Forum home Road cycling forum Road beginners

Average speed to guage fitness

SkyBlueKangarooSkyBlueKangaroo Posts: 66
edited February 2008 in Road beginners
My question is about average speed as a guide to fitness, but let me give a little pre-amble to put the question in context.

I started cycling just before xmas to regain fitness and lose a lot of weight (5ft 7" and currently 13st 6lbs having lost a stone since xmas) which I have amassed through working from home in front of a PC. Jogging gives me lower back pains but so far cycling has been great because of low impact.

I got a Carrera Kraken to ride on canal paths near me and the local woods and trails, but I've also just invested in a Focus Cayo Triple to venture out onto the roads.

I like the idea of joining a club, but I'm concerned this might be a step too far too quick, as I've no real idea of my fitness, and I would be so-o-o-o embarrassed if I couldn't keep up. I can do 30-40 miles so its not like I can't ride for more than 20 minutes.

So my question is this: all things being equal (little wind and relatively flat) but what kind of average speed should I be able to maintain, say over three hours?

Perhaps a number of answers:

1) Don't even think about riding in a group if you can't manage this?
2) Beginner?
3) Average fitness?
4) Realistic 12 month target?

I am 39 years old, and currently 13st 6lbs but it IS starting to come off ;o)

I've got a cycle computer to work out distances, speed, etc and also a heart monitor Polar F6

Hope someone can give me some pointers.

SKB

Posts

  • LeighBLeighB Posts: 326
    Depends on what type of club you join, where I live we have two cycling clubs; one is more sporting oriented the other touring. I would try to contact a club and find out what type of riding they do.
  • I want to get leaner, fitter, faster, and ultimately I wouldn't say no to a bit of competition further down the line. What I am keen to get a handle on at this point is what kind of pace should I be able to maintain, to be able to consider joining a club without embarrassing myself or more importantly holding anyone up?

    If a few people on this forum were to say their slowest Sunday training ride goes along at (for example) 20mph for 4 hours, then I will have a better idea of what my base level of fitness needs to be.

    Or perhaps someone might venture, for example, "if you can do 10 miles in 45 minutes you should be able to stick with a typical Club easy training ride".
  • MettanMettan Posts: 2,103
    3 hours is a good chunk of riding - if you're relatively new to road biking, and are reasonably athletic and reasonably fit you might be able to average 15 mph for the first hour - to keep 15 mph up for a full 3 hours is a big ask........... the reason being, is that with typical varying road gradients, 15 mph implies that you'll have to be riding decent stretches at 17-19 mph (on the flat) to make up for the enevitable stretches when you're down to 12-13 mph (going uphill). Although it sounds straightforward, keeping a constant 19mph on the flat for say 35 minutes is not easy. IMHO, as a novice, a 13 mph average over 3 hours is a good start - if you can manage 15 or 17 mph over 3 hours you're already doing very well (all solo). And to be frank, if you can already manage a 15 or 17 mph avg over 3 hours you could quite easily fit into a social or moderate club ride.
  • azzerbazzerb Posts: 208
    My first season of road biking i was doing well 70mile rides avg of 17mph, but then i over did and had to stop cycling for a bit :oops:

    No idea about the club speed, and how fast you need to go, as I've never drafted before, but apperently it makes a large difference. If you join and get dropped, train a bit more and go again in a bit. If you don't, wahey :D:wink:
  • sean65sean65 Posts: 104
    Check a few local clubs. Some may have a group system where you can start with the easiest group until you progress a bit.

    The faster groups often do longer rides as they cover the ground quicker.
  • BeaconRuthBeaconRuth Posts: 2,086
    So my question is this: all things being equal (little wind and relatively flat) but what kind of average speed should I be able to maintain, say over three hours?

    Perhaps a number of answers:

    1) Don't even think about riding in a group if you can't manage this?
    2) Beginner?
    3) Average fitness?
    4) Realistic 12 month target?
    1) 10mph
    2) 11-12mph
    3) 14mph
    4) 15mph

    But any good cycling club will welcome you and have a ride to suit any of those answers. Try contacting a few local clubs - the good ones will at least give you some helpful guidance. And there's no need to be embarrassed - everyone has to start somewhere!

