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Struggling with speed...

JohnBoyUKJohnBoyUK Posts: 206
edited September 2010 in Road beginners
Hi Guys,

Have only been riding my road bike (a 2010 Allez Elite) for about 200 miles thus far after 2 years riding a MTB and I think I'm struggling.

Dont get me wrong, I can comfortably do anywhere between 20-50 miles without stopping at all, with no aches and pains etc but I'm not doing them particularly fast.

For a 20 mile ride, I'm averaging 14mph but for anywhere between 40-50 miles, my average drops down to 12mph, a similar speed to what I was doing on my MTB. Yesterday, I done 45 miles in 3hrs 40 mins.

How the hell do I get to do it quicker as I feel as though I'm going as fast as I possibly can? Worrying at it seems I'm by far the slowest cyclist on here when comparing myself to everyone's average speeds that they seem to be quoting :oops:

I've read on here about keeping a high cadence? So should I be doing that by cycling in a lower gear rather than pedalling slower in a higher gear? God that sounds a stupid question as its pretty obvious I need to pedal faster to go quicker...but I'm sure you know what I mean. Or is it just about getting the miles in the legs and the speed naturally comes once I get used to the bike?

Any advice? I havent got a cadence meter on my bike yet but will get one if it really helps.

(Oh and for the record I'm a fairly fit 34 year old a little overweight at 15st who either rides or runs mosts days.)
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  • softladsoftlad Posts: 3,513
    average speed (apart from being completely incomparable to anyone other than the individual concerned) has a lot to do with where you live and the type of terrain you ride...but you didn't mention that..?
  • Monty DogMonty Dog Posts: 20,614
    Yes, a smooth pedalling technique will help you develop the leg speed to make you go faster - keep in a low enough gear that encourages you to 'spin'. I should ask if you are using clipless pedals and shoes? These help you given more evenly distributed power during the pedal stroke and reduce the temptation to 'stomp' on the pedals. It might also be worth checking your position on the bike - if your saddle is too high or too low, it can have a significant impact on your ability to generate power - road bike set-up is quite different to MTB.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    First, don't panic. I've been on a proper road bike for 2 years now, and go out 2 or 3 times a week. Riding solo, try as I might I can't get my average speed over 15mph.

    The local club do an 11 mile TT course that goes past my door. I look at the results on their website; I'd need to be doing it in 30 minutes to make the top 20.

    My best effort so far has been 44 mins which equates to... guess what....15mph!!

    OK, so I'm now 53, but I have concluded I'm not going to get any faster without doing some serious, structured training and / or joining a club.
  • Hi,

    If your goal is to race, and you can maintain a speed of 20 miles per hour for a relatively short period of time, this is a good platform. You should be able to race comfortably as a 2nd/3rd cat at that pace, and get placings in shorter races - providing you are race savvy.

    To increase your average speed, riding in groups i find helps, especially if your goal is to race. Because it is rare that you will be alone in a race, for more than a few miles at a time.

    Gearing is very important also, obviously, you should be changing your gear with terrain, to keep the cadence relatively high, steeper hill means lower gear.

    Just try and push yourself for that extra speed at shorter distances to begin with. See how you go.
    Don't rake up my mistakes, i know exactly what they are.
  • softlad wrote:
    average speed (apart from being completely incomparable to anyone other than the individual concerned) has a lot to do with where you live and the type of terrain you ride...but you didn't mention that..?

    Absolutely, if you live in a hilly area, these speeds might be a good reflection on your efforts, if you live in a flat area however this may not be the case.
    Don't rake up my mistakes, i know exactly what they are.
  • danowatdanowat Posts: 2,877
    JohnBoyUK wrote:
    How the hell do I get to do it quicker as I feel as though I'm going as fast as I possibly can?

    What makes you feel that, are we talking physical or mental barriers here?, are you really pushing?

    I know it sounds obvious, but to ride faster, you have to ride faster.

    Echo the above though, avg speed is relative.
  • Oooh yeah, terrain. Good point.

    Hope I can link this right...

    photo.php?pid=6504555&l=be0a56cbb6&id=551039858

    That was my 40 miler yesterday...and this is the elevation graph...

    photo.php?pid=6504556&l=275a18eae1&id=551039858

    Its a bit up and down, no really massive hills in it as such.

    Yes, I'm also using clipless shoes and pedals. Using SPDs, same shoes and pedals as on my Rockhopper Pro.

    Certainly not looking to race, just want a fairly nice average speed which would allow me to join the local cycling club as at the moment, I'm just not quick enough.
  • JohnBoyUK wrote:



    Certainly not looking to race, just want a fairly nice average speed which would allow me to join the local cycling club as at the moment, I'm just not quick enough.

    You are!

    This could be the problem, join the local club. This will encourage you to ride quicker, or just at your own pace if you like.

