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Beginners average speed aim?

jamie_liverpooljamie_liverpool Posts: 21
edited July 2015 in Road beginners
Hi everyone ,

Bit of a daft question this I know, I realise average speed will be different for everyone due to different factors , I'm just wondering what people's average speed is ?

My area is quite hilly and I average around 15/16 mph . I always think this isn't very good at all so try an push myself but end up tired an give up! Iv only been riding a month and the fitness still isn't there yet. I'm 28 and slim but could defo do with losing a few kg's which I hope will help my power and hill climbing !

Thanks everyone

Jamie
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Posts

  • Omar LittleOmar Little Posts: 2,040
    For a beginner in a hilly area then 15/16 mph isnt too bad
  • Simon MastersonSimon Masterson Posts: 2,740
    edited June 2015
    That is a very 'piece of string' question - it depends on a lot of variables. The closest you'll get to an answer is to get to know some other cyclists who ride the same roads as you, and/or look at Strava (other cycling apps are available). Based on what little you've told us, 16mph sounds like a plausible average for 'non TT' pace.

    It really depends on why you're cycling - going out riding for fun at weekends is very different to serious training for road racing or time trials. Assuming that you're a 'healthy' person with no debilitating health conditions (etc etc), you own a typical road bike and you ride regularly on typically British rolling terrain for a couple of hours at a time and push yourself, 18-20mph is a reasonable average to aspire to, and there are plenty of typical clubs that will have a club run at that sort of pace. On the other hand, if your aim is to compete and you're prepared to put in the hard graft (some have to do more of this than others), being able to ride a flat 25 in an hour, or a 10 at the same pace, are also reasonable goals. My local club gives out a medal each year to everyone that manages this for the first time.

    Don't get hung up on your weight, though. You are very early into your cycling, and even when you've built up some fitness, your lungs will have more of a bearing on your ability to get up that hill than your weight. If you're already slim, eating right and spending plenty of time on the bike will be enough.
  • norvernrobnorvernrob Posts: 1,448
    How long is a piece of string? Road surfaces, traffic, weather, is there 30ft per mile of elevation or 100ft per mile?

    I can average anything from 13 to 20mph depending where I go, length of ride, traffic and weather. (I could average more on a flat, short ride but there aren't any around here :lol: )
  • Thanks for the replys . I realise it was a question wihtout any right answer I was just interested to see what people thought. I did mean to say that I'm on strava and my times aren't that impressive compared to other people but they are a lot more experienced than me, but my times are still competitive!

    At the moment I'm mainly commuting but I'm hoping to join a local club when I get better and fitter. I suffer from asthma so sometimes impacts on rides like someone has mentioned, but this will improve with fitness also!

    Thanks very much for everyone's input!
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,286
    When I came back to road cycling I was 50 years old. Average speed then was about 12mph. Now 8 years later it's 14.6mph, but I find I can ride a lot further.

    My son is 26 and been riding just a few months. He's generally pretty fit and his average is already 17.5mph. He's obsessed with Strava and invariably comes back purple in the face and complaining his legs hurt :D

    Joining a club is the best thing you can do if you want to improve
  • TjgoodhewTjgoodhew Posts: 628
    I have been riding for 2 1/2 and was 28 when i started.

    My initial average speed was 15/16mph - again it varied a lot depending on factors but this would be a rough average.

    Its closer to 19/20 now but as you get more into riding you realise that average isnt really the best measure.

    Saying that i still get a huge buzz when i get back and iv averaged over the magical 20mph
    Cannondale Caad8
    Canyon Aeroad 8.0

    http://www.strava.com/athletes/goodhewt
  • apprent1ceapprent1ce Posts: 86
    I started riding just over a year ago and, because of commitments, typically ride solo in the evenings. I would like to join a club to help me improve and socialise with other riders, but the only local club outings I would be able to make are the more advanced 17-18mph rides and this is somewhat better than I currently achieve.

