Monday, 2 January 2012

Base (miles), how slow can you go?

The 2012 mileage account is offcially open. Setting our this morning at 9am, today's ride was all about base miles.  A cold but bright start saw me setting out from home on a loop over to Knutsford.  My ride today was all about staying in heart rate zone one/two (60-75% of my maximum heart rate) in order to fat burn. It's easier said that done.

First things first, I'd got my Garmin set up with an alarm to beep when my heart rate went above 120bpm.  Every time I hit anything with an incline, off it went - bzzz.  A lapse of concentration and you begin to push a bit harder - bzzz, a headwind - bzzzz, a rider in the distance - bzzzz, it felt like I was constantly throttling back. 

It's also difficult to find a route that is pan flat to increase your chances of staying in the zone.  Living in Cheshire, it's perhaps a little easier, so my route today had around 1k of ascent, you can see where those bits were as my heart rate rises.

Overall, my average heart rate was 114bpm, within my target zone for the bulk of the ride, perhaps erring more on a recovery ride than anything.  I also looked to keep my cadence around the 80 mark, so that I could keep a good pedal stroke, getting back my average was 78rpm, so I'll aim for higher next time.

It's funny as people go flying by you as you ride, it's so tempting to turn the gas up, however there is an important principle at stake - go slower, to go faster - don't be tempted to increase your intensity.

By riding in a lower heart rate zone, you are burning more fat as your energy source, ultimately meaning that it can contribute to weight loss, more weight loss with no power loss, means a better power to weight ratio, therefore faster on the bike - bingo, bango, bungo!

It felt good to be out today and get some early miles in, saw a good few cyclists out and about, all smiling and happy.  2012, here we come.....


  1. I don't get this heart rate zone thing for weight loss. At the end of day it's how many calories you expend compared to how many you consume. Going slow just means you burn calories less quickly. Sure, you burn more fat but that means more of the carbs you eat go to fat because they aren't being burned. Can a dietician or a doc please advise on this? I am very confused!

  2. Hi Mark,

    Stay tuned. I've asked a top cycling coach to write a blog about this, which he has agreed to do.