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  1. #1
    no one cares -holiday76's Avatar
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    Calories Burned on a Day of Touring

    Has anyone worn a heart rate monitor or anything that tells you calories burned for an extended amount of time while touring?

    Let's say you ride 80 miles a day, moderate terrain, some rollers, maybe some big hills thrown in but you have a triple so whatever. You're averaging say 14 mph or so.
    That means you're actually sitting on the bike 5 or 6 hours.

    I know it would be different for everyone, but what do you think you'd burn?

    Does anyone have any real data they can share?
    Last edited by -holiday76; 04-30-08 at 08:35 AM.

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    It depends, of course, on how fast/hard you're riding, the terrain, your touring load, your weight...

    But, I've heard that a good rule of thumb is 40cals per mile for cycling around 14-15 mph. I've also heard about 13-17 calories per minute (useful for spin classes). I think this comes from Chris Carmichael, but I'm not certain.

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    no one cares -holiday76's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tulip View Post
    But, I've heard that a good rule of thumb is 40cals per mile for cycling around 14-15 mph.
    I wonder if that still holds true for a 60 pound bike loaded up with camping gear, going uphill, and into a headwind.

    Actually, this past weekend I just rode 160 miles over two days. The first day there were constant 30 mph headwinds that kept the average down around 13mph. At the same exertion rate without the wind I'd of averaged 17-18 mph.

    So a lot of it has to do with exertion rate too, which is why I think a heart rate monitor is the best choice to calculate this.

    I'd think 3200 cals burned for a 80 mile loaded ride would probably be bare minimum. I'm not sure what the top of the range might be though.

    I guess it's safe to say though that if you're riding 80 miles a day you can pretty much eat whatever you want and you're not going to gain weight.

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by -holiday76 View Post
    Has anyone worn a heart rate monitor or anything that tells you calories burned for an extended amount of time while touring?

    Let's say you ride 80 miles a day, moderate terrain, some rollers, maybe some big hills thrown in but you have a triple so whatever. You're averaging say 14 mph or so.
    That means you're actually sitting on the bike 5 or 6 hours.

    I know it would be different for everyone, but what do you think you'd burn?

    Does anyone have any real data they can share?
    No HRM data here, I didn't take it with me, but... As near as I could tell I ate about 5000 calories per day for 73 days on the TransAmerica. I think I lost about 8 pounds and was about 190 at the end. That is pretty sketchy as I didn't really count calories very closely, but I think it is in the ball park.

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    no one cares -holiday76's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    No HRM data here, I didn't take it with me, but... As near as I could tell I ate about 5000 calories per day for 73 days on the TransAmerica. I think I lost about 8 pounds and was about 190 at the end. That is pretty sketchy as I didn't really count calories very closely, but I think it is in the ball park.
    what happened when you came home? Did you have any trouble readjusting your diet back to normal caloric levels? Did you gain the 8 pounds back?

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by -holiday76 View Post
    what happened when you came home? Did you have any trouble readjusting your diet back to normal caloric levels? Did you gain the 8 pounds back?
    I just didn't feel like eating as much when I got home so I didn't gain weight right away. Unfortunately I did gain it back a bit later when I had shoulder surgery that kept me off of both the bike and the rowing machine for several weeks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by -holiday76 View Post
    what happened when you came home? Did you have any trouble readjusting your diet back to normal caloric levels? Did you gain the 8 pounds back?
    yeah, you gotta watch out for that.... i gained a lot of weight right after my XC tour, and had to go on a diet to get it off.
    ...

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    Senior Member thePig's Avatar
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    Here is some data:
    My wife was wearing a heart rate monitor for a medium ride we did on the weekend.
    We were cycling for 3 hours, her average HR was at 70% and the calories burned was 1225.
    She weighs 62kg (hope she doesn't catch me writing this). Obviously if you are heavier you will burn more.

    I also assume you can just double up the numbers - e.g. a 6 hour ride would burn 2450 calories.
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    I've used a HRM while touring cross country with panniers and averaged 40 calories per mile.

    I think it is a fallacy that you can eat whatever quantity of food you want while touring Be sure first that you don't bonk and second it's no fun being hungry, but, how many times have you ever heard anyone complaining about being too skinny after a tour? Calories in, calories out: good old Thermodynamics 101! When the tour is over you must imediately cut back your intake, otherwise you will gain weight very rapidly. One lb of fat is 3500-4000 calories.

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    I have used an HRM, and use about the same amount of calories PER HOUR (or LESS) than when doing regular rides. Less, because (for me anyway) I usually am not riding at the same intensity as on a club ride - there's lots of just spinning along at an easy pace - zone 2 and 3 mostly. Whereas on a club ride or a shorter solo ride, I'm usually pushing myself up into zone 4 and 5 a lot.

    So, yes, you usually ride a lot more hours per day, and definitely more per week, than you do at home, but the hourly burn rate is similar. The burn rate PER MILE is higher, since you are going to be going slower, and it will take more time to cover the same distance.

    The calories per hour is going to be different for each person, of course, based on their size.

    For me, I think i do about 2500-4000 calories per day of touring, depending on the duration and hillyness. I average 60 miles/day. But I am pretty small, so that is probably really low compared to an average guy.
    ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by -holiday76 View Post
    ...You're averaging say 14 mph or so....

    i don't know about anyone else, but i average a lot less than that on tour.
    ...

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    Senior Member thePig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
    i don't know about anyone else, but i average a lot less than that on tour.
    Me too, particularly when I am in the mountains. There is nothing like grinding up a long climb for 3 or 4 hours on a loaded tourer watching your speedo stuck at 4mph.