    Last three rides:

    32.4 miles - Avg 15.6mph - Climb 1388ft [Gales/showers]
    25.6 miles - Avg 16.4mph - Climb 764ft
    20.6 miles - Avg 16.3mph - Climb 774ft

    Routes are small country lanes, often riding after dark. Rides are normally 1.5 – 2 hours.

    I know that in a group, speed should improve but what sort of pace would I need to be riding to consider these club rides? Also, would the lack of group ride experience generally be an issue? I’m 51, love the bike and happy to ride all year long in all weathers!

    Cheers
  • craigus89craigus89 Posts: 874
    Don't target average speed. It's the first stat a beginner looks at but is so dependent on conditions it's not worth worrying about. I did the same when I started, by trying to complete a 17 mile loop in an hour, flogging myself for a couple of months to try to get there because I thought that's what I should be doing. It wasn't and I barely improved because I wasn't training.

    Enjoy riding, get out as often as you can and you'll see improvement.

    If you're really keen on improving your speed, do some searching and find a training plan, which you probably won't enjoy.
  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    I'd say sub 30 minutes (20mph) on a 10 mile TT would be a good beginner target (but so many variables etc.). Average speeds anywhere else are mostly incomparable..
  • itboffinitboffin Posts: 19,683
    i managed a 21.2 mph avg over 15 miles with four stationary traffic stops and loaded panniers today, that's the second best ive managed in 8+ years over the same route 4-5 times a week, mostly its 16 mph but even down to 11 mph with wind ice rain etc.

    i've ridden the same route on my single speed carrying nothing and managed 19.5 first time, could have been the lack of weight, wind speed, time of day or a million other factors but i guess if you really want to know then a time trial is your best option.

    i dont need to know :lol:
    Rule #5 // Harden The censored Up.
    Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.
    Rule #12 // The correct number of bikes to own is n+1.
    Rule #42 // A bike race shall never be preceded with a swim and/or followed by a run.
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,286
    I started riding just over a year ago and, because of commitments, typically ride solo in the evenings. I would like to join a club to help me improve and socialise with other riders, but the only local club outings I would be able to make are the more advanced 17-18mph rides and this is somewhat better than I currently achieve.

    Last three rides:

    32.4 miles - Avg 15.6mph - Climb 1388ft [Gales/showers]
    25.6 miles - Avg 16.4mph - Climb 764ft
    20.6 miles - Avg 16.3mph - Climb 774ft

    Routes are small country lanes, often riding after dark. Rides are normally 1.5 – 2 hours.

    I know that in a group, speed should improve but what sort of pace would I need to be riding to consider these club rides? Also, would the lack of group ride experience generally be an issue? I’m 51, love the bike and happy to ride all year long in all weathers!

    Cheers

    I'd say you're already fast enough to join a 17-18mph club run since you'll spend a lot of time out of the wind. Why not ask if you can join them for a couple to see how you get on, before committing to joining? Most clubs should allow a couple of guest rides, no? Mention your lack of group riding experience and they'll give you some guidance / keep an eye on you.

    Worst that can happen is you'll end up dropping off the back of the group and you'll have to find your own way home...
  • markhewitt1978markhewitt1978 Posts: 7,614
    Thanks for the replys . I realise it was a question wihtout any right answer I was just interested to see what people thought. I did mean to say that I'm on strava and my times aren't that impressive compared to other people but they are a lot more experienced than me, but my times are still competitive!

    At the moment I'm mainly commuting but I'm hoping to join a local club when I get better and fitter. I suffer from asthma so sometimes impacts on rides like someone has mentioned, but this will improve with fitness also!

    Thanks very much for everyone's input!

    I've been riding for three years now and my rides nearly always average 14-15mph.
  • 99thmonkey99thmonkey Posts: 667
    I think anything between 15-18 is a great average for a new cyclist, established enthusiasts will be 16-19mph, and the serious running 18-21mph when riding solo.

