Exercise questions: most efficient way to burn calories? (biking vs. running, etc)

15 miles in 45 minutes is a 20 MPH average which is fast for any commute*, and doubly so for a mountain bike.

*anytime you have to stop for a light, or slow down for a pedestrian, it really eats into your average speed.

No offense, but I doubt you did 15 miles in 45 minutes. Even if it’s 13 instead of 15, and you really did 50 minutes instead of 45, that’s a lot more believable. You’d want a reliable bike computer for determining all this.

Do you mean that they’re both on the biggest ring? You want the back one on the smallest ring for hardest pedalling.

Anyway. . .you’re just not getting how to work out on a bicycle. It’s real easy to find that comfort level on a bike that you’ve found, and go “I’m not feeling it”. The difference between the bike and the elliptical is that you’re on the elliptical specifically to work out.

If the chain is on the big ring in front & back, spin that, then start shifting the back one to the smallest ring, and KEEP THE SAME CADENCE. That’s one way to work harder.

Also, whatever gear you’re in, I guarantee you that you can make that bike go faster without shifting. Spin faster. Spin so fast that your ass is rocking and bouncing and unstable on your seat. . .and then back it off to right below that. I bet you can’t keep that that cadence for even a minute. Ride so hard that if you went past someone, they would go, “what the hell is that maniac doing?”

If you really want to work out on the bike, there’s no reason you can’t be huffing and puffing with drool coming out of your mouth.

You also don’t feel the sweat so much on the bike because you’re moving through air. Try the stationary bike in the gym, and see how much you’re sweating.

Doubt away, it’s all estimation. I looked at my watch when I left and saw it was ten past five, I got home at seven to six. I didn’t set a stop watch or anything, because I didn’t really care about how long it took or what my speed was, and frankly I don’t really care now. :wink:

I mean one is numbered 3-1 and the other is 1-7. They’re set on 3 and 7, the setting that gives the pedals the most resistance. Much lower and they just spin, unless I’m on an uphill. I’ll take pictures of the gears when my husband gets home, he’s got it out today.

This made me laugh–I’m on the bike to do what? Sunbathe? Blow dry my hair? Exercising is the whole point of the thing.

If I change the gears, either of them, the pedals are even looser and I’m just flailing my legs around in a circle in the air. I could do that sitting in a chair or laying on the bed. Does it actually matter if the circular motion of the pedals is doing anything to increase my speed? The rate I’m pedaling at right now, the bike won’t go any faster no matter how much faster I spin the pedals. At some point there ceases to be any resistance, and I just feel stupid flinging my feet around with nothing to push against–but if that’s what I’m supposed to be doing, then I’ll do that.
You said I don’t “get” how to work out on a bike–is it that I think that pedaling is supposed to be productive, and that’s not actually true? If you’re going very fast, are you just moving your feet in a circle independent of the rate of speed your bike is moving? Or does your bike always go faster, the faster you pedal?

Touché. :wink:

Actually, I’m ok with NajaNivea’s times. I used to ride 15km to work on an MTB, and my average speed (after a couple of years of 5 days a week cycling) could get to 35km/h (just over 20mph), and I had hills (up and down) and traffic lights to contend with. I think that the cycle computer only recorded data while I was moving, so my total time was a bit longer than the average speed indicated due to stops, but still pretty good. I was pretty winded at the finish, though, and sweating like a pig. But I always sweat when I exercise, and I was pretty overweight. But I was fairly motivated by not being late to work.

So with a couple of years of dedicated use of the elliptical trainer, and a basically flat course - 20mph (or close to) may not be too hard to manage.


There’s just something weird going on here.

For typical mountain bike gearing, and tire size, if you’re in your largest front ring, and smallest back ring, you can go roughly 15mph with a cadence of roughly 45. (cadence is just the revolutions per minute of your legs)

That’s less than one second per revolution of your leg. Now, even if we have different ideas of what it means to be spinning our legs with no resistance, I bet you’re not talking about a cadence of 45. That’s very slow.

For what most people really consider spinning fast. . .let’s say 90 for you (racers might think more like 115 or 120), you’d be going about 30 mph.

The possibilities :

  1. You’re in incredible shape, and there are a lot of stops that DROP your average speed to 15 when it really should 30.

  2. You have a weirdly-geared mountain bike.

  3. You have a weird sense of “spinning out”. (that’s what it called when you’re spinning at your max)

The most likely scenario. . .

  1. You’re really not in your “big-little” gear combination. The ‘3’ and the ‘7’ you mentioned probably indicates that you’re in “big-big”. Next time you’re riding, just look down. Is your chain on the largest chainring in the front? Is it on the SMALLEST cog in the back? Those will be the outermost gears in both locations. Or, if you want to do it by feel, just shift that ‘7’ all the way to ‘1’. You might not have noticed the difference when you shifted to ‘6’. You’ll notice when you shift to ‘1’.

