HR and age relevancy
Last Post 05/17/2013 05:27 PM by 79 pmooney. 35 Replies.
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Pin0Q0

Posts:229

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05/14/2013 10:14 AM

 Greetings and congrats on the migration and good to see all the familiar names. I was testing and got stuck with the screen name and can’t seem to be able to change it.

I need some advice and input from you older fellas. I turned 49 this year and have noticed a gradual decrease in my Max HR comparing to previous years which I was expecting but not sure what type of guidelines if any I should be able to compare it with for someone my age.

Last year about this time on the same course my Max HR was 176, back in my 30’s it was about 10 bbm higher and this year it’s down to 170. Granted given all the variables apart from my fitness and weight which has remained the same in the past few years and maybe a little better but should the difference be so noticeable? 

Kameron

 [URL=http://s1294.photobucket.com/user/vojdka00/media/Untitled_zps4136f1cb.png.html][/URL]

bobswire

Posts:290

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05/14/2013 12:05 PM
A lot depends on your individual condition and amount of riding you do. I know from experience I can raise my Max HR the more I ride and my conditioning.
I haven't been using my Garmin/HR monitor in over a year but I'll strap it on today and hit a couple of climbs. Last year I was averaging 166 when I was doing lots of riding, when I backed off a bit it would drop down to 158-159. BTW I'm 68
vtguy

Posts:235

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05/14/2013 01:31 PM
My experience is similar to bobswire -- generally in the 160-165 range -- it dips to the high 150's during the winter when I'm exercising less. I'm 67.
C2K_Rider

Posts:168

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05/14/2013 01:43 PM
Depends on how close you want to get to keeling over!

It's going to go down. might as well live with it. The question is, does it really matter? Your AT HR is more important for 99.9% of your riding.
Mine hasn't gone above 165 for a few years. But I rarely got above 180 in my prime. Probably why I never had a chance at being in the finals. OH, btw, maybe you can change it with hardware. with my Garmin I regularly see 250 bpm. And mainly on descents! What a stud!
Oldfart

Posts:462

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05/14/2013 03:31 PM
I think Kam that would not likely be your max. You would probably collapse at true max. In my late 20's I could and did often hit 205 in races but at 31 I did a max VO2 test on a treadmill and hit 213. I was getting dizzy and I doubt I could have gone much longer. In races a few years ago I could hit 196 so in about 20 years I would say my max came down about 10 beats.

C2K Pffffft, I hit 199 kph on a mountain bike once. Uphill. And it felt like I was going much slower I was so darn fit.
Pin0Q0

Posts:229

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05/14/2013 04:13 PM
Holly crap boys, getting old ain't so bad I suppose or is it? I'll keep a lung out and track it closer this year. I think I need to push a bit harder but that ain't gonna happen. The bump in the middle of the elevation chart is the Manyaunk Wall, it's short but at 17% I just hit 160 bpm, and I'm telling you, it was the legs and knees preventing me go harder not the ticker. Ten years ago I couldn't suck air fast enough and felt my lungs were going to spew out of my mouth, the legs tingled, OK maybe screamed......now like OF said pFFFF...... 20% ….yeah sprinting up it in the big ring no problem. I would have made that little Columbian look like a school girl yesterday on that climb if Bissell had signed me up, oh well thei loss.
THE SKINNY

Posts:381

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05/14/2013 08:04 PM
i'm 47 and i touched 173 in spin class this evening. most of the class i was at 160-165. wasn't there a formula for max hr? some number minus your age plus winkie length or something?
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
79pmooney

Posts:1097

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05/14/2013 08:36 PM
Kameron, being limited by leg power,not lung power,is a sign that you are over-geared for that climb. In a low enough gear, you can still hit the ticker limit. Sadly, the gear required keeps getting smaller with age.

