Since I began really putting in the miles (for me anyway) on my bike, I've started to notice some things. For one, the more I ride, the more I love it. Also, the more I ride, the more my brain depends on that time in the saddle to behave normally. The other thing I have noticed is how much I needed to add to my off-bike routine in order to help my riding.
Something I have never done (even in my running days) is stretch. People have always told me to stretch, but I've managed alright without it. The more I ride, and the more I push my muscles, the more sore I get. I've actually found real benefit to stretching. It is especially important when I ride before work. On those days, I have high intensity in the morning, and then I sit still in front of my computer for the next 8 or 9 hours. This kills my legs. If, however, I take a few minutes to stretch during the day, I feel much better. I have much less soreness.
I've also found that eating is a big deal. I most often ride at the crack of dawn. Because of this, and my desire for more sleep, for years I would never eat any food before a ride. In fact, even if I rode in the afternoon, I'd try and avoid food altogether for hours before the ride.
I now make sure I take in a bunch of carbs right when I first get up in the morning--generally 30 minutes before I'm on the bike. At the same time, I try and take in some water to prepare me for all the sweating I'm about to do. I've found this helps me so I don't need to bring as much water, and so I have more energy.
The other time I try and tank up on food is right after a ride. I drink lots--usually chocolate milk--and eat high-carb foods. As I'm trying to loose weight as well, lately, I've been trying to cut out some of the fat, without avoiding the carbs.
During the ride, I've increased my intake as well. Not for short rides, mind you, but for longer rides I make sure and bring some form of energy gel (usually homemade, so I don't break the bank). On rides much longer than 2 hours, I try and have a bottle of energy drink (I like Cytomax, and Performance/Nashbar usually has it on the cheap) and an energy bar (currently, Balance Bars are my favorite). It is amazing how that can keep me going on a long ride--even when I start out tired and sore.
Overall, by stretching and eating-for-cycing, I've found I can ride more, and recover much faster. I also figured that I'd better learn to eat and ride at the same time for my longer rides like centuries and LOTOJA.