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average speeds

surfatworksurfatwork Posts: 82
edited August 2013 in Road beginners
yes, yet another one on speeds....

I have been cycling for about 5 months. I am 42, reasonably fit, live in Surrey, and ride a Scott S30 with 23mm tyres. Its not too hilly, but neither is it flat. There are days when I struggle and there are days when I really enjoy it.
I see posts here everyday on riders who average 16/18/20/+++ mph - I grant that some of these are very experienced riders, but some of them are beginners like me.
so here's the question - so how come I average between 15 and 15.5 over a 20mile - 40 mile ride? Its not something that's bothering me overly - as I said, I am enjoying the cycling, but I'd just like to know. and no, its not killing me that others are faster.
2011 Scott S30
2004 Trek 4500
2009 Trek 7.1
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Posts

  • NewTTerNewTTer Posts: 463
    They pedal faster
  • WhufcruleWhufcrule Posts: 131
    hi mate like ya self im pretty new to road cycling as well prob 8 moths now and my average speed is normally 16mph think i have got to 17mph once and like ya self im struggling to get any faster but im sure it will come like everything else just keep it up im sure well get there
  • snowjhosnowjho Posts: 108
    NewTTer wrote:
    They pedal faster

    Not necessarily...

    To the OP I'm with you on approx 15mph ave. I think quite a few here are the same just don't shout about it too much.I'd not pay much attention and keep cycling
  • alihisgreatalihisgreat Posts: 3,872
    surfatwork wrote:
    yes, yet another one on speeds....

    I have been cycling for about 5 months. I am 42, reasonably fit, live in Surrey, and ride a Scott S30 with 23mm tyres. Its not too hilly, but neither is it flat. There are days when I struggle and there are days when I really enjoy it.
    I see posts here everyday on riders who average 16/18/20/+++ mph - I grant that some of these are very experienced riders, but some of them are beginners like me.
    so here's the question - so how come I average between 15 and 15.5 over a 20mile - 40 mile ride? Its not something that's bothering me overly - as I said, I am enjoying the cycling, but I'd just like to know. and no, its not killing me that others are faster.

    Depends on how much climbing you're doing - but I'd say reasonably fit would be a bit faster than you - probably more like 16-17mph over those distances.

    So there's your answer.. its because you're not reasonably fit!
  • chrisaonabikechrisaonabike Posts: 1,919
    surfatwork wrote:
    so here's the question - so how come I average between 15 and 15.5 over a 20mile - 40 mile ride?
    There's no magic answer to this. The fast guys have been doing it for years, and train hard. The younger guys probably improve faster than the older guys.

    I've been cycling for almost a year now. I never have any easy rides, and although I pace myself to complete the routes I plan, I always push.

    I'm only about 1, maybe 1.5 mph faster than I was at the beginning.

    It's been quite illuminating to watch my OH start riding. She bought a bike a few weeks back. She's quite fit (ran the Brighton Marathon in April), does loads of aerobics, and when we used to run together while she was training for her marathon, she'd basically kick my censored round Richmond Park.

    However, she's not bike fit. We went out for a flat 40 miles together yesterday (she's improving quickly!) which was her longest ride to date, and for her it was a fast pace, whereas for me (for no other reason than the 3000 miles I've ridden since last October), it was easy - she was knackered at the end, and my average HR had been 108. However, I'm quite sure that if she takes it seriously, she'll as be fast, maybe faster than me.

    The only thing I can suggest is, don't compare yourself with faster riders, compare yourself with yourself. That means a bike computer, and Strava or Garmin Connect or something. Monitor your progress over months rather than weeks, and watch out for small improvements.

    I've got to the point where I don't care so much about average speed - since it's so dependent on weather (temp and wind). Whereas I get much more pleasure when the hills that nearly killed me six months ago are now perfectly doable.
    Is the gorilla tired yet?
  • dannyharrisdannyharris Posts: 217
    Don't ride and aim to be faster.
    I found the more I enjoy riding and setting little challenges for my self.
    Tryin to make it up a hill in a harder gear.


    Try pedalling in a different gear to normal.
    I have tried a smaller cog and a bigger cog to my average gear.
    You will be surprised on the difference.
  • arran77arran77 Posts: 9,260
    I've got to the point where I don't care so much about average speed - since it's so dependent on weather (temp and wind). Whereas I get much more pleasure when the hills that nearly killed me six months ago are now perfectly doable.

