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average speed

ram038ram038 Posts: 187
I have come across a number of threads in this and other forums where posters state their average speed is such and such. My question is does average speed really tell us anything of importance about our riding ability. does this figure hide more than it reveals. I find myself getting hung up on my average speed. for instance i my speed can range from 5 mph to 25 mph depending on terrain.(excluding downhills) but don't seem to be getting any faster over a set distance but I can get up hills that i couldn't before I can ride longer and farther and not get as tired. so is there a better measure of cycling performance that you use. Mi myself Inow tend to monitor my heart rate as this seems to me to be a good indicator. Do you agree.

Posts

  • madmixmadmix Posts: 65
    I tend to use a combination of heart rate, speed and distance to gauge my performance and improvements as opposed to each factor on its own....Until I get my mucky paws on a power meter that is.
  • mozwyn69mozwyn69 Posts: 170
    Sometimes its nice to just switch off the computer and just ride according to 'feel'. Enjoy the ride for it's own sake rather than get depressed by a lousy average speed / time at the end. Some of the averages people post on here seem very high and i would take many with a pich of salt.
    Sometimes you have to lose yourself
    before you can find anything.
  • Jeff JonesJeff Jones Posts: 1,865 Editor
    I tend to use climbing times at certain intensities as fitness gauges. Average speed (or time) over particular routes gives a reasonable indication, too.

    But my average training speeds are much lower (sometimes 12mph lower) than my racing speeds. Racing is, by definition, a very good way of comparing your cycling ability with others. And if you're in London, there's the good ol' Richmond Park 3 lap challenge to compare yourself with other forumites.
    Jeff Jones

    Product manager, Sports
  • And this is the beauty of time trialling - it really is as good a comparison as to how fast you are against others as you can get outdoors. It's also a good way to see an overall trend on improvement (or not) over a period of time by riding the same courses / distances.
  • mr-edmr-ed Posts: 130
    The battery in my computer/hrm has gone flat and so for the past week or so whilst for some reason I keep forgetting to go and get a new one I've been riding without. The strange thing is I've actually noticed how much I've improved, I know the numbers did tell me I'm a little bit quicker, but actually riding without it told me the most. For judging how fast I am in the future riding without it for a week is definatley somthing I'm going to try.
  • ToksToks Posts: 1,143
    Best way to see how your going is against others.
    How do you know if they're really actually 'really' racing against you each time you race them? how do you know they're on form each time you race them? etc The best way is to test yourself on a regular loop with identical conditons each time, test yourself on a longish climb or shock horror wait for it - use a powermeter :D
  • And this is the beauty of time trialling - it really is as good a comparison as to how fast you are against others as you can get outdoors. It's also a good way to see an overall trend on improvement (or not) over a period of time by riding the same courses / distances.
    except that judging your changes in performance against others is not necessarily a good yardstick.

    The easiest way is to monitor through the season the time it takes to climb a known hill distance, which takes at least five minutes, preferably 10 or more. something with a decent gradient and reasonably sheltered. The steeper the gradient, the less road surface and wind impact the result.
  • oldwelshmanoldwelshman Posts: 4,733
    Toks wrote:
    Best way to see how your going is against others.
    How do you know if they're really actually 'really' racing against you each time you race them? how do you know they're on form each time you race them? etc The best way is to test yourself on a regular loop with identical conditons each time, test yourself on a longish climb or shock horror wait for it - use a powermeter :D

    Oh yeah? How bloody boring riding against yourself and power meter :D
    Those should be training methods at best to get you ready to race other whether in a TT or race.
    What do I get from doing 0.2mph better on one ride than another? Nothing.
    You cannot beat the adrenalin you get when you cpmpete against others, especially when you pass them :D
    If I was not racing or TT'ing why would I care how fast I am going? I would ride for pleasure only then.
  • SwannieSwannie Posts: 107
    If your average speed is staying the same and you are finding it easier when you get home...

    PUSH HARDER! :-P

    It may sound obvious, but training doesn't get "easier". Set higher targets :-)

    My current targets, which I could not have done 2 months ago after just getting back on a bike:
    - maintain 17mph+ on a 4.8mile section. Getting there. Then it will up to 18 and so on.
    - using my granny gear as little as possible whilst attacking hills, this include my "mega-range" ring, but still using that for recovery (that will go eventually too).
    - get my regular commute (short 1.7miles), to 16-17mph average speed... means lots of standing sprints at traffic lights, and not being slow! :-)
    - get my average speed over 13mile ride I've been doing, to 16mph+

    These get tweaked every few days!
  • shockedsoshockedshockedsoshocked Posts: 3,937
    I use average speed to gauge how i'm coming on since I don't use HR monitors/power meters etc. Over the course of about 2 months i've steadily increased my average speed for a hilly 40 mile loop I do. I've been practising climbing a lot as the 2 main hills in my climb can easily knock off a good 1mph off your average.
    "A cyclist has nothing to lose but his chain"

    PTP Runner Up 2015
  • Mike WillcoxMike Willcox Posts: 1,770
    All you need is a watch. Most of us ride the same loop. All you need to do is check your time when you reach certain places along the way. Everyone's times will be coming down now due the warmer conditions, getting fitter, and wearing less clothing.

    The danger is to treat the ride as a TT rather than a tempo ride so you must make sure that you ease down at the same places to recover. I normally ease up on downhill sections, and through built up areas, villages etc. It's good to ease up, something to look forward to on a tempo training ride. Save your full out TT efforts for race day.
  • samoffsamoff Posts: 128
    Shocked - Nice to hear you've managed to reduce your speed by 1mph :lol:
    "Check your sheds! Check your sheds! I think I've lost my mind" Half Man Half Biscuit
  • samoffsamoff Posts: 128
    Actually I'm happy to come out as a speed obsessive. I'm dirt slow, but it gives me unseemly pleasure to increased my average from 13.9 to 14mph on my fave dales route.
    The only thing is not to have your current average on display as you ride - dangerously distracting.
    "Check your sheds! Check your sheds! I think I've lost my mind" Half Man Half Biscuit
  • SwannieSwannie Posts: 107
    samoff wrote:
    The only thing is not to have your current average on display as you ride - dangerously distracting.

    Yes. The computer having a little + or - on the screen telling me if I am adding or detracting from my average speed is nice. I'm finding the ride time, or the real time, to be a better secondary number to have up.

    I was gutted with my slow average speed this morning. Bloody traffic lights/jams. If only the roads were a cycle width wider, I could have wizzed to the front of the queues. (Buses going both ways... no way I was going to try and judge that timing when they pass within 50cm of each other).
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