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Recovering in 40 Hours After Finishing Alta Alpina = Unprecedented — Using Bemer® Vascular Therapy Intensively

2018 Alta Alpina Challenge 8-Pass Challenge bib

Update: two weeks later, I had no soreness after The Death Ride in less than 24 hours. However, due to smoke air pollution I have no 'read' on recovery in terms of a ride; I did not ride for 3 days for fear of lung issues from the smoke (even so I ended up with phlegm in my lungs).


I’ve been holding off on fully endorsing the vascular therapy device (Bemer) that I have been using for 2.5 months because I wanted to be absolutely certain of its value before making any claims. It has solved various aches and pains for me and seems to help me sleep better, but that doesn’t make for convincing argument. Mainly I have been using it for faster athletic recovery and there it has been steadily impressing me.

The evidence that vascular therapy speeds recovery up for me has been piling up; when I used it intensively after the Central Coast Double I recovered in a bit over 2 days; it rapidly eliminated muscle soreness in spite of hours in the car.

When I failed to use it much after the Terrible Two (due to pressing web site issues) I took more like 5 days to recovery—which has been typical the past 8 years of doubles.

The other factor is protein; while I use and mix several protein sources, my “go to” protein after a double century or hard workout is Primal Feast as the dominant protein source for the first two days. Primal Feast seems to correlate strongly with regaining muscle strength and never upsets my stomach.

Recovering from Alta Alpina

The Alta Alpina 8-Pass Challenge is the hardest double century in the country; see the notes on that page and my 2018 Alta Alpina 8-Pass Challenge ride notes.

Normally, recovery for me takes 4-5 days (96 to 120 hours) for a double century, certainly 5 days for Alta Alpina given its difficulty. That undeniable fact is/was established over 6 years and 40 double centuries. Which makes recovery with the Bemer all the more remarkable—or am I really 6 years older and recovering in half time time—that idea is not very credible.

This year, I was totally wiped out after doing Alta Alpina. I couldn't eat more than two slices of watermelon after finishing and did not eat anything else until the next morning, so unpleasant did I feel (this happens with the really hard ones). The next day I was toast (listless and tired), probably due in part to the pine pollen allergy taking its toll.

But using vascular therapy, all soreness disappeared at 40 hours, in spite of no exercise and (worse) sitting in a car (driving) much of the day. At 43 hours after finishing Alta Alpina, I had complete recovery, unprecedented in 7 years of 39 double centuries.

“Complete” recovery

I define complete recovery as follows:

  • No soreness or tightness in legs or glutes.
  • Ability to spin comfortably and fluidly at 100+ rpm.
  • Ability to do a hard-effort workout for 2+ hours and have it feel good.

Basically, complete recovery mean I am ready to train again normally without reservation.

What I did to recover

I was so tired after completing Alta Alpina that it was all I could do to drive to my campsite and lay there like a dead thing starting at 11 PM, waking next morning sometime. So I had very little vascular therapy that night. Here is what I did to recover in the 40 hours following finishing:

  • On Sunday (the next day) I drove a few hours, using vascular therapy the whole time. I covered my entire back and front as well as the quads and gluteus muscles; just kept going over and over on the highest settings for a total of 7 hours or so. I napped and rested that day and slept early, though I had bronchospasm difficulties. That evening, I took the first of two 10mg prednisone tablets because I could not sleep due to discomfort in my lungs ( the next one the next day, and even as I write this 5 days after finishing, my lungs are still impaired).
  • On Monday, I headed for home (6 hour drive). I repeated the vascular therapy process, using vascular therapy continuously as I drove (not exactly good for blood flow to just sit there!). Three hours in, all soreness vanished. This was startling—I thought wow.
  • On Monday I arrived home about 15:30 (42 hours after finishing Alta Alpina), got on the bike around 16:30, sensed full recovery, and did a hard workout starting around 16:30, which is 43 hours after finishing Alta Alpina.

The proof

The graph below shows the high intensity workout I did starting 43 hours after finishing Alta Alpina, having just driven 6 hours to get home as per above.

Power levels including burst power were high (graph rounds bursts off but many bursts over 300 watts for short periods). The sustained wattage for me is as high as I’d do in this type of workout when fully rested, and the calorie burn (2000 calories) is no short or easy ride. I felt strong. The only problem: I got dehydrated and had only two GU energy gels, so I dialed it back starting around the 2 hours mark.

Contact me if you want to learn more about buying the vascular therapy device I am using. Especially if you are an athlete, I can provide guidance on how to use it for recovery from intensive training.

Hard workout only 43 hours after Alta Alpina 8-Pass Challenge
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