maintainable/sustainable road climbing average HR?

weeksy59 Posts: 2,606
edited August 2011 in Health, fitness & training
Morning all,

So next year we're planning a dual trip to take in the Pass'portes du Soleil and a climb of Alp D'Huez.

Obviously being in the UK, it's tough to simulate long climbs, and also added to the fact a lot of my training is gym based using spinning machine, i really have no clue what to expect from the climb.

Based upon XC racing, trail centre riding and day to day stuff, i'd say my overall fittness is pretty decent. But what i'm curious to is Av heart rate over a climb.

Today i was simulating climbing resistance and a cadence of about 65rpm for 45 mins. My Av heart rate was 145bpm, mostly around 141bpm. Which i felt was fairly sustainable, although possibly down to 137 for something a fair bit longer. But i don't know if that's something i should be looking to maintain, or if that's a bit low or a bit high... or....

So, some toughts, ideas etc wanted please all.



  • I don't think your heart rate means anything unless you know your anaerobic threshold (and also maybe maximum heartrate). It is a long time since I have looked at such things (hopefully a more knowledgeable person will chip in) but you should be able to find it out at the gym if you can get a power output. As I recall, gradually increase the load every couple of minutes and record heart rate and power output. A graph of one against the other will give a kink where your anaerobic threshold is.

    Then, I guess you need to be pushing above the anaerobic threshold. Your heart rates sound low to me but then you are either a pensioner or very fit. My max HR is 182 (I am 53) and I would normally average 140 to 150 over 2 to 3 hour rides. If I take it easy I can get an average below 140 but that isn't very often, except in winter when I take it easy. Up the hills I can often be pushing along above 160 which can last for 30 to 45 minutes. Unfortunately I don't know where my anaerobic threshold it nowadays, so those figures are probably meaningless but plodding up a hill at around 165 seems like a slog - you just keep grinding away.

    I tend to train up for the longer summer rides (which have longer, steeper hills) by starting to push higher gears up my normal hills. So, a couple of rides in one gear one week then the same hills the next week a gear higher. It seems to work for me.

    My suggestion would be to find out your maximum heartrate & anaerobic threshold - ou should be able to do that at the gym. The get out on you bike, find the longest hill and start climbing in ever higher gears.

    Hopefully some more educated thoughts will be along later from someone else.

  • weeksy59
    weeksy59 Posts: 2,606
    my resting rate is 40 (give or take). My general max is 179 training. Although i rarely go above 172. I'm 40 next month and fittness i think is pretty reasonable.

    It's not a question for me of getting a hill and climbing hard etc, simply because the Col's and Alps are longer than we can find in the UK, so i need to gauge what rate i can climb at long term not short.

    Sort example i did a 16mile road ride last week (due to hand injury meaning i can't dirt ride), on road rubber on my FS, average pace was 16mph, plenty of decent hills and average HR was 156 with a Max of 176 on one of the climbs.

    Funny though as i seem to struggle to maintain that sort of heart rate average in the gym on climbs... (although i can when running).

    The gym cycle does Watts, but i don't think i can find out the current watt at a given time... i guess i could do it running to get the figures, but my knees don't like me when i run much.

    The problem with Alps won't be the same as in the UK of high then low heart rates, but a constant rate and constant climb for 2+ hours
  • KnightOfTheLongTights
    KnightOfTheLongTights Posts: 1,415
    edited August 2011
    weeksy - as someone has said, what you can 'sustain' depends largely on your power at threshold.

    Estimates differ of where threshold HR lies, but let's say it's 85%-90% of max.

    Some people can work at 90% or even higher for an hour, but for most people it's a bit lower.

    If you're aiming to work hard climbing for two hours (that's a big climb though, that's Ventoux!) then chances are you'll need to keep your HR at 85% of max or lower.
  • That sounds about right for me. I would be knackered if I held 90% (164bpm) for an hour, although I can probably do it. 85% sounds more sustainable for me - that would be 155bpm which I know I can keep up almost indefinitely.