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Increasing Average Speed

richard36richard36 Posts: 346
I'm wondering what it will take to increase my average speed to say something like 18 - 20 mph.

My main activity is running but recently I've been doing less running and more cycling. Having said that I'm only averaging about 100 - 150 miles a week. My average speed is about 16 ish mph.

I weigh about 10 st 4 so weight isn't really an issue. I'm riding a steel bike which weighs about 11kg. My average may change a little when I move over to my 'summer' bike which is about 8kg.

Not knowing much about training/cycling (in contrast to running where I've completed a number of marathons and ultras) I'm not sure what it takes to increase average speed on the bike. I assume I would need to do more miles a week but how many?

Also, can I just rely on more miles to up the average or do I need to include intervals and other similar sessions? (I assume more miles will get me to a certain point but then more specific sessions are required to take me further).

Would appreciate the benefit of your advice?

Cheers
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Posts

  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,286
    If you want to go faster you need to train to go faster. Just riding further at 16mph won't do it. So some kind of structured training involving intervals I'd have thought.

    I'm sure somebody more knowledgeable will be along in a few minutes...
  • 5858558585 Posts: 206
    Just putting more miles in is almost guaranteed to make you stronger/faster, so if you enjoy it then just get out as often as you can.
    If you want to get a bit more return on your training then have a look on youtube for some interval training ideas, eg GCN have a lot of good vids, loads of others out there too.

    You should have a think about what type of riding you want to do, eg will it be hilly rides you are going to focus on, or flat TTs? That'll give you an idea on the length of intervals you'll try to focus on. There are a lot of "cheats" to get your average speed up too if that's really what you are looking for skinsuit, helmet, riding position, riding when there is a tail wind...
  • Mileage is not really the issue for increasing speed, it is the intensity you ride at. You want to improve your aerobic fitness which, over the longer term, will increase your ability to sustain a faster pace.

    Have you got a HR monitor or power meter? If so, find your training zones and spend 3-4 hrs a week riding at tempo or zone 3. If not, ride at a pace where you are working hard and can just about string a sentence together. A session like this for 45-90mins a couple of times a week will increase your aerobic fitness and overall speed.

    A lot of cyclists get stuck at the 15/16 mph mark because they just ride around at that pace all the time. To get beyond it you basically have to ride hard and with some structure.
  • jrichjrich Posts: 278
    You don't need to do more miles, 100-150 is plenty, you just need to train specifically for your goal. Given your level of experience and the goal in question, I would suggest that you dedicate 1 ride per week, of 2 or 3 hours, to just riding as hard as you can for the duration. The rest of the week ride easy, but throw in an interval session that is not near the hard ride - mid-week perhaps. The intervals don't have to be complex, maybe focus on sprints for on day a week, then a 1 min hill 1 day the next week, then a 5 min hill the next week etc. Go for quality not quantity.

    A good tip for improving your average speed while out riding is simply to make sure that whenever you have slowed down (for a hill, or a corner, or a junction etc) make sure that you sprint (well not a full on sprint, but you know a hard out-of-saddle effort for maybe 5 seconds) back up to speed, rather than slowly winding up the gear. It will be tough at first if you're not used to getting sprinting, but it will make a noticeable difference to your average speed. It's especially relevant when you've just crested a hill - don't ease off until you're back up to full speed. Also, it's obvious, but use the drops as much as possible, especially on the flat.

    18mph is very achievable, 20mph is a challenge. Good luck!
  • Thanks to those who have replied.

    I'll do what's been suggested and stick to the existing number of miles but make one of the longer rides a faster ride and see where that takes me.

    Thanks again
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    average pace also depends on how hilly and windy your rides are.

    Do a mix of stuff to improve. longer rides, slow rides, fast rides, short intervals, long intervals, under/overs. riding more helps some as well. 100-150 miles is plenty for some riders but not all. If thats all I did all I would manage is 16-17 mph average. Different riders respond differently.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • Push harder on the pedals. Get more aero. Ride somewhere flatter. Buy a TT bike.
  • sungodsungod Posts: 12,705
    richard36 wrote:
    Thanks to those who have replied.

    I'll do what's been suggested and stick to the existing number of miles but make one of the longer rides a faster ride and see where that takes me.

    Thanks again

    to go faster you need either to spin the pedals at higher rpm in the same gear (applying the same force more often), or at the same rpm in a higher gear (applying higher force etc.)

    both work, but the if your cadence on the flat is, say, 80, the former is probably the one that you can improve more easily

    rather than simply trying to make one of the rides faster, consider swapping it for a ride where you do intervals as higher cadence and effort
    my bike - faster than god's and twice as shiny
  • singletonsingleton Posts: 1,644
    You say an average of 18-20mph, that's a big difference already - a lot more than it may look. If your goal is to do 20 miles in 1 hour then that's different to doing 54 miles in 3 hours.

    Put simply, you need to ride faster. If you don't have one already, get some way of measuring speed and go out and ride at 20mph or more for 15 minutes constant. Get the feel for what it feels like.

