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Calories expended on flat land?

Old 09-19-18, 04:05 AM
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willpetras
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Calories expended on flat land?

What is the range for calories expended per mile using a heavy bicycle, like 50 lbs, that is perfectly geared to the road on flat land riding at 12 miles per hour with with no wind? To me a this kind of riding is near effortless. However, after about 10 to 15 miles I do feel some exhaustion. My guess is that calorie expended are very low, like maybe 20 calories per mile?
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Old 09-19-18, 04:08 AM
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Roughly 100 calories for every 5 km ... maybe less. Maybe as low as 80 calories for every 5 km.


If you're feeling exhaustion after 10-15 flat miles, you need to exercise more. Or are you ill/injured?
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Old 09-19-18, 04:22 AM
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Really depends how fast you cycle, whether there is a wind and in what direction etc.
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Old 09-19-18, 04:28 AM
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Originally Posted by willpetras View Post
To me a this kind of riding is near effortless. However, after about 10 to 15 miles I do feel some exhaustion.
Near effortless and some exhaustion after 10 to 15 miles does not compute.

And what bike is that you are riding that weighs 50 lbs.?
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Old 09-19-18, 04:46 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Near effortless and some exhaustion after 10 to 15 miles does not compute.

And what bike is that you are riding that weighs 50 lbs.?
It does. Every pedal stoke is effortless however the accumulation after about 10 miles produces some exhaustion. Not a lot but I can feel it enough that when I sit down I feel relaxed, like after a workout.

I'm riding a Dutch style bike. These are very common in northern Europe. They are very heavy but paradoxically ride effortlessly on flat ground. They are also very stable, as you might have guessed.
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Old 09-19-18, 04:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Roughly 100 calories for every 5 km ... maybe less. Maybe as low as 80 calories for every 5 km.


If you're feeling exhaustion after 10-15 flat miles, you need to exercise more. Or are you ill/injured?
I mean exhaustion in that when I sit down after 10 miles I do feel relaxed, like after a workout. Most people would feel the same. 10 miles isn't a lot of cycling but it's not nothing either.
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Old 09-19-18, 05:01 AM
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Assuming no headwind, I agree with the 100 calories per 5 km or about 35 cal mile for 12 mph. That is about 7 cal per min.

At 15 mph it is closer to 10 cal per min, which is about 40 calories per mile.

The usual caveats about YMMV, etc.
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Old 09-19-18, 05:18 AM
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A 150 lbs. person cycling a steady pace of 14 mph will burn 48 calories per mile, that same person traveling at 20 mph will burn 56 calories per mile. Now take a 200 lbs person traveling at the same speeds would burn 64 and 75 calories per mile. I am sure these numbers will go up and down depending on just how good of shape an individual is in.
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Old 09-19-18, 05:20 AM
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Originally Posted by willpetras View Post
I mean exhaustion in that when I sit down after 10 miles I do feel relaxed, like after a workout. Most people would feel the same. 10 miles isn't a lot of cycling but it's not nothing either.
But 10 miles is only about 16 kilometres. If you're just starting cycling, or starting again after an injury, I could see that could well be a "workout" ... but not if you've been cycling a while, and especially not if it is dead flat with no wind.
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Old 09-19-18, 05:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Rock71 View Post
A 150 lbs. person cycling a steady pace of 14 mph will burn 48 calories per mile, that same person traveling at 20 mph will burn 56 calories per mile. Now take a 200 lbs person traveling at the same speeds would burn 64 and 75 calories per mile. I am sure these numbers will go up and down depending on just how good of shape an individual is in.

Nope. Way too optimistic.
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Old 09-19-18, 06:29 AM
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everyone is different and their bodies will react differently to all activities. If you're really out of shape and over weight then 10 miles might burn more calories than the guy/gal that rides a few hours a day. Your body adjusts to whatever your activity level is, becoming more efficient and using less calories for the same activity.

just know that riding alone is not the end all of losing weight. controlling what you eat is a bigger factor imo
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Old 09-19-18, 06:36 AM
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My typical family bike ride is 10 to 20 miles on flat trails at somewhere around 12 mph. I tow my daughter on her tag along. Altogether it's around 100lbs of bike, trailer and kid. (To be fair, she will do a little bit of pedalling if I ask her to) I'd say it's a similar level of exertion as a moderate stroll for the same amount of time, if that.

