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If you track your FTP...

Old 01-27-21, 09:24 AM
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Jno
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If you track your FTP...

I ride but haven’t toured before and aside from all of the obvious variables, and inevitable adjustments, adaptations, subjectivities etc., I’m hoping to avoid (or minimize the extent of) a situation where I train to ride all day at speed X, and my companions train to ride at speed Y. So, I hope someone on the forum can give me some insight into a variable over which I can exercise some control before the ride: assuming they are in zone 2, at what number of watts does a “typical” (middle aged) tour rider pedal?

P.s. I realize the obvious thing is to ask my companions but like me, they realize that one member of our group may be disadvantaged by the info, at least to the extent I might be advantaged by it.

Thanks
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Old 01-27-21, 12:22 PM
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I think you asked the wrong question. Perhaps the question should have been - how many of you that tour in groups stay together as a group as you ride during the day and how many of you ride at your own pace which may be riding separately?

I have done several bike tours with a former co-worker and we always rode together, or if one of us got away from the other, the one in the lead would frequently stop and wait. But, my co-worker never had any interest in looking at the maps or thinking about our destination for the day, so I was the navigator. If we got separated, we would have to turn our phones on and hope we had cell coverage. We both were pretty close to the same pace, he usually a bit faster than me, especially when we first started out in the morning, but he consistently ran out of steam a couple hours before me.

I did another tour with a different friend, after the first day I told him that I would not try to keep up with him because by trying to stay with him I was overstressing one of my knees. After that we rode separately.

I rode a self supported week tour with ACA, a dozen of us and two guides. There were two couples and rode together as couples, and the other 8 of us rode separately at our own pace. At times a few would ride together but usually not for more than an hour or two.

If you do decide to ride separately, which I suspect you will, that means each day you need to agree on the destination for the day before you start rolling and need to have a contingency plan for areas with no cell coverage for someone blowing a tire if they have no spare or having a mechanical.

Touring, I am usually in the 12.5 to 13 mph average range (20 to 21 km/hr average) on routes that were not too hilly. That is with a fully loaded bike, four panniers. And that is moving average, not counting time stopped for lunch, breaks, photo stops, etc.) I have no clue on watts. And have no clue what FTP is.
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Old 01-27-21, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Jno View Post
I ride but haven’t toured before and aside from all of the obvious variables, and inevitable adjustments, adaptations, subjectivities etc., I’m hoping to avoid (or minimize the extent of) a situation where I train to ride all day at speed X, and my companions train to ride at speed Y. So, I hope someone on the forum can give me some insight into a variable over which I can exercise some control before the ride: assuming they are in zone 2, at what number of watts does a “typical” (middle aged) tour rider pedal?

P.s. I realize the obvious thing is to ask my companions but like me, they realize that one member of our group may be disadvantaged by the info, at least to the extent I might be advantaged by it.

Thanks
Do you have a power meter?
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Old 01-27-21, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by jadocs View Post
Do you have a power meter?
I do. I usually ride alone and my training reflects how (and where) I like to ride, which is entirely unlike riding a steel touring bike with loads and loads of stuff.

My question is about targetted training, not about the expected speed of unknown companions. Most of my training will be indoors, without the variables folks with more frames of reference use (average speeds, distances covered...). In effect, I want to equip myself to generate the approximate watts required to propel a “typical” loaded bike at a sustainable (and “typical”) pace, assuming my companions are bike fit. 150 watts? 175 watts? Other?

Last edited by Jno; 01-27-21 at 01:33 PM.
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Old 01-27-21, 01:37 PM
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Probably 125W (in my case.)

IIRC elite cyclists average close to 400W (tour de France).

Young and fit riders will probably sustain 200W. You may want to play with Garmin insights to compare your output to others. You ll find that average speed is quite high, but average distance quite low.

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Old 01-27-21, 02:32 PM
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For touring I train by hours in the saddle or distance, not watts. I aim for being able to sustain about 75% effort over a long period of time. The goal is not to elevate my breathing or heart rate to a noticeable level of effort.