    This is very true, average speed is so dependant on lots of things, many like weather, wind etc are totally out of your control, finding things getting easier and being able to ride further or for longer are much better indicators of improvement in my opinion.
    "Arran, you are like the Tony Benn of smut. You have never diluted your depravity and always stand by your beliefs. You have my respect sir and your wife my pity" :lol:

    seanoconn
  • surfatworksurfatwork Posts: 82
    That means a bike computer, and Strava or Garmin Connect or something. Monitor your progress over months rather than weeks, and watch out for small improvements.

    I've got to the point where I don't care so much about average speed - since it's so dependent on weather (temp and wind). Whereas I get much more pleasure when the hills that nearly killed me six months ago are now perfectly doable.

    Yes, I do have a garmin and have certainly improved. both in terms of speed and what is doable now. did two laps of the box hill zigzag last weekend and didnt find it particularly taxing. and you are right, it is very weather dependent, especially the wind.
    I found the more I enjoy riding and setting little challenges for my self.
    that's good advice - thanks, mate.
    2011 Scott S30
    2004 Trek 4500
    2009 Trek 7.1
  • ct8282ct8282 Posts: 414
    edited July 2013
    An interesting thread, and I'm guessing that you recently read mine which harped on about my 18.5mph average over 26 miles after just 3 months of riding. Well, as has been said don't compare yourself with anyone else. Just compare yourself with yourself.

    I started 3 months ago but I've been training intensively for 8 years. I've been using protein supplements and other potions throughout those 8 years and have been very clinical with my diet, have had expert tuition at times and trained with many different training partners (I'm talking mostly body building here), have spent hours, days and weeks researching and trying new training program's, and have always pushed myself extremely hard, at times pushing to my absolute physical limits. On top of this I am an experienced runner, 10 miles is easy for me, and do adventure races. Therefore I came into cycling with not only lots of experience when it comes to fitness and training, but also the ability to grit my teeth and just churn it out. I've always have the motto that 'only when you push your body way past its comfort zone does it have the need to change and improve'. It's a motto that's served me well and I still say it to myself when I'm lining up for another huge set on the weights even when my muscles are begging for mercy!

    My only competition is with myself, and I am very competitive in that regard. If I don't see improvement after a period of time I get bored easily, so in order to stay interested and focused I always try to push that little bit harder when I ride. Don't think that my 18.5mph average was easy. It hurt like hell. But, the rule 'no pain no gain' is absolutely right. If you're sitting in your comfort zone your body has no need to adapt or improve. The challenge isn't physical, it's definitely mental and being able to switch that switch in your mind that let's you push just that little bit harder when your legs tell you to 'stop you evil censored , this hurts'.

    The most important thing though is about enjoying your riding. I don't remember anywhere where it says you must keep increasing your average speeds to enjoy cycling. If your goal is to increase them however then try setting yourself some specific goals and targets. Many people who come to my gym still look exactly the same after months and years of training. When I talk to them it turns out they have never ever set themselves targets, put together a specific training program, or even thought about their diet and proper rest periods. They just amble into the gym, lift a few weights and expect to build muscle. It just won't happen. Maybe pick some hills that are a little on the nasty side and make an effort over the next few weeks to improve your time up those hills. Keep a log of your results to see how you get on. Really dig deep and push yourself up these hills and you'll start to see the difference, and suddenly you'll find yourself beating your PR's. then when you hit the flats again you'll notice that you have more strength and power and your speed will increase.

    Oh, and I'm 10 years younger than you :D
  • chrisaonabikechrisaonabike Posts: 1,919
    surfatwork wrote:
    did two laps of the box hill zigzag last weekend and didnt find it particularly taxing
    This is the thing. If it's not particularly taxing, it's not increasing your speed (generalisation, but you know what I mean).

    I'd been up Box Hill quite a few times, wasn't getting much faster.

    Then I did it in a group a couple of weeks back and a young lad about 20 decided he didn't want me to get to the top before him. Well I wasn't having that - I worked bloody hard up there for the first time for ages, and took nearly a minute off my PR from the bottom of the ZZ to the cafe.
    Is the gorilla tired yet?
  • chrisaonabikechrisaonabike Posts: 1,919
    ct8282 wrote:
    The challenge isn't physical, it's definitely mental and being able to switch that switch in your mind that let's you push just that little bit harder when your legs tell you to 'stop you evil censored , this hurts'.
    This is an excellent point. I'm 50, not 30, and I tend to be a little bit scared to actually push that hard, so I sacrifice some improvement I could otherwise gain, for sure.

