat in a Hat posted…

    Our pup has grown up – she’s about a year and change now. Don’t let this photo fool you; she is still totes cray-cray. Strap in for the long haul, dude, but once you get past the potty training, you should be all clear for the worst of it.

  15. Ha! We were going through photo albums over the holidays and there was one of my Old Man in just a pair of shorts, aged probably five, and he was sharpening a knife at an outdoor flywheel sharpener his father had set up at their house. Both of them love a razor sharp kitchen or hunting knife.

    And when I spoke to my father this weekend he told me a new story. He’s spending February with my mother down in FL to avoid all the snow in the north. Well, the kitchen knives at their rental condo weren’t cuttin’ it. So, he found some smooth enough garden blocks at their place and used those to sharpen the knives. A full-time resident came out and asked him what the hell he was doing.

  16. Great photo, Frank! Looks like Queen of the Land…I can imagine the weeds as tall trees that’s she’s towering over.

    Chrissy –

  17. I really enjoyed the first two paragraphs of this article. The rest of it and all of your comments have mostly just made me feel bad about myself. I thought my policy of generally stopping after 2-3 MRBs was prudent, but it seems perhaps I need to reconsider.

  18. I guess the reconciliation that has to be made in the bike versus beer debate is this: after a few, moderate kilometers, you feel great, after too many kilometers you feel bad – but in a good way. After a couple of beers you feel great, but after too many beers you feel bad – in a bad way.

    (And yes, before the smart-arses point it out, I know there’s no such thing as too many kilometers, but you know what I mean.)

  19. @KW

    @PeakInTwoYears

    All things in moderation. Including moderation.

    Watch out, or @andrew will get you:

    @andrew

    Trans-fats in moderation? Added sugar in moderation? Heroin in moderation?

    No thanks. All three will fuck your shit up, even if you’ll get arguments from some quarters.

    Hah, I like the way you couldn’t think of anything to respond with on another thread, but saved it up to drop here.  Elegantly done.

    PeakInTwoYears has humour on his side, though, of course.

  20. Until the Gin act of 1751 London was said to have one Gin shop for every 120 citizens.  By 1743 the labouring poor of England were consuming 8 million gallons of Gin per year.  (Source The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes).

    Though the total population in 1750 was about 6 million so I guess 8 million gallons over the whole population might not sound too bad but I don’t know what number constituted “the labouring poor”.

  21. Overall, I find it very interesting that many of the people speaking up here are admitting to doing a lot of over-drinking. I’m curious what reaction this topic would have in other Cycling communities?

    Is this a Cycling-wide tendency to over-indulge in booze or is it us obsession-prone Velominati who are also inclined to indulge in other areas outside of just Cycling.

    Personally, I’m very aware of how obsessive my personality is; if I were to get into drugs it would be a bad thing. But nearly everything I do is done with a giant on/off switch – I either neglect something almost entirely or do it with full commitment.

  22. @frank

    But nearly everything I do is done with a giant on/off switch – I either neglect something almost entirely or do it with full commitment.

    I suspect that could have a common theme here.  It certainly holds for me.  Rugby, then Yacht Racing, then Skiing, current Cycling all pretty obsessively in turn.  Beer seems to have been a common theme throughout though.  However, like a number of comments, when you hit a certain age you do find you have a reduced tolerance (or at least reduced recovery ability) to alcohol.  Not that I’d ever consider myself to have been an excessive drinker.

  23. One of my favorite jerseys.

    I don’t drink beer. I drink good beer. If offered a Bud/Coors/Miller/etc, I politely respond that I don’t drink, and take water. This saves the caloric warehouse space for a nice belgian or domestic craft brew. Also, craft beers are more satisfying and are around the same calories as piss beer, so you actually drink fewer and enjoy them more. Works for me.

  24. @fignons barber

    One of my favorite jerseys.

    I don’t drink beer. I drink good beer. If offered a Bud/Coors/Miller/etc, I politely respond that I don’t drink, and take water. This saves the caloric warehouse space for a nice belgian or domestic craft brew. Also, craft beers are more satisfying and are around the same calories as piss beer, so you actually drink fewer and enjoy them more. Works for me.

    Generally, I’m not a fan of “Beer” jerseys, but I’d wear that one.

  25. @kixsand Chapeau. That is quite an undertaking.

    I’ve found myself questioning my drinking on a number of occasions over the last few years. It was triggered by a mate finally accepting that he had a serious problem and that he would loose his family if he didn’t quit. I wouldn’t put myself in that bracket by any measure but it make me take a good look at why I drink the way that I do.

    At the end of the day I realised that my habits had already changed significantly before I started to question things – I’d already given up drinking during the week unless there was good cause to, proper celebrations and the like and drinking at the weekend had been cut back to one night at most. The bottom line was that whilst I really enjoy drinking, whether it be a a good wine with diner or getting utterly wankered on sambuca and absinthe with some mates at a bbq, it wasn’t the driving force that it had been.

    I don’t know how much of that has to do with the onset or age but i certainly do find that any sort of drinking beyond a single glass of wine with diner can be felt for days afterwards on the bike. That’s a good thing, drinking rarely even gets considered when I’m riding a lot.

  26. @frank

    Overall, I find it very interesting that many of the people speaking up here are admitting to doing a lot of over-drinking. I’m curious what reaction this topic would have in other Cycling communities?

    Is this a Cycling-wide tendency to over-indulge in booze or is it us obsession-prone Velominati who are also inclined to indulge in other areas outside of just Cycling.