As you ramp up you will find a pace that is comfortable to sustain over a long period of time and accustom your butt to the saddle.

My roadie friend calls me Mr Slow twitch, as that seems to be what all my muscle fibers are. I do the same with running. However, there is a respect for the fact that I can crank out a decent speed without variation for a pretty long time.

A lot of road training generates more "wattage" but not for a long distance or time. The second area is what will become important for a cross country tour.

Training is good but also schedule the first few days of the tour to be shorter so that people can get used to doing days on end without overuse injuries up front and to shake out any equipment issues. There is a tendency to start out strong and wind up with sore muscles/tendons within a week.
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Old 01-27-21, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
For touring I train by hours in the saddle or distance, not watts. I aim for being able to sustain about 75% effort over a long period of time. The goal is not to elevate my breathing or heart rate to a noticeable level of effort.
.
Thanks for this reply - “75% effort” with steady heart rate at a comfortable level feels like a reference standard I can use, and I’ll see where it takes me. Much obliged
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Old 01-27-21, 04:33 PM
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W/kg (wattage being your wattage at FTP, that is, the wattage you could sustain in an all-out hourlong effort) is a better yardstick of fitness that plain wattage, and we don't know how much you weigh. 2 W/kg is about what you'd expect from someone who's generally in good shape doesn't train on a bike. 3 W/kg is what you'd expect from someone who rides regularly but isn't training intensely. 4 W/kg is what you'd expect from a strong amateur training intensely (FWIW, I'm at ~3.6 W/kg). Above that, you're getting into fairly elite levels.

You don't say whether you've done an FTP test. There are a number of different test protocols; most people ride some version of a 20-minute test and deduct 5% from that result.

For touring, you'll probably find that 45–60% FTP is a comfortable range to ride at. 75% FTP falls into the "tempo" zone and would be a lot of work for a tourist.
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Old 01-27-21, 04:56 PM
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Originally Posted by adamrice View Post
For touring, you'll probably find that 45–60% FTP is a comfortable range to ride at. 75% FTP falls into the "tempo" zone and would be a lot of work for a tourist.
Thanks for the response. I’m 3 w/kg and so with your ballpark of 45-60%, although I’d be hard-pressed to keep up with your capacity, if you were pedalling in your range, I believe I will be safely in the range of my companions (at least as things stand before we all go nuts all winter on our indoor trainers)
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Old 01-27-21, 06:18 PM
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The average watts depends much more on the rider, their bike, their cda, their pannier configuration, weight...
It's basically entirely irrelevant.

Ask your coriders what speed they average and train to that speed
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Old 01-27-21, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by adamrice View Post
W/kg (wattage being your wattage at FTP, that is, the wattage you could sustain in an all-out hourlong effort) is a better yardstick of fitness that plain wattage, and we don't know how much you weigh. 2 W/kg is about what you'd expect from someone who's generally in good shape doesn't train on a bike. 3 W/kg is what you'd expect from someone who rides regularly but isn't training intensely. 4 W/kg is what you'd expect from a strong amateur training intensely (FWIW, I'm at ~3.6 W/kg). Above that, you're getting into fairly elite levels.

You don't say whether you've done an FTP test. There are a number of different test protocols; most people ride some version of a 20-minute test and deduct 5% from that result.

For touring, you'll probably find that 45–60% FTP is a comfortable range to ride at. 75% FTP falls into the "tempo" zone and would be a lot of work for a tourist.
Originally Posted by Jno View Post
Thanks for the response. I’m 3 w/kg and so with your ballpark of 45-60%, although I’d be hard-pressed to keep up with your capacity, if you were pedalling in your range, I believe I will be safely in the range of my companions (at least as things stand before we all go nuts all winter on our indoor trainers)
Just to clarify.

