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  1. #1
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    Clyde's and HRM's

    I fairly new to mountain biking and I'm learning a lot. Ok, maybe I'm not new to Mtn biking but I'm just getting more into it lately. I just posted on the 'roll call sticky' at the front of this forum if you want some background.

    I recently had many reasons to "meet" doctors. At one of the recent meetings I mentioned that when I go mtn biking, my HRM is showing a peak heart rate around 200. The doctor flipped and sent me to a cardiologist. Great - more doctors. I told them I felt fine and didn't think this was a serious problem. I thought it was due to very limited activity for a year (broken leg). The cardiologist didn't even want to do a stress test because she thought I was in too bad condition. I convinced her that I would be out riding the next day and probably see the 200 BPM. If something was that serious, didn't she want to see it in her office instead of me on a trail, hidden in the woods, and by myself? After all the tests, they concluded my blood pressure was too high and had been that way for a long time (several years) because my heart wall was very thick.

    Now I've been on blood pressure reducer for 6 weeks and riding even more than ever. My conditioning is improving greatly. My blood pressure has come down a little (130/80). But I'm still seeing a peak heart rate around 200. It was 191 this morning during a 10.5 mile ride this morning. I'm 48, so the 220 minus age says my maximum HR should be around 170. Then they recommend 50% to 80% of that so I would stay below ~140. I find that As long as my HR stays in the 150 to 170 range I can keep riding. When I get above 180, I can't ride long (3 to 5 minutes - usually finish the climb) before I need to stop or at least slow down and rest. Oh yeah, I'm feeling better and stronger so I'm pushing harder now. I'm climbing things I've never climbed before.

    My question for the other clydes - what kind of heart rates to you see? How long can you go at what kind of heart rates? Any advice, recommendation, or data points would be helpful. BTW, I looked for similar posts but wanted to hear specifically from other clydesdales. I think our bodies are a bit different than the little short guys.

  2. #2
    Are you gonna eat that?
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    I'm 33 and the 220-age formula isn't too far off, I'll peak around 180 maybe but typically only hit 175, average around 150-155.
    Due to a lack of interest, tomorrow has been canceled

  3. #3
    I've broken one of those!
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    I've been in your shoes. I started riding 4 years ago at 250 lbs. Up 'til about a year ago, I would regularly see 200+ as a max HR on my monitor, which gave my family physician and a cardiologist friend of mine their fair share of holy sh!t looks.

    What got more "normal" max's on my monitor was a local race I did last December. I did well and decided to give it a whirl at a few races in a regional series this year. I logged over 1200 base miles on the road/trainer last winter/early spring and haven't seen anything over 192 bpm since about March, right in line with my 220-age calculated max, including races. Usually I top out at mid to upper 180's. My average HR is 155-160 for "normal" trail rides and around 175 during races.

    My question is, what are your average HR's running? When my maxes were in the 200's my averages were still no higher than about 160. You may be hitting your max at one point toward the end of a climb, usually where I saw mine. Your max is just a snapshot, your average is more of an overall picture.
    "It's not his fault that he's an adorable, unstoppable killing machine."

  4. #4
    Spring! Spring! Spring!
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    I started riding with an HRM about six years ago, not really as to watch my health at the time but more to start establishing a baseline so as in a couple years as I got into my later 30's and then 40's (I'm now 42) I could watch out for sudden changes. I decided to do this because my father has high blood pressure and a couple of my relatives have had other heart disease (stroke) and I wanted to watch out for signs if I could.

    This has led to interesting data points, if you will.

    Back in '00 and '01 I was a nice even 235~240 lbs, a weight I'd been hovering at for well past ten years. My blood pressure was on the high side of "ok" and my pulse reate was a not completely horrid 60-70-ish when getting checked out by a doc but could stand lots of improvement. My heart rate easily eclipses 220+ on huge efforts, recovery in general from efforts is slow but reasonable for my physical health overall. I could "ride hard" for extended periods with my pulse around 140 but could only maintain long "all day" efforts around 120-130's.

    Three years later, now '04, I'm now riding a lot and regularly, pretty much all MTB, having been particularly inspired by my first trip to Moab in '02 to get fitter so I could go back and enjoy it even more. I'm still 235-240 lbs, my blood pressure is a bit lower, my pulse is now a solid 55 at most when getting checked out by a doc (I highlight that because my pulse and pressure do incline when going to the doc). My hard-effort highs can infrequently be above 210/220 bpm, but are usually 190-210 bpm, recovery is not sucky. My "extended effort" range is solidly in the high 140's now.

