Which is the better workout?

If you were to do only one of these types of rides 3-5 days per week, which would be the better overall workout. A 20 mile (ungeared) 36er ride on mostly flat paved road at 11-13 mph average, or 2-3 mile out & back MUni with moderate terrain and some steep climbing?

How long does each take you on average?

#2 is a more aggressive and full body workout.

I don’t know how to calculate that, but I think my Garmin 305 can give an idea. With the heart rate monitor on, you can measure a bunch of factors, which can give you a measurement of calories burned as well.

Then I suppose one has to quantify what is meant by “better” workout as I imagine there are different metrics one might be going for.

Jacquie and I have been doing early morning, half-hour rides on the bike path, with the intent of running the heart at fat-burn speeds. Which is pretty fast for me apparently. It’s definitely a great workout in terms of cardio. And it even helps (a lot) for hill climbing, though is not a substitute for actual hill training. I know this because those little rides were my main training before the San Francisco Tour. In past years I remember struggling (followed by walking) on many of the climbs. This year I rode up every single one, and felt fine at the end of the ride. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the feedback.

I used to ride a rather short MUni distance at a very local trail about 2-3 times during the week, and 36er beach rides another 1-2 days during the week. On the weekends would be the longer, more challenging MUni rides, and then Sundays were reserved for 20-40 mile 36er rides along the beach bike paths.

The local trail is the short, 2-3 mile down and up that I used to do, but about a year ago I stopped riding it because of continual closures. In its place I started riding the beach bike path more, and maybe once during the week I would go to a trail a bit further away for an 8-10 mile moderate MUni ride. The weekends remain the same.

That local trail is now open again and even though it’s only about 2.5 or so miles long, it’s a really good uphill ride back up, and packs a lot into a short distance. I somehow just feel that by not riding that trail for so long, and replacing it mainly with 36er riding on flat beach bike path, that I’m just not getting the same quality workout.

I have always heard that in order to get the “aerobic effect” you have to maintain about 70% MHR for at least 30 minutes. I will have to take my HRM with me on my next 36er ride to see what mine is. I know the basic formula for MHR is 210 minus your age.
I also know that this is very general and not a definitive measure.

But just to use it as a start point, my MHR would be about 154 (210-56) and then 70% of that would be about 108. I’m pretty sure my average HR is well above that while riding my 36er on the bike path, and probably closer to 120-130, which is upwards of 85% of my MHR. But when I did the Fargo climb (with Steveyo), I was wearing my HRM and it was showing close to 170bpms!

I had never seen it above 150, no matter how intense of a ride I was doing, but then I had never climbed anything even close to that grade. But if I am getting the aerobic benefit at anything higher than 108, which is “theoretically” within my target HR, then 36ering, even on flat, for several hours is still going to be a very decent workout. I know it sure was when I did my century! :slight_smile:

So if my HR was higher doing that short 2-3 mile MUni ride, and closer to my MHR, then I was wondering if I rode my 36er-on flat paved roads-maybe 8-12 times further than the more aerobically taxing but much shorter MUni ride, if things would begin to “equal out”.

I think “better workout” is much too vague. It’s like asking which car is better without knowing what you are using the car for.

What are your trying to workout? Are you trying to only burn calories? Are you trying to get stronger? Are you trying to increase endurance?

The best workout would probably be a combination of the two types you mentioned.

I think it is not relevant how much further you go on your 36er, but rather how much longer the workout takes. This is because your average HR on the 36er will be lower than on the muni. I’m interested in seeing the HRM data from each ride.

Ok, should have mentioned that. 20-40 mile 36er rides can take anywhere from 2-4+ hours, depending on how many stops I make. The short, 2-3 mile down & up MUni rides would average 20-30 minutes. So the 36er rides typically involve hours more saddle time.

The general formula is 220 minus your age but it’s pretty well accepted that it’s a bit inaccurate for particularly fit people. At 42, the formula says my max is 178 but I can surge to mid-180s for a couple minutes but sustain 160-170 for a hour or more and as a former childhood asthmatic, I’m totally cardio-limited, my legs are almost never the limiting factor. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_rate#Formula

I think the Garmin calorie counts are for the birds when it comes to unicycling and in particular for muni - what is a basic mellow climb on the MTB of 1300 feet gain in 3.5 miles is tough on the muni. I think all the hundreds of little back-and-forth torques we do on the pedals adds up to a lot more energy output vs a bike.