I get to witness this as I climb on several very different bikes. 3 have gears; triples with 28 tooth fronts. 2 are fixed; my new ti fixie that I can put a 42-23 on and my winter fixie, 44-17. How I feel and my limits are very different depending on the bike and gearing. The winter fixie is all about legs, on th egood fixie it depends on the climb and with the triple and big enough cog it is all about heart and wind.

Doing climbs with guys riding higher gears is fun. When grades change, I can shift and go with the flow. Those locked into too high a gear cannot, and every acceleration I make is a big drag n them.

Ben
Cosmic Kid

Posts:1063

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05/14/2013 09:47 PM
I haven't seen 170 in a long time on my HRM. Used to be my threshold, then my max and now my "I can't even touch that".

This is a prime example of why training by HR is a poor substitute for training by power. Watts are watts. 250 watts this year is 250 watts next year and 5 years from now. They are objective numbers. HR is too subjective and a poor measuring stick for fotness improvement, especially over the long term.
Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!
THE SKINNY

Posts:381

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05/15/2013 09:21 AM
is training with hr better than nothing?
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
Cosmic Kid

Posts:1063

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05/15/2013 09:31 AM
Oh sure, it is definitely better than nothing....HR is roughly a known output derived from effort (power). But at the end of the day, just like speed or MPH, it is still a pretty poor proxy for power.

Just because your Max HR has dropped doesn't necessarily mean your power output has dropped. So in Kameron's case, he may be concerned about something that is ultimately irrelevant. If his funtional threshold power is the same (or up!), who cares if his Max HR is down? At the end of the day, fitness is about applying the most power to the pedals for a given period of time. HR, Speed, etc are all byproducts of this equation.

Now, there are all sorts of other variables that also come into play.....cost of a power meter, training goals, etc. For example, if your training goals are just fitness based ("I ride for exercise and fitness, not to race."), then power may be a metric that is necessary and you can accomplish your goals using HR. "My avg. HR for this ride used to be XXX bpm and now it is YYY bpm. I know I am fitter now than I was 2 months ago." Similarly, the cost (or specificity) of a PM may not be worth it for some people depending on their goals.
Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!
THE SKINNY

Posts:381

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05/15/2013 09:40 AM
the ymca doesn't have the money for power meters and i usually don't bother with a hr monitor. my metric is "i was faster than that guy last season and now he's kicking my ass"
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
Dale

Posts:471

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05/15/2013 10:51 AM
58 years old-- I hit low 180's at max effort when I'm doing hill repeats or in a race. About 10 years ago I'd hit upper 180's
bobswire

Posts:290

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05/15/2013 11:11 AM
Of course one own heart rate is a very valuable tool but it's not how high your HR is but how to use it as a GUIDE .
Personally I don't train, I ride for joy of it and by extension my health but at the same time I do monitor how my body feels and ride accordingly since I plan to continue to ride for many more years.
C2K_Rider

Posts:168

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05/15/2013 11:14 AM
The cost/benefit of a power meter doesn't work for me. First, I am not trying to get the last 2% - 5% of value out of my training (which is what a power meter is actually good for), I ride the same roads all the time, some of them I've done hundreds of times, and I keep track of splits and HR for varioius sections, especially hills. With that history it is very easy to see how power develops (or not). It's just a speed  and distance value, so very obvious. I don't ride trainers, so no need there. And when I am on unfamiliar roads I just go by perceived exertion. Many riders with power meters are lost if they don't have it. Like people who rely on GPS for directions and then can't tell you the route they just took because they were just passively following directions.
Sweet Milk

Posts:93

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05/15/2013 01:26 PM
Hmm.. It's all relative. Calling HR a proxy may be true if you're interested in power output, but it is a measure of your current rate of oxygen consumption. I like to think of it this way: my HR indicates how hard I am working with respect to my own capabilities, my power output over time indicates how hard I am working wrt others and my power to weight ratio over time will give me a proxy to how fast I will go relative to those others. Now due to our rather complex metabolic systems your oxygen requirements vary in non linear ways on your operating environment and how you are generating your power. What cadence you are using can have a strong influence on the HR due to the energy pathways used (phosphogen system vs. glycolysis), and thus the resulting oxygen requirements and corresponding heart rates. I find that using a power meter can be useful in two ways, first in a rather banal way knowing how much power I am putting out, but, more interestingly in a second way where you can use HR and Power combined to gain a better insight in how your body is reacting to exercise in different circumstances and how you can use your gears to adjust your cadence  to optimize the power output vs. HR.