I don't think it matters what bike you're riding, 12 mph on flat land should be pretty effortless.
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Old 09-19-18, 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Rock71 View Post
A 150 lbs. person cycling a steady pace of 14 mph will burn 48 calories per mile, that same person traveling at 20 mph will burn 56 calories per mile. Now take a 200 lbs person traveling at the same speeds would burn 64 and 75 calories per mile. I am sure these numbers will go up and down depending on just how good of shape an individual is in.
Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Nope. Way too optimistic.

Yeah, I was gonna say. I'm 200+ and burn ~37kcal/mi, regardless of speed. Assuming flat ground, so ascents and descents are taken out of the picture, I burn the same calories per mile so long as I'm turning the pedals. That number goes up when ascending (gravity) and down when descending (coasting burns nothing.) It was initially hard to wrap my head around the fact that intensity and calorie burn are not directly related. Now I can just guess 35kcal/mi is safe, unless there's a whole lot of coasting, or a whole lot of climbing.

Because I have rides that look like this:
50 miles w/ 1,736ft @ 19.4mph, 37kcal/mi.
63 miles w/ 1,417ft @ 17.0mph, 36kcal/mi.
64 miles w/ 2,149ft @ 19.5mph, 36kcal.mi.

Going up hills uses more (because you're effectively going further) but coming down them evens it out. So the OP has got something else going on if feeling symptoms of fatigue after just 10 miles of slow riding.
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Old 09-19-18, 07:18 AM
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At a steady pace, on flat ground (no stop/start acceleration, or hills) Bike Weight and Rider Weight don't make as much of a difference as Speed WRT Calories expended.
Unless you are an unusually large person, or pulling a lot of extra weight, like a trailer or cargo bike, 12mph cruising doesn't take a whole lot of effort, but it does take some. Riding for an hour, your body does adjust to the effort expended. On your dutch bike, you are neither crushing big 52t gears, or spinning high 90rpm cadence, but it's more than just sitting in your chair. When you finish the ride, and sit down, your body is still operating under the 'high effort 'settings'' which is the 'exhaustion' you feel, as your body re-adjusts to 'at rest.' With better conditioning, your body will adjust faster, but it still takes time. This is why almost every training plan for any sport or activity includes warm-up and cool-down time.
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Old 09-19-18, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Rock71 View Post
A 150 lbs. person cycling a steady pace of 14 mph will burn 48 calories per mile, that same person traveling at 20 mph will burn 56 calories per mile. Now take a 200 lbs person traveling at the same speeds would burn 64 and 75 calories per mile. I am sure these numbers will go up and down depending on just how good of shape an individual is in.
As others have said, these numbers don't sound reasonable. On flat terrain, a 200 lb person isn't going to burn that much more than a 150 lb person. They also just seem too high in general.
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Old 09-19-18, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Yeah, I was gonna say. I'm 200+ and burn ~37kcal/mi, regardless of speed. Assuming flat ground, so ascents and descents are taken out of the picture, I burn the same calories per mile so long as I'm turning the pedals. That number goes up when ascending (gravity) and down when descending (coasting burns nothing.) It was initially hard to wrap my head around the fact that intensity and calorie burn are not directly related. Now I can just guess 35kcal/mi is safe, unless there's a whole lot of coasting, or a whole lot of climbing.

Because I have rides that look like this:
50 miles w/ 1,736ft @ 19.4mph, 37kcal/mi.
63 miles w/ 1,417ft @ 17.0mph, 36kcal/mi.
64 miles w/ 2,149ft @ 19.5mph, 36kcal.mi.

Going up hills uses more (because you're effectively going further) but coming down them evens it out. So the OP has got something else going on if feeling symptoms of fatigue after just 10 miles of slow riding.
A significant change of speed should change your calories burned per mile. As you no doubt know, the force required to overcome air resistance is proportional to the square of the air speed. Going faster is less efficient.
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Old 09-19-18, 07:39 AM
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Weight of the bicycle matters most upon acceleration and going uphill, and almost not at all in maintaining momentum on level ground. So you're expending more energy getting that 50 pound bicycle up to speed than you would be getting a lighter bike up to the same speed, but about the same running it at cruising speed. You may not, however, have the strength to get the 50 pound bike up to the same cruising speed as, say, a 25 pound bike.

Weight of the rider is going to have a way more complex relationship to the number of calories burned because of the complicating factors of ratio of muscle to fat and the overall size of the rider. Besides using calories more efficiently, a comparatively muscled person will be somewhat smaller than a comparatively fat person at the same weight (muscle is denser than fat). In general, being smaller is more aerodynamic. At 12 mph, aerodynamics aren't that important, but it's a factor in determining whether someone can accelerate beyond that.
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Old 09-19-18, 07:45 AM
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Has anyone ever figured out how many calories, roughly, each pedal stroke burns? Sounds like we are talking substantially less than one calorie. I find the incredibly depressing, from a weight loss perspective.

