Time in saddle or miles?

bearwi11z Posts: 12
I’ve slowly been building up my training for a 100mile charity ride.
I have a good base, but have not been keen to ride on the road to perform my long endurance ride and instead have opted for gravel riding or cycle path riding for my long endurance ride to makesure the ride isn’t a stress fest.
The miles I’ve been doing have been around 40-45miles but I have been in the saddle for 4-5hours at Z2 comfortably, and doing 6-7hours riding p/ week, but under 100miles in total per week.
So my question was is time in the saddle as good as total mileage?


  • rick_chasey
    rick_chasey Posts: 73,708
    Yeah time in the saddle stays the same but as you get fitter the mileage will obviously increase
  • DeVlaeminck
    DeVlaeminck Posts: 8,788
    All time in the saddle does is condition your arris to sitting on a saddle.

    Time in the saddle pedalling at a given intensity is different - yes if you are doing 5 hours in zone 2 that is pretty much (there will be some differences) the same benefit whether you travel 100 miles on smooth flat roads drafting in a group or 50 miles solo into a headwind on gravel.

    Curiosity prompts me to ask why is your average speed only 10mph? At first sight that seems extremely slow and makes me wonder if that is really a consistent z2 effort - which over 4-5 hours for someone not that bike fit should be very hard to complete. Also are you not confident on roads and can you ride near other cyclists safely on roads - and will those things be required for the charity ride ? Ideally I'd want to be doing maybe 2/3rds of the ride distance in similar conditions prior to the event otherwise it could be a long day.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • MidlandsGrimpeur2
    MidlandsGrimpeur2 Posts: 1,518
    edited May 2023
    As above, how do you know you are in Zone 2? Have you actually done a proper test to get your power and/or heart rate numbers?

    It is not uncommon for cyclists to over estimate zones, common mistakes tend to be going too easy (or too hard) on a ride and missing the middle ground of medium intensity.

    As @DeVlaeminck says, I would want to be able to complete 70 mile rides on the road at genuine zone 2 intensity to feel confident ahead of 100 miles.

    It can also be worth doing a practice century, for some people that extra hour or 2 can be make or break!

  • aberdeen_lune
    aberdeen_lune Posts: 547
    For me it’s time in the saddle. On gravel roads I average 18-20kph. So a big 5 hour gravel ride may only be 90 odd kilometres. Getting used to riding for that length of time gets your body used to that kind of sustained effort and fuelling. I then find I can do a 5 hour ride on the road easier and will go a lot quicker on the road bike on smooth roads averaging 30-32kph for the same effort. So yes it’s all good. However best to do some group rides to get used to riding with others. Drafting and working with other cyclists can save you lots of energy and increase your speed significantly.
  • bearwi11z
    bearwi11z Posts: 12
    Thank you everyone for taking the time to reply. They were all invaluable insights and views.
    I think I worded my initial discussion question a bit vague, and think Z2 or endurance was what I meant.
    @rick_chasey answered what I was thinking to the question below but had some reservations to my thoughts.

    4-5hours covering around 45miles on gravel similar fitness development to 4-5hours covering 70+miles on road at the similar average HR.

    I am an experienced rider with racing and club riding under my belt, so really confident on the road and in groups.
    Been off the bike for a long time but have been doing a lot of watt biking. Got roped in to do the Carten, but wanted to do my long rides off the road to keep it enjoyable.

    I found when I was on the road i felt uncomfortable around the traffic on my own going the slower speed I needed to go to manage my HR and not go to hard, or on club rides you get dragged into the Sunday smash fests.

    Living in South Wales the cycle paths and gravel roads are all gradually going up hill, plus using 47mm tyres add to the slow speed and low miles I have been doing. Being away from traffic I felt more comfortable going at a slower speed to manage the intensity of the ride better. I do 3x sessions p/wk of SS/ OU/ PI, alongside my long weekend ride, so will feel strong to hide in a group and suck lots of wheels.

    My watt bike has been adjusted to the bike position of my road bike so hoping that should be very helpful.
    I will be out on the road bike this week, so I will be interested in how my gravel engine transfers onto the road.
  • DeVlaeminck
    DeVlaeminck Posts: 8,788
    Should be ok then If the effort is the same. Good idea to do a bit on the road bike just to get used to it again.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • Well done. Cramp isn’t pleasant. Electrolyte tabs in your water can help with that to a certain extent.