    Ruth
  • Thank you everyone for these replies. I did 37 miles on Friday (which included a couple of moderate hills and a 5 mile open road section right into the wind) in a few minutes over 3 hours, so that's 12mph average. I guess I'm where I thought I was as a beginner, but from what people have indicated, I shouldn't be worried about joining an easy club ride.

    I will set myself the goal of doing the ride I did on Friday in 2hrs 30-40mins by the end of the year, which will see me at 15mph
  • BronzieBronzie Posts: 4,927
    Our Saturday club run is a social ride - averages around 17mph over 60 miles or so with a cafe stop half distance. I'd say if you can ride 40 miles at an average of 15-17mph you should have no trouble keeping up. The Sunday ride is a bit quicker after Xmas and tends to be 60 miles non stop over the Chilterns.

    Think the closest club to you is probably the Hemel - they meet at Hemel railway station. Also try Aylesbury CC or of course our lot.
  • Bronzie wrote:
    Our Saturday club run is a social ride - averages around 17mph over 60 miles or so with a cafe stop half distance. I'd say if you can ride 40 miles at an average of 15-17mph you should have no trouble keeping up. The Sunday ride is a bit quicker after Xmas and tends to be 60 miles non stop over the Chilterns.

    Think the closest club to you is probably the Hemel - they meet at Hemel railway station. Also try Aylesbury CC or of course our lot.

    I've always wondered whether these average speeds quoted are from a bike computer after the ride or are they what people seem to think the average speed was? I find that with all the stopping and starting for the lights/traffic in London your avg speed given by the computer can be 2-3mph lower than what you thought it was.
  • BronzieBronzie Posts: 4,927
    edited February 2008
    Mikey1280 wrote:
    I've always wondered whether these average speeds quoted are from a bike computer after the ride
    From my computer after the rides - it's set to stop and start with the front wheel, but our club runs don't go through many traffic lights or built up areas in general because 20 bikes riding double file tends to really annoy cagers in built up areas! The only time we tend to stop other than the occasional traffic light is for punctures, "comfort stops" and at the cafe. :)
  • Why not just contact the clubs you have seen and go out with them. If you know the area you can always loop off home (TELL SOMEONE THOUGH) if your finding the pace a bit much.

    By contacting them though you should be able to tell if there a bunch of racing first cats or a bit more 'relaxed'
    Cycling - The pastime of spending large sums of money you don't really have on something you don't really need.
  • milesemilese Posts: 1,233
    I'm fairly new to road cycling and did 13.8mph average over 54 miles, over fairly flat roads, in very cold, and sometimes frozen conditions. This included lots of starting and stopping for map reading and a slow few mile cool down at the end.

    I do 15mph ave on my fairly hilly commute, which is half an hour each way.

    On the really big hills I'm down to 7mph (is this just me?) so you've got to make the most of the downhills to make up for it!

    I'm thinking of joining a local group soon for my first group rides as well.

    My computer starts and stops counting when the wheel stops.

    The best way to improve quickly, and get a good workout is probably a good bit of the peer pressure you'd get on a group ride. You may struggle to start with but assuming your not too far off the pace they'll probably pull you up to their standards quite quickly.
  • oldwelshmanoldwelshman Posts: 4,733
    My question is about average speed as a guide to fitness, but let me give a little pre-amble to put the question in context.

    I started cycling just before xmas to regain fitness and lose a lot of weight (5ft 7" and currently 13st 6lbs having lost a stone since xmas) which I have amassed through working from home in front of a PC. Jogging gives me lower back pains but so far cycling has been great because of low impact.

    I got a Carrera Kraken to ride on canal paths near me and the local woods and trails, but I've also just invested in a Focus Cayo Triple to venture out onto the roads.

    I like the idea of joining a club, but I'm concerned this might be a step too far too quick, as I've no real idea of my fitness, and I would be so-o-o-o embarrassed if I couldn't keep up. I can do 30-40 miles so its not like I can't ride for more than 20 minutes.

    So my question is this: all things being equal (little wind and relatively flat) but what kind of average speed should I be able to maintain, say over three hours?

    Perhaps a number of answers:

    1) Don't even think about riding in a group if you can't manage this?
    2) Beginner?
    3) Average fitness?
    4) Realistic 12 month target?