    Andrew Marr and all that :(
    Is the gorilla tired yet?
  • Mikey23Mikey23 Posts: 5,028
    My all time average is 12.9mph ... Was increasing until my recent off. Living in east Cornwall so moderately hilly. Speed comparisons are pretty meaningless in my opinion
  • surfatworksurfatwork Posts: 82
    great input, everyone, and thanks for taking the time to write all that, ct8282. I must confess that I have not specifically set myself a speed improvement goal - like the people at ct8282's gym, I perhaps expected it to improve automagically.
    2011 Scott S30
    2004 Trek 4500
    2009 Trek 7.1
  • don't worry about it bud im 46, 16 stone and smoke [ not a lot and working on it ] been riding for 2 1/2 years now and I average 16mph a ride but I enjoy every minute out there . don't get all worked up about average speeds, ok set yourself little goals if you want and push your limits if that's what your after . just think why did you start cycling in the first place ... to get fitter / loose weight / or just to get out there ????
  • Wirral_paulWirral_paul Posts: 2,476
    surfatwork wrote:
    yes, yet another one on speeds....

    I have been cycling for about 5 months. I am 42, reasonably fit, live in Surrey, and ride a Scott S30 with 23mm tyres. Its not too hilly, but neither is it flat. There are days when I struggle and there are days when I really enjoy it.
    I see posts here everyday on riders who average 16/18/20/+++ mph - I grant that some of these are very experienced riders, but some of them are beginners like me.
    so here's the question - so how come I average between 15 and 15.5 over a 20mile - 40 mile ride? Its not something that's bothering me overly - as I said, I am enjoying the cycling, but I'd just like to know. and no, its not killing me that others are faster.

    Depends on how much climbing you're doing - but I'd say reasonably fit would be a bit faster than you - probably more like 16-17mph over those distances.

    So there's your answer.. its because you're not reasonably fit!

    Well i'd say there's being generally fit and being cycling fit - there's a world of difference. You can be fit and able to ride at lower power outputs all day..... and so able to ride at say 15mph for 20 miles or 80miles - but maybe not any faster for any distance. Getting the strength to go faster will only come with training to do so and that does mean pushing yourself harder.

    I was just looking at my last ride and it was a pretty steady run with 17.7mph average over 120 miles and i mostly rode at about 150 watts or so (with a Power Meter). I pushed harder towards the end and was up around 180 - 200 watts and did around 20mph average. Thats quite a big jump in power output (as a %age anyway) to go only a couple of mph quicker - so it will take a pretty decent increase in what power output you can ride at constantly to make you go noticably faster on your rides.

    I'd say dont worry about the average speeds for now but build your distances first. Once you have the stamina then maybe think about some strength training with intervals. The speed will come in time
  • ct8282ct8282 Posts: 414
    surfatwork wrote:
    great input, everyone, and thanks for taking the time to write all that, ct8282. I must confess that I have not specifically set myself a speed improvement goal - like the people at ct8282's gym, I perhaps expected it to improve automagically.

    Well I think you've identified then the key point, which is 'automagically' just doesn't happen I'm afraid. If you wish to improve your speed, endurance, power, or whatever it may be, then you need to have a plan and set yourself goals. You need to start playing the mental side of the challenge and learn to work beyond the point where your head says stop. If you're happy with your riding and just being out there, as stated by another member just now, then don't worry about improvements. Just continue to enjoy being out there. That's great also :D .

    I have to focus on improvements however. It's what drives and motivates me to keep going to gym and pushing weights until my muscle fibres tear, or getting all of my cycling gear together and getting out the door on my bike and powering up hills until my legs feel like they're on fire. That's what floats my boat, but it doesn't make it right for everyone.

    Just realise that unless you push your body beyond its comfort zone it has no need to change. It's capable of handling the way you ride, if that makes sense.
  • zardozzardoz Posts: 251
    If you want to ride faster then riding more will do that, however the best way is to include some fast intervals into your training on a regular basis. Done properly Intervals are hard but they get your body used to riding at a much faster pace over shorter distances so that you then feel comfortable at a slightly lower pace over longer distances - if that makes sense. My background was in distance running and as a track runner intervals were the most important part of improving speed. You do need a good endurance base first though. I only started cycling 10 months ago after quite a few years of inactivity, in my first couple of months my average speed was in the 13-14mph range but I'm now riding comfortably at 18-19mph and did a recent 25m TT at 20.5. Oh and I'm 57 so it can be done.

