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  1. #1
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    I am Fat AND Slow!

    Got a question about speed.

    I'm 6'1" tall and 281# as of my recent weekly weigh-in. I've been riding (and losing about 40+ pounds) for about 5 years. However, I'm not sure that either my speed or stamina has increased all that much; generally (when it's warm enough around here to ride outdoors), I cover about 10 miles, riding for one hour.

    Should I be expecting to get faster and/or stronger, and, if so, how? Or am I just too old (62) to expect much improvement at this point? It's not like I was expecting to race anytime soon, but I was kinda hoping some day to be able to participate in group rides, most of which seem to start at about 12-14 mph.

    Thanks for any thoughts, info, etc.

  2. #2
    Senior Member ill.clyde's Avatar
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    In order to get fast you have to go fast ... begin by increasing your speed while riding.

    It's also partly a product of what kind of bike you're riding too. Fat tired bikes are a little bit harder to make go faster.

    That said, I'm 6'3", 288 this morning and I typically average around 15 mph on the bike when riding outdoors. So if I can do it, you can do it.

  3. #3
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    First, if you haven't had a checkup in a while, it's not a bad idea as if you are not improving you are going to have to make some changes to advance. Your physician can tell you if problems like low thyroid hormone, diabetes/prediabetes, or low testosterone are contributing to your problem and can make sure your heart is in good enough shape for an increase in exercise. Forget about being "too old", you can certainly make improvements, you've already lost 40# and been riding.

    A lot of riders fall into a routine that has become comfortable and then fail to see why they don't continue to improve. If you ride the same routes, with the same frequency and intensity, and continue to eat the same way, you will hit a plateau and stay there. Losing weight will definitely result in improved performance, so addressing nutrition (especially portion size and total calories) is a big first step. You don't have to, or even want to, crash diet. Just cut back 15% on your total calories. Make your biggest reductions in the less nutritious foods, but don't think you have to give up all the foods you like, just reduce frequency and portion size until you start seeing results. I find that keeping track of everything you eat for a few days each month provides a good reality check as most people have absolutely no idea what or how much they are eating and underestimate the number of calories. Doing this a few days a month also helps prevent portion drift, where that 4 oz burger patty becomes a 6 oz patty, then an 8 oz patty and you still have the mindset of "I just had a hamburger for dinner".

    At the same time, keep track of your riding for a week without intentionally making changes. Just knowing you are writing it down will likely result in some increase in intensity but you are looking to establish your baseline. Pay attention not only to the time, speed and number of miles, but also to the difficulty of the terrain, your riding style, and perceived exertion (intensity). If you're never breathing hard, feeling some muscle discomfort or cracking a sweat, chances are you aren't challenging yourself very much. Once you have your baseline, make some changes. One of the easiest is to add some intervals of increased intensity. For example, if you are riding for an hour, you could decide that you are going to ride as hard as you can for 60 seconds, once every 10 minutes aka six intervals of 1 minute high intensity: 9 minutes rest. Other examples would be to add a percentage of distance or cutting your time by a certain number of minutes each week. With your doctor's blessing, push yourself hard enough to breathe heavy, feel your heart beat faster and harder, and your muscles to get a bit uncomfortable on 3-5 rides a week. Take a rest day at least once a week and ride recreationally at a comfortable pace.

    As your fitness improves, keep finding new challenges. Try some hills, sprint from time to time, pick a longer route, etc. You don't have to beat yourself into the ground, but being sore and tired a couple times a week is a good thing.

