Microsoft Band 2 Blog: Stage 2

Stage 2 presented by SRAM – Monday, May 16, 2016
By: Ryan Ung

South Pasadena > Santa Clarita

  • Distance: 92.3 racing miles
  • Max Speed: 53 mph
  • UV Exposure: 2h 36m

In stage racing, recovery is just as important as entering the race in top physical condition. After a fairly moderate day on Stage 1, Stage 2 entered the mountains of Los Angeles for over 10,000 feet of elevation gain, nearly double the previous day. An early breakaway of 22 riders was eventually reduced to a final selection of 3 including our subject, Will Barta of Axeon Hagens Berman.

Stage 2 Profile

Microsoft Band 2 measures mileage and elevation via GPS. Stage 2 profile

Will rode in the eventual winning break for almost 4 hours but lost contact within the final 6 miles. In order to explore the physical toll riding in the breakaway puts on the body we used the Microsoft Band 2 to measure Will’s heart rate during the 6 hour recovery period after the stage ended.

Although not tracked, we estimate Will’s average heart rate for the day was probably in the 150 to 170 beats per minute range to stay with the front group. As a means of comparison the resting heart rate for a pro cyclist is typically between 40 and 60 beats per minute while sitting or lying down, 60 to 80 bpm while walking around.

As the body becomes more fatigued from intense efforts or lack of nutrition, the heart rate drifts upward – it can take a many hours or even a day for a resting heart rate to return to normal levels after a hard effort.

Barta's Heart Rate

Stage 2 ended at 4:00 PM at which point we tracked Barta’s Heart rate for the next 6 hours

The graph of Will’s heart rate shows an elevated post-race resting heart, which gradually returns close to normal levels by bedtime. Will was required to attend the post race awards ceremony for being the day’s Breakaway from Cancer Most Courageous Rider, which meant he was standing on his feet during a time when he should have been resting. In the world’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, being the leader of the race can often mean an additional 1-2 hours added to the day’s physical requirements for media obligations that add additional stress on the body.

Post-race activities such as quality nutrition, massages, and relaxing (mentally and physically) all speed up the recovery process but sleep is the time for the body to main gains. It’s not uncommon for a pro cyclist to sleep more than 10 hours during a stage race to maximize recovery – we’ll explore sleep in an upcoming blog.