Monday, January 2, 2012


A year or so ago, I counted calories on a Droid app and actually lost some weight. But generally, I don't count calories. I pretty much know what I need to eat and not eat (and drink) if I want to maintain or lose weight.

But this watch/GPS/HR monitor outputs total calories burned. And it's sort of interesting.

I only went on two "real" rides when I was visiting the Seattle area last week: a trail ride at Ebey and a short road ride on south Whidbey.

I think Dylan and I rode about 1/2 the trails at Ebey in the 2 1/2 hours we were out.
Click picture to open the map in Garmin-land.
It's interesting to me how many more calories I burned on the trail ride. It's not surprising -- because when I'm gasping through the (mostly) up parts of the trail ride, I'm feeling it. But when you see the numbers laid out on paper, it's weird.

The trail ride
Distance:12.89 mi
Avg Speed:4.8 mph
Elevation Gain:1,094 ft
Calories:2,057 C
Avg HR:146 bpm
Max HR:197 bpm

The road ride
Distance:17.32 mi
Avg Speed:11.3 mph
Elevation Gain:1,434 ft
Calories:813 C 
Avg HR:134 bpm
Max HR:167 bpm

Trail ride is longer time-wise, but otherwise: less mileage and less elevation gain. The road ride had a couple hard climbs. But the trail ride is over twice the calories burned.

The Garmin software calculates calories burned as a function of heart rate and time. It also knows my weight an my "fitness level," which I put as a "3" -- which is just fit, not crazy fit and not slothy.

The net: pushing your heart rate burns more calories. Wow! I should write a book.

Btw: the 197 max HR bpm on the trail ride is wacky. I would've known if I hit that. I rarely hit 180. And my top has been 183.


mechBgon said...

My Garmin sometimes comes up with unrealistic max HR too. Seems to coincide with high-voltage overhead powerlines.

I did a trail ride today with Ron at Riverside. I feel cheated, it says I only burned about 1000 calories for similar elevation gains and average HR (lower, but not that much lower). And I rarely turned on the bottom-bracket motor, either ;)

John Speare said...

Tom -- makes sense! We passed under a power line a couple times on that ride.

Gain about 50 pounds, then do the ride you did today. You'll be more satisfied with how many calories you burn.

Not said...

I love the Garmin calorie tracking. I don't know if it's accurate or useful or whatever, but I like to see it pass 3500 calories (eg. one pound of fat) on a longer ride.
I see out-of-range HR numbers when I'm going over 30 MPH (yeah, downhill) wearing a slightly baggy synthetic jersey. I believe it's because of the static electricity it generates in the wind.
- Ventura