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  1. #1
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    Riding with a heart rate monitor.

    I am getting back into cycling, now that I'm 50, after having done a lot of riding 20 years ago. (I know, what the heck was I thinking, stopping for 20 years!) Anyway, I find that my goals are totally different than before. Miles arn't as important to me, it is about duration, or time. Speed isn't important, endurance over time is what counts for me now.

    I have worked my way up riding 2 hours contiuously, fairly comfortably, every other day. Speed isn't great, average has been about 14 mph. But I have been feeling a much better than I have in a long time. (I find myself craving that supercharged feeling you get a couple days after riding a century.)

    Anyway, the yesterday I got a heart monitor (I alway rode with one 20 years ago) and found that when I rode today, I had to keep backing off the power, downshifting and taking it easier than I thought I needed to. My goal was to maintain an average heart rate fo 135 bpm for two hours. It really made the ride enjoyable, rather than pushing myself I found that I was enjoying the scenery. I also found that I tended to use a slightly higher cadence. It just felt easier and more efficient. Well, apparently it was because after riding for 2 hours I covered 30 miles, with an average of 15 mph. Now, I know I just got done saying that speed isn't my goal, but this illustrates to me how riding with a heart rate montor can be beneficial in more ways than I thought. I am looking forward to the scenery on my next two hour ride.
    Last edited by RU55EL; 08-04-10 at 11:50 PM. Reason: Change title from 'heart monitor' to 'heart rate monitor'

  2. #2
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Nice post.
    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGukLuXzH1E

    Set F1re To The Ra1n ( NY Night Rain Ride)
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  3. #3
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    So what have you been doing for the last 20 years? Bet it wasn't sitting on the couch and putting on weight with all the fast good you have been eating.

    I use a heart monitor occasionally and all it confirms to me is that I can't get the HR up as high as I used to. Probably could get it higher if I trained a lot more but WHY?

    My riding sounds as though it will be the same as yours. Enjoyment and retaining the fitness that I now have.

    It does depend on how you class yourself as a rider- but treat yourself as a newcomer. It will take time to become bike fit. This is normally about two years although overrall fitness could come quicker. In the meantime take things steadily. Push for a while on the rides but take recovery time aswell. I have a guide that I use when riding. If it Hurts- don't do it. I do push a bit on the ride to keep my HR up but not for the whole ride.

    As a rider that has reasonable fitness- I like to ride with the HR at around 130 to 140 (Nearer the 130 at present though) I will raise this to 150 on slopes and to somewhere near my max of 165 for short spells on the steep bits. Can't keep 165 for long now but I do like to keep around the 135 mark. At 135 I could ride all day- but Wheres the fun in that. The occasional bit of "Extra" exertion is great and does help in the boredom stakes.

    An HRM is not a necessity to ride- but is a great indicator of how hard you are working or how you are improving. Just don't become a slave to it.

    So welcome back and the usual questions. What bike and what Pie?
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  4. #4
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Welcome RUSSEL. What kind of pie do you like? It better be blueberry!
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  5. #5
    Dan J chinarider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RU55EL View Post
    My goal was to maintain an average heart rate fo 135 bpm for two hours.
    Sounds like you're on the right track. But what is the 135 bpm goal based on? If you haven't read much about HR training in the last 20 years you should be aware that the 220-age "formula" for MHR has been pretty much discredited. At least as a guide for any particular individual. There have been numerous threads about this, both here and in the training and nutrition forum.
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    Quote Originally Posted by chinarider View Post
    Sounds like you're on the right track. But what is the 135 bpm goal based on? If you haven't read much about HR training in the last 20 years you should be aware that the 220-age "formula" for MHR has been pretty much discredited. At least as a guide for any particular individual. There have been numerous threads about this, both here and in the training and nutrition forum.
    I like the 220-age formula. On the last hill interval ride it proved I'm 27!