    Personally, I’m very aware of how obsessive my personality is; if I were to get into drugs it would be a bad thing. But nearly everything I do is done with a giant on/off switch – I either neglect something almost entirely or do it with full commitment.

    Frank, I think that as Velominati, we tend to be a bit committed and obsessive about things. That might explain a bit of the heavy drinking mentioned by some contributors. However, the general tone seems to have been: wild younger days, growing up, developing taste, realizing there are better, more mature things to do.

    I have to say, I’ve been very pleased, nay proud, at the courage shown by some posters to share stories. Now I know that on here, identities and real names can be hidden, but every story carried the weight of honesty and the replies were compassionate and thoughtful. This is what makes this a special community. In most others, quite a few replies would have to be moderated or at the least been childish and disrespectful.

  27. @frank

    Overall, I find it very interesting that many of the people speaking up here are admitting to doing a lot of over-drinking. I’m curious what reaction this topic would have in other Cycling communities?

    Is this a Cycling-wide tendency to over-indulge in booze or is it us obsession-prone Velominati who are also inclined to indulge in other areas outside of just Cycling.

    Personally, I’m very aware of how obsessive my personality is; if I were to get into drugs it would be a bad thing. But nearly everything I do is done with a giant on/off switch – I either neglect something almost entirely or do it with full commitment.

    I would posit that our community here is somewhat unique in being able to self examine and discuss an issue like this in an open and honest fashion.  Many other subsets of the general population would not be so reflective and/or forthcoming. 

    I’m with you Frank on the obsessive personality.  I’m either all in or all out – or as has been the case with drinking…I was all in and now I’m all out.

  28. @wisco

    Generally, I’m not a fan of “Beer” jerseys, but I’d wear that one.

    yes, I know what you mean. This is actually an old small time belgian team. It has a number of other sponsors on it (mitsubishi heavy trucks, some belge maintenance company, and a few others).

  29. @fignons barber

    Yes that’s my approach. Increase the quality and decrease the consumption. Applies to beer, wine, food and coffee. I haven’t had and instant “coffee” for 30 years.

  30. @wiscot

    I have to say, I’ve been very pleased, nay proud, at the courage shown by some posters to share stories. Now I know that on here, identities and real names can be hidden, but every story carried the weight of honesty and the replies were compassionate and thoughtful. This is what makes this a special community. In most others, quite a few replies would have to be moderated or at the least been childish and disrespectful.

    You’ve captured my sentiment exactly – very nicely said.

  31. @frank
    How the fuck does a good-natured article about beer lead onto some daisy chain of faux-alcoholics making quasi-confessionals whilst giving each other mutual handspanks?

     From the sounds of it, you fuckers wouldn’t know hard drinking from a hard game of tennis.

     “ooh I think I had a problem because I got pissed at a couple of work functions/ had a few bules with the missus/ and made an arse of myself so I have now cut back my drinking.” Fuck me, that isnt alcholism, that’s called becoming an adult. 

    Please – to all you young kids out there reading this. Dont listen to these wowsers and make changes to your life that aren’t required. You can combine hard cycling and functional alcoholism – just ask Stuey O’Grady.

     

    If you haven’t had

  32. @Marcus Alcoholism must pale in to comparison with the issues brought on by your convent upbringing and dirty love for compression socks.

    @Marcus

    If you haven’t had

    It would also appear that you’re drifting off in to some sort of early onset angry old git senility, forgetting what you’re saying mid rant.

  33. @Chris
    ah yes, I have been racing bikes over many years, yet do one ironman and now I am a dirty triathlete. Reminds me of the story of Henri the Famous French Fighter Pilot.

    “I shoot down 12 German planes. Do they call me Henri the Famous French Fighter Pilot. Non. But I suck one cock…”

    er yes, i got stopped mid-point (if there was one), then the phone rang, so i pressed the button.

  34. On the subject of the connection between being a Velominatus and being a drinker, perhaps Charles Baudelaire has an apropos observation:

    “One should always be drunk. That’s all that matters… But with what? With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you choose. But get drunk.”

    The “drunk” I feel after 150 hard kilometers with good friends beats anything from a bottle, (not to say that I don’t try to enhance it with something from a bottle).

  35. @wiscot

    I guess the reconciliation that has to be made in the bike versus beer debate…

    Versus? Versus? I can’t have one while loving the other now? I just feel so dirty!

  36. @KW

    @PeakInTwoYears

    All things in moderation. Including moderation.

    Watch out, or @andrew will get you:

    @andrew

    Trans-fats in moderation? Added sugar in moderation? Heroin in moderation?

    No thanks. All three will fuck your shit up, even if you’ll get arguments from some quarters.

    They might. There’s an interesting-looking new book out by a neuropsychopharmacologist at Columbia that says it depends. I know people who have used “hard drugs” in moderate doses with moderate frequency over long periods of time and exhibited none of the clinical signs of addiction. I myself even put sugar–processed white sugar–in my tea occasionally. 

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacobsullum/2013/11/04/everything-youve-heard-about-crack-and-meth-is-wrong/

  37. @Marcus

    And look – this guy just got engaged – to a 21yo porn star no less. See! You can have it all!

    …except all of your own teeth!!!

  38. @Marcus

    Please – to all you young kids out there reading this. Dont listen to these wowsers and make changes to your life that aren’t required. You can combine hard cycling and functional alcoholism – just ask Stuey O’Grady.

    If you haven’t had

    Ha! You couldn’t even *lift* the amount of ecstasy I’ve done!

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