    I am 39 years old, and currently 13st 6lbs but it IS starting to come off ;o)

    I've got a cycle computer to work out distances, speed, etc and also a heart monitor Polar F6

    Hope someone can give me some pointers.

    SKB

    Bronzie is correct, Hemel is closest for you and they head off from train station on saturdays.
    In summer they often have three runs, one is for beginners and you would have no trouble with that one, as you get fitter (which should only take a few weeks) you can go with the second ride, the third ride tends to be a bit quicker and you would need to be fit for that one :D
  • Thanks again everyone. You've given me the confidence to call a few clubs, Hemel and Aylesbury being roughly equidistant from Tring. I can tag along with a beginners group and, hey, if the worst happens and its too much, I can just peel off and make my own way.

    Also, quite by chance, a letter came home from my boys' school recruiting for a charity ride in June. 120km over 2 days so should be well within my compass by then. The guy organising it has a boy in my Daniel's class, he's a member of South Bucks CTC, and we've arranged to go out for a spin next week.

    Funny how things happen sometimes - someone upstairs is obviously keen I pursue this cycling lark? I'm more than happy to be doing exercise I enjoy. Better than jogging on a treadmill watching Sky News at the gym once a week, and getting back pains, which is all I've ever managed for a few years now. Another couple pounds off again this week!
  • BronzieBronzie Posts: 4,927
    someone upstairs is obviously keen I pursue this cycling lark
    Naaaah.............your wife will be sick of you buggering off on your bike all weekend come the summer :lol:
  • Hi
    Are the previously mentioned speeds unisex or are there separate measurements for the female rider?
  • grayo59grayo59 Posts: 722
    Hope you don't mind me mentioning weight - as a yo-yo dieter 16st to 13st and again to 16st back to 13st and presently held at just under 14st I've been there and still want to get another stone off!

    I'm 6ft and you say you're 5' 7" so I reckon as the pounds come off you'll fly!

    If you are averaging 13/14mph now then drop two stones and you'll be at 16/17 easy peasy!
    __________________
    ......heading for the box, but not too soon I hope!
  • BeaconRuthBeaconRuth Posts: 2,086
    Anne S. wrote:
    Are the previously mentioned speeds unisex or are there separate measurements for the female rider?
    Unfortunately if it's a question of keeping up with a group, the fact that you're female won't affect how fast you'll need to be able to ride - unless you've got a women's group to ride with. But the speeds I posted are only very rough indications so don't take them as gospel. In any case, the terrain, the weather, the type of bike, group or solo riding............ these will all make a huge difference to the speed you can comfortably sustain. I shouldn't worry too much about whether the speed you're riding at makes you a 'beginner' or 'intermediate' - on the scale I gave some people will never get beyond 'beginner' and others will have leapt straight in at "realistic 12 month target". I only gave some numbers because the original question seemed to ask for some and nobody else seemed to be giving any.

    Ruth
  • Ru
    Thanks for the reply.
    I guess that I was trying to establish a benchmark. For example, what would be a reasonable speed for a female rider over a flatish course? I'm thinking of the 'gold standard' of 25 miles in 60 mins which I'm sure has been quoted previously for male riders. Is this also the standard for females?
  • BeaconRuthBeaconRuth Posts: 2,086
    Hello Anne,

    The 'gold standard' of going under the hour in a 25 mile time trial is still a standard to which women aspire, but far fewer women manage to achieve it. Of course we're not as strong as the blokes in general, but there are so many fewer women competing that there would be fewer of us achieving that standard even if we didn't start off with a massive physiological disadvantage!

    I once heard someone say that you could add 3 mins to a bloke's 10 mile time to get an equivalent women's performance and that you could add 6 mins to a blokes 25 mile time. So on that basis, a woman who gets under 1hr 6min in a 25mile TT could feel she was of the same equivalent standard as a bloke who beat the hour. So that would be 22.7mph rather than 25mph. That rule of thumb is as good as any I've heard, but it's not fail-proof by any means.

    I'd like to think that every time I get within 3 mins of the winning bloke in a 10, or within 6 minutes in a 25, that I could inwardly claim to have done a better ride than the winner................ I suppose I can daydream, can't I?! :wink:

    Ruth
Sign In or Register to comment.