(speed and gear ratio information from http://www.panix.com/~jbarrm/pcgi-bin/c41strt.cgi)

Oh man, you guys are the best. I took it out this morning, and played around with the gears. I was riding with the chain on the biggest gear in front and smallest in back, which seemed to be the most physically difficult, in terms of using strength to move the pedals. With this setup I can go very fast, and it takes a lot of work to get up to speed, but once I’m moving really fast I can’t increase my cadence without losing resistance on the pedals. So I switched to the center cog in front and smallest in back–with this setup, I don’t go as fast pedaling at the same cadence as before, but I can maintain a much higher cadence without losing resistance on the pedals, even if I don’t pick up much more speed for the effort.
Anyway, I did a full twenty five miles by the bike path markers and came back huffing and puffing and sweating like a pig. :smiley:

Okay, next question: when do my lady parts stop hurting and what sort of sadist designed this stupid seat, anyway? :wink:

You think you ladies get bike seat problems. I have got off bikes wondering when feeling is going to return to … a portion of my anatomy I really do not want to lose feeling in. :eek:

Glad you are getting the gears sorted - try to settle into a cadence about 90 strokes per minute - I always worked it as 15 strokes for a timed 10 seconds if you don’t have a bike computer that tracks cadence. At that rate, you should stay within the aerobic exercise band and just keep on going while covering plenty of ground. Find a wider seat for comfort, and go for it.


Go get a woman’s seat - Serfas makes really good ones. And you do wear bike shorts, right? The padding makes a big difference, and you can find bike shorts that don’t make you look like a dork if you’re concerned about that.

Thanks, I had no idea there was such a thing.

Eek indeed. I am quite sure the bike-path-using public at large would thank me for not wearing bike shorts. I am generally of the opinion that the wearing of Spandex is a privilege, and not a right. :wink:
I actually haven’t worn shorts of any kind since I was a kid. It’s taken me several years of working out in my home, and the loss of >100 pounds before I even had the nerve to exercise in public. Give me another year or so and some more pounds down, then we can talk about shorts. :wink:

For exercise purposes, is there a significant difference between road bikes and mountain bikes? I’d like to get my own bike, so I don’t have to work around when my husband needs this one for commuting. My dad has a road bike which I loved riding, except that it was way too tall for me.

Tangential and probably dumb road bike question: what functional purpose do the curly handlebars serve?

Quick question. Are the speed comments because she is riding a basic mountain bike? I ask because I did the local MS 150 when I was younger on a hybrid, nice fat slicks, and we averaged 21mph the first day for 80 miles and 19 mph the second day for 70 miles. At the end we definitely knew we had worked but I had no doubt if we were going for a shorter time we could have gone faster. This was through an area that had plenty of hills also.

The curly handlebars just give you a couple different places to put your hands, and when you put them on the drops, you get a low profile as well.

As far as bike shorts go: get them and wear them UNDER whatever else you’re wearing. I do this all the time when it’s cold out - they’re form-fitting, and they disappear under whatever else you’re wearing assuming you’re not wearing tight jeans or anything like that.

As far as I’m concerned, given that you’re out exercising, you have the right to wear any damn thing that makes life easier for you. Skinny people don’t have a monopoly on comfort.

That said, I bet the seat alone will make your life MUCH easier, if you’re used to riding on a men’s seat.

Road bike versus mountain bike: If you’re riding for exercise, I’d go for a mountain bike or a "touring"or “commuter” type bike. Road bikes tend to be optimized to go fast, not for comfort. Mountain bikes are generally more comfortable, but you can get into high-end racing mountain bikes too. Assuming you’re not looking to drop $4K on a bike, I’m guessing you won’t run into those.

If I were you, I’d head to a local bike shop and talk to them about what kind of bike would work well for what you need.

My WAGs:

Slicks are fast.

Also, if you’re riding in a pack, you can go pretty damn fast. It takes MUCH less effort to maintain a high rate of speed when there are 15 people pulling you.

THis is no joke, honestly. Can’t speak with authority on lady parts, but men’s parts need to be handled with extreme care when seated on the bike for long periods of time. A sore arse is to be expected first few times out, sore bits are not. Most obvious thing to avoid is a saddle position that slopes up, even a little bit. This can brutalise the gonads.

Saddles are a personal thing - although you’ll not see many soft saddles on serious cyclist’s bikes. Most find them less comfortable in the long term. Just need to toughen up the old arse cheeks basically.

I can.

I’m guessing that long-term injury for women via Sadist Bike Seats is not as bad is it is for men, but boy-oh-boy can it hurt. I once rode 35 miles on a rented bike with a very hard & narrow men’s seat on it. It was too narrow for my hip bones, and I basically rode whilst sitting directly on the pink bits. The last 10 miles of that ride is one of the most painful things I’ve ever done.

I personally looooove my big cushy women’s Serfas seat. I buy the cushiest I can find. Heaven!

Look. . .I’ve worked out with a bike racing team for years. You’re talking about speeds that category 1 & 2 racers work out at when they do 80 miles. Not their hardest workouts, but good workouts nonetheless.

Doing 21 mph over 80 miles is fast. Especially if there are hills.

I’ve been in races where average speeds were only 22-24 mph for 2 hours, and that is working.

I simply don’t believe your memory. Go do one this year, and tell me what you average.