  7. #7
    Senior Member Kurt Erlenbach's Avatar
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    The best use of a HRM is for doing sprints. Sprints are important in building strength and conditioning. And knowing when yu are going hard enough, and knowing when you have rested long enough.

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    FWIW, my experience has been almost exactly the same. I got back into cycling about 20 years ago after a post-college layoff, and for awhile was sort of speed-obsessed (as speed-obsessed as a 40-something can be, anyway). A few years ago a combination of work and knee problems kept me mostly off the bike for more than a year. When I started riding again, I had to go slow to accommodate the orthopedics. I found that I enjoyed riding a lot more, looked forward to most rides instead of having to force myself out the door for "training," and eventually wound up going at least as far as i had before in only slightly more time. I'm 65 now and don't push hard much anymore, but I'm sure I've prolonged my riding life, if only by making a change that kept me interested.
    It's a change most of us have to face eventually, I think. You reach an age where no matter what you do, you aren't going to improve. If speed is your only goal, then (at least for me) you lose motivation. Now I listen to the birds and enjoy the fresh air.

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    Not aware of a benefit to maintaining some average HR value. It would seem that doing so regularly would cause plateauing/stagnation both mentally and physically. From a health perspective as well as fitness, time spent at higher rates like over lactate threshold and time spent at lower rates are far better than worrying about some average value.

    Of course for heart safety,one doesn't want to push it until sufficiently fit, but getting the HR progressively higher over time is a good idea as is eventually measuring one's max HR. Then the HR monitor can be very useful.

    I started biking after retiring. Keeping that HR rate high periodically makes one develop rather than stagnate making biking far easier and far faster which makes it more fun and motivating. A few years ago I changed my focus to mountain biking on steep mountain single-track.

    Last week I did 20 miles (Tsali) requiring 3 hours in the saddle (slow on climbs). Hit 86% of measured max HR on some climbs. It was a ball though the temp was 90 degrees. Drank 108 ozs of salt-laced water (plus half a quart before leaving the car) and ran out with two miles to go.

    Five years ago I could not have done that ride. With out pushing the HR over lactate periodically, you probably do stop improving (as mentioned), but not otherwise.

    With modern exercise physiology/nutrition/hydration, recovery is amazingly fast even at 71.

    By the way, max HR does not decrease significantly if at all over time. Mine has been 174 for about 10 years now. Last year I hit 190 jogging (sprinting). I don't jog often, just when I can't bike. Running max HR is always higher than cycling max.

    There is too much timidity concerning activity vs age. If one studies exercise physiology, it becomes readily apparent that the problems are due to insufficient vigorous activity/lack of use rather than age. It's a mental issue.

    Al

  10. #10
    Dan J chinarider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerlenbach View Post
    The best use of a HRM is for doing sprints. Sprints are important in building strength and conditioning. And knowing when yu are going hard enough, and knowing when you have rested long enough.
    Well, not really. HR lags behind effort making a heart rate monitor of limited utility on short intervals. This is one area where a power meter has a big advantage over a hr monitor. Power is instantaneous.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerlenbach View Post
    The best use of a HRM is for doing sprints. Sprints are important in building strength and conditioning. And knowing when yu are going hard enough, and knowing when you have rested long enough.
    After over a decade of using one and some some study, I think you are right except I would broaden it to "insure you are getting your HR high enough". You can do that in mountain biking at least on a steep technical climb with out sprinting per se.

    Too many see a HRM as a tool for limiting HR. Of course, if you are trying to win a long race, that might be valuable too.

    Al

  12. #12
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    Knowing your heart rate and being able to relate it to perceived exertion level and other factors like rest and diet is a valuable tool if used in concert with the other factors. It can be nearly useless and maybe even hazardous if used solely. Heart rate is merely data until it is merged with the other facts to become information.

    I use a heart rate monitor because it is more convenient than manually taking my pulse. One could say it is also a safer method of getting the heart rate than taking a hand off the handle bars to get the data.
    It is better to smell the flowers than taste the roots.

