question for the cyclists

roggom

Senior Chief
Mar 29, 2011
2,535
12
38
Northern Colorado
#1
So after 20+ years I am getting back into cycling. I used to mountain bike all over Colorado and Japan. I will be 50 this year and I vowed to be in shape by that date in Aug. I was 220 and now down to 195 with a goal of 185 with a reasonable BMI.

So to the question. I count my calories and know how to eat well. I track my biking on the Topeak Panobike app, and today I rode 42 miles with an avg of 13mph of my Cannondale CAADX cross bike. It says I burned 3000 cal. Ok I know that cycling does burn calories but is that realistic? I have a daily cal intake of 1550 cal for a 5'10 now 195 49yo. So basically 1000 cal deficit and I am losing weight, but I am a sucker for beer and tacos and dont do it all the time, but just wondering what part of the 3K burn is real and adds to my daily deficit.

any info would be great,


now off for a corona lite and some tacos de lengua.
 

Frankly

En Newbieated
Jan 27, 2018
373
256
43
Spencerport, NY
frankpetronio.com
#2
I read an article that discounted the popular calorie counters, in the real world we all burn more or less. Alpine skiing and climbing fools the trackers all the time since a lot of the calories burned are from the tension in your legs, keeping warm, etc. Which is why skilled fat people can do still do the sport at a relatively high level but even an athletic but nervous beginner can go to collapse in short time.

But even if the numbers are off by 20% who cares? It sounds like you're doing fantastic and good for you. Dropping down to 1550 cal per day is pretty minimal if you add any booze or anything fun at all. And 42 miles at only 13 mph is probably a lot more calories than the tracker reports, you obviously rode some rougher stuff and burnt more than the same milage on a road bike and nice pavement.
 

Spblademaker

Don’t tell my wife
Oct 24, 2017
207
172
43
#3
I’ve never held calorie counters in high regard. Way too many variables associated with how each body burns calories. You sound like you have a good plan that’s working. Use your counter as a simple guide, not gospel.
 

fdkay

Gunny Sergeant
Nov 27, 2009
3,522
226
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Ingleside, Tx
#4
I used to ride road bike a lot. rode it to and from work every day. it was 8 miles from the main gate to the shop on the magazine in the Philippines. It would take about 20 minutes. There were small elevation changes, but that is a pretty brisk pace.
Sadly, once I hit stateside, it began to fall off.
When I went to Japan, I rode it a bit, but not enough.
I haven't ridden a bicycle now for almost 20 years, I've been thinking about getting back into it.
What your doing, seems to be working. I wouldn't worry about the calorie counter, but I understand what you're trying to do.
I am not familiar with the app, but if it doesn't allow you to put in the type of bike, wheel diameter and tread type, you aren't going to get an accurate figure.
A lightweight road bike won't cause you to expend near the calories of a mountain bike with knobby tires. A mountain bike with slick tires is more than a road bike, less than with knobby tires. Of course your elevation changes are hard to track as well.
 

javentre

Sergeant of the Hide
Jan 20, 2004
947
55
28
#5
today I rode 42 miles with an avg of 13mph of my Cannondale CAADX cross bike. It says I burned 3000 cal.
Unless that included a lot of elevation change, it's a generous estimate. I say that because it's not easy to expend ~3K without some in-ride nutrition planning. I recently did a 30 mile ride, at a similar pace, with a friend of mine. It was a 'social pace'. It was 850 calories for 30 miles, at about 2 hours. That's tracked with my power meter, so it's more than an educated guess at my calories burn since my output was measured.

If you really want to track your training and calories, you can look at a power meter. It has transformed how I train to get stronger and track my nutrition.

IME: You can't plan to replenish all of the calories you burn, at least not in beer and tacos. I would try for 1/2.
 
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javentre

Sergeant of the Hide
Jan 20, 2004
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#6
I just looked through my training log to find a ride where I burned 3K calories.

100.3 miles. 5.5 hours. 5000' of elevation gain. 2936 Calories
 
Likes: Frankly

bikeracer

Formerly Robb57
Aug 10, 2011
115
27
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#7
I raced and trained here in Colorado for nearly 30 years - I still ride about 8K annually. I figure I'm burning 400-500 calories an hour on a hard ride. Good job regardless - cycling is the best way to get back in shape - just ride like everyone's trying to run you over.
 
Likes: alfmoonspace
Apr 1, 2018
45
21
8
Austin, Texas
#8
I'm an avid cyclist myself (mostly enduro MTB, gravel racing and casual road rides) and I would agree with what others are saying.
I've found that getting a true reading of how many calories you're burning is pretty difficult.

