Zone 2 rides in hilly area

My driveway is 8% to the road, then the road has grades from 5 to 10% for the next mile. If I want to do Zone 2 outside, I have to drive to a bikepath along the local river and really soft pedal the ups and downs. I can hold 50 to 60 watts over threshold for 3-4 min up some of the steeper stuff around here.

How did cyclists do recovery rides before heart rate monitors & power meters?

I’m a big fan of riding by feel. You know what recovery feels like. My advice: keep it chill and don’t overthink it. But don’t overdo it either.


About the coasting: if you aren’t worrying about average speed or Strava segments, just sit up and lower your terminal speed on the downhills. That will give you some room for pedalling downhill. Also, it will make you spend more time in the flats and false flats at your desired power.

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Get taller gearing and get used to grinding at lower RPM at lower power.

Some people avoid < 70 rpm like the plague and it really doesn’t make sense. My cadence sometimes drops into the 30s and I can hold high Z2 at this cadence for 10+ minutes seated. The torque isn’t nearly high enough to F with my knees.

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Embrace the low cadence I say.

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Close to 20 years ago a zone 2 ride for me was all about perceived exertion. I had a heart rate monitor and I was told (from memory):

  • stay in about this zone for the majority of the ride
  • no coasting unless the decent is dangerous (slippery and/or steep)
  • if the ascents are steep go as slow as you can in the uphills to stay close to your target HR but don’t sweat it if you go over - do the best you can
  • physically and mentally you should feel stressed out over the ride - zone 2 is relaxed riding

During this time I was also doing 2x20 Z4 hill rides which got me stronger. As I got fitter it became easier to stay in zone 2 as my power and leg strength increased.

Sadly (for cycling) I had kids (but happily for life) so now I’m starting again.


Another member of the South West gang chiming in!

We’re blessed with plenty of short sharp hills here so I tend to not worry about the hard effort to get over stuff and concentrate on keeping the average power sitting in z2.

For this I have a screen showing the 3s zone on head up, 5 watts either way isn’t useful but staying in zone is.

This illustrates the Steven Seller anecdote where he describes watching an elite athlete walking uphill rather than jog with too much intensity.

My 34/34 gear ratio is sort of like walking even on fairly steep hills. Without my 11-34 cassette, I’d be a lot more tired after some of my rides.


If the riders in my club are any indication, they didn’t.


This is a clear demonstration that road bike gearing is still in the dark ages.

What’s the average cyclists w/kg at FTP. 2.5 - 3.5 w/kg?

So, in Z2 endurance we’re talking 1.5 - 2.5 w/kg? That’s not a lot of w/kg for climbing. Assuming the rider has the usual 36-32 combo. That’s a terrible cadence to endure on steep climbs purely because the equipment is really built for far stronger riders.

Maybe 20 years from now gearing on road bikes will actually suit the intended market.

Where I live, a lot of the climbs are well over 10%. Heavier riders would need MTB gearing to maintain optimal cadence here.

I actually began my zone 2 riding on my MTB for that reason. Obviously, this is not such an issue if you’re closer to 5w/kg or live in a flat area.

The solution isn’t to just grind an annoying low cadence, this isn’t the 1980s. Get the gearing you need to maintain your preferred cadence. If that means you need a dinner plate on the back. So be it. You’ll enjoy your Z2 rides far more if you’re not terrain limited.

We’re going to Mars, lower gearing on a bicycle shouldn’t be an issue…


We didn’t. Around 20 yrs ago we just rode at tempo. All the time. Except when you tried to drop your mates on a climb :rofl:


I’m with @thebandit, Road bike chainrings are sized for Pros racing at 6+w/kg , I’ve only got 3.5w/kg so I’ve put a 40:28 MTB double and a 11-32 cassette on my bike so that I can do Z2 rides at a sensible cadence. Sure at 40:11 I’m spinning out at 120rpm at “only” 55kph, I can live with that.