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    The first thing that my new heart rate monitor has helped me with is adjusting my effort perceptions now that I am 20 years older and 50 pounds heavier.

    I use to be quite the fanatic, riding 6 days a week, a century every Saturday, intervals twice a week. I my century ride was configured so that the big hill climbs started at about 80 miles to be sure and get a good work out. But things have changed quite a bit since back then.

    I'm 6'1" so at about 213# I'm not terribly overweight, but as I see it, getting 30 or 40 pounds off is my first goal. At this point I am just going for fat burning rides, letting my body become adjusted to being in the saddle for extended periods. It was only a few weeks ago that my arms couldn't stand more than an hour ride. Now I am becoming comfortable at 2 hours and beginning to think it may be time to tack on another half hour. I am finding that I have to listen to more than my legs and my overall energy level.

    With age I think I have leaned to be patient than I was when I was younger. I plan to ride more centuries with my old bike.

    I don't know where pie comes into the equation, but I love blueberry as well as apple. Attached are photos of my old bicycle. It started out as a Trek 660 with Shimano 600 ultegra (52 and 40 chainrings with 13 to 19 7 speed cassette) but after bending the original frame I replaced it with a Masi Nova Strada frame. Also, Dura-ace head set, bottom bracket, and seat post.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  14. #14
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    You like Blueberry Pie - then you are IN!!

    I am going to post a 50+ Forum Blueberry Pie Ride training update soon.

    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...3#post11129903
    Last edited by DnvrFox; 07-17-10 at 04:54 PM.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  15. #15
    "Chooch" ciocc_cat's Avatar
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    Attached are photos of my old bicycle. It started out as a Trek 660 with Shimano 600 ultegra (52 and 40 chainrings with 13 to 19 7 speed cassette) but after bending the original frame I replaced it with a Masi Nova Strada frame. Also, Dura-ace head set, bottom bracket, and seat post.
    What a beautiful classic Masi!

    My story is similar to yours: I'm 55 and I returned to cycling in May 2009 after a 17+ years hiatus. Since then I've dropped 56 pounds. In the 1980s I was a club racer - now I'm more of a fitness/recreational rider (17 to 20 mph average speed). I've used a Sigma PC14 heart monitor for several months now and have found it to be a useful training tool.

    Sounds like you're on the right track - just keep on riding!
    "A bicycle built by a frame builder has the soul of the builder. A mass produced frame does not have soul. It doesn't know anyone." - Giovanni "Ciocc" Pelizzoli.
    “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” - Benjamin Franklin
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    My last HR was a Vetta unit that combined bike computer with HR. $100 and it was actually a nice unit. At the time I was paying attention, I did all the max HR tests, etc... found out my max was 190, and trained appropriately. One training ride was a 6 mile spin to a local park that had a 1 mile loop, where local racers would meet for interval training. Having joined them one hot summer night and after approx. 10 laps at 25-30mph, I had pulled off and was attempting to spin. My HR was 160 so I geared down and rode easy, only to see my HR steadily climb, 161, then 162,, 163, etc... steadily upward. I then got concerned (heart attack, whatever) and stopped altogether.

    Pulling off my sweat stained sunglasses, I peered carefully at the readout, only to discover I was looking at distance, 16.1, 16.2, 16.3, 16.4.

    It was at this point I realized I needed a reading prescription, said screw that and stopped using the HR.

    SB

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lightingguy View Post
    ...It was at this point I realized I needed a reading prescription, said screw that and stopped using the HR...
    I ride with bifocal sunglasses, so reading the displays isn't too much of a problem. Also, the electronics provide usefull information, but I don't consider the information absolutely essential. It's just a usefull tool.

