Bicycling and Heart Rate

I have a Garmin 500 GPS bicycle computer that came with a heart rate monitor and cadence sensor. I have occasionally used both in the past but never was serious about using either for training. I used the heart rate monitor mainly to keep in check AFIB in the past. But after several months without any incidents I disabled the heart rate function and stopped using it.

The reason I didn’t use either the heart rate monitor or cadence sensor was I was so far from being near the physical condition I felt I needed to be for them to be useful. Things have changed over the past three or four months and I am beginning to ride comfortably in the 15-16 mph zone. I know there are good ways and bad ways to go about going for more improvement. The old saying “lose weight you go faster” is the driving goal. And I want to do that in a smart way and avoid injuries and health issues along the way.

I strapped on the heart monitor and rode for a week, not monitoring it except after the ride. I wanted to see what I was doing regarding my efforts. I saw that my max heart rate was 163 bpm and I could sustain it for some short periods. This was pretty consistent over almost all of my rides.

With that information I sought out some validation that this was a “normal” maximum heart rate for me. There seems a number of ways to figure your maximum heart rate. And I found one that predicted mine to be 168 bpm which gave me some comfort that I was “normal.”

With the maximum known heart rate for me I could set what my Zone 3 and 4 rates are to maximize weight loss on my rides. At this point that is all I am concerned about and once the targeted weight is achieved I’ll worry about the other zones.

Today I tried to keep my heart rate between 135 – 140 bpm for some 34 miles with a bit of climbing thrown in. The only problem I had was on downhills where I could not keep it in the target range, I ran out of pedal spin. While the total ride averaged 14.4 mph there were places I could cruise at 17-19 mph and stay in the targeted range. The ride average heart rate was 130 bpm with a max of 155 bpm.


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