I rode Tuesday night, our normal group ride night. The main event was 28 miles of pure awesome. It wasn’t terribly fast, but it was quick and I absolutely got the blood pumping.
Strava kicked back, once the ride uploaded, that I’d burned 846 calories over those 28 miles. The average speed was 21.5-mph. Max speed was just a shade under 35-mph. Estimated average power was 218 watts. My average heart rate was 136 bpm, max was 167, leading out the group at the first sprint sign above 30-mph for more than a half-mile.
I rode again Wednesday night. Nothing special, just a little bit of an active recovery ride with my buddy, Chuck to burn off the stiffness from Tuesday night. It’s been a long month and 2/3’s since my last day off and I’m really starting to feel it. Thankfully I’ve got a couple of days off coming up. God knows what I’ll write about (oh ye of little faith, I’m already working on those posts!). Anyway, 22 miles, 17-mph average, 114 watts… and 1,236 calories. Now how it God’s green earth do I burn 400 more calories on a shorter ride using 100 fewer watts over six fewer miles?!
Another ride Thursday, another 28 miles, but this one is a lot harder… more up. A bit more than double that of Tuesday night. I scored a new PR on that route, a 21.9-mph average. My average power was 240 watts. I was a happy man… another 12 achievements in 15 segments on Strava (that’s pretty good), including three cups and another on a warm-up climb. Average heart rate was 142 bpm with a max of 166. 880 calories burned.
That same ride last week? 235 watts, 21.6-mph average… 1,859 calories burned.
What’s missing is the heart rate. A heart rate monitor evens out the calorie burn and fixes the algorithm. I’d bet a power meter would do about the same. The point is, if you’re not using a heart rate monitor or power meter (or both), you’re burning less than half the calories your app says. I knew it was bad. I didn’t know it was that bad.
Ride hard, my friends. And know, if you’re not using a heart rate monitor, you’re actually burning about half the calories your app says you are. If you eat according to your Strava or Endomondo calorie burn, don’t be surprised when you put on weight.
One good thing I did learn about all of this, my Garmin is set to 190 for my max heart rate. I’ve bumped my head against 170 quite often but I can’t do much better. I thought there was something wrong with me till I learned you get your max heart rate by subtracting your age from 220… or, for me, 170. It made everything make sense.