As uKnee alludes, it’s the difference between “power” and “energy”. The hard, steep muni climbs will help increase your power (how intense you can ride, like Watts), the long, lower-intensity road rides will increase your energy (total power output over time - Watt-hours).

So while a hard muni climb may have you straining for minutes, it doesn’t help you put out 20% of that effort for 3-4 hours on the road.

Conversely, while a long road ride has you expending a lot of energy, it doesn’t help you put out that peak power output for minutes on the hard, steep climb.

On the mountain bike, I like to pound out the 45-60 minute hard climbs at my limit (160-180 bpm) the whole time but on other days, I purposely do the same rides at 120-130 bpm for correspondingly longer time to work out different regimes of energy output. And if I can do two laps of the slower workout, all the better but it does take a long time which is hard to come by for me.

There are different metabolic pathways for energy at different exertion levels and it’s good to exercise them all. I found the book
to be very interesting regarding human power generation. It also dives into the (bio)mechanics of pedaling as well as the mechanical aspects of cycling, including aerodynamics, bearings, etc.

Actually, Terry, let’s hook up for a muni ride and you can borrow the book :smiley:

I forgot to mention that max heart rates can very by person, too. In my (pretty hardcore) mountain bike club, we have guys of approximately the same age that can go 180+ all day long and other guys will be on the same section of the same ride doing 150.

It’s best to use the HR monitor for a while to determine your personal number-to-pain ratios :wink:

I’ll just start adding a few off-the-path hill climbs to my 36er rides, which should make up for those super short but steep MUni weekday rides. Namlak, do you live/ride in the Los Angeles or OC area? If so, then by all means let’s do a MUni ride! I do at least eight per month, mixed in with the 36er rides.

Yep, I’m in Northridge and I get a muni ride in most weekends. Some friends and I have been doing a lot of riding at Cherry Canyon near Descanso Gardens but branched out to the La Tuna fireroad & singletrack loop yesterday.

You’ve got my email address already from the Mt Pinos ride I posted a few months ago so hit me up with a ride idea. I’m minutes away from Rocky Peak and not far from Calabasas, two places I’ve seen you ride in your videos.

Lately I’ve been riding Cheeseboro since it’s a perfect trail for a G26er. I usually start at the parking lot, go up to the “T”, then continue on to China flat and maybe a little Dead Cow, then back for a good little 15 miler.

We could also meet at hummingbird sometime. It’s a short 5 mile round trip, but a challenging trail with some fairly good technical rocky sections, but you probably already know this trail. I don’t ride this or other trails like it with high clay content. It must dry pretty thoroughly after rain or it’s mostly unrideable. Next weekend might work, depending on weather.

Btw, I usually park at the bottom in the dirt parking area, and hike-a-bike it up, then bomb it back down. With two or more people it can be semi-shuttled, but you still have to ride about a mile up the rocky peak fireroad before you can drop in at the hummingbird trailhead.

Btw#2: Is La tuna trail rideable after rain, or does it also have a high clay content?

This is a joke, right?

And Chumash is pretty fun too, and right next to hummingbird. I haven’t tired cherry canyon or La tuna, but will probably check them out in the near future. Two of my favs are Noble Canyon (Pine Valley), San Juan trail, and almost all the trails in S. Barbara, but most are more than 200 miles round trip, and I just can’t get to those as often as I’d like. Sure wish there were trails that awesome in the LA area. :frowning:

Yeah muni for sure. A 36er ride at that pace on flat roads is like taking a nap. A muni ride like that would get your heart rate high enough for long enough to provide a decent aerobic and anaerobic workout.

It also depends on the distance. Doing a century, or even a half century on a 36er, and averaging 11-13 mph is hardly like taking a nap, haha! :stuck_out_tongue: I think in a comparison like that, it would be the 2-3 mile MUni that would be like taking a nap! :smiley:

Doing a half century on a 36er is like walking 30 miles. It’s tiring but it’s not physically challenging. Three miles of real MUni is a better workout than either of those.

Haha, now THAT is a joke. :stuck_out_tongue:

Ok, thanks for your opinion.