Mountain Biking for Health

Mountain biking is a great way to get fit and stay fit, because the rider can go out and sustain a high work rate very similar to running, but traveling at least twice as fast through very attractive countryside with a good wind to cool them down and none of the running aches and pains during or after the training session.

The whole training session can become very enjoyable for the fitness fanatic if they mount their iPhone on their handlebars and use a training app like RunKeeper to display all the vital numbers. For the naturally competitive fitness fanatic numbers such as average speed and heart rate can be extremely motivating, and enable them to perform at a peak level and get the most value out of their Fitness session.

This has interesting applications for the older rider who may have a minor heart condition such as arrhythmia. This condition left untreated can cause the heart to increase in rate dramatically at a certain point in a run or bike ride, generally once the heart rate rises above a certain level such as 160 beats per minute. The athlete who is not wearing a heart rate monitor will suddenly notice that it feels like “the clutch is slipping” and they have lost power, and in reality the only cure if they are running is to sit down for 20 to 30 seconds until the heart rate returns back to a more normal level.

For a mountain biker with this condition, provided they’re wearing a heart rate monitor and have their iPhone clearly displaying all their vital signs, recognising if it occurs will be very obvious. If they are riding on a relatively flat course at high speed, then they can remove the condition by simply stopping pedaling and waiting for the heart rate to reduce back to normal. Typically this may involve waiting 15 to 20 seconds for the heart rate to drop from 190 beats per minute down to 140 beats per minute. They may only see a 20% to 30% reduction in speed during this brief waiting period.

If the mountain biker is riding up a steep hill when the condition comes on then they will not be able to stop pedaling and instead will have to dismount and sit down on the ground until the condition goes away. This can be frustrating particularly if riding with a group, who will either have to stop or slow down while the affected rider catches up.

Some mountain bike riders have discovered that the condition can occur during low work rate periods such as very steep downhill descents that are particularly scary. One mountain biker experienced a heart rate rise from 120 to 227 beats per minute the instant they started a particularly scary downhill descent, and the high heart rate did not disappear until they exited the scary part of the track and came down the easy way. While a big surprise to the mountain biker, this actually makes a lot of sense to medical professionals as arrhythmia is brought on by both a high work rate and by high levels of anxiety. Its important to follow the right mountain biking hacks so that you know what you’re doing!

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