    I had a great 30 miler @ 20.7 the other day, really pleased but I know not to chase the numbers as itll always end in tears
  • secretsamsecretsam Posts: 4,549
    LOL I'm a fat g&t and ride in the Chilterns, and my moving average rarely breaks 15mph. Many tortoises, sloths, etc have successfully scalped me :lol:

    It's just a hill. Get over it.
  • Simon MastersonSimon Masterson Posts: 2,740
    Many tortoises, sloths, etc have successfully scalped me :lol:

    If during the course of your bike ride, you end up hanging upside down from a tree, you're doing it wrong. :lol:
  • drlodgedrlodge Posts: 4,824
    As others have said, average speed is meaningless unless you know the conditions in which you rode.

    On most normal rides I'll average 16mpg plus or minus. Hills will reduce the average - a very hill route will bring it down to the 12-13mph zone. A 10mile TT will be around 23mph or so.

    The best way to compare your performance with those of others is to do a 10 mile time trail and compare the times. Mine was 26:39 in May 2013 if I recall, a couple of lumps on that course but ahead of quite a few people (I'm now 48 and average fitness I'd say)
    WyndyMilla Massive Attack | Rourke 953 | Condor Italia 531 Pro | Boardman CX Pro | DT Swiss RR440 Tubeless Wheels
    Find me on Strava
  • ai_1ai_1 Posts: 3,060
    There's 3 big factors that dictate your average speed and a whole lot of other variables that also contribute.
    The big three are pretty obvious:
    1. Fitness
    2. Weather
    3. Terrain

    Beginners, and many of us who are more experienced use average speed as an indicator of our performance but in reality if you haven't taken the terrain and weather into account the speed tells you nothing. IF you ride the same route or a flat route and it's a calm day then your average speed will probably be quite predictable/indicative of form. But often it tells you nothing except how fast you went that day in those conditions.
    The first couple of years I was riding I used to cycle a 15km out and back route fairly regularly as a performance benchmark. However as I got better and my rate of improvement leveled out, it became clear that beating my PB was more a matter of luck than anything else. I'm pretty sure my eventual PB was the result of being in good form on the same day that a slight tailwind on the outbound leg vanished over the following 10 or 15 minutes so that I didn't have to pay for it all the way back.

    I typically do 3 types of ride.
    During the week I ride on fairly flat roads near home. Average speed for a solo medium effort will be 25-28km/h, solo hard effort will be 27-32km/h depending mostly on wind.
    At the weekend I'll often head for the hills with a friend and either do a tour of some big(ish) climbs 22-26km/h or ride rolling hills 24-29km/h again depending on wind and also if we spend much time drafting or mostly chatting.

    I've done a 160km sportive and averaged 29.5km/h (a little windy but no big climbs), a 200km sportive where I averaged 24.5km/h (hot day and tough climbs) and a 100km sportive where I averaged 23.5km/h (windy and lots of climbs).

    So speed is very, very dependent on factors other than your fitness. It's indicative but only experience will allow you to quantify the likely impact of wind, hills etc.

    Besides the 3 above, other factors include:
    - road surface
    - tyre pressure (type and size are presumably constant)
    - clothing (do you always dress similarly? - a baggy rain jacket can make a huge difference!)
  • ai_1ai_1 Posts: 3,060
    ...On most normal rides I'll average 16mpg plus or minus. Hills will reduce the average - a very hill route will bring it down to the 12-13mph zone. A 10mile TT will be around 23mph or so....
    I think you're "over-hydrating" :wink:
  • ForumNewbieForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    As others have said, average speed is meaningless unless you know the conditions in which you rode.

    On most normal rides I'll average 16mpg plus or minus. Hills will reduce the average - a very hill route will bring it down to the 12-13mph zone. A 10mile TT will be around 23mph or so.