  18. #18
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    By the way; earlier someone posted that they held their heart rate down to stay in the "Fat Burning Zone". Over this past winter I did a wee bit of asking about that. Couldn't find anyone who actually subscribed to limiting heart rate as a method of burning fat. Could find lots on using heart rate to assist in other kinds of training, but not burning fat specific. It seems that if a person exercises so as to avoid injury, does lots of cardio, mixes in weight training and, just as important, eats properly, and again very important, mixes in adequate rest the fat goes off. No special heart rate involved.
    It is better to smell the flowers than taste the roots.

  19. #19
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    "Fat burning zone" is a gimmick used by manufacturers of cardio eqiupment and HRM's. All the research shows simply that the more one exercises the more fat one burns. While there are heart rates at which a higher percentage of fat may be burned, it in no way makes up for the increased total calorie consumption of a higher intensity cardio exercise.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

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    Dnvrfox, I think what you're saying is that you will burn calories at nearly any level of exercise and that at extreme effort levels, your body then desires/craves carbo's. Which is why I recall doing hard, fast and long workouts that had me wanting to eat everything in the house when I got back. If you need to lose weight, then too hard a workout with subsequent feeding is certainly detrimental.

    I believe the not as simplified version was, to find an exercise level that maximizes the calorie/fat burn, but doesn't find you craving food at the end of the workout and doesn't put you into anaerobic dept that creates too much lactic acid, which is hard to recover from. In theory, and for the time, the HR monitor was the best available tool for determining those optimum levels - 70% as fat burning, over 85% as the anaerobic threshold. So went the theory. Now-a-days, the power meter is a far better tool for measuring workout levels.

    SB

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    Quote Originally Posted by RU55EL View Post
    ...At this point I am just going for fat burning rides...

    OK, I should have referred to it as beta-oxidation, where fat is oxidized for energy. Aerobic glycolysis is still going to provide a lot of the energy used on a given ride but after extended rides at an aerobic level your body begins to use beta-oxidation. Beta-oxidation requires more oxygen to form ATP molecules and glycogen, but fat provides about ten times as much energy as glycogen. One glycogen molecule (aerobic glycolysis) forms about 39 ATP molecules, where a molecule of fat (beta-oxidation) forms about 460 ATP molecules. (ATP is a molecule that the body uses to transport chemical energy to your muscles and organs.)


    Riding long rides at an aerobic level (which a heart rate monitor helps me maintain) helps cause the body to switch to beta-oxidation. Lots of long aerobic rides helps train the body to switch to beta-oxidation sooner.


    At this point, I am trying to condition myself to ride longer, at a reasonable level in order to get my body to start burning more fat (beta-oxidation). That and I still still find that my back elbows shoulders and the back of my neck are still getting accustomed to long rides, although they are doing much better than when I started riding more than one hour.


    After I loose some of this extra weight that I am hauling around (my waist) I intend to start introducing more hills than I am riding over now. And if I feel up to it I may begin intervals to improve anaerobic glycolysis.


    The heart rate monitor is just a tool that at present helps to even out my ride. Today was my second two hour ride with it and I find that it really helps me to stop roller coastering...riding too hard, then slowing down to recover, then riding too hard again. In fact, I am still very surprised how much it has helped me with this. Most active cyclists would not get this benefit because they have learned from experience to ride at a smooth power level. My experience is 20 years old, and I find that I need to re-learn this as well as to adapt to my 50 year old power source.


    It was warm on my ride today and the scenery was beautiful, but I may have to work out another route where I can find blueberry pie!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lightingguy View Post
    Dnvrfox, I think what you're saying is that you will burn calories at nearly any level of exercise and that at extreme effort levels, your body then desires/craves carbo's. Which is why I recall doing hard, fast and long workouts that had me wanting to eat everything in the house when I got back. If you need to lose weight, then too hard a workout with subsequent feeding is certainly detrimental.

    I believe the not as simplified version was, to find an exercise level that maximizes the calorie/fat burn, but doesn't find you craving food at the end of the workout and doesn't put you into anaerobic dept that creates too much lactic acid, which is hard to recover from. In theory, and for the time, the HR monitor was the best available tool for determining those optimum levels - 70% as fat burning, over 85% as the anaerobic threshold. So went the theory. Now-a-days, the power meter is a far better tool for measuring workout levels.

