Half Monty HR-Constrained Way Worse Than Ramp (and other bits)

The ramp is a ramp. It gets harder until you can’t handle it, and then it get easy except for the questioning yourself :laughing:

I have a few Half Monty questions, but the biggest is about how I find the HR-constrained bit WAY more unpleasant than the ramp. It’s not super-hard, but trying to sit still and pedal super-steady for 20 minutes doesn’t work with my bike comfort. After availing myself of a saddle library, two different cycling-specific physical therapist/fitters (including with a pressure-mapping saddle overlay), I’m less uncomfortable than I’ve ever been when riding normally, but having the app reprimand me anytime I take a couple of jerky strokes trying to move around makes for a really miserable 20 minutes trying for stillness. It’s a moderate effort after the ramp, but I got to the end of it feeling like I’d gotten the worst of a cross between cycling saddle numbness and a cramped airline seat. I needed to stretch my legs as much as rest…

Barring a genie who can magically make me comfortable on a bike seat, how bad is it to ignore the app and ride with a normal amount of fidgeting? I mean, I’m almost looking forward to the full 4DP after that misery. All the suffering without the Suffering.


Questions as I’m no expert.

  • Are you using old bibs? Chamois dancing and aged, ripe chamois throwing jokes aside, trying out different and new bibs may help with comfort

  • Have your tried a different chamois cream?

  • Have you tried different saddle positions? (Forward/back, nose angle)

  • Could you do the effort at a higher cadence with less resistance?

  • How tense are you? Clenched jaw? Shoulders by the ears? Pushing down hard? Gripping the bars/grips too hard?

  • Speaking of bars, if using drops have you considers a flat bar or the other way around?

  • Are you doing any of the breathing exercises during the effort? 3 in, 3 out / 4-7-8 breath / etc

  • The bike have a different feel off the trainer?


I had a similar problem. After measuring my bike on the trainer it turned out that the trainer lifted the rear 2cm higher than the roadwheel. This raised the saddle slightly in the back causing problems.
After placing a 2cm thick wooden board under the front wheel my problems went away.


Good questions, all of them! Hopefully I’m not picking blind spots, but I think I’ve been over most of these, but let’s see… (I feel like at this point there’s little for it and I should give up on this tack and just figure out whether I ever actually need to do this “hold super still” stuff, much as I’d love to be more comfortable on the bike in general).

Having typed up meandering responses to each bullet point, I feel I should offer any reader an apology in advance, but am grateful for any thoughts.

  • Bibs are my favorite of the three I’ve tried so far and are reasonably recdent (Black Bibs, so far better for me than the other couple of reputable bibs I’ve tried; I haven’t tried the super-double-plus upgraded version from BB yet…) What I like about the BB is that they seem to have a thinner, firmer foam than some others; I have the impression that thicker, softer foam tends to squash under sit bones and press more on the perineal area. I do think it’s possible that there’s a certain amount of bunching is happening; not enough to feel like “hey, there’s a bunch of chamois pulled into the middle!” but perhaps enough to not be ideal. Is it worth trying 4th, 5th bibs? It sure would be if it worked, but I’m not optimistic.
  • I haven’t tried any other chamois cream in a while. As there’s no chafing this doesn’t strike me as a likely candidate, but I’m open to theories!
  • I’ve tried so many saddle angles and locations… And quite a few saddles. The prior PT moved me down and back considerably, which didn’t seem to help, but took weight off the front tire and made the bike feel weird. Mercifully the second PT put me in a much more normal position and we spent a bunch of time swapping and adjusting saddles. It’s better than ever, and maybe as good as it’s going to get, just not great.
  • The constrained effort ended up right around 85rpm, which was fortuitous for me because that’s comfy for that effort level. With my “dumb trainer” setup, I doubt I could bump the cadence just enough without making it uncomfortably high, even with HR being a little higher per Watt at the higher cadence. As a side note, the PT’s suggestion was just the opposite in terms of a lower cadence helping to get some weight off the saddle.
  • I’m pretty conscientious about staying reasonably loose; I habitually reset the “piano fingers” and loose shoulders when I start to feel like I’m doing work that isn’t turning the pedals.
  • I can’t do it. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: This is my 'cross/rain/trainer bike, and I’m enough of a traditionalist that it and the road bike will keep drops, and the mountain bike flat bars. FWIW, this is the bike that I got a full fit on, while I’ve tried to mirror that fit onto the road and mountain bikes (laser level, tape, etc…). Perhaps predictably, the mountain bike is actually the worst for saddle comfort, but that’s likely down to needing a proper fit because it’s too different to be taking much fit info from the 'cross bike. Mercifully, the mountain bike tends to involve the most moving around and the least sitting steadily.
  • I haven’t tried this at all… 3 in, 3 out sort of to the cadence? I’ve only done 4-7-8 with yoga and can’t imagine doing that on the bike, at least not during significant effort… Thoughts?
  • I’m sure I sit on it a little differently just due to it being static, but it doesn’t feel obviously different. I’ve used a number of different front wheel blocks, settling on one that keeps the front wheel very close to the same level as the rear, just slightly above.

