There have been a lot of discussions on nutrition, motivation, and plenty of other weight loss topics, plus things like hydration and such, that people need a good understanding of to cycle. I'm hoping most of us can benefit from talking about how different ways of biking affect the calorie "burn" rate. What can we do to make our cycling as energy inefficient as possible, without sacrificing comfort?
My tips are a bit vague, but come down to this: knowledge is power. Get a heart rate monitor. Ideally, get a GPS, and a heart monitor that can talk to it. If you've got a GPS that can get track logs into your computer, download a free piece of software called SportTracks. Among other things like making maps and elevation plots for your rides, it will tell you how many calories you burned. ( If you know this for the exercise you do, and your "base" daily caloric needs, suddenly you know how many calories to eat in a day. )
But I'm hoping people have more specific info. Going faster burns more calories than moving more slowly, because you're working harder, with some obvious exceptions. On the other hand, it makes more sense to think of calories per hour, not per mile. I'm guessing you burn more energy going 10 miles in one hour, than in two hours, though. Hills are hard work, and reward your waistline, but are you better off climbing 1,800 vertical feet on a ride, or putting that energy into more time on flat ground?
How closely is your heart rate correlated with your calorie burn rate? Does it make sense to try and hold yourself in the "fat burning zone" ( 60 to 70 % )? It feels lazy to me; I enjoy pushing myself up to the "red line zone" and then backing down, trying to stay anaerobic for a few minutes, down to aerobic, then back up and down. Sometimes I climb hills for this reason. I just feel like I've had a better workout, and the flood of endorphins means I'm never too sore. My resting rate is down to somewhere in the low 50s, so this isn't terribly dangerous in my case ... but I'd suggest that anybody who wants to push their heart like this should ease into it.
Any more tips for people who want to get the most exercise out of their bike?