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average speed

tehtehtehtehtehteh Posts: 103
edited October 2014 in Road general
dunno about you guys but I measure my progress by average speed / time it takes to do a specific route, I don't have a power meter or anything like that

I used to do a road route on an old MTB, I gradually improved my average to 14mph over the 33 mile route through surrey hills, switched to a road bike earlier in the year and on the same route the average went up to 15mph straight away but no faster since then, the bike is decent around 8kg with a pretty light wheelset, I feel I should be going a lot faster on it

pros might average 25 mph on a road stage, I know I shouldn't expect this sort of speed but what in your experience is a realistic target?
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  • arran77arran77 Posts: 9,260
    Average speed is such a 'how longs a piece of string' type question :wink:

    There are so many things that will affect it such as how hilly the route is, the weather conditions, how fit you are, if you're riding alone or in a group.......

    The best thing you can do is just stick at it, keep riding lots and hopefully you'll see average speeds increase.
    "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
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 10,835
    Nobody can tell you what your average speed should be. There are too many variables to make the measure even remotely relevant as a way of gauging improvement.
  • 20mph over 33 miles
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • Don't fall into the trap of always trying to better your average speed.

    I follow many excellent riders on Strava, and one thing they have in common is lots of slow riding, well below their max.

    Don't constantly flog yourself, I doubt it'll work.

    Instead, ride for 1 or 2 hours at easy pace, but include a few sets of 2 or 3 minutes at the pace you want to achieve, say 18mph. Do this for a few weeks.

    Then, as you improve, try to increase the time bit by bit at this speed, or increase the speed. This should help notch up your long term speed.

    And as others have said, one's 'average' speed is meaningless. A great rider could be doing 15mph if it's hilly/windy, and a novice 20mph if it's flat, in a group, etc.
  • 20mph over 33 miles


    Only if the OP RLJs... :?
  • It depends on what you're trying to do, as well. Many very, very good amateurs (if not some professionals as well) will be regularly going out and doing training rides at relatively low average speeds - with or without hill reps, intervals, etc. If you're commuting in traffic, I don't suppose you're exactly hammering it either.

    In terms of what you can aspire to, most people willing to do the work I think are capable of a sub-24 minute 10 on a flat course, or a 25 in an hour.
  • thank you for the replies

    let me clarify - as I have personally experienced over the years; with the same bike on the same route, ride time / average speed is a perfectly fine and consistent way of measuring progress (what did everyone do before power meters?!?!). I am not new to cycling I just have switched to a road bike recently and the problem was I was expecting to see a lot of improvement over the MTB and I haven't seen much at all really

    maybe my expectations are too high, maybe it's the fit of the new bike, maybe I'm not recovering enough... who knows - all I know is I used to ride moderately hard but never too hard and would see small gains each week, now I ride to the same intensity and see nothing, so something's wrong, I know I definitely haven't 'peaked'

    I planned to change one ride per week into a shorter interval session, so good to see something similar suggested here
  • When I first went from mountain bike to road bike it was the vast difference in handlebar positioning that took some getting used to. You may well be able to drop your bars lower, giving you a faster time, possibly not as comfortable though.
  • morstarmorstar Posts: 2,816
    Sounds like you've plateau'd which is inevitable. Do hills, intervals etc. Just approaching every ride as the same intensity, go as fast I can is very limiting.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    When you say 'old MTB' guess we are talking 26" wheels, knobbly tyres, heavy, low gearing, and possibly front suspension (lockout?)?

    An instant 7% increase in speed just by changing bikes sounds reasonable considering you will have had to get used to a completely different type of bike.
    Guessing the build up to 14mph on the MTB was a lot more gradual?

    Not sure I would be measuring average speeds so closely.
    How do you find riding the new bike? Does it feel faster, better, more enjoyable?

    I think you just need to get more experience of the road bike and build up further small gains, just as you did on the MTB.

    Do you always ride alone? Group riding will bring improvements.
    Get a Garmin (with virtual partner feature) and do time trials if you really want to improve average solo speeds.
  • redvisionredvision Posts: 2,515
    Try a new route.

    If you keep doing the same route over and over again you will plateau & find your times won't significantly change.

    Find yourself a new route with different terrain to start mixing your training, then when you do the old route again you will notice an improvement.
  • jordan_217jordan_217 Posts: 2,580
    tehtehteh wrote:
    on the same route

    Are you only ever doing the same route?

    As has already been stated, you need to mix it up in terms of routes and intensity and don't underestimate the power of a day or two complete rest. It's a bit cliche but the biggest problem is the trap of doing your hard sessions too easy and your easy sessions too hard.

    Are you still riding your MTB? IMO, doing the odd MTB ride will really help you improve on the road and also keep your handling skills on form, which will really help as we approach Winter.

    Try and find another person or group to ride with or even join a local club and get on w'end club ride. You don't have to be a member to ride with some clubs, just contact the club run rep or secretary in advance.
    “Training is like fighting with a gorilla. You don’t stop when you’re tired. You stop when the gorilla is tired.”
  • BobbinogsBobbinogs Posts: 4,928
    It sounds like the OP is not always doing the same route, just uses the same route to intermittently measure progress, which is fair enough.

