Rest days are probably the least exciting thing anyone can write about. But sometimes, they produce the most exciting results. You know the Monty Python sketch, where the story starts to unfold, the plot thickens, and… Nothing Happens! That’s a good rest day.
Since I hate to waste perfectly good weather off the bike, I’ve been taking rest days only when there is no chance of riding. Sometimes those days are not so restful. Last weekend, I took my longest break since June. We were celebrating our eldest daughter’s marriage, staying up late, dancing and partying. In the days that followed, it began to dawn on me just how long it was going to take to recover from all that excitement. I had no desire to move, let alone get on my bike. So the two rest days I had planned turned into four, and I worried it would set me back.
Heading out on the River Road for my first post-wedding ride, I decided to just go slow, enjoy the day and the view. It was perfect—no wind, low 20’s, not a cloud in the sky or (fortunately) a rabbit in sight. So when I finished the route, I circled back and rode most of it again.
Turns out slowing down and taking time to recover was the best thing I could have done. I’ve gone faster and farther on both flat and hilly routes this week, set new PRs, and even had the good sense to take yet another day off when my body said so, and not because of the weather (well…the weather wasn’t great).
Rest days just seem unproductive. There is nothing to show for them, no PRs, no stories of wild weather, grit and determination. We don’t log rest days, they just appear as a yawning gap in the chart. Yet they are an essential part of the long game, being able to do exactly this for years… for decades to come.
With age comes the wisdom (okay, necessity) to finally pay attention to our inner personal trainer. The one who for years has been jumping up and down, telling us to slow down, take a break, enjoy the ride.
If we find a way to celebrate those days when Nothing Happens! every bit as much as that new PR, there will be no end to the roads we can travel.