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How to pace myself?

Old 06-05-19, 08:59 AM
  #1  
curttard
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How to pace myself?

I never really have any clue how I should pace myself for Max efficiency. I'm not racing or anything, strictly a recreational rider, but if I could use less effort on my rides or the same effort but more speed or distance, that would obviously be a good thing.

Should I be taking advantage of flats and downhills by pushing it, since I'll be inevitably be creeping up hills? Or should I take advantage of them by taking it relatively easy and saving my energy for the hills?

I notice that plenty of Roadies pass me.on flats and downhills, but I don't think I've ever been passed on a climb, and I always gain on the Roadies who've passed me. Are they saying energy by taking it easy up climbs and then crushing the easy parts for a higher overall speed?
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Old 06-05-19, 09:38 AM
  #2  
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Always save your energy for the hills and the headwind. When it comes to maintaining speed for minimal effort "efficiency" in cycling, this is pivotal, taking the following example (using Bike Calculator) of a 154 kg rider:

-5% Grade and 150 watts speed: 31.4833mph
-5% Grade and 252 watts speed: 33.47mph
6.3% increase in speed for 102 watt difference

+5% Grade 150 watts speed: 7.11mph
+5% Grade 252 watts speed: 11.12mph
56.4% increase in speed for 102 watt difference

This is similarly true with with tailwind vs headwind, this can be seen in the following example:

10mph tailwind and 250 watts is 28.18 mph
10mph tailwind and 310 watts is 29.98 mph
6.38751% increase in speed for 60 watt difference

10mph headwind and 250 watts is 15.71 mph
10mph headwind and 310 watts is 17.39 mph
10.6938% increase in speed for 60 watt difference

Some other tips, sit up, breath deep, and relax your upper body when climbing, don't attack the hill at the start, save your energy for at least half way up.

Save your backbreaking aerodynamic positions for the headwind, even if it costs you some watts.

Try to accelerate over the top of hills so speed is maintained after the hill and onto the flat/downhill.

Try to keep your cadence above 85rpm.

Get a professional bike fit.

Get a power meter and look at this number as well as your heart rate and speed, can be useful in gauging effectiveness of effort.

I'm going to break out graphs soon if this stuff keeps getting questioned...

Last edited by firebird854; 06-06-19 at 12:43 PM.
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Old 06-05-19, 09:39 AM
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plodding along at a modest rate of average speed,

the issue is just how many hours you are sitting on the saddle turning the pedals ..


after a few months I found my self quite a distance from my bike tour's starting point..
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Old 06-05-19, 09:40 AM
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Good question! This is something I'm a little curious about too, though I don't think about it too much (I generally aim for distance and time riding rather than worrying about speed anywhere). I've also noticed I have a tendency to catch up/pass on the climbs and get passed on the flats. I generally do alright on the downhills but most of them around here curve near the base and I think most of my "gain" there is that I can take corners/curves faster on my randonneur with 42mm tires than most of the super light roadies can on their skinny guys.

So far the best thing I've found for not pushing myself too hard is to ride with other people who are also into casual riding. I tend to ride MUCH harder when I'm out on my own and while I'll still happily rack up 75+ miles I'm often beat at the end where I can spend a whole day out riding with other folks and feel up for a second lap when I get home.
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Old 06-05-19, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by firebird854 View Post
Always save your energy for the hills and the headwind. When it comes to efficiency it takes far more effort to go from 29 to 31 mph on a -5% grade then it does to go from 8 to 11 mph on a 10% grade hill. The same holds true for tailwind vs headwind.
Don' just make things up.

Using the defaults at analyticcycling.com, a 165 lb bike+rider would coast down a
5% grade at 33 mph so a rider would have to brake to go 29 or 31 mph. That said, The rider would have to brake 105W to go down hill at 29 mph and 61W for 31. You could say that's an increase of 44W to go from 29 to 31. On the other hand for our rider to climb at 8 mph takes 280W and 394W for 11 mph. An increase of 114W. It looks to me like 44 is a lot less than 114.

