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Old 08-27-08, 11:45 AM   #1
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A Couple (Rather Subjective) Questions

I ride a multi-geared mountain bike. I think it has 20 total gears. For the most part, I ride in 19th gear. What I'm wondering about is what would be more beneficial... riding in a low gear or a high gear (if I'm trying to burn calories).

I used to think that riding in a low gear was better, because it seems like you're doing more work. However, there's obviously much more resistance in a much higher gear, so I think my thinking may be off. Based on anecdotal evidence from riding an exercise bike at a gym (remember, I'm riding an outdoor bike, now), it seemed like I was burning a lot more calories with more resistance. Ergo, I'm led to believe that a higher gear is the way to go.

The only reason I'm still skeptical is because it doesn't seem like I break out in a sweat very often on my bike ride, despite the fact that I go 15-17 miles on a ride and for usually 60-80 minutes at a time. That may not sound like a very good pace, but you've got to remember that this is in-city bike riding so I have to do a lot of stopping and whatnot.

I guess my goal is to ultimately just drop fat and get toned and into shape.
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Old 08-27-08, 03:21 PM   #2
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It sounds like you're pushing a very big gear at a very slow cadence. Which can build leg strength but can just as easily cause knee pain.
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Old 08-27-08, 06:11 PM   #3
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generally people ride with a cadence of 80-90 rpm. "racer's" ride at 90-100 and more casual people at 70-80.

Like stated before you dont want to push to hard with a slow cadence because it is hard on your knees.

Its a balance between your legs getting tired and your lungs getting tired. If your legs get tired first spin faster. If your out of breath first spin slower and work your legs harder.

These are just vague and general rules.
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Old 08-28-08, 09:26 AM   #4
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To burn the most calories, push a big gear at a high cadence. In other words, make the bike go as fast as you can for the length of the ride you are taking. If your legs are totally trashed at the end of the ride but you never ran out of breath, spin a higher cadence - meaning use a lower gear. If your legs don't get trashed, then use a bigger gear. When I was starting to train seriously, I rode away from home until I was pretty tired, then rode back. You can get a lot tireder and still ride than you think you can.
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Old 08-30-08, 04:10 AM   #5
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The number of calories burned is overwhelmingly a function of how far and how fast you ride. The gear you're in doesn't make a significant difference for calories. The gear you're in does make a difference in comfort tho. If your in too high a gear you will build up lactic acid in your muscles and they will "burn", which is demotivating and may tend to shorten/slow your ride. I like to be in a low enough gear for my heart/lungs to be the limiting factor rather than the burn in my legs. I'll be blowing like a steam locomotive, but my legs won't pain me too much. Its more comfortable that way, and I'll tend to go faster overall, and stay on the bike longer.
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