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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 10-15-12, 03:20 PM   #1
FPSDavid
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Better to ride for distance or time?

Is it better to ride for:

For Example:
Time: ride 2 hours every ride, and go further as you get faster
or
Distance: ride 20 miles every ride, and take less time as you get faster
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Old 10-15-12, 03:26 PM   #2
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It s.
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Old 10-15-12, 03:37 PM   #3
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You just pick a route/intensity/length based on the kind of exercise you want to do, and how much time you have to do it. I think that is the most practical approach.

I don't really see why distance or time should be held constant.
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Old 10-15-12, 03:40 PM   #4
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I think time is better, if you're riding for fitness. You get a better cardio workout by keeping your heart rate elevated for a certain amount of time. Your heart doesn't know how fast you're going on the bike. But if you can keep it elevated for a certain amount of time (I always hear 60 minutes at least) then distance doesn't really matter.

For me, though, it depends on if I'm making a loop route, or an out-back route. If a loop, then the loop is the distance and I usually go for speed and best time. If it's out-back then I might go as far as I want to go (like half the time available) and then come back. But then again if the out-back is more of a set distance (like the 7-mile length of the MUP) then I'll treat it the same as the loop route.
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Old 10-15-12, 03:45 PM   #5
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Ride long distances, for a long time. Problem solved.
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Old 10-15-12, 03:50 PM   #6
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I think both styles are important.
I used to really enjoy riding a commute to work and trying to beat my own time every time.
But long sustained effort I think is also important for overall health etc.
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Old 10-15-12, 03:55 PM   #7
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Time. Pick a reasonable amount of time to be on the bike and then make the most of it.

Distance is a variable, not a constant.
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Old 10-15-12, 04:00 PM   #8
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your body recognizes elapsed time and effort. Not miles.
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Old 10-15-12, 06:25 PM   #9
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This is like "is it better to spin fast in a low gear, or pedal slower in a high gear" question.
And the master responded:
It is better to spin faster in a higher gear.

Take the mileage from my hand, grasshopper.
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Old 10-15-12, 06:31 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rekless1 View Post
Time. Pick a reasonable amount of time to be on the bike and then make the most of it.

Distance is a variable, not a constant.
Quote:
Originally Posted by hammy56 View Post
your body recognizes elapsed time and effort. Not miles.
These
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Old 10-15-12, 07:21 PM   #11
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Time. Distance is only a proxy for time.
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Old 10-15-12, 07:55 PM   #12
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I say, set a definite distance. Like to some kinda landmark (perhaps a McDonald's restaurant) or something, and watch your time decrease with increased skill and practice.

Last edited by SlimRider; 10-15-12 at 07:59 PM.
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Old 10-15-12, 08:17 PM   #13
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Pretty sure you could search the archives and find 5,000 answers to this very same question. Pick the answer you like.
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Old 10-15-12, 08:26 PM   #14
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Why are you riding?
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Old 10-15-12, 08:39 PM   #15
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build a base, ride lots of miles. I mean two water bottles with two energy bars and start at dawn and don't come home until the sunsets! when you've recovered, do short hard rides during the week. repeat. the first week you will feel like crap. by the 3rd week, you will kick a$$!
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Old 10-15-12, 08:42 PM   #16
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Whichever YOU like to do.
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Old 10-15-12, 08:53 PM   #17
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If you're training...time

If you're going somewhere...distance

Why don't you let us all in on the big secret - why are you asking this question.
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Old 10-15-12, 08:56 PM   #18
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It depends. (As usual.)

For steady state efforts, either are good.

If you're notorious about not 'going the distance' and slacking off when it gets hard (like, bailing out at mile 60 out of a planned 80 mile ride), go by distance if you need to push yourself to stay honest about the miles.

If you're good about pacing and aren't feeling beaten down and slower than usual, time is great.

The elevation profile does screw with the distance somewhat but I find that for the 5-7 regular rides I do around here, you get enough repetitions that you can tell how hard you were going on that day just by looking at the time.

This is the moment where all the Powermeter owners start screaming about how everything else including HR is totally, utterly useless and that the only way to train is by power and TSS scores, despite the fact that professional cycling was around well before powermeters ever existed, and a surprising number of up and coming pros and triathletes don't use them.
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Old 10-15-12, 09:06 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FPSDavid View Post
Is it better to ride for:

For Example:
Time: ride 2 hours every ride, and go further as you get faster
or
Distance: ride 20 miles every ride, and take less time as you get faster
If it takes you 2 hours to ride 20 miles spend less time on the internet and more time on the bike.


EDIT: Oh, guess that means the answer is "time"

Last edited by bikerjp; 10-15-12 at 09:07 PM. Reason: add more useless content
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Old 10-15-12, 10:18 PM   #20
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I like to ride fast but it's not the most important thing to me. I just like to get a good workout and enjoy myself.
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Old 10-15-12, 11:58 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Commodus View Post
If you're training...time

If you're going somewhere...distance

Why don't you let us all in on the big secret - why are you asking this question.
Just curious what people do/think.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bikerjp View Post
If it takes you 2 hours to ride 20 miles spend less time on the internet and more time on the bike.


EDIT: Oh, guess that means the answer is "time"
Numbers not realistic, just used them to keep the question simple.
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Old 10-16-12, 06:38 AM   #22
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I ride more for time, because for me, cycling is equally about recreation, and enjoying myself, as it is for fitness and improvement.
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Old 10-16-12, 06:52 AM   #23
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Why are you riding?
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbadwullf View Post
Whichever YOU like to do.
+1. It depends on what a person is trying to accomplish, and based on that, the answer becomes self evident. Doing intervals? group training ride? Touring?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FPSDavid View Post
Just curious what people do/think.
I understand. This is another, "what color should I like?" type of thread.
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Old 10-16-12, 07:57 AM   #24
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When I do a group ride, I ride whatever distance the group is riding, and it takes whatever time it takes.
When I ride alone after work I try to get in an hour of semi-hard effort.
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Old 10-16-12, 08:21 AM   #25
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It is very difficult to acheive goals that dont exist. If you wish to have improved performance ,determine in what aspect, (speed, endurance, climbing) then do drills designed to improve that aspect. Riding this way or that way is the least effective use of time or distance.
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