1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
mtn. biking 101
2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
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    Heart rate zones and other newbie questions

    I've only been out twice on my bike since I wired up the HAC4 (what a fun little toy), but I have a question about these 'heart rate zones' I see all over the place.

    Everything I've found so far lists 60-70% of max heart rate as the 'fat burning zone' (fat burning being of interest to me). Then 70-80% is like 'aerobic,' 80-90% is 'anaerobic,' and 90-100% is 'danger Will Robinson.'

    Now, if I use the 220-age formula, my max heart rate should be around 181 (for the math challenged, I'll help you out...I'm 39 this year...heh). According to the HRM function of the HAC4, though, I've hit a max of 202. Last night's ride saw me do 6.89 miles (road) in about 31 minutes. But, I spent about 15 minutes of that ride with my heart rate between 180 and 190. According to the 'formula,' I spent a fair amount of time in or beyond the 'red zone.' According to my own measured max, I spent half my ride time in the 'red zone.'

    While I was riding, I didn't feel like my heart was going to beat out of my chest at all. In fact, I was more preoccupied with whatever that muscle is on the back of my thigh(s) that was feeling so tired. When I got home, after my little (too short) cool down, my heart rate was down to like 130-140. Oh, and I was able to walk down the stairs to the basement, get a thing of lemonade for Littleman and walk back up the stairs without any problems. No light headedness or feeling faint or tunnel vision or anything.

    So, here are my questions:

    1) Am I going to stroke out if I keep this pace up? I honestly can't imagine enjoying biking any slower. Actually, I most enjoyed it when I was hitting 20mph. Faster is funner, n'est pas?

    2) If 60-70% is the 'fat burning zone' does that imply that exercising at, say 80-90% won't burn fat? I'd guess that you still do, but what do I know? Is it at a reduced rate? Increased rate?

    3) Should I be feeling that muscle in the back of my thigh getting fatigued while riding? The big muscle in the front (quadricep?) doesn't seem to get tired at all. My knees don't seem like they're taking any abuse, either.

    4) I know the knobbies on my Fisher are not ideal for road biking. Can anyone give a thumbnail sketch of the pros/cons of switching to a road bike/cyclocross for road riding? Obviously, extra cost for buying a new bike, but isn't that what hobbies are for? It seems to me that a road bike would be easier to ride on the road vice the mt. bike, but what effect does that have on effort expended? Same effort, just go faster?

    5) I can walk today and don't feel any more 'sore' (except my sit bones) than after, say, stength training (leg press, curls, etc.). Does this mean I should gear up and work a bit harder?

    EDIT:

    6) What is 'The Book' to have for bike maintenance/setup? I know every other hobby I have has 'The Book' (sometimes called 'the bible'), so I'm going to assume there is one for biking. Title/Author?

    Thanks for tolerating my n00b-ness.
    Last edited by Dickseacup; 05-23-2006 at 07:44 AM.

  2. #2
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    there are so many varying factors in terms of a person's max heart rate. i've never used a heart rate monitor and always thought of them as excessive obvious gauges. i used to weight 220 pounds and now am at 150, it wasn't because of a monitor that dictated my efforts, it was a will, an obvious goal, and the execution of the task.

    -lets say you are completely new to running, you decide to take up the sport and in 3 weeks you managed to lose 10 pounds. (2 miles a day, no diet changes)

    -fast forward 3 more weeks, and you only lose 3 pounds. (2 miles a day, no diet changes).

    -what has happened? although you still saw reduction in numbers, there are two other changes. 1. muscle is being built. 2. your "max" heart rate has increased.

    -you must adjust. instead of running 2 miles in 14 minutes, shoot for 12 minutes. in other words, you must allow your performance to adjust to the physical improvments. "utilize the tools".

    in terms of force applied, you don't want to push yourself too hard. you can however, increase the time spent and distance -OR- "peaks and valleys", warm up, go hard, cool down, warm up, go hard, cool down.

    there is a difference between helping yourself and killing yourself. exercise should never feel like a chore, neither should cycling. it's a lifestyle that yeilds benefits.

    i'm not sure if i provided any real answer. but "peak and valley" is a safe alternative to maximize endurance, performance, and calorie burning.

    -edit- the 80%-90% range you speak of, or the "anerobic" range is much like "anorexia for muscles". you work off the calories consumed, and your muscles basically start to consume themselves, so to speak.
    Last edited by sutherland; 05-23-2006 at 08:16 AM.

  3. #3
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    See, that's the thing. I didn't/don't feel like I'm pushing too hard and last night's ride certainly didn't feel like a chore. It was fun in a mindless sort of way. Thanks for the info on the anaerobic range. Don't think I want to have my muscles going all cannibal on me. That sounds bad.

  4. #4
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    Are you maintaining a high cadence whilst riding or slowly cranking the big ring? Try experimenting with higher cadence (80-90rpm) and see how your leg muscles feel over extended periods. Good luck!

  5. #5
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    I can give that a try. I was maintaining a cadence somewhere between 60-75 for the first half of the ride, then the comp stopped reporting cadence. I still have to look in to what caused that to happen.

  6. #6
    Keepin' it real since '74
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    If you want some good info. on training and heart rates, take a look at this website. I've been using it to setup my workouts.

    http://www.cptips.com/toc.htm#trntips
    "If God didn't want us to eat animals, He wouldn't have made them out of meat."

  7. #7
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    In response to question #4:

    For riding on the road, I purchased a set of these.

    Specialized Nimbus (26 x 1.5)

    They seem to roll much smoother on the road than knobbies, plus the annoying "howwwwwl" is gone . It only takes me about 15 minutes to switch tires. Much cheaper than a new bike.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the link to those tips, trailrash. Very interesting reading. In the end, I guess I'm not terribly concerned about what the HRM is reporting. My primary concern was that spending all that time at 100% of MHR was going to cause me to experience a cardiac 'event' of some sort. That page you linked to seems to say that's not a concern. Not that I intend to go back out tonight and purposefully max my HR out. =)

    Now I just need to find out if expending the same effort on a dedicated road bike will get me farther, faster.

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