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Active Expert: Gale Bernhardt

1 Post tagged with the low_heart_rate tag

In a previous blog I gave you summary data for my most recent bike tour. Because I want to get the most from a bike tour, I plan key days to ride fast. Other days will be recovery or aerobic. I suggest you do the same.


How many key days to plan as "key" depends on you as an individual. Some where between two and four days, of a seven day tour, can be fast.


On any mountainous area bike tour I suggest you select the best climbing days to be your key days. Make the big climb(s) your focus and the place where you plan to ride your best.


Basic strategy for most bike tours:

  • Take the first day of the tour easy and mostly aerobic. (I know it’s tough to do, but worth it later.)
  • Pick two or three days to ride your best – and often it’s the key climbs.
  • Be flexible and willing to modify the plan where necessary to optimize the tour experience.


Before beginning my most recent bike tour, I targeted the three days with the biggest climbs to ride as strong as possible. That was day two, day three and day six.


Day 1 of the tour ended up being much, much harder than I anticipated due to wind. We fought gusting crosswinds (I’m told up to 50 mph at times) most of the way to Laramie, Wyoming. Effort on this day was much higher than I planned it to be – but – if I would have kept the effort level low it meant extending the day much later than I wanted.  We got a late start, the day was hot and I broke a saddle. All that put us on the road late into the afternoon.  You can find the day 1 file here. Put all view settings on either distance or time to get a better idea of what was going on. If I would have stuck to original plan, I would have kept heart rate below 142. That didn’t happen. Notice the average speed of 13.5mph.


On day 2, the infamous Wyoming wind didn’t disappoint. We rolled out earlier to try to avoid some of the wind, but from the start line we had headwinds around 15mph. The winds steadily grew so that we had a mostly steady headwind at 24mph. There was still some gusty side winds, but not nearly as bad as day 1. If you put both elevation and heart rate settings on “time” you can see an elevated heart rate section that corresponds with the climb. Heart rate variability is associated with attempting to follow a strong wheel. Notice that heart rate plummets before the end of the climb and that is associated with a viscous leg cramp – I think Gracilis muscle. (I think a result of effort and lots of sideways leg motion to balance in the wind.) Average speed at 13.8mph.


Day 3 - I was whipped from the previous two days, but I still wanted to maximize the climb best I could. I decided to ride the climb at my own pace and try to peg a heart rate of 145 (Zone 3 for me). You can see from the file that I was pretty good at pegging a zone of 145,  +/- 2.  I knew this day would be tough at a predicted 115 miles (turned out to be 119+) and it delivered. Two flat (and ruined) tires, rising temperatures and three days of accumulated fatigue had me ragged at the edges. I needed an easy day.


Key points to take away:

  • As you build fatigue in your legs it is very typicalto see low heart rates and high rating of perceived effort.
  • Some people will see very high and erratic heartrates coupled with low speeds, but I find this is less common.
  • If you are in a state of fatigue, you will not be capable of producing sustained high speeds.


In the next blog I’ll show you files of a rested state and let you know how the tour ended.

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