    At the same time, make some other fitness changes in your life. Walk more, do some stretching in the morning and before and after rides, take the stairs more often. One place I worked was an industrial park that had MUPs and sidewalks winding through park-like areas between building complexes. I started taking walking lunches where I would take my sandwich and instead of sitting in the break room, I'd go for a 20-minute walk. I found that not only did my energy increase, but I ate less and saved money by not hitting the vending machines for chips, pop or a candy bar to go with my sandwich.
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  4. #4
    Big Boned Biker IAMAMRA's Avatar
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    I ride a hybrid and go about 10moh..hoping to upgrade to a more roadie style and pick up some mph. I did notice some slight increase when I went from 32's to 28mm. I agree on the interval training and is what I am planning on doing as well.
    www.BigBonedBiker.Wordpress.com

  5. #5
    Senior Member ill.clyde's Avatar
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    +1 on intervals ... a great way to improve performance

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    Tires make a huge difference. If you are running average tires, upgrading to something like 32 or 35mm Vittoria Randonneur Voyagers might add 1-2mph to your average. If you are riding particularly "slow" tires, the Vittorias might add even more.

    I will note that by "good" I'm referring to how the tires are constructed and what they are constructed from, rather than width.


    Good tires are not cheap but they are a worthwhile investment.....probably the best investment a person can make for their bike. The first time I upgraded it took a long time to commit to doing it and it was painful but once I saw how much difference good tires makes, I was convinced. If I had a specific ride planned and my research told me that a $150 set of tires were the best for that ride, I wouldn't hesitate to buy them.
    Last edited by corwin1968; 02-12-14 at 09:35 AM.
    Currently riding a 2013 Handsome Devil custom build and an early 90's Specialized Rockhopper Single-Speed.

  7. #7
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    Other than the things that have been mentioned; tires, intervals, bike type, something that has helped me greatly was getting a cadence meter. There were sections of my normal route that I thought I was going pretty good on, but the numbers told me otherwise. Once I got myself into a more efficient zone for most of my ride, my speed went way up.

  8. #8
    Crawlin' up, flyin' down bikingshearer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ill.clyde View Post
    In order to get fast you have to go fast ... begin by increasing your speed while riding.
    Ultimately, it all coms down to this. The only way to learn to go faster is to go faster. At first, it will only be for a little bit. But if you keep at it, you'll be able to hold that higher speed for a little longer, then a little longer yet, and so on. And no, I don't see your age as a reason to assume you can't go any faster.

    BTW, the same is true of going up hills.

    All this assumes, of course, that you want to go faster or go up hills. That part is for you teo decide. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this. The idea is to enjoy the ride, not turn cycling into just another unpleasant way to work up a sweat.
    "I'm in shape -- round is a shape." Andy Rooney

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    Thanks for all the suggestions. I'm looking forward to trying them out.

  10. #10
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    I think a few people are missing the point (or maybe it was me) but I think Amishboy is looking to improve his fitness and performance more than just gain a couple MPH. Better tires and new bikes are fine and can help with overall speed, but a 280# man riding at 10 mph will benefit far more from a weekly interval session or two and a 10% reduction in bodyweight than he will from $1,000s in equipment upgrades. I find it humorous, sometimes sad, when I'm in the LBS and some guy who is obviously 30, 40, 50+ pounds overweight is dropping big bucks on a carbon fiber seatpost or magnesium pedals to improve performance. I'm not making fun of overweight Clydes, I am one, but my tires being 50g too heavy is not my biggest problem.
    Lead, follow or get out of the way

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Myosmith View Post
    I think a few people are missing the point (or maybe it was me) but I think Amishboy is looking to improve his fitness and performance more than just gain a couple MPH.
    I don't know about that. I share his wish to gain a few mph, as long as the ride is still enjoyable and not a struggle and full-on effort to keep up with the other riders involved.

    I am 200 pounds, 6'2", 58 years old and able to run, albeit slowly, a couple of miles any time I want.

    Yesterday, I put 12 miles on my hybrid, averaging less than 11 mph on pretty much flat urban concrete multi-use trail at what I considered a good pace for me....an exercise pace. I have a bike that I believe fits me well, has street tires (not mountain bike...), and is maintained well. Someone that appeared to be heavy for his height passed me on a mountain bike with wider tires, knees out to the sides, easily doing 3-4 mph faster than me without any signs that he was trying hard. Is it me? Is it my bike? Is it the Wald baskets and other things that probably add 15 pounds to my bike? Would I be faster on a Craigslist $150 Miyata 110 (like I was checking out today for this very reason)?