    The best way to compare your performance with those of others is to do a 10 mile time trail and compare the times. Mine was 26:39 in May 2013 if I recall, a couple of lumps on that course but ahead of quite a few people (I'm now 48 and average fitness I'd say)
    Well I'm in my late 50's and was just under 16mph today for 32 mile ride which is quite fast for me, and can average 12/13mph on a hilly ride. But I certainly wouldn't be able to do 23mph for a 10 mile TT, that's pretty fast. I'd need a lot of effort to do a flat 10 miler at 20mph, but not sure I could even do that.
  • IShaggyIShaggy Posts: 301
    I follow a few pros on Strava - Lauren ten Dam, Niki Terpstra, Lawson Craddock, and Dean Downing - and they rarely average more than 20mph. Not that they couldn't, but pushing hard all the time is not the best training strategy.

    I'm not racing at the moment, but I'm low-mid Cat 3 standard (zero talent but I train consistently), and apart from races and TTs I've hardly ever averaged greater than 20mph. I live in an rolling area, and a steady ride for me will involve 1000ft of climbing per hour and will typically be 18-19mph, with 200w AP and 220/230w NP.

    Anyone who claims solo 20mph speeds on a regular basis are either very talented, or ride flat courses with strong tail-winds. As others have said, 15/16mph in the hills is a good start and not too shabby.
  • awaveyawavey Posts: 2,368
    Ive been recording my rides on Strava for 3 years now,but riding for longer, and I averaged about 11-12mph to begin with on fairly flat roads. Managed to get that up to 14mph last year and finally broke through the 15mph barrier this year, which had been something of a target, although as per everyone elses comments about averages actually they are pretty meaningless measurements and targets at the end of the day.

    but on the whole it seems Im sort of in the middle ranked for most of the Strava segments I cover, so I figure I cant be that slow even if people often bandy around averages that are much higher than my own. so if you are starting at those kinds of averages thats a great point to start with, though ultimately only you know how much more speed you are capable of.
  • JafaremrafJafaremraf Posts: 26
    I know there are a lot of variables, but as a beginner cyclist on a beginners forum, the average speeds people have given don't make me feel great, when I average about 12 miles per hour. The terrain is gently undulating usually. Hills cause me to slow right down or even get off and walk :cry: :oops:
    People say the best thing to do is to join a club, but all the clubs locally won't take you until you doing at least 14+ mph. One thing I have found more motivational than I thought I would is Strava, because it makes it easy to be competive with yourself and try and beat previous segment times.
    Overall though I'm not too worried.... Only got my bike last year after I turned 50 and accept I'll never match younger, fitter cyclists.... Sometimes it nice just to enjoy the ride :D
  • BobbinogsBobbinogs Posts: 4,928
    I know there are a lot of variables, but as a beginner cyclist on a beginners forum, the average speeds people have given don't make me feel great, when I average about 12 miles per hour. The terrain is gently undulating usually. Hills cause me to slow right down or even get off and walk :cry: :oops:
    People say the best thing to do is to join a club, but all the clubs locally won't take you until you doing at least 14+ mph. One thing I have found more motivational than I thought I would is Strava, because it makes it easy to be competive with yourself and try and beat previous segment times.
    Overall though I'm not too worried.... Only got my bike last year after I turned 50 and accept I'll never match younger, fitter cyclists.... Sometimes it nice just to enjoy the ride :D

    If you do want to join a club, then perhaps someone like the CTC would be a good option for you? Their website has loads of clubs throughout the UK and they often have more sedate rides on well chosen routes. Don't be put off by some riders being old as they often know a thing or two :) CTC rides are often less focused on bling or silly clothing rules and that can make them a lot more inclusive, particularly for beginners.

    The other thing to bear in mind is that 14mph in a group is a lot easier then 14mph single. Our club does 30 mile rides at 14mph and we state a min (equivilent) ability of completing 25 miles in 2 hours so it might be worth chatting to a club and see what they think. Note that I haven't referred to "moving speed" as many riders quote that but it means very little when push comes to shove. For instance, 30 miles in 3 hours is 10 mph but just recording the moving time means that can look like 16mph (if one overlooks the two long cafe breaks en route).