    Now it's late '07. I've had a good summer losing weight (with my wife). I ride a bit more road (have a tremendously nice road bike so it's really a pleasure, with the right ride and/or company) but still ride well over 90% dirt. I'm riding between 8 and 20-couple hours a week. My weight is down (as of this morning) to just over 200# (which is the lowest it's been since '92). I haven't been to the doc yet this year, but my resting hr is in the low 40's (usually 41-43), max bpm for most rides taps out around 180, recovery from efforts is very quick. My "extended effort" rate is now towards the 160's, with "all day" efforts done easily in the low/mid 150's. My "short extreme effort" is now around 170-180, and can be held for 5 minutes give or take.

    Hope this helps.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the responses guys. This does confirm that I'm in worse shape than I thought. I've got to ride more... At least that's what I'll tell my wife as I'm leaving for a ride.

    On the ride yesterday, max HR was 191, Min HR was 84 (pre-ride), Average HR was 145. It took about an hour for my HR to drop below 100 after the ride. When I needed to stop after a climb (3 times) HR was typically around 175 to 180. I was ready to go again in 2-3 minutes with a HR of less than 150 That peak HR was on long slow grind with a steeper section at the end. I have ordered a heart rate data logger so I can see where and how long the high heart rates are.

    Thanks for the data points. Keep them coming. These kind of points are what I was hoping for. I am starting to wonder if the doctors aren't comparing everyone to the distance runner types and thinking everyone should be like them.

  6. #6
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    Also keep in mind that MTB is generally very irregular (e.g. spiky) in cardio hit.

    Running, and road cycling, will give you more "flat" graphs of heart rate.

  7. #7
    Double-metric mtb man
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    Don't know if it will help, but....

    I do river valley riding. At 32, I should be in the 190 range using the 220-age thing. I've seen 185, but only once. I generally don't go over 180, even on long climbs in the 8+% range. I'm typically riding in the 145-160 average bpm range (but then again, I try not to slow down). My bp has come down considerably since I started back into riding 2.5 yrs ago (now seeing 118/78 - 122/84 type of numbers instead of 132/88-135/90).
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  8. #8
    just along for the ride
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    Never ran a HRM but others some years older running theirs became a bigger distraction (BEEP BEEP BEEEEEEP) than my BP pounding in my ears.

  9. #9
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    If you scared doctors, better tell them to sit down before they read this post.
    When around 20 my heart would happily break 280 without an issue; if you think that is weird when I stopped excersize it would drop to 60-70 (tad above rest) in under one minute.

    At that time the doctors said by blood pressure was scarily low, until I informed them the amount of time I spent running.

    Lots of pies, 6 years and a deskjob later I start to get uncomfortable around 180bpm, though if I then make sure I breath deeply while excersizing it goes down. Blood pressure is slightly above now; which is why I took up biking. Does anyone else not breathe heavily automatically unless activly thought, something I think I have got lately and it is irritating?

    top that!

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  10. #10
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    Everybody is different

    Im 40 years old, 6' at 215. I have mild hypertension (140-95) without drugs, 120/70 on verapimil 240 mg). My max would be 180. On max effort climbs, I can get it to 172-173 but that is it. My resting heart rate is in the high 40's. I have my zones set on my Edge 305 HR at 162 = 90%, I try not to let it stay in the high 160's as you dont want to spend too much time in that upper zone, if you do, you are supposed to give your heart 24-48 hours of rest before you bring it back to that level. The formula of 220- age is a good estimate of your maximum, the only way to get your true maximum is to under go stress tests. Get yourself a good book on heart rates and cardio fitness, it will explain this in much more detail.

  11. #11
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    The 220-age calc is bogus. There is absolutely no science to back it up. (and I'll give you a ref if you like)

    I run well over 200bpm in bursts, and i'm pushing 50. I'm also in good cardio shape.

    This is not to say that you are not out of shape, or should not listen to your cardiologist. Take it easy, ease into the sport.

    If you don't mind my asking, would you describe your diet?

  12. #12
    Fat, but working on it...
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    I would look at your diet as well. I usually don't talk about it because it causes arguments and stuff, but I'm a vegan. My blood pressure before going vegan was at the point where the doctor wanted to put me on medicine to regulate it. I convinced him to let me try a month myself before starting medicine. Now, two years later, my BP stays in the 110/70 range. My cholesterol is below 100. It's due to my diet.

    Now, I am NOT saying you should give up meat or dairy or anything. That's a personal choice and I'm not about to force my beliefs on anyone. I am saying, however, that it's worth looking at your eating habits and reading ingredient labels and see what you are eating that is causing your problems. Cutting down on them (or even better cutting them out) would probably help you quite a bit. It can't hurt...
    Nothing to see here. Move along...

