Took a ride with a friend the other day. It wasn’t meant to be anything big, just using streets in our neighborhood, catching up about Christmas and whatnot, and just enjoying our time out. The day was on the chilly side, but sunny. The wind was there, but wasn’t a factor.
As we left one subdivision to enter another, I glanced down at my bike computer. It was blank. I had forgotten to start it when we began our ride after meeting up at a local coffee house. My computer will go to sleep if it’s idle for five minutes, and I have to click a button to make sure it starts registering when I start up again.
At first, I was angry at myself — I’ve made that mistake before. But then, I looked back at our ride up to that point, and decided I really didn’t need the computer’s data for the day anyway. We had covered about eight miles by then, and I know our average speed was probably in the 12 mph area. I wasn’t working any harder than I do when I ride with my wife. I was in Zone 2.
Zone 2 is familiar to riders who use heart rate monitors. It describes the space between 70-85 percent of maximum heart rate. Three years ago, I was in a riding clinic where we were ordered to ride only in Zone 2. The coach said that since we weren’t training for any races, but were just building a base, this was the kind of riding we should be doing during the winter months anyway. Besides, Zone 2 is where your body learns to burn fat.
We were out for about an hour and a half — 20 miles, give or take. During that whole time, the only effort we put out was on the few short uphills we encountered. In fact, my friend suggested we attack some hills, since our riding had been — well — boring up until that point. But on the hills, she decided it was time to end the ride and head home, so we didn’t even get in any meaningful hill work.
But that evening, I could tell I had done some good riding. My weight was down a bit, I didn’t feel bloated after dinner, and I was ready for a good night’s deep sleep. Zone 2 might not test your abilities as a cyclist, but it does good things for your future riding. I enjoyed it so much, I’m going to make a real effort to spend most of my winter in Zone 2. Or at least the next two months’ worth.