Reading the above you may understand why I neither use a power meter nor a HR monitor outside - it distracts me from enjoying my ride, or my focus on the race - I am too much of a geek to ignore quantitative data when I have it at hand. On the trainer looking at these numbers gives me welcome respite from just staring at the wall - I tend to set my training goals for intervals in Watts and judge how I am doing by observing my heart rate in conjunction with my cadence.
Pin0

Posts:5

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05/15/2013 02:35 PM
Good informative stuff that I would have never thought about. Ben as far as gearing goes I downgraded. I rode nothing but 11-21 until recently (because we were macho and racers) and it became a habit. When I got my new bike it came with 12-26, so I changed it to 11-26 and now I really dig and am still very attached to the 11t. My mtn bike has 13-34 so I am use to spinning with low gearing. I heard that eating the core of pineapple is good for joint pain, anyone has any other remedies.

So it’s not a matter of fitness because I know I am fitter and faster on long rides (but not as explosive) than I was ten years ago, the only thing I have noticed is drop in my HR, and some pain in my knees when going up (plus a few wrinkles). I guess I should be happy that I still can ride.
CERV

Posts:151

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05/15/2013 03:30 PM
It sounds to me from the comparisons you are making (legs and knees preventing you from going harder) like it's peak leg force that has declined with age, specifically the amount of fast twitch muscle you have.
If you are still trying to push huge gears at slow cadence, but your legs don't have the same % fast twitch muscle they used to, they are going to start to burn and be the limiting factor before they are demanding all the oxygen your heart/lungs is capable of delivering. That means you can't put out as much power (pedal force * cadence) as you used to be able to at lower cadences.

That's not to say you couldn't spin the pedals a little faster at lower force (more slow twitch muscle) and generate similar power levels to what you used to, and probably still get your heart rate up where it used to be. Weight training might be something to consider to help maintain this kind of leg strength.

I'm only 38, and while I'm fitter and can produce more power now than I could at 28, I definitely have less leg stregth and can't do it at as low a cadence as I used to. I also have to have the cadence higher to get to my peak heart rate. I've always had a relatively low peak heart rate, and I used to peak at 186-188bpm at down to 65 cadence. Now I can still get the heart rate up that high, but I need more like minimum 85 cadence to do it. Doesn't matter too much because I can produce more power, even though I need to spin a bit more to do it

Cosmic Kid

Posts:1063

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05/15/2013 04:42 PM
It's all relative. Calling HR a proxy may be true if you're interested in power output, but it is a measure of your current rate of oxygen consumption


Exactly the point I was making (with some added emphasis of my own). It is your current rate....but how does that compare against last year, or the year before, etc.? HR does not remain the same through the years, and as already established, diminishes over the years.

Watts are always watts. Further, watts are the "input" while HR is an "output" or byproduct of the input. You are almost always better off measuring the input vs. the byproduct of work to know how much work is being done.

I do agree with your points re: HR changing depending on cadence, even if you keep watts constant. Using HR in combination w/ power, can help identify correct pedaling cadences. Fr me, my HR is lower w/ lower cadence.....but if I do that for too long, my legs get fatigued. So even there, HR can be misleading because it is n it something I can maintain for too long, even though my HR is lower.
Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!
79pmooney

Posts:1097

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05/15/2013 04:54 PM
CK, I think you got it backwards. Watts is engine output. HR is tied to oxygen and fuel consumption, ie input.

