Question: I’m 24 years old and overweight (40 pounds down, 50 more to go). I’ve been riding about two months. Since the temperature has been dropping into the low 50s, I’ve noticed that my heart rate doesn’t climb into the zones I am accustomed to, except on hills. Is the cold air to blame for this phenomenon? — Kevin R.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: I don’t think the gradual cooling in autumn is the reason. I suspect that your heart rate is lower because you’re in better shape!
You’re probably going the same speed on the flats as you were when you started riding. Now, however, you’re able to maintain that speed with less effort — and that translates to a lower heart rate.
On hills, the speed difference isn’t as noticeable, so you’re working hard to get up them at a slightly faster pace than last month. As a result, your heart rate remains high on climbs.
The solution to this problem (and it’s a good problem to have) is to push a bit harder on the flat parts of your ride, hard enough to get your heart rate back up to a suitable training zone for you.
Don’t make the mistake of using larger gears and reducing your cadence. Use a gear only slightly higher than you’re accustomed to, and keep pedaling at 90 rpm.