If you're doing 42 mile rides and averaging 1550 cals consistently with the occasional taco splurge, you should be on your way to 185 in a few months.

For reference, I went from 223 to 182 in about 1.5 years with cycling 2 times a week, occasional weights and practicing some intermittent fasting and I've kept it off (mostly) without thinking about it for the past year now.

Keep at it man, it sounds like you're on the right path.
 
Likes: Frankly

roggom

Senior Chief
Mar 29, 2011
2,535
12
38
Northern Colorado
#9
Thanks everyone for the encouragement and info. I figured the numbers were kinda funky, might have to look into a power meter. I really like the cross bike because I can used it on trails, gravel and road. Once I get down to the low 180's Im gonna get me a used road bike, plenty of nice places to bike in CO. Im glad I got back into it, i have so much fun, its hard work but a blast when you get through those declines.
 

bikeracer

Formerly Robb57
Aug 10, 2011
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#10
Don't waste your money on a power meter - figure out your lactate heart rate threshold and use a HR monitor for a fraction of the cost. Spend time in zone 3 and 4 and you'll be GTG. Intensity is the key - not duration. A hard 1.5 -2.0 ride is much better than a 3 or 4 hour slog.
 
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javentre

Sergeant of the Hide
Jan 20, 2004
947
55
28
#11
Spend time in zone 3 and 4 and you'll be GTG. Intensity is the key - not duration. A hard 1.5 -2.0 ride is much better than a 3 or 4 hour slog.
I disagree with just about everything in your post. Both time and intensity matter, and so does properly identifying a training goal before prescribing some type of workout plan. If his goal is to work up to a century, or a fondo, riding 1.5-2h isn't going to cut it.

Roggom - IMO, you should start reading. Check out Freil's "Faster After 50". I realize that you may not be racing, but you likely share some of the same goals (getting faster, more fit, improving year over year, have a race/event in the future as a goal). As you start to ramp up miles and speed and time with your excitement, you need down time just like everyone else, so don't skip that part. IME, it's easy to burn out.
 
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ChadL

Space for Rent
Feb 16, 2017
169
27
28
44
Lincoln, NE
#12
So after 20+ years I am getting back into cycling. I used to mountain bike all over Colorado and Japan. I will be 50 this year and I vowed to be in shape by that date in Aug. I was 220 and now down to 195 with a goal of 185 with a reasonable BMI.

So to the question. I count my calories and know how to eat well. I track my biking on the Topeak Panobike app, and today I rode 42 miles with an avg of 13mph of my Cannondale CAADX cross bike. It says I burned 3000 cal. Ok I know that cycling does burn calories but is that realistic? I have a daily cal intake of 1550 cal for a 5'10 now 195 49yo. So basically 1000 cal deficit and I am losing weight, but I am a sucker for beer and tacos and dont do it all the time, but just wondering what part of the 3K burn is real and adds to my daily deficit.

any info would be great,


now off for a corona lite and some tacos de lengua.
That seems like an awful lot of calories. I don't think I burn that many when I ride 50 miles (road biking) and I average close to 25 mph. I used to race road bikes, now I just ride for fun. Been riding road bikes since I was 12, 43 now. I use a heart rate monitor mainly just to track my output in terms of heart rate, not caloric expenditure. For example, what's my heart rate vs. current speed. Like others have mentioned, just too many variables for those to be repeatably accurate counting calories.
 

bikeracer

Formerly Robb57
Aug 10, 2011
115
27
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#13
I disagree with just about everything in your post. Both time and intensity matter, and so does properly identifying a training goal before prescribing some type of workout plan. If his goal is to work up to a century, or a fondo, riding 1.5-2h isn't going to cut it.

Roggom - IMO, you should start reading. Check out Freil's "Faster After 50". I realize that you may not be racing, but you likely share some of the same goals (getting faster, more fit, improving year over year, have a race/event in the future as a goal). As you start to ramp up miles and speed and time with your excitement, you need down time just like everyone else, so don't skip that part. IME, it's easy to burn out.
Glad you liked Friel's book - I was coached by Joe in the 90's and raced with his son Dirk in the 2000 time frame. It's funny, I'm a relative noob when it comes to shooting but have never had my input questioned - but cycling - after 30 years of racing at a top competite level including national podium finishes in road, time trial and mtn biking - and well over 250,00 miles of riding - I am suddenly a noob. Haha - that's the internet for you. I don't race anymore but still ride about 8,000 miles a year and at almost 61 have maintained a 7.5% BF which is about where I was when I raced.

