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Easy rides more leg fatigue?

Old 08-22-22, 08:16 PM
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Mtracer
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Easy rides more leg fatigue?

I've notice something this year and it makes no sense to me. I've done more long rides at low zone 2 power. But I swear my legs legs get more sore and fatigued than when I do them at a high zone 2 power. I'm talking long-ish rides of 3-4 hours in length and relatively flat most of the time. So, a fairly constant intensity with few if any surges.

Obviously a higher intensity has to be more fatiguing overall, but is there a reason a lot of low intensity could cause more muscle soreness than the same ride done at higher intensity?

FYI, these are typically 50+ mile rides and I do this about once a week along with 2-3 other rides. Usually averaging 120 miles or so a week and most of the time a full day of rest between rides. I'm also 61 years old and been riding a little over 3 years.
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Old 08-22-22, 11:20 PM
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If the easier rides are at different pedaling cadence that may explain it.

I get similar experience as you do when I'm doing lower HR ride at higher cadence. Shorter rides in my case but higher intensity. Zone 3 at high cadence will get my legs sore while zone 4 at significantly lower cadence will not get my legs sore at the same period of time.

Pedaling out of the saddle can also make a difference and we tend to do it in intervals at higher zones and can actually reduce soreness.
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Old 08-23-22, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by koala logs View Post
If the easier rides are at different pedaling cadence that may explain it.

I get similar experience as you do when I'm doing lower HR ride at higher cadence. Shorter rides in my case but higher intensity. Zone 3 at high cadence will get my legs sore while zone 4 at significantly lower cadence will not get my legs sore at the same period of time.

Pedaling out of the saddle can also make a difference and we tend to do it in intervals at higher zones and can actually reduce soreness.
If anything my cadenced is likely a bit lower on the easier rides. In general, I find my preferred cadence is lower the lower the effort all other things being equal. But between a low or high zone 2 effort, I'm talking maybe an average of 82 RPM vs 84 RPM, not a huge difference.

For a similar distance ride, of course the lower the effort the longer the ride takes and therefore for the same cadence there would be more pedal strokes. I could compare actual numbers from Garmin data, but I think the number of extra pedal strokes would be in the range of 6%. I don't think that's something that would make a noticeable difference.

I think it's possible it's just using muscles differently, though it's not like I do these lower intensity rides rarely. So, I would think I would adapt to them. I wonder if it could have something to do with post-ride recovery. Maybe for some reason higher intensity efforts clear something from from the muscles that lower efforts don't. That perhaps there is something to be done near the end of the ride or post ride.
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Old 08-23-22, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Mtracer View Post
For a similar distance ride, of course the lower the effort the longer the ride takes and therefore for the same cadence there would be more pedal strokes. I could compare actual numbers from Garmin data, but I think the number of extra pedal strokes would be in the range of 6%. I don't think that's something that would make a noticeable difference.
Could be that! Especially on the 50 mile rides.
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Old 08-23-22, 03:41 PM
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I tend to agree that cadence is part of the reason and the answer.

But don't expect a few rides trying this and that to show you anything. This is stuff that will take an entire year or more for your body to adjust.
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Old 08-25-22, 06:11 PM
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It finally occurs to me that your issue could be a lack of endorphins, the cyclist's drug of choice, at low effort levels. We produce more endorphins at higher levels of exertion. Blessed endorphins.
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Old 08-29-22, 08:29 AM
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Here is what happens to me on lower versus higher power in the same zone. At lower power, I tend to focus on constant pedal force and my cadence drops. Why? At lower cadence it is easier for me to make accurate power. I tend to be more relaxed and my posture changes on the bike and not for the better.

As I begin to increase power, my back flattens and I have slightly less weight on my hands. My posture becomes more aggressive and I may slide forward on the saddle. More weight is now being supported by my feet.

For me, I think small changes on the bike generate different feelings of fatigue during and post ride. I do not like recovery ride that feature higher cadence and no power. They make my sit bones sore.

You may be adding more muscle tightness in your legs trying to ride easier than just relax and let it happen.
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Old 08-30-22, 09:47 AM
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Last two rides I tried to keep in the low zones. Still wound up with more Z3 but got Z2 about 40% of the time. One thing I noticed is that my entry speed for climbs was way slower, so my kinetic energy didn't carry me as far up the hill and I had to spend more time pedaling up them at a slower speed which also took more effort.
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Old 08-30-22, 10:00 AM
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I've noticed when I borrow my wife's e-bike and put it on the highest setting, climbing steep hills seems almost effortless, but then my legs feel it a lot more than if I had biked up the same (hard) hill on my non-e-bike. The only explanations I have are poor bike fit and cadence.
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Old 08-30-22, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
It finally occurs to me that your issue could be a lack of endorphins, the cyclist's drug of choice, at low effort levels. We produce more endorphins at higher levels of exertion. Blessed endorphins.
This certainly is an intriguing idea,. I did a quick look on the interwebs concerning how long the "runner's high" lasts. It appears that it's a few hours maybe a bit more under some circumstances. I'm talking about something that extends a day or more. But perception is it's own thing. Maybe if the endorphins make me feel better on harder rides, there is some tendency to feel better later, even if they endorphins themselves have worn off. Sort of the way sometimes it's best to suppress pain quickly to keep it under control.

Of course, this is all very subjective and it could be that I simply expect the easier ride to have less of an impact then it does. Therefore when there is some soreness from it, I think it is worse than it is simply because it is worse then I think it should be.
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Old 08-31-22, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Mtracer View Post
This certainly is an intriguing idea,. I did a quick look on the interwebs concerning how long the "runner's high" lasts. It appears that it's a few hours maybe a bit more under some circumstances. I'm talking about something that extends a day or more. But perception is it's own thing. Maybe if the endorphins make me feel better on harder rides, there is some tendency to feel better later, even if they endorphins themselves have worn off. Sort of the way sometimes it's best to suppress pain quickly to keep it under control.

Of course, this is all very subjective and it could be that I simply expect the easier ride to have less of an impact then it does. Therefore when there is some soreness from it, I think it is worse than it is simply because it is worse then I think it should be.
Although I think post 7 by Hermes is the most likely answer. You pedal differently when you ride more slowly, so some muscles get used more than normal and they get tired and sore.
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