I wouldn't tour at 75% capacity. That was a pre tour training target. On tour I can do 10 - 12 hours a day with minimal stops. Training that long pre trip is problematic as I don't always have the time (still a working stiff). So, I usually will do 80-160km or so at about 75% capacity instead. That's a rough estimate of course, as I have no meter. My guide is a sense of purposeful effort without heavy breathing or a sense of gassing out. A pace I can sustain for the roughly 3 - 5 hours of the ride.

If I can do that and not feel I did too much or need a big recovery, riding all day at a more relaxed pace feels doable.
Remember, it's not what one can do in a single day so much as what one can do repeatedly without deterioration.

Imo, long distance touring is a mental game more than physical. A lot of people condition themselves by simply starting the trip and ramping up. Being able to deal with fatigue, discomfort and boredom and negative head spaces is important and can only really be "trained" for by doing long rides.

Last edited by Happy Feet; 01-27-21 at 08:28 PM.
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Old 01-27-21, 08:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
Remember, it's not what one can do in a single day so much as what one can do repeatedly without deterioration.
Yes, that’ll be the challenge for sure, given my propensity for deterioration!
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Old 01-27-21, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Jno View Post
Yes, that’ll be the challenge for sure, given my propensity for deterioration!
How old are you if I may ask? Most importantly, don't psyche yourself out thinking about the physical demands. Although it's a long ride, you only do each day as a single unit. I kept this thought in my head across the prairies: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Plan to ramp up slowly at first and learn to rely on others for moral support. I mentioned before about sightseeing in Victoria and doing one or two Gulf Islands. That is a great ramping up route/idea as the days are shorter and the scenery is beautiful.

Granted, I love photography and that usually frames my tours (pun intended) I am not much of a doddling sight seer otherwise. Working through the mental game and learning about myself is a fascinating aspect of touring that I look forward to, as I usually do solo trips. What are my strengths and weaknesses and how to work through different experiences is a challenge. Anticipating that makes them positive but If you try to avoid them altogether, or think they should not arise, they can become overwhelming.

For example; I generally get into a funk/negative head space around 2-3pm wherein everything begins to get on my nerves and I develop complaining self talk. It's probably the accumulation of fatigue, discomfort and day long nutritional bonking. Even though I eat, the body is simultaneosly trying to exercise and top up the gas tank. I have found I can't really prevent that mental state but can just ride through it. Learning that, it soon disapates as the good feeling of reaching the end of day goal gains a more imminent position. The most important thing I've learned is to not make major decisions in that space. Same with the end of day. Defer all decisions till tomorrow which, if carried to it's nth degree, gets one through the whole tour

Last edited by Happy Feet; 01-28-21 at 09:32 AM.
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Old 01-28-21, 06:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Jno View Post
...My question is about targetted training, not about the expected speed of unknown companions. Most of my training will be indoors, without the variables folks with more frames of reference use (average speeds, distances covered...). In effect, I want to equip myself to generate the approximate watts required to propel a “typical” loaded bike at a sustainable (and “typical”) pace, assuming my companions are bike fit. 150 watts? 175 watts? Other?
Sorry, your initial question was quite clear, but I read too much into the question when I discussed solo riding versus riding in organized groups.

I really can't make any suggestions for indoor training. After an hour on an exercise bike indoors, my butt is sore and mentally I want to do something else. But outdoors, when the weather is conducive I often do rides of about 100 km. And a year and a half ago did two 200k brevets. Right now there is 30 cm of snow on the ground, I am not doing any long distance rides.

I am not suggesting you skip the indoor training, that is needed for muscle mass retention and a good cardio system, but I do not think there is a good way to train for day after day bike touring which is as much mental and emotional as physical ability. Long days on a bike, day after day, does not correlate to short intervals of indoor training.