I feel better now, about riding fairly hard for several hours, and then just eating a normal diet. For years, I used to "carbo load" before and after rides, and I think I probably overdid it a bit, especially with the beer-based carbohydrates that tend to accumulate around the waistline.

My weight loss tip of the day is this. Ride until you are completely exhausted, then either fast or just eat what you normally would. If you keep doing that, you WILL lose weight, just as I did, and you'll still recover fine, since cycling does not burn up anywhere near as many calories as people think it does.
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Old 09-19-18, 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by OBoile View Post
A significant change of speed should change your calories burned per mile. As you no doubt know, the force required to overcome air resistance is proportional to the square of the air speed. Going faster is less efficient.
Not as much as you'd think. Aero efficiency is king.

80% intensity for an hour:
23.5 miles w/ 153ft @ 23.5mph, 39.7kcal/mi
Riding home at significantly less intensity:
23.1 miles w/ 722ft @ 19.1mph, 36.8kcal/mi

So going back home a good bit slower, about 60kcal difference. But going uphill? I'm heavy. Climbing 6,000ft in 3 hours, I averaged over 80kcal/mi... at around 8mph.
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Old 09-19-18, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by willpetras View Post
I mean exhaustion in that when I sit down after 10 miles I do feel relaxed, like after a workout. Most people would feel the same. 10 miles isn't a lot of cycling but it's not nothing either.

To me, "exhaustion" and "being tired" mean something completely different from being relaxed. I've actually ridden a 50+ pound bike > 80 miles, and I'd say I felt it a little more in the legs than I would a lighter bike, but that included some hills.
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Old 09-19-18, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
To me, "exhaustion" and "being tired" mean something completely different from being relaxed. I've actually ridden a 50+ pound bike > 80 miles, and I'd say I felt it a little more in the legs than I would a lighter bike, but that included some hills.
Yes. When I think of "exhaustion" I think of how I feel after my fastest century of the year, or a long, hot, hilly 200K randonnee, or even longer, more challenging rides. That feeling like "I'm thrilled I've accomplished something, but right now I need to get into a hot shower, eat a pizza, and sleep for 12 hours".

That's quite different from how I feel after I've run 5+ km at lunch or have spent an hour doing Zwift in an evening, where I feel like I've had a reasonably decent workout and am happy to settle in and get some work done.
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Old 09-19-18, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Not as much as you'd think. Aero efficiency is king.

80% intensity for an hour:
23.5 miles w/ 153ft @ 23.5mph, 39.7kcal/mi
Riding home at significantly less intensity:
23.1 miles w/ 722ft @ 19.1mph, 36.8kcal/mi

So going back home a good bit slower, about 60kcal difference. But going uphill? I'm heavy. Climbing 6,000ft in 3 hours, I averaged over 80kcal/mi... at around 8mph.
Actually it is as much as I think. The formula for measuring air resistance is one that has been repeatedly tested and shown to be quite accurate.

You'll note on your ride, you burned fewer calories despite having more climbing on the way back.
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Old 09-19-18, 08:26 AM
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Because 19mph is easy, ya know? But god, I wish it made a difference bigger than about 7%. Then I could burn more, eat more, and cover less distance. A 100km ride with typical elevation (~35ft/mi) will take me ~2,200kcal, whether it averages 16mph, 17mph, or 20mph. The only way to burn more calories is to ride more effective distance-- and I'd rather go real fast on flat ground than sweat up a mountain really slowly. At least most of the time.
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Old 09-19-18, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Colnago Mixte View Post
My weight loss tip of the day is this. Ride until you are completely exhausted, then either fast or just eat what you normally would. If you keep doing that, you WILL lose weight, just as I did, and you'll still recover fine, since cycling does not burn up anywhere near as many calories as people think it does.
What works for you could be disastrous for someone else. Please don't ever advise people to fast after exhausting themselves. That's not a diet, that's an eating disorder.
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Old 09-19-18, 08:33 AM
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The last time I was completely exhausted after a ride, I rode 40 miles from home to Glendora Mountain Road, climbed 5,000ft, then rode 40 miles home-- 108 miles total.

For bonus points, the last 20 miles it was over 100. The notion of fasting never once occurred to me. I ate pretty much non-stop the rest of the day.
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