    As others have said though, don't get too hung up on it and just enjoy it.
  • elderoneelderone Posts: 1,410
    I also used to worry about my average speed but now I have learned it,s so changable it,s not worth worrying about.
    On flattish steady runs,16-17mph is average,but where I live its quite hilly so 14mph is a good speed for me.
    Im also less than a year in and 50 years old,so got to put things into perspective.
    I have improved lots and hopefully will continue to do so but I now accept and undestand it will be at my pace and in my own time.
    Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori
  • src1971src1971 Posts: 6
    Like the OP, I too am 42 yrs old and have been cycling for about 5 months. My average speed for my usual 30 mile route (not flat, but not particularly hilly) has increased by about 3 mph since Feb. I'm hoping to add another 1 mph this year and another 1-2 mph in 2014.

    As has been mentioned the weather (especially the wind) can influence speeds a lot so when comparing my average speeds I check that the weather is consistent between these rides.
  • awaveyawavey Posts: 2,368
    I think 15mph is pretty good average speed for a solo rider, certainly after only 5months,and Im not just saying that as Im resolutely stuck in that speed bracket, as Ive been stuck there for years :D

    generally I think we all start off with a core speed of around 10-12mph and its possible to build the speed up to a 15mph avg quite quickly without changing the style of how we go about riding that much, but the next speed gains take far more effort and time. I think the jump from 15mph to 20mph can be quite hard physically to get to. the thing people suggest the most is try and increase the distances, get your pedalling cadence up to 90rpm, and chuck in some interval sprints during rides and over time it will gradually start to improve

    but the thing your not maybe noticing as people dont tend to go on about so much, is that youll be finding it easier to cycle over longer distances or when tackling climbs, your overall recovery time will be improving, and youll be losing weight. which are all good things :)

    and I always think when someone breezes past me effortlessly pushing out another 5mph of speed, it doesnt mean Im slow, it means Ive always got room to improve.
  • CalpolCalpol Posts: 1,039
    15mph seems a very respectable place to start. I am 42 also and last year I was chuffed if I got 16mph. Fitness is hard earned especially if you have a job and a young family. I have improved a fair bit in a year but still seem a long way from the top of the Strava boards! Our club runs are a bit of a meander - Sundays was 35 miles to the cafe at c15mph. I rode back alone 24 miles and I averaged 19.9mph, was gutted to miss the 20 mark! So if you stick at it you will improve and thats part of the fun. Unfortunately if you are anything like me then you still won't be satisified.
  • 47p247p2 Posts: 329
    I came back to cycling after a 25 year break, I'm now 56. When I was cycling in my late 20s I could easily average 22mph but what a shock on my return in March, I started off at 11mph and have now managed to get up to 17.5mph. I decided to loose a bit of weight and went on a strict diet, to date I am 20LBS lighter (10LBS lighter than 25 years ago) but sadly the speed hasn't went up any since the weight loss. I don't seem to have the same stamina that I had 25 years ago, I'm more of a plodder today than I was then but I do enjoy the challenge of beating my times every ride I do. I guess I will just need to stick with it in the hope I can get somewhere near the speeds I used to be able to achieve.
  • GSVBagpussGSVBagpuss Posts: 271
    For ne, physical performance should be about improving yourself and not worrying about others. I can train really hard for months and be happy with a 1:50 half marathon when friends of mine can do that when turning up hungover and having not run for 3 months. That's just natural performance levels playing out. It also means I should be very happy to do a 1:45 half marathon when my friend should only be happy when he gets down to 1:30.

    So, if you want to improve - set yourself little targets and keep trying to hit them. Froome will always climb a hill faster than you, but if you can beat last months time then you're doing just fine.
  • sbbefcsbbefc Posts: 188
    Average speeds obviously vary a lot on the type of terrain and distance etc. However ive been TTing a flattish private segment of 28km and it has has helped me improve enormously and is a good measurement of improvement. I only revisit the course about once a month so each time I should be beating my PB.
  • markhewitt1978markhewitt1978 Posts: 7,614
    surfatwork wrote:
    yes, yet another one on speeds....

    I have been cycling for about 5 months. I am 42, reasonably fit, live in Surrey, and ride a Scott S30 with 23mm tyres. Its not too hilly, but neither is it flat. There are days when I struggle and there are days when I really enjoy it.
    I see posts here everyday on riders who average 16/18/20/+++ mph - I grant that some of these are very experienced riders, but some of them are beginners like me.
    so here's the question - so how come I average between 15 and 15.5 over a 20mile - 40 mile ride? Its not something that's bothering me overly - as I said, I am enjoying the cycling, but I'd just like to know. and no, its not killing me that others are faster.