Trying a different chamois cream is super-easy (though unfortunately if the lighter, slicker Beljum Budder I have kicking around proves to work better than Chamois Butt’r, I can’t get any more of it), and I confess I’ve been tempted to try the upgraded Black Bibs, too.

Hard to think that just sticking to Full Frontal is ever the easy way out…

So you can do the 20 min effort in FF, but struggle with the cHR in HM. If you can rule out mechanics and other things maybe try different mental approach?

How do you do with the sub-threshold 20 min efforts in other workouts? (Micro Intervals/Tempo no vid, Cobbler, GCN Aerobic Endurance, Hell Hath No Fury).

Reading back through.
+1 on the black bibs or indoor type bibs.

  • Lower cadence usually means more torque which will be more strain and tire you out faster.
  • Never thought about tying breath to cadence. That sounds tough. Doing the counts does help slow the breathing down and make the effort feel less intense. Keep practicing and you’ll be able to do longer or different counts.
  • Even with a fit, putting the bike on any type of trainer changes things. Like @kah said a block of wood can put things closer to what was intended

Just replying re the breathing. The new Tapers is good for this. In:out at a 1:2 ratio. I start with a count of 3 in, 6 out then go to 2:4 and finally when working really hard even 1:2. When in the recovery sections and moderately high effort (i.e. pre pure survival mode🥵) I also work on ensuring I fill all the way from by belly to my clavicles. No doubt a concerted effort when you’re working hard but it definitely does decrease you RPE for the same effort.

To be clear, this is really a matter of discomfort on the saddle, not effort. It isn’t a difficult effort.

I have some leg soreness that’s kinda weird and which I didn’t explain well in my attempts to be funny: on this particular item, that is the hr constrained part, my legs at the end felt a little like I was doing an athletic effort, and a little like I was sitting in a cramped position for too long.

But the central thing is that it is uncomfortable to sit on the saddle that heavily and trying not to fidget enough that the app will complain about unevenness in my pedal stroke.

And buried in my Russian-literature sized rambling, I have indeed adjusted the height of the front wheel relative to the trainer.

Thanks for giving it a mulling over and the ideas!

You don’t need to keep yourself rock still for the 20 mins, just try to keep the power steady. That said, it doesn’t seem right that you’re in so much discomfort.

I realised that the kickr core (direct drive) has a slightly lower axle height than a regular wheel. The reason for this is to relief some of the pressure on your hands. This seemingly simulates the wind pressure on the body that you would normally have riding outside. On that basis you can raise your front wheel a bit more if that helps.

I am wondering if you are losing some core engagement during the lower power HM effort where there are relatively low stability demands and not sitting squarely in the saddle. I find that pressing my sit bones squarely into the saddle by slightly engaging my core (and slightly rotating ny pelvis) helps prevent excess pressure on my more more sensitive parts. During high power efforts, I don’t really have to think about it. But for lower power efforts, I do.

Just speaking for myself, I wound up putting an ISM PR 3.0 on my trainer bike and it’s the only thing I can stay on for much over a. Hour on the trainer. I’d also tried brooks B17, Ergonomic touring , and a few others. I still can’t fathom riding for a 10 hr KoS attempt, makes my backside hurt just thinking about it

I’m just wondering if - despite your bike fit - you’re sitting a tiny bit too low - that would explain the “cramped up for too long” feeling in your legs and the fact that at lower efforts you find your saddle uncomfortable (there is no opportunity for “micro lifts” from teh saddle as you pedal.

If you raise your saddle a bit (try 5mm at a time/session) you might need to nudge it forward a bit too - to make sure you’re actually sitting on your sit bones on the broader part of the saddle (and not on the ‘nose’ of the saddle).

If you are female I’m sorry to say that from personal experience comfy saddles and bike positions are very hard to find. It’s taken me decades… :grimacing:

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Agree with this. “Micro-lifts” - great term. It would also apply to why interval sessions can actually be easier on the comfort scale than sweet spot or below. During intervals you press the pedals harder and take more weight off your rear. Took a long time before I could handle an endurance session on the trainer.

Other things that have helped me include a Brooks Saddle initially, dialing in my saddle height and position, a rocker plate and aero bars to have an additional position. Over time (a couple years) my rear has toughened up a bit and I could get by without most of the above for a couple hours if I had to. This post reminds me of the first few months of indoor riding where I literally thought I would have to give up and take up aerobics as my butt went numb so quickly!! :confounded: