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Daily Archives: October 23, 2018

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Oh, how I Love Gravel Bike Season!

My buddy, Chuck and I had a play date scheduled for last evening – I think that’s what the millenials call “hanging out together”, nowadays. It was a beautiful day, low 50’s, a little breezy, and impossibly sunny.

Simply a great autumn day.

Nine times in ten we’d be on the road bikes, but after riding the gravel rigs the day before, I had a hankerin’ for the peace and quiet of the back roads again.  I texted Chuck and suggested we ride them again, instead of the road bikes.  He replied that he was cool with either, as long as we took it slow.  I was more than pleased to oblige.

I rode over to his place at about 5pm and we rolled out for the back roads. Three miles and we were on gravel, dodging potholes.

We saw three cars in 20 miles, rode side-by-side and talked most of the hour and change we were out. According to Strava we rolled at 15.5-mph, but it was closer to 16 by my computer. Either way, it was an easy conversational pace.  I wasn’t ever at a point where I was struggling to talk.  It was a great time.

I love my carbon fiber and speed all season long, from March through September. I live for the speed of paved road cycling…  Can’t get enough.  When October rolls around, though, it sure is nice to hit the gravel roads and quit worrying about traffic and pace for a while, and just ride.

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What if We only have So Many Heartbeats in a Lifetime? Fit Vs Sedentary, and the Math

I wrote a post yesterday about a new study that showed not only that a sedentary life is worse for the health than smoking, but that ultra-exercisers don’t face a higher risk of death.  A comment came in from a blog friend of mine:

A cardiologist at work ascribes to a theory that we all have a predetermined number of heart beats over our life time. Ergo exercising will speed our demise! I think that I will speed mine up by enjoying exercising some more…

I’ve done the math on this before, so I jumped on that right away – see, the common misperception is that, because one exercises, one blows a lot of extra heart beats elevating the heart rate during exercise.  While this is partially true, what it doesn’t account for is how many beats one saves by being fit.  My resting heart rate, should I lead a sedentary life, would be around 70 beats per minute.  However, because I’m fit as an ox, it’s 42 beats per minute…  Here’s my response:

You figure an hour a day you’re riding, right? Then three a day on Saturday and Sunday. That’s 11 hours a week you’ve got an elevated heart rate, right?

There are 168 hours in a week. Because I’m ultra-fit, my resting heart rate is 42 bpm. Average for someone who isn’t is 70… a difference of 28 bpm. Each and every minute of each and every day.

Long story, short, you save something like ten million beats a year being fit.

[Drops mic].

Exercising, I’m at 26,000,000 beats a year…
Sedentary I’m at 36,800,000 beats a year…

There are other factors involved, of course. But that’s a fair ballpark right there.

Now, that was my response.  I didn’t get into those “factors” because I was replying to a comment, no need to get into too lengthy in the response, but turning that into a post, we can define some of those factors.

Most important, I’m not always at my resting heart rate throughout the day.  I’m walking, on the phone, in stressful situations, walking up stairs (because I don’t take the elevator), etc..  On the other hand, one would assume that a sedentary person would have the same day, or close to it, at least, so their heart rate would rise above their 70 bmp mark as well.  The point is, without getting too deep into the woods, we could fairly assume apples to apples and just go with the resting heart rate as a baseline.  In fact, if we really want to get into it, we could assume that the person with the sedentary life would be more adversely affected by stressors and their heart rate would rise higher than a fit person’s when taking the stairs or dealing with stress.  At least this makes sense to me.

To get into the numbers I used for the math, I figured I average almost 19-mph a mile throughout the week.  My fast days are a lot faster than that, but my slow days are a lot slower, so I figured an average of 160 bpm for my elevated heart rate.  I think I figured high.  So that’s 11 hours a week at that 160 bpm, then another 157 hours at 42.  Multiply by 52 weeks.

For the sedentary fella, just figure a straight 70 bpm across the board for 365 days.

So, is it fair to say a fit person will save roughly 10,000,000 beats a year?  As I said in my response, I think it’s a fair benchmark – but even if it’s only half that, I’d rather be fit if we’re living on a set number of heartbeats in a lifetime.  I don’t think there’s any question, I get more years out of less beats as a fit fella.