    Because you are a normal person, and they are not, or they are lying.
  • CiBCiB Posts: 6,098
    Are you pushing harder and aiming to keep the speed above 20mph for as long as possible, and making an effort to never let it drop into single-digit speeds on climbs? Do you roll up at junctions dripping sweat all over your crossbar (sorry tob tube) & bars? Do you push harder than you need to when it's easier to cruise at a comfortable speed? If no,, you know what has to be done. Effort. That's what increases speeds.
  • BobbinogsBobbinogs Posts: 4,928
    CiB wrote:
    Are you pushing harder and aiming to keep the speed above 20mph for as long as possible, and making an effort to never let it drop into single-digit speeds on climbs? Do you roll up at junctions dripping sweat all over your crossbar (sorry top tube) & bars? Do you push harder than you need to when it's easier to cruise at a comfortable speed? If no, you know what has to be done. Effort. That's what increases speeds.

    I agree with CiB. Unless I have done a flat 20 miler then achieving avgs of 20mph+ comes at the expense of working incredibly hard (flatline suffering in most cases). I have found that improving my fitness has not helped me achieve greater speeds directly, it just means that I can work harder for longer, which means I can go faster overall.

    The old adage of "hills don't become easier, you just climb faster" really does apply. I did some lumps on a tough ride at the w/e and it really hurt towards the end...same as it did when I last did that route a couple of years ago even though this year I was quicker.
  • dee4life2005dee4life2005 Posts: 773
    When I started cycling 15 months ago, my first ride was about 12.5mph average on a 20 mile route with 300ft of climbing - so about as flat as you can get. My heart rate average was 182bpm for this and my max is somewhere around 192-194. So I was pretty much at my limit. Over the next month of regular cycling this increased to around 15mph for the same route. I levelled out at this for about a month or so, but after putting in some hillier rides and doing a bit more threshold work I saw this gradually increase.

    If the wind is fairly light, and I put in a decent effort (avg. 170bpm) I can get around 21mph + average for this ride or similar - and can sustain ~20mph up to about 50 miles solo (on a road bike). It has taken me a great deal of effort, and suffering, to reach this though with 11,000 miles in 14 months and about 200,000ft of climbing.

    +1 on the hills don't become easier, you just climb faster - sooooo true.

    For me it was adding in some higher intensity rides, or intervals, that helped me to improve my fitness and speed - and the fact that I lost 3 stone over the course of the year helped greatly on the hills (not much benefit on the flat, and makes getting speed up on downhills tougher).
  • philbar72philbar72 Posts: 2,216
    Last August was my first ride back on a bike aged 40, did richmond park in 35 minutes and was absolutely dead after it!

    I'm now doing averages of 40+miles 4-5 times a week at an average speed of 17-18 mph with 3000ft of climbing per session (3 hills + the rollers in between!).

    in between, i've done the following.
    1) cut down on the booze. Its poison and makes you feel rubbish.
    2) eating more sensibly. No more crisps and midnight biscuit snacks.
    3) listen to my body. If you are feeling tired don’t go mad, get home and rest.
    4) recovery. Recover at least once a week. Instead of going out on the bike give it a clean.
    5) know your limits. If you’ve done a 130 mile ride yesterday, it may not be adviseable to do a 65 mile 5000 feet of climbing ride!
    6) join a club and get advice from people that know bikes. my lot are a real mixed bag and are very good at offering help and advice!


    I've lost 6.5 kg, and gained a lot of fitness and strength. i can now do a lap of Richmond park in sub 20 minutes and enjoy climbing hills ( though i'm still not as fast as a lot of the fellow club members).
  • colsoopcolsoop Posts: 217
    You can't compare yourself to anyone else, as mentioned above lots of factors effect your average speed.

    I assume you want to find out if your getting better on the bike, well using mph as a gauge is hard because it does take a fair amount of time and effort to gain even marginally on those figures but you will still be improving even if the figure doesn't change.

    Just by cycling regularly you will be improving - up to a point.
    Perceived level of effort is normally a good indicator of improvement, perhaps that big hill used to leave you hanging half way up it but now you can get to the top and still have energy left.
    Little things like that are a better indicator than a black and white mph measure in my opinion.
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