Now you can argue that watts is the input to the transmission, ie the pedals. And that is where it is usually measured. But we don't talk of a car transmission seeing 400 hp. We talk of the engine putting out 400 hp.

I know, picky, picky.

Ben

Edit: another typed smiley face turns yellow. Maybe I will get used to this.
Orange Crush

Posts:1165

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05/15/2013 05:13 PM
Picky but correct Ben. This stuff is easy for guys like me without a heart; nothing to monitor.
Sweet Milk

Posts:93

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05/15/2013 05:16 PM
Just for clarity - I am not arguing with you - just furthering the discussion.

I am confused as how you consider power [Watts] an input? Wattage is normally used as either an output (think engine power) or a consumption characterization (think light bulb) parameter. In the case of a power meter on a bike we are by definition measuring an output parameter resulting from a highly complex process.

Watts may always be Watts, but that is analogue to beats per minute are always beats per minute i.e. a standard unit for measurement.

Anyway - it seems that we mostly agree, other than that I think power and HR are complementary measures of what our bodies are doing, rather than proxies of each other (although from your last paragraph - we agree on that too?)

Cosmic Kid

Posts:1063

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05/15/2013 10:11 PM
I guess when I was referring to power as an input, I was referring to it relative to the bike, not the body. It is the input that drives the bike forward. Does that make sense? In terms of the body's performance, you are correct...it is an output.

The difference between watts and BPM is that watts are objective. If it takes XX watts to go 20 mph for a given set of conditions, it will always take XX watts to go 20 mph for that same set of conditions. Your fitness level has no bearing on watts (other than being able to hold them!). HR can vary depending on any number of circumstances....temperature, cadence, fitness, hydration, etc.

HR has the "most" value, IMO, in the early season. As your season progresses, it becomes increasingly non-important. I don't even look at my HR anymore on the bike. There may be times when I check it if I feel I am struggling..."jeez, why does 200w feel so freakin' hard today?"...but that is just a fancy PE check.

There are some applications where it can tell you some valuable info (see our discussion re: cadence) but even there it can be misleading (and should ideally be used in conjunction with power). A lower HR is not necessarily a good thing if it leads to premature muscle fatigue....as can happen to me if I keep a low cadence (<80) for too long. Yeah, my HR is lower, but it is taking a bigger psyiological toll on my body that is not reflected in the HR.

But again if power is not an option, HR is the best alternative. It was, for decades, the gold standard as a training tool. But power has clearly supplanted it.
Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!
jmdirt

Posts:683

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05/15/2013 11:49 PM
Yes, to much of what has been typed, WTF to some of it though!

My (bike) max HR hasn't dropped much in 20 years but what has been dropping is my average HR for hard efforts/races. It was pretty common for me to have an average HR or 175-180 for most races. Now, even on the same courses, I'm in the upper 160 to lower 170s.
Sweet Milk

Posts:93

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05/16/2013 01:22 PM
I am now even more confused re. input and output - if the statement was relative to the bike, then HR is logically an output of the bike? Anyway, I think this has become an issue of semantics; which it is not worth spending our energy on.

It strikes me that you are discussing HR vs. power data in the sense of which is 'better' than the other. I guess it is worth considering which contains more useful information if we had to choose. That is not a realistic choice considering that power meters are an order of magnitude more expensive than HR monitors, and thus if we can afford a power meter we can easily afford the incremental cost of a HR strap (for most systems that is the only extra bit of hardware needed) . However, if I had to make the decision I would, like you, choose the power meter. Because the environmental effects will be correlated stronger to both RPE and HR than power, and RPE and HR are correlated well enough (but not linearly related!) that with common sense and experience how they interact RPE is a useful alternative.