    To be able to maintain a speed, you need to train faster than this so that your target speed feels comfortable. To maintain an average speed on the road means you need to be travelling faster for most of the time, due to junctions, hills etc. To ride a 20 mile loop in an hour, we'd usually be running at 22 - 23mph on the flat sections.
  • Websta24Websta24 Posts: 162
    If you can run marathons then i assume your aerobic fitness is already pretty damn good...so you need to work on strength. As others have said you need to up your cadence, try to get in the 85-95 zone and as your power increases then you can ride a bigger gear at a higher cadence...this will result in your average increasing!

    i find structured training out on the roads difficult, if you are the same then using a turbo and a platform such as TrainerRoad or Zwift workout mode will help to increase your power and endurance.

    What is your elevation like when you ride? If your climbing 800/1000m on a ride then obviously your average is going to be much lower than if you are only climbing 300-400m
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,003
    Websta24 wrote:
    If you can run marathons then i assume your aerobic fitness is already pretty damn good...so you need to work on strength.

    His physical strength (assuming that's what you meant) is not an issue and improving it will not help. And running fitness does not cross over particularly well to another, non-impact sport like cycling.

    As suggested by several posters above, improvements in sustainable power are going to give you the best improvements in average speed, regardless of ride profile.
  • Thanks again

    I thought initially that I would need to up the 100 - 150 miles a week in order to increase my average speed but it seems that sort of mileage is okay (ideally more) and I need to work on upping the power/speed during the rides I do.
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    Also position make a big difference. if you are not as aero as you can be then you are riding slower than you could be.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • johnny25johnny25 Posts: 344
    You need to get out and ride with those that are faster than you. Join a local cycling club and start in the group that you are comfortable with and progress from there. I did a couple of years ago and fitness and speed increased noticeably. Sadly, due to work and family life, all the gains I made have now slipped back into the mundane.
  • okgookgo Posts: 4,368
    All you want to do is get fitter, that is what you are saying. You need to add probably 30/40w to your current output, that is quite a lot. But 16mph is nothing, so we can assume you're probably quite far down the ladder of trainability which is a good thing, as the only way is up. Riding 150 miles a week is probably 10 hours, or so, within this, if you can start to really push yourself at times, recover at other times, and a bit in the middle at other times, you will get fitter, there are huge gains to be made in the early days (if you're somewhat trainable) and I think for me they came from pushing out of my comfort zone in a chaingang with better riders than me. It was essentially a vo2/threshold session the first few times, but eventually became a lot easier and only tough when on the front.

    Ignore what websta24 has said, its misleading and incorrect. I average over 100rpm in a time trial, so does that mean I'm not strong enough and doing it wrong?

    Speeds are not the best measure of things outside of time trials to be honest, many variables come into play with speed.
    Blog on my first and now second season of proper riding/racing - www.firstseasonracing.com
  • Terrain will be the biggest factor so I assume we are talking about flat or rolling rides? If that's the case I would think about getting down to some local club time trials. Assuming the course is pretty flat then 25 minutes for a 10 on a standard road bike is good benchmark, that's 24mph. See how you get on.

    But the best way imo would be to join a local club, start with the mid paced ride which is usually around 16-18mph on the flat, if you can handle that then try the fast group who will no doubt be looking at 20mph for a flat ride. You will get the benefit of the draft on those rides but it will bring you on. See how you go, then do some solo stuff on your old routes and look how you've progressed.
  • 1. Clothing! Anything that isn't tight fitting is slowing you down, find a brand that does a more racy fit like Castelli or Sportful. This can make a huge difference.
    2. Position. Ride in the drops always, even up shallow inclines, the more you do it, the easier it becomes, once it becomes comfortable, lower your front end and get the stem slammed. Almost all road bikes are too tall at the front for a properly racy position.
    3. Tyres. Get some quicker tyres, GP4000 sii's are a solid choice.
    4. Conditions. If you specifically want to get out there and do 1 quick ride, the air pressure and temp make a big difference, it's a lot easier in the summer. Find a big flat loop and ride ACW to avoid having to slow for right turns.

    All of this is free speed and should be enough to get you up to 20mph for an hour easily even with a mediocre level of fitness.
  • ZMC888ZMC888 Posts: 292
    Average speed is meaningless, as it's so terrain dependent. If I wanted to I could ride only smooth flat roads with a tail wind and have an average speed of 40 km/h. More like I have an average speed of 22-25 km/h because I choose to ride in the mountains and do cat 4s, 3s and 2s on rough roads and lanes.

    I suppose if you lived in the fens or somewhere it would make some sense, but anywhere hilly gnarly or mountainous it quickly isn't comparable.
  • AK_jnrAK_jnr Posts: 717
    Yeah you are right really as its mostly used for w1lly waggling BUT if someone is faster than you they will ride those mountains with a faster average speed.