I fully agree with everything Happy Feet said. I think the best thing you can do is make sure you are reasonably fit when the time comes for your trip.
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Old 01-28-21, 06:42 AM
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I am a beginner. Can anyone help me with it?
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Old 01-28-21, 08:03 AM
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Jno, I've always wondered about watts and that, but have never had access to a power meter so have no clue what watts I put out. As a longtime tourer though, here are some observations that you can think about and apply to your group riding for this trip project, that I hope does happen.
-riding a heavy bike, its so so important to gradually increase the distances riding loaded in training, to gradually get your knee and leg muscles used to the constant increased effort cmopared to unloaded riding.
As I said, I have no idea of personal wattage, but I do know that when touring, after a week you really start to notice being stronger, after 2 weeks even more, after 3 more.

I know you're thinking like a roadie and thinking watts, and comparing it to your pals, but to me, the most important thing will be to honestly and directly go over with your friends the expectations---expectations of distance that could very well be unrealistic, either from not riding loaded enough a lot beforehand, or from hubris and ego and all that crap that can easily happen between riders. I know this from years of touring, but heck its still easy to get suckered into this--last summer I did a 5, 6 day trip but the first day was with friends and my wife riding to a friends place in the country. I was loaded up, using this as the first day of my tour, but they all had only one pannier on. Even though I was trying to be careful, I found myself pushing to keep up with them at times, my bike was heavy, but they didnt notice really (and I get it, they were riding comfortably, easy to do) so even though I was careful, I did overdo it just a bit and so my one knee was a bit weak, totally typical for me if overdoing it before it gets stronger from strong riding.

As I continued on my own afterwards, I was able to smarten up and dial it back and listen to my body, so after a few days my knee was feeling fine again and I got stronger day after day.
So, just be careful of this, and like Ive said and others too, really try to convince your friends and the group, to plan conservative days for a number of days.
Most importantly is to be all in line with this, and try not to keep up with faster guys, and if you're faster, be considerate and wait up regularly, dont make others feel that they are on the back foot all day long.
This aspect of group riding is super important, so hopefully the dynamic that you guys have will allow this and that you are all considerate of each other.

not the wattage stuff you're looking for, life aint scientific, but I do get trying to understand the numbers so that you can train---I guess my take on it forget the numbers stuff, just get out and ride loaded -- start lighter, gradually increase distances, and gradually increase load--- and things will take care of themselves.

If your group is overly competitive and inconsiderate, this will be a problem, so hopefully by trying to ride a lot together loaded up, you'll be able to properly and maturely arrive at distances etc that work well.
Listen, riding in a group is always going to pose issues--getting up time, how many stops to eat, how long are stops, etc etc and hopefully you guys can work it out between each other and make it work.

it will take time to find the right daily rhythm for this trip, but hopefully both training well beforehand (loaded and gradually increased distances) and addressing the cooperation issues will mean that things go smoothly in riding together.
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Old 01-28-21, 08:17 AM
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ps, back to the numbers thing-- It would be neat to actually know the output and zone stuff that as tourers we operate at. Instinctively we find that "sustainable" output that we can do comfortably for a long time, just as we instinctively know how much we can push on an uphill, or dial it back and downshift a gear. I've always looked at it from a percentage angle, that I dial things back a few % just listening to my body, just as I really listen to my body fueling and hydration wise.

I would say that its way more important to develop the "listening to your body" thing than any "numbers" thing, so given that I don't live in the power meter world, being attentive to all the stuff I just mentioned is always going to be an advantage.
It's the stereotype of Froomie and Sky and riding to numbers, which in racing is so common now, vs I dunno, Nibili or some classics riders who go more on instinct. Group riding really does throw in problems in this regard, ie not stopping for a quick photo (bum) break, or a quick snack break, or just pushing those few % more to keep up all the time. Just the fueling thing at the right time can make all the difference.

