Heart rate whilst racing

Hi…I recently took part in a 2 hour MTB race…it was pretty technical had some punchy climbs and fast sections…I rode the whole ride full gas and averaged 180bpm for 2 hours with a max of 189bpm.

My Max heart rate is 194bpm…which means i seem to have ridden at 92% of my max for 2 hours.

Does that seem ok?

I felt strong throughout the whole race and could have probably done another lap if i needed to.

Heart rate data is deeply personal and also varies greatly day to day - it would be challenging to answer this question for you without a ton of assumptions and guesswork.

For instance - how are you calculating your max hr? What is your resting HR? How often were you spiking into the upper 180’s? How often were you down below 170? How well rested were you?

Resting Heart Rate is between 46 and 50bpm

My Max heart rate is based on FTP test

Was well rested and hydrated before the race

What would you define as okay? Is the concern that your heart rate was elevated for a significant amount of time?

Yeah pretty much…was just worried and curious to know how that can be sustained

Go see a doctor if you’re worried about your heart. None of us can really comment on what is safe for you to sustain.

Averaging 180 BPM for 2 hours is high but not at the upper limits for someone with your max

Thank you…I need to go and do my 40 year old health check anyway so will discuss…thank you

I’m not a doctor, so I’m not going to tell you it’s okay, but some people have a fairly high LTHR relative to their MHR. So you can be comfortable at a surprisingly high heart rate.

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I’d say this is pretty normal. Been mtb racing for a few years. Max heart rate 188 and I will do races where my average is 16X the whole time for 2 hours. I have a 4.5 hour race coming up and I suspect it will be 14x-15x the whole time.

I did a MTB race where I averaged 175bpm for 1hr 40mins. My max HR is 185, so this is about 95% of max heart rate. This high heart rate only happens to me in MTB races, where heart rate is higher than on the trainer for a couple of reasons:

  1. Adrenaline
  2. Upper body doing work in addition to lower

I don’t know how common these high heart rates are, but I suspect it’s more than just you and I :slight_smile:

High heart rates over extended durations - think training/riding for multiple years - however, are suspected to contribute to heart arrhythmia. The following podcast is worth a listen if you are interested.


In competition I often average HRs over hours that, in training, I only ever see during threshold intervals.
Also, an FTP test is definitely not a valid estimate of your max HR. Your true cycling(!) max HR is likely quite a bit higher than 194 then.
I would say it’s ok.

I usually average around 180 bpm for a 2 hour race as well. Here’s my most recent MTB race @ 1.75 hours long.

I find that on the mountain bike, my heart rate is always much higher than on the trainer. I attribute this to the upper body involvement that’s required off-road as compared to the trainer.

Evaluate your race… were you able to go as hard during the 2nd half (or even close… I know in MTB almost nobody negative splits their race) of your race. If you were overexerting yourself with a HR too close to your max, you’d notice a significant dropoff in pace/power.

The added adrenaline from racing definitely gets the HR up higher than training HRs.