I’m a triathlete so I train to compete in time trial type settings of distances ranging from 12 to 112 miles.
Sounds like you have some terrific spots to ride! I’m pretty jealous. Since I live in an urban area, I have to do 100% of my cycling indoors with my bike set up on the computrainer. It’s pretty sad…but very effective.
People lump cycling in with “cardio” but it is so different from running. It is a much more strength / muscular endurance based activity. For example, when I am running my max heart rate is low 190s. On the bike I can be pushing so hard I literally want to cry and my HR is only 170! This is a common complaint with folks who also do both running and cycling.
I have a male friend who just got their pro card in triathlon. Cycling is his strength and he has developed his cycling so well that he is able to achieve his “running max HR” on the bike. I have heard of this before… that elite cyclist can max out their ability to achieve similar running and cycling heart rates. Much of his development was also done riding indoors and he bases his training on watts.
I don’t doubt that my friend is more developed in his cycling compared to me… but that said I have a long history with cycling through triathlon and have been doing some specific high intensity stuff on the bike lately. I have been making some performance gains. However I still can get nowhere near my running heart rates!
I suspect it is my lack of muscle mass holding me back as a female who is not doing any weight training (I want to, but there are logistical issues holding me back). The silver lining is that I take all this as evidence that my potential on the bike is vastly greater than what I have achieved so far. The point of saying all this was to relay my observation for any of you to apply when assessing your own cycling performance.
I’ve done a couple of oly dist triathlons… but that was like 7 yrs ago. I’m trying to get back into a bit of training as now i remember how much fun cycling is. And for real, it’s different to running - cycling is hard sport to get excellent at.
I spin indoors maybe 1-2x per week and then cycle outdoors 1-2 times a week. My spin is on a Kaiser m3 where is av watts based, but my outdoor is just time and distance.
If i want to get a bit more serious, you think i should train on HR zones?
If you want to get back in competition mode, I would not recommend using “heart rate zones” since they tend to be geared towards runners. I track my heart race, speed*, and distance* (*of course these are dependent on my trainer resistance setting) just for the sake of being able to track my progress and put numbers on it so it is not subjective. tTats all any of this stuff is, really. Although I can see why using watts on the bike is optimal since it more directly relates to the dominant performance variable on the bike. Heart rate is more a tracker for cardiovascular variable, which I find is often not the limiting factor (why I can’t hit my max heart rate ont he bike)
Honestly, training for competition on the bike is more of black box than with running. The are whole text books written on the exercises physiology behind training elite runners covering everything from the dominant metabolic pathways at different effort level to the main limiting factors in performance. When it comes to finding out how elite cyclists train there is only scattered clips of things in random articles and any book I have seen on the subject is almost too basic to be of any use.
Basically, as with running, you want to build a base and then project onto that hard efforts such as 10mile tempos or shorter very intense intervals or hill repeats. The same general principles of periodization and training program development in running apply. Remember to work on efficiency at different cadences. In addition, bike handling skills need to be developed which will happen naturally if you biking regularly outside.
Former competitive runner (in my teens and 20s). Blew out a knee at age 40, so now all I do is cycle. I do about 20-30 miles 5-7x per week in the summer.
KMeriwetherD is right - you can go steady state for long periods on the bike. But it’s important when doing so to keep early heartrate within reasonable bounds so you don’t go anaerobic too soon. That’s why I wear a Heart Rate monitor - so that I keep it reasonable for the first hour.
There’s nothing like hammering up a long, steep hill. The quad burn is addictive.