    I'm thinking about getting something like that Miyata just for organized bike rides. I really have no use for a faster bike for any day-in, day-out bike riding. I enjoy the utility and practicality of the one I have.


    Brian

  12. #12
    Senior Member ill.clyde's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Myosmith View Post
    I think a few people are missing the point (or maybe it was me) but I think Amishboy is looking to improve his fitness and performance more than just gain a couple MPH. Better tires and new bikes are fine and can help with overall speed, but a 280# man riding at 10 mph will benefit far more from a weekly interval session or two and a 10% reduction in bodyweight than he will from $1,000s in equipment upgrades. I find it humorous, sometimes sad, when I'm in the LBS and some guy who is obviously 30, 40, 50+ pounds overweight is dropping big bucks on a carbon fiber seatpost or magnesium pedals to improve performance. I'm not making fun of overweight Clydes, I am one, but my tires being 50g too heavy is not my biggest problem.
    He lead with a question about speed ... and yes, fitness gains will equate to speed.

    My point was, to get fast, you have to go faster, meaning, you ride harder (at your threshold) during your training/normal rides. It matters not what tires you're running or bike you're riding. Riding harder = more calories burnt = (assuming correct diet or eating at a deficit) weight loss = speed. Intervals are a great way to do this.

    I never said to invest in a new bike. I suggested thinner tires IF he was riding on fat tires, but I didn't tell him specifically that would be a panacea. To make the bike go faster you invest in the engine, not the bike.

    I'm a little taller than him, and at this moment about 7 pounds heavier than him. I can easily average 15 mph on either my roadie or my cx/commuter bike. He can too, IF he's willing to put in the time to make the fitness gains.

  13. #13
    Nigel nfmisso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Myosmith View Post
    I think a few people are missing the point (or maybe it was me) but I think Amishboy is looking to improve his fitness and performance more than just gain a couple MPH. Better tires and new bikes are fine and can help with overall speed, but a 280# man riding at 10 mph will benefit far more from a weekly interval session or two and a 10% reduction in bodyweight than he will from $1,000s in equipment upgrades. I find it humorous, sometimes sad, when I'm in the LBS and some guy who is obviously 30, 40, 50+ pounds overweight is dropping big bucks on a carbon fiber seatpost or magnesium pedals to improve performance. I'm not making fun of overweight Clydes, I am one, but my tires being 50g too heavy is not my biggest problem.
    DITTO !!!!

    1st double check your health. 2nd make sure that you are eating the right kinds of foods to take care of your muscles - the most important muscle is your heart. For me carbs are not good, protein and leafy greens are good for me - everyone is different.

    Not mentioned above, a riding partner will usually provide a dramatic increase in performance. A little competition causes most people to push harder.

    As noted, equipment changes should be on the bottom of your list, as they will not improve your health at all.
    Nigel
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dermbrian View Post
    I don't know about that. I share his wish to gain a few mph, as long as the ride is still enjoyable and not a struggle and full-on effort to keep up with the other riders involved.

    I am 200 pounds, 6'2", 58 years old and able to run, albeit slowly, a couple of miles any time I want.

    Yesterday, I put 12 miles on my hybrid, averaging less than 11 mph on pretty much flat urban concrete multi-use trail at what I considered a good pace for me....an exercise pace. I have a bike that I believe fits me well, has street tires (not mountain bike...), and is maintained well. Someone that appeared to be heavy for his height passed me on a mountain bike with wider tires, knees out to the sides, easily doing 3-4 mph faster than me without any signs that he was trying hard. Is it me? Is it my bike? Is it the Wald baskets and other things that probably add 15 pounds to my bike? Would I be faster on a Craigslist $150 Miyata 110 (like I was checking out today for this very reason)?

    I'm thinking about getting something like that Miyata just for organized bike rides. I really have no use for a faster bike for any day-in, day-out bike riding. I enjoy the utility and practicality of the one I have.


