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Power, Heart Rate, Fueling, Recovery For a 5-Hour Training Ride

A few days ago I discussed a personal best, along with a graph showing power and more. Here I discuss a long training ride. My legs were not fresh, so I did not push it too hard on the ascents; my goal was a consistent level of effort for the entire ride.

Why such a long ride?

I call this ride a “calorie burner”, as my weight is stubbornly bouncing off 171 pounds. A long ride like this with carefully managed eating can generate a 2000-3000 calorie deficit for the day— 1/2 to 2/3 pound of body fat. I’m hoping to prod my body into accepting a few percent lower body fat, though it’s tricky recovering enough to do another good ride the next day (but a shorter one). There is also a risk of eating muscle tissue for fuel while riding. So this ride I held at a power level that I could maintain— and oddly as I’ve seen before, I actually felt stronger at the end than at the beginning, indicating that I had balanced exertion and caloric intake very well (and that fitness is deep and broad after months of training).

Legal disclaimer: Since we are not doctors, never follow anything based on health-related topics on this or related sites without first consulting with your doctor or other trusted health professional.


I used Hammer Perpetuem Solids (400 calories) for its protein content to minimize gluconeogenesis of muscle tissues (catabolism), and Gu energy gel (500 calories), on top of a 750 calorie breakfast. There is no need for an oversized breakfast for a ride like this, so long as one fuels appropriately at 200-300 calories per hour, mostly maltodextrin. I ate breakfast about an hour before starting the ride. See CALORIC INTAKE - PROPER AMOUNTS DURING ENDURANCE EXERCISE for a good summary.

This was a 4206 Kilojoule ride, or 4374 KCal. Add in 2100 calories for basic daily needs, and it’s pretty hard to eat 6300 calories in a day (at least not in a healthy way). Thus I expect to push the body fat down, not just from the ride exertion, but also from the calories needed to repair muscle tissue.

Below is how I ate for the day. Of course, the Perpetuem and Gu energy gel were not consumed all at once, but rather at 200-300 calories per hour on the ride, starting one hour into the ride.

What I ate on my 5+ hour ride day

Ride graph

For those who are local, the first big ascent is Page Mill Road, the 2nd one is Tunitas Creek, and the 3rd one is Alpine Road to the locked gate from the private drive cutoff.

Average watts is measured only while pedaling, but that includes soft-pedaling downhill, where output is naturally be lower.

Distance: 85 miles
Ascent: 7840'
Time: 5:21
Watts: 218
Heart rate: 122
Average cadence: 74 (lots of hilly stuff, no pedaling on steep downhill)

Click for a larger graph.

Visually confusing graph from SRM software showing 4 Old La Honda ascents


Recovery — legs

After a long effort like this, my legs can be somewhat tight and achy. Just as with intensive and shorter workouts, I find that using a foam roller on muscles is very helpful in calming all that down, and producing a relaxing feel in the afflicted muscles, while also forcing out latent by-products of hard exertion. Use it right after the workout, then again an hour or two later, then again before bed. It helps— big time.

Recovery — food

I also have found that Hammer Nutrition Recoverite is working very well for me and I do believe it is helping my recovery better than any other product I’ve tried. It has a very mild flavor, is not sweet, and has no artificial colorings or useless yuck as in some other sports drinks. Try it.

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