    As a rough guide 80/20 percentage split of easy miles to anything tempo upwards.
  • svettysvetty Posts: 1,904
    Agree that best way to get faster is to train for higher intensity efforts. if you always ride at the same pace you will get good at riding at that pace but struggle to go any faster. Sometimes actually reducing your time spent cycling can be helpful as it means that you are more rested and hence able to complete harder interval based workouts better (less quantity, better quality).

    Simple answer is more structured training incorporating interval based workouts.
    FFS! Harden up and grow a pair :D
  • joe2008joe2008 Posts: 1,919
    svetty wrote:
    Agree that best way to get faster is to train for higher intensity efforts. if you always ride at the same pace you will get good at riding at that pace but struggle to go any faster. Sometimes actually reducing your time spent cycling can be helpful as it means that you are more rested and hence able to complete harder interval based workouts better (less quantity, better quality).

    Simple answer is more structured training incorporating interval based workouts.

    I've found that the best way to get faster is to ride much slower, 80 - 85% of the time.
  • AK_jnrAK_jnr Posts: 717
    Yep. Thats because most people end up riding in no mans land. Too hard to be endurance but too easy to provide adaption.
  • ZMC888 wrote:
    Average speed is meaningless, as it's so terrain dependent. If I wanted to I could ride only smooth flat roads with a tail wind and have an average speed of 40 km/h. More like I have an average speed of 22-25 km/h because I choose to ride in the mountains and do cat 4s, 3s and 2s on rough roads and lanes.

    I suppose if you lived in the fens or somewhere it would make some sense, but anywhere hilly gnarly or mountainous it quickly isn't comparable.

    It's not meaningless in the slightest, your friends tend to ride the same routes as you so it's easy to make comparisons, and it's easy to make comparisons against your own previous efforts.

    I don't think there are any magical loops with tail winds the whole way around :roll:
  • AK_jnr wrote:
    Yep. Thats because most people end up riding in no mans land. Too hard to be endurance but too easy to provide adaption.

    Sounds like a myth to me, the idea that there's an intensity at which your body gains no benefit at all isn't backed up by any science that I'm aware of. You're always adapting.

    You can get fitter and increase speed without killing the fun of cycling.
  • okgookgo Posts: 4,368
    That as maybe, but there are zones where you will get a lot MORE benefit. Most people on this forum do not have unlimited time to ride, and if ones objective is to get fitter, then one would want to use the time they have in the best way possible. Which is what ak_JNR is referring to possibly.
    Blog on my first and now second season of proper riding/racing - www.firstseasonracing.com
  • AK_jnrAK_jnr Posts: 717
    Thanks. Yes thats what I meant. I was trying to word in a short sentence but clearly failed.

    But what do I know...
  • :) I do know what you mean, I'm being a bit pedantic. I'd equate no-mans land to a tempo pace, which you really need to be doing for at least 2-3 hours+ to see benefit.
  • Alex99Alex99 Posts: 1,436
    kingpinsam wrote:
    :) I do know what you mean, I'm being a bit pedantic. I'd equate no-mans land to a tempo pace, which you really need to be doing for at least 2-3 hours+ to see benefit.

    That's the problem. Riding tempo for 2-3 hours (which is lot) would leave my legs tired for likely more than two days hampering other training efforts. It's about getting the most from your time and limited powers of recovery.
  • drwaedrwae Posts: 308
    Do I need to get a heart rate monitor if i want to get faster. I have got stick at around 25km/h average speed (which isn't too bad because I live in a very hilly and windy area) no matter whether I'm doing 30K or 75K but I want to get faster, the speed I cycle at doesn't even get me out of breath but I'm worried about pushing it too much in case I burn out before I've finished my ride
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    I dont think so. I have stopped using mine because it stopped working. I have a power meter but i dont use it any more as a training aid. I find all these training suggestions to be be well useful sort of but they kind of take the fun out of riding for me.

    I just started riding alot but my goals are somewhat different than to just ride quicker although thag is part of it. Training for me involves what various poster have discussed but not in the way suggested - it is working. I follow an unstructured approach that has hidden structure.

    During the week i ride to work and back on a fairly heavy bike (16kg). I ride quite slowly varying between 12 and 16 mph average. I will often take hilly route to work some days where i put some effort in on the inclines but not huge efforts that leave me gasping, effort i could sustain. I ride slowly between the hills. Other days i take a flatter faster route again at a pace i can hold. Other days i ride at recovery pace. Sundays are for long rides mahbe pacey ones or a race. I know i am getting quicker because i see that. However what i dont do is the same type of rode week in week out because that will lead to nk improvement in performance. I also dont hammer myself into the ground anymore thinking every ride has got to be a quick one.

    What the structured training programs do is provide the mix of efforts you need to improve with time. Once you realise it is a mix of efforts but not all at once over a period of time mixed with recovery that leads to the improvement you can simply go ride your bike and not worry that you have to do this today or that.

    So you ride enough to be able to improve you pace over 50 miles ride say but all you have to do is not worry about riding faster all the time. Train slow ride quickly when you need to for an event. Somehow it works. I'll leave other to explain why.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
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