All the times that I've held off eating because others didnt feel like it, or to have a "bum break" for a few minutes, or whatever, does make a difference in having you feel more rung out, so this gets back to the "cooperating" aspect of riding a trip with friends.
I really hope the group dynamic can be flexible and gradually find a rhythm that works well enough for all of you, and that includes the pace and all that.
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Old 01-28-21, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Jno View Post
Thanks for this reply - “75% effort” with steady heart rate at a comfortable level feels like a reference standard I can use, and I’ll see where it takes me. Much obliged
JNO effort is power. If you have a power meter you should know what your zones are.

If you are doing a super long tour, I would probably stay in Zone 2 power. What you seem to be talking about is "Relative Perceived Effort" (RPE)....that is not an accurate way to measure effort (ie. power). Your zone 2 is going to be different than other people's zone 2. For example, another cyclist's zone 2 may be your zone 4 (threshold power).

If you don't know what your zones are, I would do an hour all out effort and establish your zones from that result. It doesn't sound like a Ramp test or a 20 min test is going to accurately reflect your true FTP. In my opinion, estimated FTP (based on short tests) are only accurate (or close) when the cyclist has the conditioning for all out efforts for extended periods. Since this tour is going to be a long cycling trip...doing an hour test is going to be more accurate, especially if you have the propensity to deteriorate. You don't want your zones based on an inflated FTP...otherwise you may think your in zone 2 when in fact your in zone 3 as an example.....and that might be hard for you to hold for hours on end.

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Old 01-28-21, 09:51 AM
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Some good general ideas coming out here about working within groups. I really liked the part about discussing realistic expectations. The disconnect can otherwise build resentment as the days pass. One thing could be, if a end of day destination is set, the stronger rider (s) could volunteer to set up the tent or kitchen or put on coffee or a meal so that the more challenged rider could rest when they arrive.

Back to roadie stuff for a minute. I have found a couple of training ideas useful for touring.

One was spending a winter using a spin bike at our local rec center. That season I decided to work on smoothing out my cadence and increasing it from about 80 to 90. I did intervals and long spins etc... and it worked. When I hit the road in earnest after that I found, both from awareness and muscle memory, that my pace increased as I focused on smoother slightly faster cadence.

The other was thinking about heart rate zones. One of my friends that I rode regularly with wore a HR monitor and was really into the data/strava stuff. We talked about it while we rode and he told me about not taking his HR into a high zone for long periods or his ability to rebound would deteriorate without the ability to recover. I got interested and read more about it and learned some stuff. A lot of it I did instinctively but now I am less prone to set a pace that elevates my HR or stresses my legs. I gear down and spin earlier and crank less, or gauge my cranking so I don't over do it. Staying below that exertion threshold does allow one to ride longer.

Plus I wear cycling kit on tours

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Old 01-28-21, 09:58 AM
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apologies if I misunderstood your question.
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Old 01-28-21, 11:06 AM
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Joe Friel has written about 100 books on endurance exercise, and he argues that there are three factors that affect performance: threshold power, VO2 Max, and economy, economy being the number of calories you need to burn to produce 1 kJ of work. You can tailor workouts to accentuate each of these. He also says that there are three variables you can play with in your training: frequency, duration, and intensity.
  • VO2 Max is mostly a factor in short efforts, so it's the opposite of what you need to worry about for touring.
  • Threshold power is relevant to touring if you're trying to tour fast—if your goal is to ride at N% of your FTP, then the higher your FTP, the higher that N% will be. The way to train up FTP (as I understand it) is long intervals (8–20 minutes) at 90–105% FTP. I can tell you from personal experience that doing 4 × 10 @ 105% is grueling—I rarely finish that fourth interval at full power.
  • Economy might be an issue if you're consistently putting in really epic days, because at some point you start butting up against your body's willingness to metabolize more food. Apparently economy is not very well understood, but short, intense efforts do more to train up economy than long efforts. There's also just not that much difference in economy between uneconomical riders and economical ones.
The thing is, touring is not supposed to be a death march (unless it is). There are so many things you should be prioritizing above performance when planning a tour. If you know you can keep your ass in the saddle long enough to cover your anticipated daily mileage in reasonable comfort, without running out of daylight, you're fine.

