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Rest day? Intensity? When?

I'm wondering if there's a very basic method to rest and recovery before/after long/hard rides.

For example, I rode what I considered to be a very hard ride on Saturday. I also am going for a long ride saturday (to) and Sunday (from) at the weekend. Ideally, how long should you leave to recover? One day? Two? Should you have one, or two rest days before the next "big" ride?

I understand different people recover differently, and i'm not looking to race Le Tour next year! Lol. Just trying to improve fittness. But surely the rest days should be relatively similiar irrevleant of fittness? I.e. a fit person might do 100 miles over some big hills, and someone else could struggle just as hard going to the shops. But the advised rest afterwards/before are similiar.

Historically, I've aggitated tired limbs by coming back too early. This isn't really as much of an issue with cycling as my muscles take less of a bashing than other sports, but my quads are still feeling a bit stiff today!
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