You might also choose your work more carefully. This has nothing to do with efficiency. The word is speed. "When it comes to speed, it takes ... ."
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Old 06-05-19, 10:14 AM
  #6  
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full gas man, slow down when you need to breathe
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Old 06-05-19, 10:16 AM
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Bend your elbows more.
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Old 06-05-19, 10:17 AM
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Sounds like you could benefit from using a Power Meter.
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Old 06-05-19, 10:18 AM
  #9  
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In some semblance of order.

Learn to ride in the drops. Chin closer to stem.
Build your engine.
Lightweight rims/tires
Find your best cadence.
Draft.
Hydrate, breathe, relax.

The rest is ride dependent (mts, flats, etc) be smart and just don’t bonk.

Last edited by Wildwood; 06-05-19 at 07:27 PM.
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Old 06-05-19, 10:52 AM
  #10  
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As you get older.. you do that ..
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Old 06-05-19, 11:06 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by jadocs View Post
Sounds like you could benefit from using a Power Meter.
Or a heart rate monitor
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Old 06-05-19, 11:36 AM
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For max efficiency, ride <10mph where air resistance is less.

For max cat 6 performance, keep rides short, go all out & turn off to rest after you have passed your quarry.

To keep overall speed up on medium to longer rides, avoid "burning matches"- keep efforts below LTHR.

To some extent, it's about size- a larger rider will often be faster on flats & downhill than a smaller one.

A couple of simple things to increase speed:

- cresting a hill keep full effort over the top & down the back side until you are back up to cruising speed

- on turns take an inside line. if there's no traffic take the middle line or the whole road, not the shoulder.

- get on the wheel of that passing roadie.
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Old 06-05-19, 11:39 AM
  #13  
curttard
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
Or a heart rate monitor
Ok but what would I want to do? Keep heartrate in same range on flats as uphill? Get the bpm up on the climbs and let it go way down on the flats?
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Old 06-05-19, 11:40 AM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
Or a heart rate monitor
+1 Also you can observe your breathing. Can you talk as you ride? (Classic recovery ride.) Is your breathing even and deep? Starting to get ragged? Heard a block away?

The measuring tools (power, HR, etc.) will not give you the whole picture until you've ridden and used them enough to know what works for your body. Ie, what is your "max" or "baseline". Whatever you buy (if you do), observe your breath and general feelings as you use them. You will start to learn what works for your body and what doesn't. As your fitness improves, your speeds at a given level of breathing or heart rate will increase. You will also get more and more in tune with your body and start to know where it is without tools.
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Old 06-05-19, 11:47 AM
  #15  
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For 80% of the time: ride long mostly at a comfortable but sufficient pace. Then, for about 20% of the time do intervals that make you want to vomit.

So, for 6 hours a week you'd ride about 4.5 hours a week at "endurance" pace while still paying attention to do the hills well.

Then, for 1.5 hours a week you'd do workouts that make you feel like you're going to die. Preferably split into two 45 minute rides.

You get nowhere faster on the bike doing roughly the same moderate thing every time you ride.
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Old 06-05-19, 12:00 PM
  #16  
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Originally Posted by curttard View Post
Ok but what would I want to do? Keep heartrate in same range on flats as uphill? Get the bpm up on the climbs and let it go way down on the flats?
You cannot keep your HR the same on hills unless you go really slow. Let me tell you about a ride I did the other day. I wanted a decently fast ride without digging too deep. It was the third day of 4 riding and I was building base for a ride in a couple of weeks. The ride was 70 miles. Roughly flat for 30, a 10 mile hilly loop and roughly flat coming home except I cut two miles off on the return going over a 2/3s of a mile 300' hill. I kept my HR between 124 and 136 almost the entire time except it climbed to 145 on the hills and higher still when I stood (but I cannot see the monitor when I stand. I am a natural out of the saddle climber so I don't worry about that.)

