Muscle fatigue question

Here’s a problem for those of you who know about the way muscles react and break down during exercise, it involves a bike ride I did tonight:

At about 1AM this morning, I felt like I needed to go for a ride to clear my head, and I wanted to take note of how long I was riding for, so I decided that I’d record my departure time, as well as any other relevant times along the way.

I rode from home (Templestowe) to Mordialloc, via Richmond/South Yarra/St Kilda/Beach Rd, and made sure I rode EXACTLY the same way back, so that I could compare the times. It’s 43.2km each way. Here’s the problem: The first half of my ride was completed in 95 minutes, however the second half of my ride, back home, was completed in 89 minutes. The average speeds are 27.28 km/h and 29.12 km/h respectively. Given that I would have had fresher legs earlier, and the fact that Templestowe is above sea level, how does this happen?

Here are the facts:

  • Templestowe is of higher altitude than sea level (my instincts would thus tell me that, all things being equal, theoretically the first leg should be quicker)
  • I consumed no food or water for the duration of my ride, and in fact, the last thing I ate or drank was at around 10:30PM. So I was surprised that I didn’t break down on the return trip.
  • I stopped at precisely the same amount of traffic lights each way, which is exactly zero, seeing as there were no cars around. (this removes stoppages as the cause)
  • I did not stop at Mordialloc: I rode around the big roundabout and rode back the same way, in order to try and keep a similar pace. This means that I didn’t have time to recover and somehow give myself more energy for the trip home.
  • I tried to tell if their were any wind factors while on Beach Rd, but it was a very still night, and I couldn’t notice anything.
  • Earlier this evening, I did have a pretty heated indoor soccer match, followed by a couple of arguments, which was the reason for my midnight ride (can adrenaline actually slow you down after a period of time, and then after another period of time let your body pick up to its normal pace, perhaps a quicker than normal pace?)

I’m genuinely interested in this, it’s doing my head in, and I can only guess that a lot of it is mental, with the return trip always seeming quicker (or does it?), but if anyone knows something, please share.

Blakey, a pie chart or Venn diagram would fit in perfectly right about now!

I’m still laughing at the 1am ride and a 4:48am post on fixed to discuss it…

I would suggest a simpler explanation than muscle related. You went faster on the way back because you were heading home. Same way a horse or a dog will take off when they know they’re heading home.

occam’s razor

How much of a rest did you have in bewteen?

and isn’t it more down hill heading south east?

St Kilda yacht club observations show 19 km/h wind from SSE during your ride. That makes a huge difference, although your inland portion would have had a weaker wind.

I am very mindful of the wind because I commute fixed along the bay. Fucking hate the southerly headwinds that I almost always have on the way back because they are usually stronger than the morning cross/tailwind.

How familiar are you with the route you took? Perhaps coming back you knew where you were headng and as Mr de Keirin noted, you were close to home.

I did a relay a while back and had to run a mile twice with about a ten minute break. I did the second mile quicker despite some fatigue simply because I was familiar with the course and knew when to pop the cork towards the end.

Plenty of things to consider:

  • you may have been fatigued from the soccer, and it took a little while for your legs to right themselves for the ride. Once the body gets into a rhythm things get easier
  • you (subconciously) knew that the ride would be 40km and could have been allowing for that by going out a little easier. Heading home you don’t have to leave anything in the tank so the pace picks up a bit
  • lights … did you slow/stop for any? that can make quite a big difference
  • wind … although you didn’t really notice it, I’m sure there was some there


haha, I just woke up, it really freakin’ hurts to open my eyes…

CdK, I reckon you’re probably right, I think a lot of that kind of stuff IS more mental than physical, but it’s so hard to quantify that shit when it’s not measured in kilojoules and metres. And yes, I did have a laugh when writing the OP when I noticed that members clearly go to bed at around 2AM.

TVM, there was no rest in between, I didn’t even slow down when I got to Mordialloc.

MiG, thanks for the wind info, I know what you mean when you say that a 19km/h wind is significant. I like shit like this, because you can measure it, you can calculate just how much of an effect it would have.

P!N20, It’s a pretty familiar route for me, I’ve done the same route plenty of times before, but having said that, it’s been a few months since I’ve done it, so perhaps I wasn’t as familiar as I thought I was.

ghostcar, didn’t stop at any lights, and any intersections which needed slowing down for, I slowed down for in both directions.

Here’s the route, for anyone who’s interested. The route shown is only one direction, the second half was identical, just reversed:

I like the theory of knowing you were going home.

Perhaps you upped the pace over the last 10km’s, because you knew that you wouldn’t need to conserve any additional energy.

Add the though of a nice warm bed as well. Surely you must have been a bit sleepy.

Also, i find it takes about 10-15 km to warm up, after that your heart settles down to a more steady rate, and you just turn the pedals round and get a good rhythm going affecting your speed.

thats personal experience, not sure if it holds any weight for you

you should get a heart rate monitor, biofeedback is the shit

My 2c, you think too much :wink: hehe

Seriously though, regardless of your night life. And how you can force yourself to stay awake etc, Your body is still essentially locked into certain circadian rhythms. Hence at 1am its thinking, fark, I should be asleep, I’m on the go slow. At 3-4 am, (roughly) and onwards once your through the critical window for qualaity sleep, the mind begins to wakes the body up again.

Not all of an explanation, but maybe part there of. :slight_smile: So many other things matter too.