  13. #13
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    what kind of heart rates to you see? How long can you go at what kind of heart rates? Any advice, recommendation, or data points would be helpful.
    I feel I can "go all day" at 140-145.

    20-30 minute jogs, I like 150-160

    I'm topped out at about 175 and I've seen 180 once.

    When I'm in form and exercising regularly, my resting rate is high 50s low 60s.

  14. #14
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    Lets see... 49 years old last week, 6' 5", was up to 255# after Labor day weekend, bought a Bionicon Edison, a nite light and a Garmin Edge 305. I think I've peaked, riding, at 196 or 197 once or twice. I like riding at 150 which is easy, to 160-170 which is paced breathing but conversation is relatively easy. 180 and I'm silent and breathing hard, and 190+ is peaking out at the crest with the sprint before the rest area and gasping.

    Take it for what it's worth, YMMV.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Random Drivel
    The 220-age calc is bogus. There is absolutely no science to back it up. (and I'll give you a ref if you like)

    I run well over 200bpm in bursts, and i'm pushing 50. I'm also in good cardio shape.

    This is not to say that you are not out of shape, or should not listen to your cardiologist. Take it easy, ease into the sport.

    If you don't mind my asking, would you describe your diet?
    I'd like the ref on the 220-age if you can find it.

    I don't know how to take it easy. When there is a challenge I want to attack it. Looking at the HRM and saying "I better slow down" doesn't make for a fun ride. Even if it might be the best for the long term.

    I'l listen to the cardiologist but I'm having a hard time with this 'take this drug for the rest of your life' attitude. Let's look at ALL other options before becoming the drug addict.

    My diet is not all that good. I probably eat fast food for lunch ~3 times a week. I try to eat the grilled chicken burger, but that still isn't very healthy. Salad for a meal 2 or 3 times per week. Dinner is mostly Healthy Choice tv dinners. Breakfast is either instant oatmeal (slow) or microwaved sausage biscuit when I got to get out the door. I know, not real healthy.

    I snuck in a ride after work, but forgot to turn on the HRM. Made 9.5 miles with only one stop - my hands went to sleep. Didn't feel like I needed to rest but I couldn't feel the brake or the shifters. The bigest difference? I made all the climbs I usually miss. It really takes it out of me when I fall or stop and have to walk up the rest of the climb.

  16. #16
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    I got a data logger for my HRM. First ride with it looks like this -


    That was a 9.5 mile ride. I finished it in 1:20 including all stops, walks,etc. I had a really poor ride - I don't think I climbed even the easy stuff I normally climb. But I think the HR log is pretty representative of other rides.

    Obviously the blanks are where the data logger dropped the link with the HRM. I'm not sure I believe the 'low spikes'.. I would think my resting HR before the ride would be the minimum, not some low during the ride.

    RandyBoy - those HR numbers are about the same as mine. That makes the 220-age look very suspect. It might be good for someone who is already in shape but appearently I'm not there. I spent most of the ride near the 170 max HR.

  17. #17
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    Have you tried using the calories burned function on your HRM? I use a Timex Ironman Triathlon. On a short 90min, 8-10mi trail ride I burn anywhere from 2,400-3,200 calories. On a mulit hour epic, I regularly clock in 3K-7,200 calories. Short rides are on the SS so they are a wee bit more intense.

    My peaks get in the 180's at times but that's it. Most rides are 130-160; 170 is a good prolonged sprint on the SS. You need to pay more attention to your resting HR and less on the max. There are so many variables to the max HR; especially other factors that can wreak havoc on that data like other HRMs and the like.

  18. #18
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    The 220-age calc is bogus. There is absolutely no science to back it up. (and I'll give you a ref if you like)
    +1 The 220 - age is just a way to ballpark the average heart rate.

    If you want to make more sense of your HRM and are serious about cardio training take a MAP test......

    http://sheilaeldred.com/personaltrainingmay.pdf

  19. #19
    Recovering Weight Weenie
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    I'm 6'6 215lbs and have been "training" for 2 years and riding for 6. I'm a back of the pack expert racer and a mid/front of the pack clyde racer.

    I'm attaching a file of a race from last year. 54.5 miles and 11.5k of vertical. Took me 7h54m. My heart rate is pretty cool to watch my peak HR decrease with fatigue. In training my peak heart rate is about 180bpm.



    My "zone 4" is 146bpm - 162bpm which is the zone I do intervals in. Any zone 5 work is for very short intervals like 1-3 minutes. Zone 2 efforts 108-128bpm are where my base miles are spent. These zones were established for me after a powertest at a local coach's shop.

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