    Brian
    Hmmm.... A skinny tired hybrid should should have no issue keeping a pace above 10 mph on flat stuff. My slick - equipped MTB gets me a 12mph average with some nice hills thrown in. Have you tried achieving a higher speed and holding it there for a while? Results?
    "I had this baby hand made in Tuscany, from titanium blessed by the pope. It weighs less than a fart, and costs more than a divorce..."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Erwin8r View Post
    Hmmm.... A skinny tired hybrid should should have no issue keeping a pace above 10 mph on flat stuff. My slick - equipped MTB gets me a 12mph average with some nice hills thrown in. Have you tried achieving a higher speed and holding it there for a while? Results?
    They're not real skinny. They're 700 x 38mm and I run them at 60psi. I'd love to go narrower, but have to research again what my rims allow.

    I am going to be riding a lot more this spring than I have been. We now have a bike rack at work, so I intend to commute a couple of days a week. I'm also just starting to train for the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, held in November, so my general fitness should be improving.

    Regarding achieving a higher speed, about 14mph on the flat is about it, at least at my current abilities. Maybe the baseline will inch up if I work on some intervals and increase my riding.


    Brian

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dermbrian View Post
    They're not real skinny. They're 700 x 38mm and I run them at 60psi. I'd love to go narrower, but have to research again what my rims allow.

    I am going to be riding a lot more this spring than I have been. We now have a bike rack at work, so I intend to commute a couple of days a week. I'm also just starting to train for the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, held in November, so my general fitness should be improving.

    Regarding achieving a higher speed, about 14mph on the flat is about it, at least at my current abilities. Maybe the baseline will inch up if I work on some intervals and increase my riding.


    Brian
    Brian, as you're discovering, running fitness doesn't fully translate into cycling fitness (although overall "cardio" health is certainly a big plus!)--there are different muscles and forces at play. If you can do 14mph comfortably on solo rides, I'd venture to guess that you could do the "no drop" group rides quite easily. I'm no doctor, so I'd start there first.

    Regarding your tires/bicycle, as I mentioned, I run 1.4" Michelin Slicks on a MTB (26" wheels) at 80 PSI (their stated max) and tubeless. The 1.4 translates to 35.5mm, and these roll superbly. See what the max is on your tires, make sure there is no rubbing (brake pads, etc) and that your drive train is smooth. No reason why your current bike couldn't hang with the pack. Oh, and the Miyata? That's a must-buy. Refer to Rule N+1
    "I had this baby hand made in Tuscany, from titanium blessed by the pope. It weighs less than a fart, and costs more than a divorce..."

  17. #17
    Cat 5 field stuffer bbeasley's Avatar
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    Go ride your bike, mostly fast, sometimes slow. You'll get faster.

    "ride upgrades, don't buy upgrades".... Eddy Merckx

  18. #18
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    Like I mentioned, I'm not against equipment upgrades, but IMHO too many people seek out lighter components and skinnier "faster" tires that have minimal influences on speed, before they address the primary issue of power to weight ratio for the engine. Switching from a Tiagra equipped Long Haul Trucker with 35mm all-season flatproof tires to a DuraAce equipped Dogma with 25mm racing tires won't make nearly the difference that a few months spent dropping 20 pounds and increasing VO2Max will.

    Most people grossly overestimate the influence of component upgrades. The primary difference between component levels (assuming decent quality, properly functioning, not craptastic no-name stuff) when it comes to raw speed is weight. How much weight would you save going from all Tiagra or 105 to all Ultegra or Dura Ace? What would the cost per pound be? How much speed would you gain?