    Every club has riders of differing scales of ability. I'm sure there will be a group that you can enjoy rides with on a regular basis!
    Don't rake up my mistakes, i know exactly what they are.
  • kingrollokingrollo Posts: 3,163
    Join a club - it really isn't a big deal. If you get dropped - just do your normal ride - no harm done.
    Most clubs will wait - and pace the ride to that of the slowest rider.

    OR

    Get a computer with virtual pacer - so you are always racing your previous time
  • Grimone wrote:
    Hi,

    If your goal is to race, and you can maintain a speed of 20 miles per hour for a relatively short period of time, this is a good platform. You should be able to race comfortably as a 2nd/3rd cat at that pace, and get placings in shorter races - providing you are race savvy.

    To increase your average speed, riding in groups i find helps, especially if your goal is to race. Because it is rare that you will be alone in a race, for more than a few miles at a time.

    Gearing is very important also, obviously, you should be changing your gear with terrain, to keep the cadence relatively high, steeper hill means lower gear.

    Just try and push yourself for that extra speed at shorter distances to begin with. See how you go.

    Eh! What 2/3 cat races you been doing?
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  • softladsoftlad Posts: 3,513
    Grimone wrote:
    Hi,

    If your goal is to race, and you can maintain a speed of 20 miles per hour for a relatively short period of time, this is a good platform. You should be able to race comfortably as a 2nd/3rd cat at that pace, and get placings in shorter races - providing you are race savvy.

    To increase your average speed, riding in groups i find helps, especially if your goal is to race. Because it is rare that you will be alone in a race, for more than a few miles at a time.

    Gearing is very important also, obviously, you should be changing your gear with terrain, to keep the cadence relatively high, steeper hill means lower gear.

    Just try and push yourself for that extra speed at shorter distances to begin with. See how you go.

    Eh! What 2/3 cat races you been doing?

    exactly. Let me know where these easy races are - I want to enter them too.. ;)
  • danowatdanowat Posts: 2,877
    Same for me!!!!, I've been doing some novice crits (non-cat), and we I've been avg'ing speeds of 20-21mph over a 600yd circuit!, my best finish has been 4th, and I would have probably got annihilated in the cat races!.
  • I think the problem is in being a beginner road cyclist, you read posts on here about people averaging 18-20 mph and you go a good run then discover that you have just averaged 13-14 mph and it demoralises you. You wonder how you could possibly go a group ride with this speed, I am the same but think of it this way we are beginners at road cycling, we dont have years of endurance development in our leg muscles like alot of the forum members, and as is said in the training section the best training for a beginner cyclist is more cycling!
    I did a 51 mile ride last week in 3hrs 48mins so it sounds as though we have a similar pace, I'm just a bit heavier at 15 stone 5 (and dropping) so imagine how our average speed suffers in hill climbs against someone at 12 stone with years of cycling conditioning in their legs, no competition there!
    I think what you need to do is just enjoy your cycling and get some miles into your legs, but hay if you get the chance to ride with others go for it, I would, but I'v only riden solo so far!

    Bobby
    getting faster, fitter, and skinnier by the day!
  • I wouldn't worry about it too much, road cycling is pretty different to mountain biking so I suspect the top speed will come.

    After my first year I could average about 16.5 mph over 40 miles solo, in the 3 years since I've pushed this up to 20 mph and become a very mediocre Cat 3 in the process :wink: . The last 2 mph has been caused by racing, I'd never have done it without being forced to... :D .
  • Ben6899Ben6899 Posts: 9,675
    Some good advice in here so far. Can I also suggest that if it isn't hurting a bit, then you're not pushing hard enough.
    Ben

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  • My tip would be choose your course and measure your average speed for that. That's your baseline to improve on. This is your time trial route.

    If you can measure your 'moving speed' all the better. I say that because over a 20 mile route your time will noticeably drop if you are caught by a traffic light, or traffic, or whatever.

    My other tip is to do some interval training.

    Don't get hung up on comparing your average speed to others.
    .
    "Let not the sands of time get in your lunch"

    National Lampoon
  • Just 200 miles on your road bike so far is really censored all distance to gauge yourself by imo, thats not enough miles to develop some endurance, which is what you need to do say 17-18 mph average over 30-50 miles, do a few thousand miles then you will have a better base from which to gauge how well your going.
  • Ben6899Ben6899 Posts: 9,675
    kettrinboy wrote:
    Just 200 miles on your road bike so far is really censored all distance to gauge yourself by imo, thats not enough miles to develop some endurance, which is what you need to do say 17-18 mph average over 30-50 miles, do a few thousand miles then you will have a better base from which to gauge how well your going.

    Oh I missed the "200 miles" bit. Aye, some of us do that in a week; it's not really a large enough distance on which to base assessments. Don't beat yourself up over it [nothing], just crack on and stick at it.

    :-)
    Ben

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
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  • CiBCiB Posts: 6,098
    Quick scan read only, but I don't think your question has been fully answered.