I spent most of the hills seated and used my gears and pace to stay at 145. (Enough lower gears is a real plus. I am a big fan of triples.) One way to think of hills as they are where you "burn matches". You've only got so many. The further you go over what is for your body a reasonable HR, the more matches you burn. Yes, you build fitness burning matches, but only until you run out, then you can no longer keep up a good training level. The breath observation I have been talking about is a real part of getting to know when you are burning those matches. On rides where I am going to "go for it" on one big hill, I make it a point to keep my HR and breathing really easy on the hills leading up to it. When I was much younger, I kept my HR under 155 the first 40 miles of a century. Allowed myself to stay at 164 for the big climb of miles up a pass and rode it really strong. The 155 was painful! Like limiting a thoroughbred to 12 mph! But it paid off big-time. (Now that 155 is 145. Aging sucks.)

Ben
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Old 06-05-19, 12:10 PM
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Should I be taking advantage of flats and downhills by pushing it, since I'll be inevitably be creeping up hills? Or should I take advantage of them by taking it relatively easy and saving my energy for the hills?
In general, a cyclist's average speed for a mix of terrain will benefit if the most of his/her effort is applied during climbing. And again, in general, overcoming the steepest uphill parts of the course with the most effort is theoretically the most beneficial. However, in practice the human body is not capable of uniformly monitoring itself to determine a perfect application of power for a set varying loads. (this means even using a power meter isn't always helpful)

I never really have any clue how I should pace myself for Max efficiency.
A good start would be to realize that when you mention "Max efficiency" you'd better decide whether you are talking about your body or your bicycle ride.
Two of the most important aspects of any time-trial expert's abilities is the personal talent of knowing when his/her body will benefit from standing - and inversely when it it is better to simply "freewheel" down a mountain.

You can draw some expertise from runners' histories - they know they have an optimal sustainable pace - they train hard and easy to find it. And them they measure that pace across the course distance that confronts them. in cycling -this seems incredible in the face of multi-gear bikes and the ability to "coast." Yet you still end the the ride with an average "overall effort" (or Heart rate avg)
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Old 06-05-19, 12:15 PM
  #18  
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This is why I don't race or ride in big groups, and just do my really long rides by myself--so I don't have to worry about crap like that. I just go fast when I want to and slower when I don't. Speed and efficiency kind of take care of themselves, and I'm too old (58) to worry about some platonic ideal ride. I rode 157 miles in exactly 10 hours of riding time last Saturday, and I rode slower when there was stuff to look at, and faster when there wasn't.

Not knocking anyone for wanting this version of "efficiency", just giving you the perspective of a very active rider who doesn't bother with it.
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Old 06-05-19, 12:18 PM
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For greatest efficiency (overall speed/effort expended) give more effort where something is slowing you down and less effort where it's aiding you. In other words hit it harder going uphill and into the wind, slack or coast going downhill or tailwind.
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Old 06-05-19, 03:07 PM
  #20  
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How to pace myself?
Originally Posted by curttard View Post
I never really have any clue how I should pace myself for Max efficiency. I'm not racing or anything, strictly a recreational rider, but if I could use less effort on my rides or the same effort but more speed or distance, that would obviously be a good thing.

Should I be taking advantage of flats and downhills by pushing it, since I'll be inevitably be creeping up hills? Or should I take advantage of them by taking it relatively easy and saving my energy for the hills?
Originally Posted by jadocs View Post
Sounds like you could benefit from using a Power Meter.
Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
Or a heart rate monitor
FWIW, I have developed my own personal training program, as a strictly recreational rider, that for me is a good way to pace and improve myself:
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
About two weeks ago I described a new training routine for myself combining a well-established Ten Week Century Training Schedule (link) of daily mileage goals with a personalized intensity scale based on Relative Perceived Exertion (RPE).”

My basic premise was that I wanted to get significantly fit, within a busy work/family time-crunched life, but not suffer so much that I would abandon the program.

