Cycling in the heat…go inside and pull out the trainer

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the challenge of maintaining running pace and doing High Intensity Training (HIT) in the heat, with Heart Rate and RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) running higher than normal because of the body’s attempt to cool things off.

Yesterday I was reminded that we’re faced with the same thing on the bike.

Since virtually all of my training on the bike is done with a PowerTap Power Meter, I can easily compare workouts, and all sort of detailed metrics…here’s what struck me yesterday, in a day that started at 84F and 62% humidity and ended up at 99F:

If you don’t have a Power Meter on your bike, you will think that you’re working a lot harder than you actually are in the heat and humidity.

It was as simple as this…I often use a local road for training, just over 7 miles long, and ride intervals up and back, and have lots of data over the past year for this section…yesterday, I was doing a couple of intervals while maintaining 210 Watts…but my heart rate ran up to 142HR and 145HR on the 2 laps…on what is ‘normally’ in cooler air, 130-134HR’ish.

More importantly, on the 2nd lap, as the sweat was pouring down my sunglasses, I was keeping what I ‘thought’ felt like 210 Watts, but inevitably when I looked down at the meter, it would be more like 180-190 Watts…and I had to increase my effort to a _much_ harder level to get it back to 210 Watts…if I didn’t have the Power Meter, I would have been working at a much lower training level that I wanted to, and have no way of really knowing.

…soooo, as I get back into HIT on the bike in a couple of weeks, I plan to start my workouts inside, on the trainer, and do my faster/harder interval work there…not my favorite thing, but if I want to get/stay faster, I know that I need to train faster…and when the heat and humidity is driving up my Heart Rate simply to keep me cool, I’d rather spin out a few miles inside, where it’s cool, and each heartbeat is focused on work for the muscles, not my sweat glands

…or just go to Vancouver and train with my daughter in the beautiful, cool summer air 🙂

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