    SB
    Food craving after rides has more to do with poor diet before and during the ride than anything else. Take care of your diet and you won't have the cravings. In fact as I type I'm reminded that one trainer said to study the diet patterns associated with body builders in their training phase, not preparing for a contest. There are other sources. But, all come to the same conclusion: Unhealthy food cravings are caused by poor diet, not excessive exercise.
    Last edited by HawkOwl; 07-18-10 at 07:42 PM. Reason: Correct language
    It is better to smell the flowers than taste the roots.

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    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    http://www.active.com/triathlon/Articles/The-Myth-of-the-Fat-burning-Zone.htm

    The Myth of the Fat-burning Zone

    "If you want to lose a few pounds you need to do long, slow, steady-state aerobic exercise in the fat burning zone."

    Heard this advice before? It's one of the biggest misconceptions in the exercise and weight-loss world. If long, slow, steady-state aerobics was the key to fat loss every person who crosses the finish line of a marathon or Ironman would have very low body fat. This just isn't the case. Numerous people who train for an endurance event gain weight.

    Endurance exercise solely for fat loss does not make sense. Your goal as an endurance athlete is to become efficient and better at running, biking or swimming. A different plan of attack needs to be used to burn fat--a more effective plan.

    Reasons Steady-state Aerobic Training is Supposed to Burn Fat1) It burns calories. Hard-working muscles demand extra oxygen to help them continue working. However, lots of activities also burn calories by requiring work from the muscles—weight training, sprinting, sleeping—so no extra points for aerobic training.

    2) The fat-burning zone. Yes, it exists, but it has been misinterpreted. The fat-burning zone is a concept that the body burns a greater amount of fat at lower-intensity aerobic exercise than it does at higher intensities. Actually, the body burns a greater percentage of fat at lower intensities than at higher intensities. At lower intensities the body may burn 50 percent of the calories from fat, while at higher intensities it may only burn 35 percent. But at higher intensities you burn way more total calories—and more fat calories overall—than you do at lower intensities.

    3) Aerobic training makes your body an efficient fat-burning machine. True, but this isn't a desirable response. Yes, aerobic training does demand work from the muscles, but not as much as other activities, and it doesn't require the muscle tissue to last, either. Because the only tissue that burns fat in the body is muscle, aerobics are ineffective at building and maintaining your body's fat-burning tools.

    4) Aerobic training raises your metabolism. This isn't true. Metabolism is largely a function of how much muscle you carry. Because aerobics do nothing to even maintain muscle, never mind build it, they do not contribute to raising your metabolism while at rest.

    The Endurance Athlete's Adaptation ConundrumThe body adapts to certain circumstances by responding in the reverse manner. Not drinking enough water? Your body tries to retain it. What actually occurs in weight training is a breakdown of muscle tissue, leading the body to adapt by building muscle. When you burn calories doing aerobic training, your body adapts by slowing your metabolism and allowing your body to store more fat. As an endurance athlete, your goal is to become very efficient at aerobic exercise. As it becomes easier for you to perform, you'll burn fewer calories and lose less weight.

    Those who first get into triathlon from, say, a running background often find swimming and biking difficult. They will probably lose some weight initially because their body isn't used to these activities and is burning greater calories than normal as it exerts more effort. After racing and training for a few years, however, running, biking and swimming will burn much fewer calories then it used to. More calories are burned doing activities the body is not used to.

    The work required to run five miles will become less and less as you get fitter. In order to improve, you either go further (do more work for the same amount of calories) or you run those five miles faster. In weight training, as you get better, you add more weight or more reps and there is literally no finish line.

    There is an end point, however, with aerobic training. You will eventually reach an intensity that will be the limit of your aerobic zone. Working any harder will send your body into the anaerobic zone, and then you're no longer doing aerobics.