However, for all the reasons that you listed in your last post as an argument against using HR I want to have the HR monitor. It gives me an indication of how a number of circumstances e.g. .temperature, cadence, fitness, hydration, etc. (to borrow your list ) are affecting my body i.e., system performance and so helps explain why the very simple parameter (power) that determines how fast we are going at an instant comes about. To really be effective in characterization you need to take into account that whole list of parameters that you named (and the etc. contains a lot of them :0 ), some of which are easy to characterize (temperature, humidity), some of which are hard to characterize (mental state, blood lactate level, hydration state, oxygen consumption) and some of which are very hard to characterize (nutritional state). Off course, I left out many other factors that could affect performance. It would be ideal, but certainly not practical, to be able to monitor all these factors affecting out performance, resulting in that simple single output number: power. Even though HR and power are only two of many possible parameters they together with our senses allow us to characterize our efforts pretty completely.

I agree that HR can be easily misinterpreted if used as simply as saying that a lower HR rate is better - as you point out, that is not necessarily the case. It depends on what your immediate goals are to figure out what a good target HR for you at that moment is. However, that is just as true for power - simply saying more power is better is not going to get you far if you do not think about what your goals are. This is after all why there are entire books written about training with power.
bobswire

Posts:290

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05/16/2013 06:45 PM
Here's my result using my Garmin check out my HR. Here
CarbonGecko

Posts:38

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05/16/2013 08:35 PM
Actually most horsepower in cars is measured at the wheels "brake" horsepower. Some take the engine off and put it on an engine dyno.
Horsepower on bikes can be measured at pedals, cranks, hubs... depends on the system. They are about equivalent assuming little power lose to the drivetrain.
Watts is power, the rate of doing work. Heart rate is about oxygen delivery and is only part of the equation along with stroke volume, hematocrit, etc. Cardiac output = stroke volume x HR.
Oxygen delivery = cardiac output x hematocrit + disolved oxygen (not usually important)
With aerobic training max heart rate typically goes down not up.
As we get older our max heart rate gets slower.
Critical power is the power output you can sustain for a certain duration. It is what matters most.
For 99% of cyclist who cares, RIDE YOUR BIKE.

CarbonGecko

Posts:38

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05/16/2013 08:44 PM
Same power output at a lower HR probably means better efficiency. The energy cost of doing work.
But really... get a life.
After a master's degree in applied exercise physiology and an MD... I could care less. How fast am I from point a to point b. Did I kick the other guy's ass or did he kick mine. All I need to know.
The biggest advantage of heart rate is in gauging effort. A lot of recreational cyclists probably over do it from time to time. HR can let you know when you need to ease off a bit... higher morning resting HR, higher HR for same effort = need some active rest.
Power is great but really power to weight ratio = speed. If you ride the same courses and with the same people you know if your power is up or down even if you don't know the exact number.
Sweet Milk

Posts:93

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05/16/2013 09:01 PM
I totally agree GC - that's why I don't ride with a power meter outside - I do think it is more entertaining to think about this stuff on the trainer than staring at the wall ( I tried watching movies, but that doesn't do it for me)
Cosmic Kid

Posts:1063

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05/16/2013 09:54 PM
Posted By Carbon Gecko on 05/16/2013 08:44 PM
Power is great but really power to weight ratio = speed.


No, this is not accurate. Power to weight = speed going uphill. But on the flats (or even on rolling hills) power to weight doesn't tell you much. On the flats, it is about power-to-CDa, which is a more direct translation to speed.
Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!
79pmooney

Posts:1097

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05/16/2013 11:11 PM
CK, it's that power to CDa that sucks. I'm built like a daddy long legs with power output to match.

The place I see HR monitors as really valuable is on non racing, very hilly/mountainous organized bike rides. I have used the monitor to stay below 155 of all the early climbs, letting a lot of people go. One the biggie, I kept it under 166. Had enough left to tackle all the climbs on the way back. And passed a lot of toasted riders.

Now, that was a few years ago. I'd have to spend some time on the trainer to learn my new numbers and zones.