    Assuming you live somewhere more like Norfolk than Wales, your avg speeds are a bit low. Invest in a computer wth cadence - ideally one with Avg Cadence; the Topeak 140 for £30 from Halfords has this - and aim to get your cadence initially into the 80s as a norm, and then try to get the avg closer to the 90s. Spinning at < 70 is too slow for normal road speeds, and you'll scare yourself if you aim for 120 like the pros.

    Everyone has theirown views but ordinarily on a reasonably flat road you want to be spinning at around 85-100, regardless of your road speed. As your muscles attune to the different requirements you're placing on them you'll be be able to keep the same cadence in a higher gear, hence faster road speeds.

    It won't take long, and 200 miles isn't enough to see where your real potential lies.Give it a couple of months, but in the end all of us only go fast by pedalling hard & fast.
  • 20 miles an hour average in a race that isnt categorised.... man I am a snail! lol, I average 14mph, I live in a hilly area, but 6 miles an hour slower just seems ridiculous!

    Looks like a few months of training are required before I even think of racing :cry:.
  • softladsoftlad Posts: 3,513
    the 20mph thing is a complete red herring unfortunately - ignore it, because it has no bearing on reality, especially if you live in Llanwenog, where a 20mph average would probably get you a place on the national squad... ;)
  • ...especially if you live in Llanwenog, where a 20mph average would probably get you a place on the national squad...

    My goal for the next couple of years: Average 20mph where I live :wink:
  • I started road cycling in May this year and was averaging around 15 mph. I noticed you have done 200 miles, I have had to do nearly 1700 miles slugging it to work and back to up my average to just above 20 mph while losing a lot of weight. Pick a route that you can do regularly with time points on the way and when you are feeling up for it, push yourself. Listen to your body and as you lose weight cycling (if thats the plan) then you will only go faster. It took me nearly two months to fine tune my road bike as well in terms of position to get the most out of myself, MTB seem so much easier to set up than road bikes. Good luck.
  • Cheers for all the advice guys.

    I've already got a garmin forerunner 405 watch which I used for my running and lately on the bike but have been looking at getting a Garmin edge 705 since even before I got my road bike but now I see the edge 800 is in the horizon, I think I may well wait for that now.

    I'm gonna keep at it. I guess I really do need to start putting the miles in. Having looked back at my Garmin Stats, I've only done 800 miles in the last 18 months since I started cycling again so my legs probably need to get hardened to the extra effort required.
  • danowatdanowat Posts: 2,877
    I use my forerunner 405 on the bike all the time, with a bar mount and cadence sensor its pretty much as good as a dedicated bike GPS
  • ChrisSAChrisSA Posts: 455
    I've a good running fitness, but the bike fitness is still coming in. My average speed over a 27 miler was about 16 mph - and some of that was snails pace uphill (other parts were 39mph downhill).

    Just like running, speed will come. But you'll need to build a firm base of low effort mileage before moving onto tempo/speed work.
  • ValyValy Posts: 1,321
    My £0.02

    Really just do have fun, enjoy the ride, and [pardon the cliche] other things will come. :D
  • DmakDmak Posts: 445
    If you want to get fast i.e. FIT you're going to need to push yourself a bit more. Aim to ride 1000 miles a month, this is easily doable for a man of your age. Get your diet right, you are what you're made of. 15 stone doesn't mean much without knowing how tall you are, if you're overweight then that just makes things harder for yourself. Provided you get a decent amount of exercise done and tune your diet, any excess weight will fall off and those gains will appear out of nowhere.
  • amaferangaamaferanga Posts: 6,789
    Dmak wrote:
    If you want to get fast i.e. FIT you're going to need to push yourself a bit more. Aim to ride 1000 miles a month, this is easily doable for a man of your age. Get your diet right, you are what you're made of. 15 stone doesn't mean much without knowing how tall you are, if you're overweight then that just makes things harder for yourself. Provided you get a decent amount of exercise done and tune your diet, any excess weight will fall off and those gains will appear out of nowhere.

    He doesn't NEED to ride 1000 miles per month to improve! It would be very easy to ride 1000 miles /month and not get faster at all. Especially for a relatively new cyclist as they'd be knackered all the time so would spend most of the miles riding too easy.

    I'd say just ride your bike for a while and enjoy it. Once you have a good number of miles under your belt then start looking at doing some quality, structured training, not just lots of miles.
    More problems but still living....
  • Just do the miles and the pedal action will sort itself out, the push down imo is more important than the pull up, just be smooth and it will come.

    I ride a hybrid which is geared slightly differently on the rear to a road bike, but has the same size front chain rings.

    Spinning up hill is also easier on the legs than grinding, its all relative in the end..

    I live in wales and nothing here is flat lol. Which means 50 miles here is very different to 50 miles in say Lincoln.
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