    Run the numbers through a bike calculator and you'll see that a five or six pound decrease in bike weight, on the flats with no wind assist, makes a relatively small difference in sustained speed at a given wattage. Sure it makes a difference in sprints and hill climbs, but overall on a longer ride it really doesn't mean nearly what many people think it will. I have a 1993 Trek 700 set up for touring/gravel grinding. Deore and Deore LX components, fenders, rack, alloy seatpost, and 40mm semi-bulletproof tires on 36-spoke double-wall wheels. I call it the Beast and it weighs in a 30+ pounds depending on accessories. My road bike is a butted chromemoly frame with CF fork, 105 components, and lighter 32-spoke wheels with 25mm midrange road tires. It weighs about 24 pounds. I've ridden them both on flat roads around here when there was very little wind, my difference in sustained speed over any significant distance is only about 2-3 mph (15 mph vs. 17 mph on average). To drop another 6 to 7 pounds of bike would cost me a couple grand or more and I'd be lucky to make over 18 mph average.

    Now, compare that to dropping 12-15 pounds of bodyweight (the equivalent of going from a cheap, old steel touring/hybrid to a fairly high end CF road bike) while at the same time increasing my sustained and/or average wattage output by 10% and for the cost of nothing more than time and effort, my average speed will easily be 18+ mph.

    If you want and can afford higher end equipment, fine, but don't fool yourself into thinking that it makes anywhere near the difference that nutrition and training makes. You can spend hundreds on top end racing tires and it won't help you half as much as substituting a few salads for bacon-cheeseburgers and putting in an extra 30 minutes of intervals once a week.
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    I agree that fitness is the number one thing that will make the OP faster. But, I keyed in on this quote:

    "but I was kinda hoping some day to be able to participate in group rides, most of which seem to start at about 12-14 mph.".

    If the OP is averaging 10mph now, good tires might get him there immediately. If that's the case he may be more inclined to participate in group rides and training which will help him improve his fitness.

    Again, "good" tires has nothing to do with tire width. It's all about the construction of the tires. OP, what brand and model are your current 38mm tires?

    OP, are you in Oklahoma?
    Currently riding a 2013 Handsome Devil custom build and an early 90's Specialized Rockhopper Single-Speed.

  20. #20
    got the climbing bug jsigone's Avatar
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    if you're doing 10mph solo then 12-14 while drafting in a group will be pretty much the same or less effort Try different clubs/groups til you find one that fits the best

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    Senior Member nkfrench's Avatar
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    The slowbies in my bike club ride 12-14 on group rides but the cyclists aren't in a structured paceline. There aren't a lot of people - usually less than 10. The most popular ride is on city streets where a slower/heavier rider can get really tired due to all the stops then accellerating to catch back up to cruising speed. The group skill level has them spaced out enough that there aren't even many drafting opportunities. However, ~somebody~ has to be the slowest; there is no map or cue sheet and the leader will stop the others at turns until everybody catches up. While most people climb and descend at their own pace, there is more accommodation on the flats to ride along slower riders.

    What got me out of the 10mph beginner rut was being more consistent and riding more hills, and pushing my limits.

    Consistency means riding every week and every month, or finding a suitable cross-training exercise. You'll see more progress when you ride more than 3 days a week but allow yourself at least 1 rest day.

    Hills provide unstructured intervals. Change up your rides so one day includes some 5-second bumps you can power over; some 1-minute horrible climbs that make you see stars; or some 10-minute shallower climbs where you just set a rhythm and go steadily after it.

    When I started I could only perform at a low percentage of my max HR. I'd be exhausted after a few minutes at 135bpm (72%). Improvements in conditioning allow me to comfortably ride several hours averaging 155bpm now (82%). My fastest one-hour ride I averaged over 90% with a few spikes to 97% and no it wasn't comfortable at all. It may take a while for your body to adapt.

    Try different cadences and gearing, so you spin a little faster than usual in easier gears; or get into harder gears and slow cadence to develop strength. Learn how it feels to go fast on a downhill stretch. Learn how to climb while standing, and try to increase how long you can tolerate the extra exertion.

    I use strava to measure my progress. There is one hard uphill that takes me 50 seconds on a good day (70 seconds on a bad day). My goal is to climb it in 49 seconds. When I make that goal I'll set another, like not being the slowest person on that climb. I find it very motivating.