    Also, by my calculations 4000 calories = 8 big macs.....Yum
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    no one cares -holiday76's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
    i don't know about anyone else, but i average a lot less than that on tour.

    thanks for the info.

    That's about what I have averaged on my tours, depending on what bike I take and the terrain. For example, on a recumbent touring all day , fully loaded, in the midwest (Flat) its easy to average 17-18.

    The average speed indicator on my cyclometers on all my upright bikes are almost always pegged at 14 mph no matter what I use the bike for (fast weekend rides, short tours, etc)

  14. #14
    Senior Member slowjoe66's Avatar
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    That'd be a dream come true to average that kind of speed. I'm like 10-12 mph on average with the trailer and all the gear, good conditions and bad as an average. And as to the calorie thing....not enough. I worked hard on tour last year and ate like a pro....and gained about 5 pounds.
    I don't have a solution but I admire the problem!

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
    i don't know about anyone else, but i average a lot less than that on tour.
    One thing I notice is that folks count average speed differently. Some count breaks in the average, some don't. My thought is that for determining things like how fast you ride a century, counting the breaks makes sense. I don't think it does for touring. On tour there is no reason to rush scenic stops or lunch, so I don't count breaks when talking about pace on tour.

    One day you might be fired up and full of energy, another you might be tired, or just feel like taking it easy.

    Then there are the differences in terrain and whether you are solo or in a group. There are also headwinds and tailwinds and other variables, so day to day things can be quite different.

    So the following is based only on time on the bike, breaks not counted and riding with my two favorite touring companions...
    When riding in a group and drafting each other on flatter terrain, we might do 16-18 mph or even a bit more. We might even do an hour or so at 18-22 mph, but would never average that all day. On a rough surface with lots of hills there might be days where we only did 10 mph even though only counting time on the bike.

    I guess in "average conditions" we might average 14-16 mph. It depends on what you call "average conditions" though.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by -holiday76 View Post
    I know it would be different for everyone, but what do you think you'd burn?

    Does anyone have any real data they can share?
    This is an interesting link that explains burned calories while cycling depend on the speed you're travelling.

    Dave Moulton's blog: Running vs Cycling.

    Granted, these numbers are probably set arbitrairly accorging to a specific person and bicycle configuration. Your numbers are likely to be higher since you'll be on a loaded bike. But ultimately, the faster you go, the more calories you burn.

  17. #17
    <riding now> BigAura's Avatar
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    A good, somewhat general purpose, way to calculate calories burned is to use a coefficient. I use a coefficient of 0.28 - calories/mile/pound.

    DISTANCE * WEIGHT * COEFFICIENT = CALORIES BURNED

    So if you do 70 miles and weigh 165 lbs and carry 45 lbs:

    70 * (165 + 45) * .28 = 4116 calories

    Obviously head winds and mountains are huge factors but this method is based on an average of all conditions encountered.

    One more thing - YCMV (Your Coefficient May Vary)

  18. #18
    Senior Member lighthorse's Avatar
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    I don't use a HRM. I will say that after a week on the road I am always hungry. It seems that i am riding from one meal to the next. And I always end up losing weight.
    When I get home it takes real effort to cut down on the calories. I still feel hungry all day. And I end up putting the weight back on.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member thePig's Avatar
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    For me the best part of a cycle tour is being able to eat and drink as much as you like without a conscience. Particularly in Europe as the food and wine is fantastic.
    www.cyclepig.com - discover the world on two wheels

  20. #20
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    Here is a handy link. It's interesting to note that there aren't very many activities that burn more calories than moderate to vigorous cycling. What isn't included in this chart is the 40-60 lbs. of gear, plus the frequent mountainous terrain that we often encounter (or should I say, seek out!)

    I believe many of us are burning more calories than we realize. If one is in the saddle six hours a day, eating about 5,000 calories each day, and is still losing weight, then it's obvious he/she is burning around 1,000 calories per hour. It is my belief that many of us burn that much when touring.

    Safe journeys,
    Ted
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    Generally speaking, there are two types of "averages" that folks are interested in; 1) an average that includes all stops, slows, etc., and 2) an average on the uninterrupted flats.

  22. #22
    Senior Member thePig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VeloVeg View Post
    Here is a handy link. It's interesting to note that there aren't very many activities that burn more calories than moderate to vigorous cycling. What isn't included in this chart is the 40-60 lbs. of gear, plus the frequent mountainous terrain that we often encounter (or should I say, seek out!)

    I believe many of us are burning more calories than we realize. If one is in the saddle six hours a day, eating about 5,000 calories each day, and is still losing weight, then it's obvious he/she is burning around 1,000 calories per hour. It is my belief that many of us burn that much when touring.

    Safe journeys,
    Thanks for the link VeloVeg, is very interesting.
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  23. #23
    <riding now> BigAura's Avatar
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    Interestingly VeloVeg's link gives virtually the same calories burned as my coefficient formula shown above. I used the "Bicycling, 12-13.9mph, moderate effort" for comparison: 13 miles * 155 lbs * .28 = 564 calories.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thePig View Post
    Also, by my calculations 4000 calories = 8 big macs.....Yum
    The cholesterol and sat fat from 8 big macs/day will probably congeal your arteries before day 10

    Replace it with In&Out Burger, and that sounds like a very tasty way to die =]

  25. #25
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    If you assume you burn approx. 500 calories per hour while you are riding, you're probably in the right ball park ... especially considering you won't likely be setting any world speed records on the bicycle.

    Have a browse around this site for calories burned, and how many calories there are in various types of food: http://www.nutritiondata.com/

    Oh, and incidentally, a Big Mac is 540 calories, so if you rode 8 hours and burned 4000 calories, you could have 7 of them.

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