If you are touring relatively fast and using a power meter, it does make sense to set a target power level and ride to that, and, to the extent possible, not exceed that target. Here's why: higher intensities take a lot out of you. You'll notice in training that a steady-state workout where your average power is 150 W (or whatever) leaves you feeling a lot fresher than an interval workout where the average winds up the same (if you haven't tried this, try it). That's not an illusion. If you can limit periods of high intensity while on tour and at the same time avoid dropping your intensity, you'll have more left in your legs at the end of each day.
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Old 01-28-21, 11:40 AM
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whereabouts are you located? what about your co-riders?
are you in a situation, weather- and lockdown-wise, where y'all could, y'know
take a weekend and do an overnighter out-n-back?

get a feel for what it's like to push a loaded pushbike.
see what the group dynamics are at different times of the day.
hook up the power meter, but ignore the display.
listen to your body and your friends.
download the data afterwards for analysis.

nothing like real-world experience to prepare you to experience the real world.
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Old 01-28-21, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
The other was thinking about heart rate zones. One of my friends that I rode regularly with wore a HR monitor and was really into the data/strava stuff. We talked about it while we rode and he told me about not taking his HR into a high zone for long periods or his ability to rebound would deteriorate without the ability to recover. I got interested and read more about it and learned some stuff. A lot of it I did instinctively but now I am less prone to set a pace that elevates my HR or stresses my legs. I gear down and spin earlier and crank less, or gauge my cranking so I don't over do it. Staying below that exertion threshold does allow one to ride longer.
I'd say all of us figure this out on our own also, especially the last bit.
Everyones fitness and recovery ability is different, and of course changes for the positive during a multi week tour +, and for sure our levels of all this go down as we age, and thats ok, just part of life.

Oh, re riders of varying strengths etc --I wanted to mention the pretty standard practice that my wife and I do, and most couples or even friends--and thats sharing the load.
ie the stronger rider carries more stuff, and will often very much equal out things and just makes things easier to be more or less on the same page speed/distance wise.
With us, even with four panniers and the tent, I climb faster than my wife, but thats ok, I just wait at the top for a min or three or whatever, no big deal--and she doesnt feel "left behind" because I'll always wait for her and keep in sight. Works fine.
Nothing new or special with this method, but its one to keep in mind to make riding together more enjoyable, accent on "together".
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Old 01-28-21, 12:47 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
I'd say all of us figure this out on our own also, especially the last bit.
Everyones fitness and recovery ability is different, and of course changes for the positive during a multi week tour +, and for sure our levels of all this go down as we age, and thats ok, just part of life.
I think an "aha" moment came when I learned that there was some science behind trying not to hit peak threshold efforts unnecessarily. I do this in training but try not to during the event/tour.

Before I think I thought, if I exerted myself, but recovered in the moment, I would reset the bio clock to zero. Now I am more aware of cumulative effects and stay out of full exertion modes when I can. Spinning instead of cranking is the most obvious example.
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Old 01-28-21, 01:39 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
...
... One of my friends that I rode regularly with wore a HR monitor and was really into the data/strava stuff. We talked about it while we rode and he told me about not taking his HR into a high zone for long periods or his ability to rebound would deteriorate without the ability to recover. I got interested and read more about it and learned some stuff. A lot of it I did instinctively but now I am less prone to set a pace that elevates my HR or stresses my legs. I gear down and spin earlier and crank less, or gauge my cranking so I don't over do it. Staying below that exertion threshold does allow one to ride longer.
...
I use a heart rate monitor, but put a lot less thinking into it than that. My Dr and I have discussed (briefly) that I should probably avoid getting heart rate too high. Never had a heart problem, but at my age that sort of thing can happen. So, I glance at it on the steeper uphills to know if I should stop and get off the bike. Thats it, nothing fancy, stay below the big numbers. But, maybe we are saying the same thing.
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