    MetabolismYour metabolism—or your metabolic rate—is what determines how many calories you burn each day. It is controlled by your thyroid and is largely a factor of muscle mass. Every pound of muscle you put on requires approximately 50 calories per day to maintain. This doesn't take into account the calories burned developing that muscle, or the calories burned while maintaining that muscle. These 50 calories are the amount needed by that muscle to just sit there.

    This equates to 18,250 calories per year, or the equivalent of a little over five pounds of fat. Gaining and maintaining even five pounds of muscle in your training program will assist in burning off over 26 pounds of fat over the course of a year.

    Consequently, an athletic physique is not just the result of how many calories burned during exercise, but how many calories the body is forced to burn all the time. Raising your metabolism is the real key to long-term fat loss and body change.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

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    DnvrFox, I bow down to your expertise.

    I stand corrected.

    The Final Nail in the Cardio Coffin
    by Rachel Cosgrove


    Rachel has an interesting point of view. I just figured the aerobic approach was best for someone my age and condition, clearly I was wrong.
    Last edited by RU55EL; 07-18-10 at 07:29 PM.

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    "3) Aerobic training makes your body an efficient fat-burning machine. True, but this isn't a desirable response. Yes, aerobic training does demand work from the muscles, but not as much as other activities, and it doesn't require the muscle tissue to last, either. Because the only tissue that burns fat in the body is muscle, aerobics are ineffective at building and maintaining your body's fat-burning tools."

    Not at all. It's a very desireable response. Aerobics increases the number of mitochondrie, the associated enzyns and about 5 other changes (or "fat burning tools") in the muscles/body to improve the transfer of fat too and the oxidation of fat in the muscles.

    Note too that the only tissues that burns carbs is also the muscles except that which fuels the brain. Alcohol and protein are also burned in the muscles.

    If you don't optimize your fat burning metabolism (lipolysis) you won't have any endurance. The first phase of any racer's program is to maximize his fat burning ability (long slow rides) which pays off especialy at higher heart rates.

    A typical 186 pound man with 15% body fat has about 106,000 calories of stored fat and only 2000 calories of stored carbohydrate. You wouldn't last one stage of the Tour with out maximizing your fat buring.

    Before the 2000 carb calories get very low, the brain will start shutting down the body to preserve itself. We call that bonking. In the extreme, the brain will cannobolize muscle protein to convert to carbs damaging the muscles in the process. It's absolutely imperitive to burn as much fat as possible if you are into high intensity endurance activities.

    Before I knew about such things, I bonked very badly on a mountainous road ride. I had just come up from N Florida and had a friendly race for miles. I felt in no pain afterwards. But shortly after supper, I lost all my periphrial vision. It was like looking at the world through soda straws. I called my optomatrist at home back in Florida. He said either you've had a massive stroke which was unlikely as I was still concious or I had run too low on carbs. I've avoided that problem with better fitness and better nutrition before, during and after the ride.

    From Sport Nutrition for Health and Performance (2nd edition):

    Maximum fat oxidation occurs at 59 to 65% VO2 max for trained and 47 to 52% for untrained. "This has an advantage for both weight maintenance and weight loss because the trained individual, who can optimally burn fat at higher VO2max, will burn more calories than the sedentary individual in a given amount of time exercising. Finally, exercise training also spares endogenous carbohydrates stores that may be needed for prolonged high-intensity events, so you can work harder longer."

    Of course I also do weight training to build and maintain muscle mass. Carbs are necessary for that as well. So is adequate protein.


    http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/reprint/81/6/1442

    "Briefly, at 3 mo, the protein group had significantly

    greater increases in FFM and decreases in body fat than did the

    carbohydrate group. However, by 6 mo, these differences were

    no longer evident. Bench-press strength increased significantly

    more in the protein group than in the carbohydrate group (51%

    and 35%, respectively) from baseline to 6 mo."


    Al

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