I do have the advantages of a very nice minimum 14 mile one way commute that is easily extended; and a high end, very comfortable carbon fiber road bike that encourages riding.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
I’m a 40+ year cyclist and I ride mainly for fitness. My training tool is the Relative Perceived Exertion (RPE) Scale, and I use cadence to chose gears to maintain my desired exertion.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
This year though, I decided to go for speed (intensity), and I use the semi-quantitative, standardized, but personally relavant system of The Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutriti...ce/borg-scale/

with my own particular adaptation.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
The RPE scale ranges from 6 to 17, with descriptions of the intensity. Multiply the RPE by 10 is the approximate heart rate. Jim's scale is the equivalent on a 0 to 100 scale, easier to think about:

RPE = 6, resting... Jim's scale = 10 to 20

RPE = 7, very, very light... Jim's scale = 20 to 30

RPE = 9, very light... Jim's scale = 30 to 40

11, fairly light...50 (my usual happy-go-lucky pace without thinking about it)

13, somewhat hard...60 (I have to focus to maintain)

15, hard...70 (I start breathing hard at about 30 seconds)

17, very hard (lactate threshold; breakpoint between hard but steady
breathing and labored with gasping)...80 (my predicted max HR)

19, very, very hard...90 to 100.
My basic training is to ride at my RPE of 50% for six miles to warm up, then cruise at an RPE of 60%, and do intervals (on hills) at 70%. I try to change gears to maintain a cadence of about 85-90 rpm on flats and rolling hills, and about 60 to 80 rpm on harder hills, to maintain my RPE.

Shift up to higher gears as the cadence rises, and shift down as the RPE increases.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 06-05-19 at 03:28 PM.
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Old 06-05-19, 03:26 PM
  #21  
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OP, to know what your endurance pace is, you must first establish the baseline: your lactate threshold. Get a HRM, and do a simple LTHR test. Ride for a little while to get warmed up, then go as hard as you're able for 20-25 minutes. I'll tell you right now-- it won't be fun.

After the ride, look at the average HR during that 20-minute period, that's your threshold heart rate. Set your zones from there using any of the numerous zone calculators.

Most rides will be spent predominantly in Zone 2, or even a split of Zone 1 and Zone 2. Efficiency comes from conditioning, IMO. I do rides with average speeds 2-3mph faster than when I started cycling, but instead of an average HR of say 145, it's now 120.
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Old 06-05-19, 04:59 PM
  #22  
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You naturally fall into a nature pace if you ride long enough. When riding at a steady pace, I time my breathing to match my pedal stroke, one breath for two strokes. When climbing a steep hill, it can be one breath per stroke. When sprinting, I breath however I can.

Your pacing method will vary as you warm up, and as your fitness level increases.
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Old 06-05-19, 05:25 PM
  #23  
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I bike mostly for pleasure, But even so I have a system to keep a reasonable pace, Whether I'm fighting wind @ 10 kph or regular cruising. I know a comfortable cadence for me with nominal effort is 68 rpm, Ranging from 60 at a relaxed pace to 80 with higher effort.

I made a chart with excel showing speeds in gears at 68 rpm. I have memorized the 6 of them or so that I use mostly and when I find my speed, As indicated by my cheap bike computer is much lower then my 68 rpm calculated for a few minutes I switch gears. M7 for example is about 23 kph with a moderate effort. If while maintaining the same effort it drops to 20 kph I'll drop back to M6 which is centered at 20 kph.

This way my legs are more likely to be fresh for hills or wind. And my breathing recovers much more quickly then my legs. Its better to err on the side of spinning slightly to fast then to burn out our leg muscles.
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Old 06-05-19, 08:30 PM
  #24  
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I used to wonder the same, personally a power meter, hr strap and lots of riding really helped me dial it in. I mostly use my power meter and have just kind of learned how much wattage I should be trying to do for various ride lengths...
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Old 06-05-19, 10:57 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
Don' just make things up.

Using the defaults at analyticcycling.com, a 165 lb bike+rider would coast down a
5% grade at 33 mph so a rider would have to brake to go 29 or 31 mph. That said, The rider would have to brake 105W to go down hill at 29 mph and 61W for 31. You could say that's an increase of 44W to go from 29 to 31. On the other hand for our rider to climb at 8 mph takes 280W and 394W for 11 mph. An increase of 114W. It looks to me like 44 is a lot less than 114.

You might also choose your work more carefully. This has nothing to do with efficiency. The word is speed. "When it comes to speed, it takes ... ."
GCN to the rescue?
#2 specifically
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