Ben
CERV

Posts:151

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05/17/2013 02:14 AM
power to CDa = more steady state speed, good for TTs
power to weight = better climbing, yes, but also acceleration, which means less energy required each time you need to get up to a given speed. makes you faster in more situations in races
CarbonGecko

Posts:38

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05/17/2013 08:36 AM
Power is the rate of doing work. Work is force over a distance. Distance per unit time is speed. Since our weight is supported on the bike, on a flat course once we overcome inertia and maintain a relatively steady pace then weight is not much of a factor and the force to overcome wind resistance is a much bigger factor (up to or >30% of effort). It is true that every time you accelerate though you need to overcome a certain amount of inertia.

The point I was trying to make is that power is just a number. If you know you have a critical power for a certain event (40 km TT) then you can use a power meter to stay at that critical power. If you know where particular training zones are then you can use power to guide your training; to control how hard you stress yourself or to know you are at a level that allows recovery.

But, the vast majority of recreational cyclists and amateur racers use power as a metric just like speed... "I pulled 400W going up that hill". It is just a number. Most use heart rate essentially the same way. They have very little clue about training zones. They don't have any structured plan to stress their system and then rest and super-compensate. Even if they have a concept of stress and recovery they don't really have an idea of what power outputs equate to what effort or where the point between recovery and stress is.

I have ridden with a lot of pretty serious cat 1, 2, riders who have power meters. I have ridden with a lot of cat 3, 4, 5 and cat nothing riders who have power meters. I have met a handful who I think use it for anything more than a glorified speedometer.
Cosmic Kid

Posts:1063

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05/17/2013 08:55 AM
Cerv, on relatively flat to rolling roads, weight as a factor of acceleration is a small factor. Aero trumps weight every time in those situations. All the data supports this.....

CG, I largely agree with what you are saying, but would point out that because people don't know how to use power properly isn't a negative against power as a training tool.....it is a limitation of the user.

At the end of the day, power is the most important metric when training on the bike. Everything else (speed, HR, etc) is a response to power.

Again, there are any number of reasons why riders may train without power....goals, budget, etc. But if your primary goal while training is performance, then investing in a power meter is the best choice as a training metric......as long as you take the time to understand how to use it. It really isn't that hard either.....establish a FTP, set your training zones and go. Stuff like TSS, IF, NP and Quadrant Analysis is great if you are a data geek, but it is not critical to using a PM effectively.
Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!
CERV

Posts:151

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05/17/2013 05:07 PM
Posted By Cosmic Kid on 05/17/2013 08:55 AM
Cerv, on relatively flat to rolling roads, weight as a factor of acceleration is a small factor. Aero trumps weight every time in those situations. All the data supports this.....


On a relatively flat to rolling road, yes. In a road race where cat and mouse games are going on, or in a crit where you have to accelerate after every corner, I would argue weight does make a very noticeable difference. Two riders who are capable of putting out similar amounts of power, one at 68kg one at 78kg. The 78kg lb rider would become fatigued from those accelerations much sooner. Say 10kg weight difference. Say accelerations from around 30km/h to 50km/h (8m/s to 13.8m/s) lasting 10 seconds each. To accelerate 10kg of mass (no wind resistance) from 8m/s to 13.8m/s requires 632 joules of work. To do it in 10 seconds requires 63.2 watts less power output for those 10 seconds for the lighter cyclist. 68kg cyclist needs to produce 430 watts average to cover the acceleration. 78 kg cyclist needs to produce 493 watts to cover the same acceleration. Do several of those accelerations and the fatigue would add up.
79pmooney

Posts:1097

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05/17/2013 05:27 PM
CERV, to add to that, if you factor in the additional work that is needed if you cannot sustain that higher power and therefore have to do a small chase to close after each of those corners, you see that weight making an even bigger difference.

CK and I will never see eye to eye on rim weight, but I felt it made a huge difference to me using very light rims because as a slow-twitch climber, the chases out of corners and matching accelerations took a huge toll on me. Being a couple of feet closer to that wheel pulling away from me was the difference between making the cut and not many times.

Ben


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