    Ride your bike and keep on enjoying it, the speed should sort itself out and if not, just turn the blasted computer off :wink:
  • IShaggyIShaggy Posts: 301
    I know there are a lot of variables, but as a beginner cyclist on a beginners forum, the average speeds people have given don't make me feel great, when I average about 12 miles per hour. The terrain is gently undulating usually. Hills cause me to slow right down or even get off and walk :cry: :oops:
    People say the best thing to do is to join a club, but all the clubs locally won't take you until you doing at least 14+ mph. One thing I have found more motivational than I thought I would is Strava, because it makes it easy to be competive with yourself and try and beat previous segment times.
    Overall though I'm not too worried.... Only got my bike last year after I turned 50 and accept I'll never match younger, fitter cyclists.... Sometimes it nice just to enjoy the ride :D

    Don't forget that the OP was asking about speeds to aim for. Pretty much everyone is slow to start with, and it can take years to get up to speed, particularly if you're over 25 and fully grown, and do not have a background in endurance sports. With practice your speed will improve - for a given level of effort - as you'll get fitter and you'll get more efficient at cycling. But also, as you get fitter you'll be able to put much more effort into your cycling. As a beginner, your lactate threshold - which is basically a measure of how much effort you can put in without a build up of lactic acid shutting your muscles down - is probably quite low relative to your maximal capacity. So it probably does not take much effort for you to get that burning feeling in your legs and get out of breath. With consistent training, this will improve quite significantly and so you'll be able to ride much harder and faster. Your capacity (sometimes called V02max) will also improve but not as much as your threshold as capacity is pretty much inherited from your parents and developed whilst you are growing.

    As for the hills. Keep at it. They'll get a lot easier as you improve. Before you know it, you'll go from avoiding hills to going out of you way to find them.

    One other thing. Just because someones riding faster than you, it doesn't make them fitter. It may just mean that they're putting more effort in. At least that's what I tell myself when I get overtaken :wink:
  • jgsijgsi Posts: 5,026
    The problem with asking these types of questions is that everyone chimes in with what they can do or not... not very enlightening for the OP.
    There is a facebook cycling group local to me that caters for those dipping into cycling. It is very successful in attracting those who just dont know where to start with their cycling hobby. .. offers lots of rides for all. As a Facebook page it tries to be less of a formal club but essentially it is ... but one using modernday social media to communicate... most cycling clubs are well stuck in the dark ages.
    Maybe one near you.
  • markhewitt1978markhewitt1978 Posts: 7,614
    Well I've been riding for 3 years now and for the last 2 my average speed has been 14mph, give or take, yesterday I did 69 miles (4,500ft climbing) and did 14.5mph. Pretty much every ride I do over 30 miles comes in at about 14mph, presumably because that's just the speed I ride at when I'm not hammering out the pace and I'm just out for a ride.

    If I do decide to go fast it'll usually be over a much shorter distance 10-15 miles, then I do 16-17mph average - which I know a lot of people who will think nothing of doing that speed over 100 miles.
  • bagz3bagz3 Posts: 253
    I follow a few pros on Strava - Lauren ten Dam, Niki Terpstra, Lawson Craddock, and Dean Downing - and they rarely average more than 20mph. Not that they couldn't, but pushing hard all the time is not the best training strategy.

    I'm not racing at the moment, but I'm low-mid Cat 3 standard (zero talent but I train consistently), and apart from races and TTs I've hardly ever averaged greater than 20mph. I live in an rolling area, and a steady ride for me will involve 1000ft of climbing per hour and will typically be 18-19mph, with 200w AP and 220/230w NP.

    Anyone who claims solo 20mph speeds on a regular basis are either very talented, or ride flat courses with strong tail-winds. As others have said, 15/16mph in the hills is a good start and not too shabby.

