Pacing endurance rides by power or HR? Benefits of short endurance rides

How do you pace your endurance rides? Is there any benefit to short z2 rides (60-90minutes) ?

I do most of my endurance rides by power, but I record my HR to allow me to assess my HR Decoupling.

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I think there was a study that said the benefits of low intensity riding kick in at about 80 minutes? Anyone know where it is?

Since I heard that I’ve been trying to find time to push my high L2 rides to 90m whenever possible.

I Shoot for 70-75% FTP for anything up to 3 hours, a little less is ok if longer, keeping an eye on HR. I know what it usually is at that intensity, and might drop the power slightly if it’s way above (+10-15bpm) that for no good reason, or if my breathing increases.

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  • Discussed at length here:

The smart guys over at Empirical Cycling prescribe endurance rides by RPE/“feel”.

It depends on the goal. If I’m going on a long ride for ‘test’ purposes…like, hey, let’s simulate the race…or if I’m actually in the race…I’ll pace based on heart rate. That’s the gold standard.

For training purposes I’ll pace based on power because the idea is to exhaust muscle fibers at that power production. But a constant power ride at zone 2 hr in the first half hour will wind up at a materially higher heart rate zone if you ride long enough. For instance, you might start out pushing 200W at a zone 2 in the first hour of a ride…by hour 5 pushing 200W will be a threshold heart rate effort. The idea being total exhaustion of whatever muscle fibers it takes to push 200W.

I follow a polarized approach and I pace all my endurance rides by HR. If I’m trying to stay near LT1 (aerobic threshold) then I don’t want to ride at a higher HR just because it is dictated by the watts I can produce on a particular day. I also like the Steve Neal approach of limiting SS intervals to 83% of HRmax. That keeps your SS interval from getting into a threshold or higher heartrate.

I read some studies a while back that concluded that HGH production peaks at 45 minutes of riding and capillarization and mitochondria buildup peak at around 90 minutes of riding. I found another study on mitochondria that showed the sweet spot to be 2 hours with more marginal benefits for up to 6 hours.

So if one is time crunched, 45/90 might be something to keep in mind. 45 minutes easy may be a good recovery ride with peak HGH levels for recovery.

Of course, it also depends on how long the event is. If you want to be good on a 3 hour group ride or 5 hour gran fondo, well then, you obviously should try and do some 3 or 5+ hour rides to build the extra endurance.

My understanding is that one of the benefits of the extra long ride is that you are riding in a glycogen low state towards the end. This can help train your fat burning capabilites.