Everyone is different and you have to adopt a program that meets your lifestyle and personality. I've seen plenty of new riders go overboard with watt meters and elaborate training programs which creates pressure and high expectations which may not be sustainable - and then they just quit. If you're riding for fitness - including weight loss - you don't need a formal program unless that suites your personality. My advice is to ride with your friends - have fun - and fit your training to our lifestyle. Given the choice between intensity and duration there's plenty of research that shows that intensity is a much faster path to weight loss and fitness. The reason that most people choose duration over intensity is because it's easier do a long tempo ride than it is to go for a hard 1.5 ride with some over threshold efforts. Intensity is 'easier' mentally when the terrain makes it harder rather you just pushing yourself so do some long sustained hill climbs on road or trail, hilly rides with steep punchy climbs - or - find a local spin studio - I get some great weekeday workouts in going to spin classes and then do a longer ride on the weekend with some hard efforts. Once you've had a good season or two of riding under your belt you'll know enough to decide how you want to formalize your training.
 
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javentre

Sergeant of the Hide
Jan 20, 2004
947
55
28
#14
but cycling - after 30 years of racing at a top competite level including national podium finishes in road, time trial and mtn biking - and well over 250,00 miles of riding - I am suddenly a noob. Haha - that's the internet for you.
I didn't say you were a noob, I just said that I disagreed with your advise.
 
Nov 25, 2012
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Southern NM
#15
Been a roadie for over 25 years and raced for a good number of them. Never put much credence in calorie counters don't pay any attention to it. When riding only pay attention to HR and cadence and try to spend time in different HR zones depending on ride plans for the day. Good to mix some low intensity rides as well as add intervals. Recovery is also important be sure include in your routine. At 63 I don't spend as much time on the bike as I used to but sign up for events that will motivate me to get on the bike. Ride Iron Horse Bicycle Classic every year from Durango to Silverton which is 50 miles with over 6000 ft of climbing at altitude. Not a ride you can fake. Set goals and sign up for events that will challenge you. Also riding with group is a good way to improve as well as provide peer support.
 
Feb 7, 2013
1,827
343
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The West
#16
Funny - lots of don't do this, this is what I do.... thats the advice in most sports. What works for one person often does not work or set the mental clock for another. I've also raced and rode fro several decades, but that is irrelevant.

Going against the grain:
The facts are that, PWR AND HR are both very valuable. PWR used correctly, is a much better "predictor" of what the HR is going to do and better allows most to manage threshold levels.

If your relatively new, power will help you learn to smooth out your stroke and increase the rpm working with the perceived effort and later that HR increase. Getting something as simple as a Garmin to put it all together might help you track your progress. You will also find the calorie information is better. This IS a faster road to knowledge than what we did pre-power meters


My personal 2cents.
On my bikes - MTN and RD, the main screen is always, Power, Cadence, HR as the large display areas with Speed, Distance, Time, and TOD in smaller parts.. Why? Because it all paints a better picture.

Runners are also starting to run with power, I'm using STRYD -- When trail running, I am looking at three things Cadence, Pace and Power, .. HR is in another screen

I see no reason to go backwards several decades in technology... and run HR only.. When you consider the time and effort spent "suffering", these tools are super cheap.
 
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roggom

Senior Chief
Mar 29, 2011
2,535
12
38
Northern Colorado
#18
Thanks for all the replies. Right now I am hitting the gym quite heavy and riding both cross country, mountain and paved to drop weight and have fun (I currently have a CAADX cross and F5 Mountain bikes) My goal is to get back the endurance I had and cycling is a great way to do this. I want to drop weight before I get a road bike and then will work towards rides such as Zia mentioned, high alt, hill climbing craziness, or some cross state flatlands stuff. i will do some research as I want to train to succeed and just like shooting, mastering the basics can go a long way.
 
Nov 25, 2012
810
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Southern NM
#19
Roggom: Since you are in Colorado there are a number of excellent well organized rides you can works towards including the Iron Horse and Copper Triangle. Copper is a beautiful ride and well supported and is the first Saturday in August. Have done it a number of times and hope to do it again. Just a long trip from southern NM and generally my cycling drops off from June to September due to shooting three matches a month and as well as not tolerating our summer heat as well as I get older. Iron Horse was listed as one of the 10 rides you need to do before you die. Held every Memorial day weekend and very well organized and supported.
 
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