Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Aging Effect

I love numbers

One of my first memories is being a little blonde, blue eyed choir boy sitting in the Choir Stalls at St Edwards Church in Leek, Staffordshire and, during the sermon, factorizing the hymn numbers and testing them for primality.

So you can imagine how, many years later when I retired and bought a bike, how delighted I was to discover Garmin and be able to amass data streams of every variable imaginable from my rides. Of course, collecting data is one thing, turning that into information and knowledge is quite another.

My last post talked about Virtual Cycling brought on by the fact that my body needed a rest to recover from the stresses of my London 100 adventure. But now, after  two weeks of complete rest,  I thought it time to try and see if my knee ligament had healed. A young whipper snapper ( anyone who is more than 26 years younger than me falls into that category! ) had invited me to go on a slow, sociable ride with him and after I had examined his statistics on Strava it was obvious that he was in need of some serious education in cycling etiquette, namely the NECESSITY to stop at tea and cake shops. So I took it upon  myself to induct him to the Tea Shops of Derbyshire.

As an aside I have noticed that many of the younger generation that I ride with, zoom along, zipping past scores of tea shops without a thought of the calorific delights that lie within. I have decided it is my personal mission to rectify this failing in their lycra clad make up.

The ride itself was only 33km and the pace was a mere 22kph with 287m of climbing. But it was hard work. Indeed it was very hard work and demonstrated to me how just two weeks with zero exercise can cause an OAP's fitness levels to drop off dramatically.

Now it so happens that my companion is also a numbers nerd and has a Garmin Edge 800 like mine and so after the ride was over I thought I would compare his effort expended to my efforts.

Total distance  33.1 km and elevation gained was 287 m

                                          Me                                                         Mr D

Avg Power                        95 watts                                                   94 watts

Cadence                            81 rpm                                                     75 rpm

Avg Heart Rate                 137 bpm                                                  107 bpm

Max Heart Rate                 160 bpm                                                  136 bpm

Now there are many different algorthims for calculating one's Peak Heart Rate before you explode, and the most optimistic one for me gives a value of 169 bpm, so you can see from the above that I was approaching the limit whilst my companion was forever in tick over mode. It did seem to me that this demonstrated the aging effect on one's fitness quite dramatically.

What did surprise ( worry ? ) me though was that I had needed to expend so much effort and so I thought I would compare my performance this time with my Ride of a Lifetime, London 100, which was only a couple of weeks ago.

A breakdown of how my heart performed was interesting.

On the London 100, whilst the journey was obviously much longer, about half of the ride was spent at Moderate Level of effort with the other half at Tempo,  which for me means * race pace * . Only 3% of the time was my heart operating at threshold level and I would need to check but that was probably when climbing Leith Hill.

Compare  this to my Return to the Saddle Ride after 2 weeks complete rest

and you can see that 15% of the time I was operating in Threshold and the majority of the time at Tempo.

No wonder I felt it hard work!

So I have attempted to turn data into information, as for the knowledge gained; does it mean that I should have tried harder at London?


  1. What this is going to require is a different bike! But one more suited to snow and ice, for you apparently will need to ride a minimum of twice a week through the winter with the North winds plus snow and ice for company just to keep fit. So, a new bike, lots of winter warmth riding gear – over shoes, heated gloves etc. and you should then be ready for the spring rides. Does the Garmin take into consideration temps of Minus 40? In fact does it work in temps of Minus 40? Also perhaps a set of those tyres with steel pins to help the grip would also come in handy. Extra spending money for the extra tea stops is also a necessity. The good news is you can probably set off the costs against tax for now you have an image to keep up like Bradley Wiggins.

  2. I'd suggest getting a good, sturdy Tacx Turbo trainer. No need to risk life and limbs + pneumonia, flue, plague etc in the winter cold. Entertainment to be provided by