Velominati › Guest Article – Recovery Rides

This ain’t no recovery ride.

Guest Article – Recovery Rides

by Teocalli / May 2 2014 / 75 posts

I would have to start training to even do a recovery ride. And I would have to own a cyclometer, HRM, and the unavoidable watt meter. And all that would tell me what I already don’t want to know. Ignorance is bliss until some teenager on a mountain bike gets by you and at that point you better not have a watt meter on your bike. Still, we have to train and we should do it scientifically, like @Teocalli here. 

Yours in Cycling, Gianni

I have a problem with Recovery Rides. I understand them but I still have a problem with them. Let me try to explain.

First (and to all experts here – forgive me for a simplistic view of this) let me level the ground by clarifying the concept by using the 5 Training Zones model. In this model the Maximum Heart Rate Reserve (MHRR) is based on the value derived from the difference between your Maximum Heart Rate and your relaxed Resting Heart Rate. So for a subject of say 50 (not me) we have:

Age = 50

Resting HR = 48

Max HR = 174 (note there may be different opinions on this depending on where you look it up and whether you have actually had it measured scientifically)

Which gives:

  • 50% Zone 0.5 x 126 + 48 = 111
  • 60% Zone 0.6 x 126 + 48 = 124
  • 70% Zone 0.7 x 126 + 48 = 136
  • 80% Zone 0.8 x 126 + 48 = 148
  • 90% Zone 0.9 x 126 + 48 = 161
  • 100% Zone @ max HR = 174

The 5 Zone model then becomes defined by:

  • Zone 1: Warm-Up Zone based on 50-60% of MHRR typically related to warm-up or cool-down.
  • Zone 2: Recovery Zone based on 60-70% of MHRR used for long slow rides and recovery rides.
  • Zone 3: Aerobic Zone based on 70-80% of MHRR used for overall cardiovascular fitness.
  • Zone 4: Anaerobic Zone based on 80-90% of MHRR used for training to increase lactate threshold.
  • Zone 5: Redline Zone at 90-100% of MHRR used by the very fit for short periods for example in interval training.

A buddy once equated these to the following for those who do not use a Heart Rate Monitor.

  • Zone 1: Barely awake
  • Zone 2: Can hold a normal conversation while riding
  • Zone 3: Conversation becomes restricted to single sentences
  • Zone 4: Gasps single phrases
  • Zone 5: Conversation?  Are you serious?!

The basic concept behind a Recovery Ride being that when training or post a significant event (cycling-wise that is) you should plan in complete rides in Zone 2 within your training diary.

Simple enough? So what’s my problem? Well, if you ask anyone who knows me well whether or not I am a competitive soul they would probably fall over laughing. If I go out on a solo ride and see another rider up ahead I have to try to catch them. If I get caught then, after giving the rider due kudos, I have to try to hold position on them. Not wheelsucking but give them a respectful space and try to hold their pace. If I’m out on my vintage steed it’s a target to pass riders on modern rigs – almost like adding a badge on the top tube for each carbon rig notched off.

carbon rigs

As I think someone else noted elsewhere, if I simply get blown away I just assume they have not gone, or are not going, as far as I am. Somehow it never seems to cross my mind that they may be 30-40 years (or more) younger than me and darned well should be going faster.

So you may now be getting the drift of why I have a problem with Recovery Rides. How can one simply cruise along and let people breeze past without feeling that they have notched you up as a slower rider – particularly if I am out on my carbon fantastic?  However hard I try it simply does not seem to happen. I set out with the intention of a nice quiet ride and somehow still end up trying to attain warp speed and/or hammer up the steepest climbs on the route at max bore. A Recovery Ride just does not seem to fit in my psyche.

However, finally I think I may have come up with a solution. I’m going to have a jersey made with the following on the back:



Then again my condition may be so bad that my psyche may latch onto this in the wrong way. What would be the effect of someone breezing past you with the above on their back? Hmmm…

// Guest Article // Technique

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