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    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by corwin1968 View Post
    I agree that fitness is the number one thing that will make the OP faster. But, I keyed in on this quote:

    "but I was kinda hoping some day to be able to participate in group rides, most of which seem to start at about 12-14 mph.".

    If the OP is averaging 10mph now, good tires might get him there immediately. If that's the case he may be more inclined to participate in group rides and training which will help him improve his fitness.

    Again, "good" tires has nothing to do with tire width. It's all about the construction of the tires. OP, what brand and model are your current 38mm tires?

    OP, are you in Oklahoma?

    No question that good tires help reduce the effort needed to reach or maintain a given speed, but it takes a major difference in tires to expect a 20% increase in sustained speed from a tire change alone. As I mentioned, the difference between my 30# gravel grinder with 40mm Schwalbe Smart Sams and my 24# road bike with 25mm Specialized All-Condition Elites is only about 2-3 mph or about 12-15%. Amishboy51 was the OP but I believe it was Dermbrian that mentioned he was riding 38mm. If you're still checking in Amishboy, what bike, tire and tire size are you riding? A tire change may be in order, but don't be disappointed if it doesn't get you into that 12-14 mph range without some additional work.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nkfrench View Post
    When I started I could only perform at a low percentage of my max HR. I'd be exhausted after a few minutes at 135bpm (72%). Improvements in conditioning allow me to comfortably ride several hours averaging 155bpm now (82%). My fastest one-hour ride I averaged over 90% with a few spikes to 97% and no it wasn't comfortable at all. It may take a while for your body to adapt.
    You're could be under estimating your maximum heart rate, and regardless it's not the number against which cyclists should calibrate their training zones.

    The 220 - age formula for predicting maximum heart rate yields an average for the entire population with a standard deviation of +/- 12 beats per minute which means a 34% chance your real maximum will be within 12 bpm above and 34% 12 bpm below, 14% in each direction between 12 and 24 off, and 2% each way between 24 and 36 off. At 38 that predicted 182 for me, but I could get to 192.

    Since 100% of that predicted number could fall anywhere between an all day endurance pace and not physically possible (hence "maximum heart rate" - it's the point at which heart rate no longer increases with power output) it's completely worthless for setting exercise zones.

    While fit individuals can determine their maximum heart rate experimentally (add 25 Watts / minute until your heart rate stops increasing) it's still not the number to work from because endurance sports are limited by lactate acid production and the fraction of VO2max where that occurs varies between individuals and with training. I get to 162 out of a predicted 179 maximum and 192 actual from a few years ago.

    If you're going to exercise with zones you want to use a system calibrated based on where your personal lactate threshold is.

    That's about the maximum you can sustain for an hour given sufficient fitness and motivation so it's usually approximated.

    Friel uses the corresponding heart rate people averages over the last 20 minutes of an all-out 30 minute effort.

    Carmichael has a system defining zones based on a pair of all-out eight minute efforts which are easier to accommodate logistically and physiologically than Friel's 30 minute approach or the one-hour gold standard.
    Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 02-13-14 at 10:44 PM.

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    Senior Member zandoval's Avatar
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    I had to get over it - Having been in younger years a competitive cyclist I am often appalled at how slow and how often I have to get into my 34T bail out gear - At 60 I have lost so much that if I take a long ride 50 miles plus I am toast for a week or more - I now feel better about my riding if I can ride a 30 mile easy one with some hills and only need one or two days recovery - I would say change your ride and work on your endurance rather than speed...

    To loose weight make it simple - At your height and weight log all your food and add up at the end of the day - Look for about 1600 to 1800 calories to include 90 grams of protein - That will knock off a couple pounds a month...

    Also keep in mind that at 280# you have exceeded the max weight that your knees can mechanically tolerate without injury - Keep cycling at the forefront to spare them - Running and Jogging especially down hill will cause knee damage...

    I have tried a few group rides and always felt like I was holding them up - I am still hoping to find someone to ride with but most of us Geezers ride solo...
    Last edited by zandoval; 02-13-14 at 10:54 PM.