    If the OP has seen his times plateau, I would ask what training is being done to improve this? I would want to see a sample riding log and get some idea of the effort on the various rides. The usual advice is that if one just rides a certain distance at a certain pace/effort then that is what one will become good at.

    Variety, 'tis the spice of life and works well to keep cycling fresh and improve performance. So mix up some short rides at max pace, medium rides at a varying pace (with the odd interval session in the middle), long rides to get base miles in and some group/mixed rides to get some nice social rides in...and also occasionally be forced out of the comfort zone (nothing gets you working harder than trying to grab the wheel of the fecker who has just dropped you on a climb you thought were good at!).
  • FudgeyFudgey Posts: 892
    How hard should one push themselves on a ride, ie getting up a hill?

    one of the first few rides i done when i got my road bike i basically went as fast as i could up a fairly decent hill. pushed to the point of my thighs hurting and then i was buggered for the next 10-15 miles to get home as i had nothing left.

    now when i ride i can feel the point at which my legs begin to hurt, then ease off slightly to not get the burn. doing this i can carry on riding for a fair distance.

    so with training, like 2 miles from home is a reasonable hill, would just riding up and down that a few times as hard as i can, until i cant do it any more be of any use - and that way im not far from home.

    or doesnt it work like that?
    My winter bike is exactly the same as my summer bike,,, but dirty...
  • morstar wrote:
    Sounds like you've plateau'd which is inevitable. Do hills, intervals etc. Just approaching every ride as the same intensity, go as fast I can is very limiting.

    Sounds like me, but I've also stopped the seriouis diet and not had as much time on the bike recently so that isn't going to help.
    Advocate of disc brakes.
  • nferrarnferrar Posts: 2,511
    Part of getting fitter (at least with specific training) is your recovery between efforts reduces, that's one of the things interval training is good for. There are lots of variations on how to do intervals that can't really be covered in a forum post but googling will bring up plenty of info. In short doing hill reps is a good way of improving several aspects of cycling fitness, although once you've built up a decent general fitness getting home from a hill 10 miles away after a few minutes rest shouldn't really be a major issue either (unless you do a lot of reps and end up bonking).
  • FudgeyFudgey Posts: 892
    OK cheers. usually if i just go at my own pace im ok can do the distance, but the couple of mates i ride with, there is me just making progress up a hill, and they can just lay the power down and put a good hundred or so yards on me.
    if i kept with them, thats when id struggle to finish the ride.
    they were both mountain bikers (also myself) but they have done a hell of a lot more riding than i have. this year we all seem to have ended up with road bikes...
    its still early days for me, had the road bike almost 5 months now
    My winter bike is exactly the same as my summer bike,,, but dirty...
  • BobbinogsBobbinogs Posts: 4,928
    The other complicating factor is that we are all different. If you watched the Vuelta then the last few stages were really interesting in that Froome had to let the more explosive riders go off up the road whilst Froome kept to his own sustainable limits. He obviously was not at his best and so decided that he needed to stay within limits (like normal 'diesel engine' riders like Evans and Wiggins). On the majority of climbs, he did manage to get back the time (particularly on Rodriguez and Valverde) and then pass them near the end. However, Contrador had the legs to be able to keep with R & V, and then keep with Froome when he passed...and had the legs to attack again. So riding within limits has its place, as does going hell for leather and waiting to recover elsewhere. That's why variety in training is so important because many rides are a mixture of effort in themselves.

    Intervals are killers but they can improve a rider in a number of areas, as stated above. They do need to be done sparingly and with good recovery afterwards.
  • FudgeyFudgey Posts: 892
    I borrowed a turbo trainer off my mate last week, had one little 10min session on it after riding home from work on tuesday, was dripping with sweat lol.

    i think i need to make a little plan of training, but my weekday rides mostly consist of riding to work and back when i can. one day again so far this week and busy at the weekend so probably wont get out on the bike again. will see if i can get on the turbo later but the wife is going out so ill have the kids.
    My winter bike is exactly the same as my summer bike,,, but dirty...
  • DavidJBDavidJB Posts: 2,019
    Fudgey wrote:
    I borrowed a turbo trainer off my mate last week, had one little 10min session on it after riding home from work on tuesday, was dripping with sweat lol.

    Big fan
  • Don't know of this is of any use, but with my bike club, the 'steadies' normally average 14mpg, over about 40 flatish miles. The B group 16mph over 70-80 miles with maybe 4000ft of climb, and the A's average 19mpg over 100miles and 6000ft of climb.

    For the A's they are quite disciplined at keeping the pace down a little on the flat, but ensuring the uphill pace is kept as close as possible to their flat speed.

    This is in rides around the Pennines, in Lancs.
  • thanks guys, some good advice here

    I will mix my route up some more, along with intervals, and see what happens
  • KajjalKajjal Posts: 3,404
    Also if someone over takes you try and keep up with them without getting to close. This gives you motivation to test how fast you can maintain. I did this a few times and my average speed rose from 15mph to well over 17mph. It's often pushing past what you think is your limit is the key.