    Think you'll find they rarely average under 20mph, unless in the mountains, and even then some rides are over 20mph.
  • IShaggyIShaggy Posts: 301
    I follow a few pros on Strava - Lauren ten Dam, Niki Terpstra, Lawson Craddock, and Dean Downing - and they rarely average more than 20mph. Not that they couldn't, but pushing hard all the time is not the best training strategy.

    I'm not racing at the moment, but I'm low-mid Cat 3 standard (zero talent but I train consistently), and apart from races and TTs I've hardly ever averaged greater than 20mph. I live in an rolling area, and a steady ride for me will involve 1000ft of climbing per hour and will typically be 18-19mph, with 200w AP and 220/230w NP.

    Anyone who claims solo 20mph speeds on a regular basis are either very talented, or ride flat courses with strong tail-winds. As others have said, 15/16mph in the hills is a good start and not too shabby.

    Think you'll find they rarely average under 20mph, unless in the mountains, and even then some rides are over 20mph.

    No, I meant what I said. Check them out on Strava. Outside of racing average speed means nothing, so the pros will take it relatively easy when riding steady, and will ride hard during intervals and on the hills. They won't spend much time in Z3, unlike a lot of amateurs who are focused on average speed or power and ride too hard when they should be taking it easy and then don't have the legs to do justice to the high intensity stuff.
  • bagz3bagz3 Posts: 253
    I follow a few pros on Strava - Lauren ten Dam, Niki Terpstra, Lawson Craddock, and Dean Downing - and they rarely average more than 20mph. Not that they couldn't, but pushing hard all the time is not the best training strategy.

    I'm not racing at the moment, but I'm low-mid Cat 3 standard (zero talent but I train consistently), and apart from races and TTs I've hardly ever averaged greater than 20mph. I live in an rolling area, and a steady ride for me will involve 1000ft of climbing per hour and will typically be 18-19mph, with 200w AP and 220/230w NP.

    Anyone who claims solo 20mph speeds on a regular basis are either very talented, or ride flat courses with strong tail-winds. As others have said, 15/16mph in the hills is a good start and not too shabby.

    Think you'll find they rarely average under 20mph, unless in the mountains, and even then some rides are over 20mph.

    No, I meant what I said. Check them out on Strava. Outside of racing average speed means nothing, so the pros will take it relatively easy when riding steady, and will ride hard during intervals and on the hills. They won't spend much time in Z3, unlike a lot of amateurs who are focused on average speed or power and ride too hard when they should be taking it easy and then don't have the legs to do justice to the high intensity stuff.


    Totally agree, but away from the mountains they average 20+ without pushing. When pushing its 25+.
  • ai_1ai_1 Posts: 3,060
    I follow a few pros on Strava - Lauren ten Dam, Niki Terpstra, Lawson Craddock, and Dean Downing - and they rarely average more than 20mph. Not that they couldn't, but pushing hard all the time is not the best training strategy.

    I'm not racing at the moment, but I'm low-mid Cat 3 standard (zero talent but I train consistently), and apart from races and TTs I've hardly ever averaged greater than 20mph. I live in an rolling area, and a steady ride for me will involve 1000ft of climbing per hour and will typically be 18-19mph, with 200w AP and 220/230w NP.

    Anyone who claims solo 20mph speeds on a regular basis are either very talented, or ride flat courses with strong tail-winds. As others have said, 15/16mph in the hills is a good start and not too shabby.

    Think you'll find they rarely average under 20mph, unless in the mountains, and even then some rides are over 20mph.

    No, I meant what I said. Check them out on Strava. Outside of racing average speed means nothing, so the pros will take it relatively easy when riding steady, and will ride hard during intervals and on the hills. They won't spend much time in Z3, unlike a lot of amateurs who are focused on average speed or power and ride too hard when they should be taking it easy and then don't have the legs to do justice to the high intensity stuff.


    Totally agree, but away from the mountains they average 20+ without pushing. When pushing its 25+.
    Average speed in itself doesn't matter in racing either, relative speed does. Unless it's a TT.
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