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    Senior Member nkfrench's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post
    You're could be under estimating your maximum heart rate, and regardless it's not the number against which cyclists should calibrate their training zones.

    The 220 - age formula for predicting maximum heart rate yields an average for the entire population with a standard deviation of +/- 12 beats per minute which means a 34% chance your real maximum will be within 12 bpm above and 34% 12 bpm below, 14% in each direction between 12 and 24 off, and 2% each way between 24 and 36 off. At 38 that predicted 182 for me, but I could get to 192.

    Since 100% of that predicted number could fall anywhere between an all day endurance pace and not physically possible (hence "maximum heart rate" - it's the point at which heart rate no longer increases with power output) it's completely worthless for setting exercise zones.

    While fit individuals can determine their maximum heart rate experimentally (add 25 Watts / minute until your heart rate stops increasing) it's still not the number to work from because endurance sports are limited by lactate acid production and the fraction of VO2max where that occurs varies between individuals and with training. I get to 162 out of a predicted 179 maximum and 192 actual from a few years ago.

    If you're going to exercise with zones you want to use a system calibrated based on where your personal lactate threshold is.

    That's about the maximum you can sustain for an hour given sufficient fitness and motivation so it's usually approximated.

    Friel uses the corresponding heart rate people averages over the last 20 minutes of an all-out 30 minute effort.

    Carmichael has a system defining zones based on a pair of all-out eight minute efforts which are easier to accommodate logistically and physiologically than Friel's 30 minute approach or the one-hour gold standard.
    Hi Drew, great points. I had a treadmill maximal stress test done 20 years ago when I was in (relatively) very good shape. I ended the test exhausted at 187bpm. Now, as a 57-year-old female, I continue to use that HRmax when analyzing my rides. I wear a Polar HRM on all rides and there are a few 1-minute steep climbs on my favorite routes where I'll summit at 184bpm in hot weather. 220-age as you note can be way off and would suggest my HRmax is 163. I am confident that the HRM has been accurate - the numbers correlate to effort level.

    I overstated; my 1-hour rides with my fastest average speed averaged 169bpm which is barely over 90.0% HRmax. I rode it as if it was a time trial and was in considerable distress by the end of the ride. The steep hills did have a quick descent where I did an aero tuck for a few seconds and was able to recover from the spikes.

    The aforementioned hills are sufficiently hard for me that I struggle in my 39/27 cadence 40 muscling the bike to get my pedals to move. I have to climb part of it standing to keep speed from dropping below 4mph. At the top I feel at the verge of collapse and passing out. Fortunately there are only two of these hills on my 1-hour route, although there are several lesser hills that I also get beat up on.

    By the end of those rides my breathing muscles are also feeling a lactic acid burn and I can't maintain the high breathing rates needed. When I finish they cramp up front and back. I am disoriented and overheated enough that it is hard to just dismount, lean my bike up, and stagger a few feet to plop down to a seated position and eventually start getting more fluids. I have mild epilepsy and will get auras (precursor to seizure) at that level of effort. That would be my "no it was not comfortable at all" state.

    I believe there is a place for this type of 1-hour ride as long as there are no medical contraindications and it's not done frequently. I assume it has predicted my personal lactate threshhold. The bpm corresponds closely enough to where my legs burn on longer climbs.

    We used to do "lactate sets" when I was swimming competitively. Coach only had us do them no more than once a month and only a few months of the year otherwise results were skewed due to lack of motivation. They were mentally and physically punishing.

    I don't have a power meter and with a knee condition I have great difficulty tolerating the flywheel on trainers/stationary bikes. I have some power estimates from strava and I don't have a lot of confidence in them. I would like to calculate training zones - Polar just goes by the L5=90-100%, L4=80-90%, L3=70-80%, etc zones. Then other times I think I just need to get off the computer, quit sitting around reading, lose weight, and ride more. I'm interested in testing my competitive urges in some age-group time trials on flattish terrain - someday.

    I think we both agree on the major points.

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