    Best just to compare your own average speed as we are all different weights and some ride in hilly / windy area's like I do which on the wrong day with a gusting wind means 15mph is good going :)
  • tehtehteh wrote:
    ...the bike is decent around 8kg with a pretty light wheelset, I feel I should be going a lot faster on it

    For most of us living a typically British lifestyle, the real question would be, how light are you? Unless you're suitably trim, bike weight isn't going to be a big factor. And even then, the difference between say, a 10kg bike and an 8kg bike might be noticeable, it's not going to be huge. Having an extra stone or two on your belly however, will be massive.
    tehtehteh wrote:
    pros might average 25 mph on a road stage, I know I shouldn't expect this sort of speed but what in your experience is a realistic target?

    Ride in a group and your average will go up a few mph. I suspect the advantage for pros would be increased even further because of the higher speeds they can maintain anyway, and thus wind resistance will be an even bigger factor.

    Terrain is the biggest though. For a long time I was averaging about 14mph. Some days if I really pushed it I could manage 15 over the course of an hour. And yet I'm come on the internet and listen to people making claims of 18....20.....22mph, and think WTF. Thing is I live in a very hilly area. If you're not going up, you're going down, it's never flat. Then I did a sportive a bit further afield and my average went from about 14mph to 18mph! Biggest improvement for me though was losing weight - there's no better way for improving your speed in the hills.
  • tehtehteh wrote:
    ...the bike is decent around 8kg with a pretty light wheelset, I feel I should be going a lot faster on it

    For most of us living a typically British lifestyle, the real question would be, how light are you? Unless you're suitably trim, bike weight isn't going to be a big factor. And even then, the difference between say, a 10kg bike and an 8kg bike might be noticeable, it's not going to be huge. Having an extra stone or two on your belly however, will be massive.

    This - and even then, it's pushing the air out of the way that takes the vast majority of your effort unless you're climbing a steep incline, so it's a very, very overrated factor in terms of the time it takes to get from A to B. I'd guess that a typical time trial bike from back when they were made from 531 or SL and had 2 Kevlar disc wheels would be at least 8kg!
  • chris_basschris_bass Posts: 4,913
    one other issue you might have using average speed to check progress is that I find (not sure if others do or its just me) my average speed drops very noticeably in winter. Can be about 1.5 to 2 mph. So if you monitor your average speed from now on there is a good chance you might not see it get better (it may even get worse) but this doesnt mean that you aren't making progress or getting slower, its just the conditions getting worse.
    www.conjunctivitis.com - a site for sore eyes
  • I thought (perhaps wrongly) that whenever a hill slows me on the way up, I will compensate for that on the way down, and as the start and finish point of my ride is the same place then there's equal amounts of climbing and descent and it should balance out. I feel pretty consistent like this but I guess I've got to test myself on a really flat route to be sure, and there aren't any around here really

    I'd say I'm pretty light myself, about 12 stone

    anyway thanks again for all the excellent input, I'll definitely take it on board
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    Nope. Hills always give you a slower overall ride compared to a flat course.
  • tehtehteh wrote:
    I thought (perhaps wrongly) that whenever a hill slows me on the way up, I will compensate for that on the way down, and as the start and finish point of my ride is the same place then there's equal amounts of climbing and descent and it should balance out.
    It doesn't balance out. There will equal amounts of ascent and descent but the ascents take much longer which can't be overcome by the faster but shorter in time descents.
  • tehtehteh wrote:
    I thought (perhaps wrongly) that whenever a hill slows me on the way up, I will compensate for that on the way down, and as the start and finish point of my ride is the same place then there's equal amounts of climbing and descent and it should balance out. I feel pretty consistent like this but I guess I've got to test myself on a really flat route to be sure, and there aren't any around here really

    I'd say I'm pretty light myself, about 12 stone

    anyway thanks again for all the excellent input, I'll definitely take it on board

    Hi OP, I am in no way professional in my cycling or my training as I've only really been doing regular road cycling for just over a year, I just get out as much as I can, usually with my mate, and try and beat him up the climbs! When we first started last year, I could just about manage a 25mile ride with no more than 1000ft climbing at an average of about 14-15mph. My first sportive - the 65mile wiltshire wildcat in march saw me average 16mph with about 4500ft climbing. I now do regular 50 miles sunday rides with about 3500ft climbing at over 18mph. I got to this point by just pushing myself a little bit harder and a little bit longer every time i wanted to ease off. However, I would now say I've reached a plateau as I'm not getting any faster and I've hit a wall on a couple of popular local hills on strava. I've now got myself a turbo and plan on doing some decent interval training over the winter. In the meantime I'm doing the wiggle new forest 100 in 2 weeks and the aim is for an 18+mph average as there's not a lot of climbing, plus its mostly on roads which I train on regularly!!
    Wilier Zero.7 Chorus
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