How much drop off is normal?

Discussion in 'Training, Fitness and Health' started by Membrane, 10 Aug 2007.

  1. Membrane

    Membrane New Member

    If taking a guess at it, how much of a drop off in ability do you believe is normal on medium to long rides (>60km)?

    I think that I drop off too much, my guess (hard to say for sure without expensive power output equipment) is that my ability drops back by about 40%. I'm sure that some drop off is normal, but I had hoped that it would be no more than 20%.

    I had hoped that if I have a certain muscle power output and cardiovascular ability, provided that I don't overdo it during a ride (staying below the lactate threshold), and provided that there are sufficient nutrients for the muscles, I should be able to maintain power output (within the max 20% drop off that I'd expect).

    For as long as I can remember I've had this problem of losing a lot of my ability on medium to long rides. About a year ago I became more serious about cycling and I'd like to find a solution to this problem (if indeed it is abnormal). The drop off I experience is gradual, not sudden, which to me suggests that it is not the bonk. (I've bonked more times than I care to remember in earlier years, and afaik it characterised by a more sudden drop off)

    Things I've tried so far:

    1) drink more (currently I consume 2L of fluids for a 4 hour ride)
    2) switch from water to isotonic sports drink
    3) snack on fruit grain bars during medium to long rides (~ one every hour), on >5 hour rides I also take sandwiches with me
    4) stay seated for climbs (preferred to climb standing previously)
    5) maintain a cadence of >80rpm
    6) get out and ride more (twice per week instead of once per week)

    None of these things has made a significant difference, although remaining seated and maintaining a >80rpm cadence did help noticably.

    I've recently started using a heart monitor to make sure that I wasn't overdoing it in the early stages of a ride. I haven't yet used it enough to be sure, but early impression is that I stay within the recommended 90% of my maximum heart rate.

    My usual training ride is 84km whch includes ~1400m of ascend. The loss of ability is gradual, but I'd guess that after about 60km I'm down 40% compared to my ability in the early stages. Early in the ride when I'm still feeling strong my heart rate can easely rise to about 170bpm, after 60km when the strength has gone my heart rate hovers around the 150bpm mark (when climbing).

    Any ideas?
  2. Blue

    Blue Legendary Member

    N Ireland
    Apart from 20 odd years participation in endurance sports I am not am expert in such matters, but FWIW, I would make a few observations.

    Firstly, some drop-off at the end of an 80k effort is normal. The extent of the drop-off that you describe does seem excessive.

    Secondly, unless your MHR is near 300, or you are talking about a temporary struggle up a hill you should not be sitting on a HR of 170 early on in a ride. My MHR is 178 and I would sit in the 100 - 120 zone to ride in comfort around 16-18mph early in a ride. If I were to ride at 170 for long I would expect to grind to a halt very quickly.

    Thirdly, riding just once or twice a week is not good prep for a regular 80k. You should be riding 4+ times a week if you want to ride a regular 80k without the results you are seeing. Your body has to be used to being on the bike.

    I know this is simplistic, but I hope it helps.
  3. Blue

    Blue Legendary Member

    N Ireland
    BTW, I should also have said that your shouln't fixate so much on your food and drink - this fuels a fit body rather than producing one.

    The bottom line is get out more than twice and pace yourself better but don't give up as it does get easier ;)
  4. OP

    Membrane New Member

    My MHR is ~195bpm, for that figure the anearobic zone is 156 - 176 bpm, all the advice I've read says that as long as you don't exceed the anearobic zone you should be fine.

    I'd have to give up climbing and I'd have to go really slow on the flat not to exceed 120bpm.

    Going out once per week costs me ~ 6 hours in total (pre and post ride stuff included), I don't have much more time to spend on cycling. Short rides are not attractive, I don't come alive and start enjoying it until I've cleared the city borders and get to the mountains, it takes about an hour to get there. I don't enjoy riding on the flat.
  5. Blue

    Blue Legendary Member

    N Ireland
    All I can suggest is that you read your training literature again.

    Anaerobic training is about things like threshold and interval sessions. As you have found, no normal biker can maintain anaerobic activity for the entirety of a once weekly 80k session with no other cycling being done.

    Even Lance Armstrong didn't ride like you - read his books.

    Given your MHR I would suggest that, unless climbing/sprinting or doing a specific interval etc session you shouldn't be exceeding 155 BPM - you may find that you can enjoy work at that pace without the dramatic fall-off.
  6. fossyant

    fossyant Ride It Like You Stole It!

    South Manchester
    You are not doing enough short rides and of the right frequency - great that you can do 6 hours once a week - I don't do more than 3 hours max on a ride, but I'm fortunate to live on the edge of Derbyshire/Cheshire, so it's no more than 5-10 mins to get out of the local villages and into the country.

    Training is like a pyramid - plenty of steady training at the bottom to enable the harder faster efforts at the top. As mentioned, you need to try and fit in at least 4 days of training - I used to go out after work, but now found a job nearer home that I commute to almost every day. - It's lower output than my training rides, but I find I spin nicely and just two weeks of full commuting has caused 5 mins to be sliced of a hilly 30 mile training run I have.
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