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  1. #1
    Faster but still slow slowandsteady's Avatar
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    Question about speed increases for "losers"

    Okay, I am an Athena and not a clydesdale. I am 80 lbs overweight and losing. I have lost 20 lbs so far. I average 13.4 mph on generally flat terrain and have increased from 8.5mph, 6 months, 20 lbs and couch potato status ago. Since my speed and distance increases can be directly correlated to me just training like mad, I am not sure how fast my speeds will increase with additional weight loss.

    My endurance is very good, as I just did 159 miles this weekend. So, I am "in shape" perhaps very good shape, but I am VERY slow, especially on any hills. I am basically passed like I am standing still, and I push hard. Dragging 80 extra lbs up a hill isn't easy.

    Who out there has lost weight from being about 100 lbs overweight and has tracked their speeds? Just curious as to what I have to look forward to.
    "Ride lots." -- Eddy Merckx

  2. #2
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    That would be me...
    Short races, 25 mph =\- (25 mile long TT time and speed)

    Longer events, 167 miles 11.5 hrs (14.521 mph avg) (**No paceline assistance, RAAM style rules, self applied**)

    When I started: 10-12 mph for 1 or 2 miles.

    Currently, I'm working on uphill windsprints and hope to increase the "Burst of Speed" capability for that breakaway at the end.
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


    . “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”- Fredrick Nietzsche

    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." - Immanuel Kant

  3. #3
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    As you can read in the Road Cycling forum concerning frame weight, it will help for accelerating and climbing, but for level ground, the difference is not as significant.

    The climbing is where you will see significant changes, and even though I haven't tracked it, I am not much faster on flat ground than I was 40+ pounds ago, and what there is I attribute to increased fitness.

    If you are in hilly areas, you will see a better improvement than if you are in the flats.

    I weigh 320ish now, and some hills that lighter riders fly up, I use a granny gear for, but if it is a short enough climb, I make up for it on the descent and ride with them on the flats. If the hill is too long, I can't catch up before the next hill... Once I can keep up on the climbs, I don't necessarily think I'll outpace them by very much (if at all) in the flats, and I will lose some of my descending speed... I expect my average on a hilly course to increase a lot, on a flat course, a little (some help with acceleration, rollers, wind resistance).

    Of course, as we get lighter, there is a chance that our leg strength will decrease as well... unless you keep the intensity up somehow.
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  4. #4
    Geosynchronous Falconeer recursive's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe
    That would be me...
    Short races, 25 mph =\- (25 mile long TT time and speed)

    You are a beast. This is about the speed of most races I'm in. And that's with a whole pack of riders.
    Bring the pain.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Hambone's Avatar
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    In my experience bigger riders (not taller so much as higher BMI) are people who have less experience with endurance activites. (This is not me going out on an intelectual limb here.)

    So, we tend to have much greater comfort in the longer gear ratios. (Bigger chain rings/smaller cogs aka bigger up front/smaller back) Doing this our cadence (the revolutions per minute of our peddals) is lower. This is called being a "masher" by more experienced cyclists who identify themselves as "spinners".

    If you want to increase your cycling speed, increase your cadence. Be it up the hills or on the flats; long distance or sprints; whatever. Most of the people in this part fo the forum will be well served by increasing their cadence.

    You can get a computer for your bike which measures this. Now a days, they are not too expensive. After a heart rate monitor (and a bike...) it is probably the best investment in getting in shape a cyclist could make.

    As my avg. cadence has gone up, my avg speed has gone up. I find this true across the hilly/flat spectrum. More noticable on the flats but no less true on the hills. The bigger gain on the hills is not that my top speed increases so much but that my top up hill speed is something I can do for longer.

    On one of my favorite big hills -- I used to do the first 10% at 8-10 mph until I crapped out and crawled up the rest. After a while I did the first ten percent at 10-11mph and the rest of the hill at 9-10. Now, maybe 12-14 mph for the bottom then 10-11+ for the rest. Thin riders still blow by me. But if they wait at the top, now I can say "Hi"
    Inside me is a thin man dying to get out.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member masi61's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slowandsteady
    Okay, I am an Athena and not a clydesdale. I am 80 lbs overweight and losing. I have lost 20 lbs so far. I average 13.4 mph on generally flat terrain and have increased from 8.5mph, 6 months, 20 lbs and couch potato status ago. Since my speed and distance increases can be directly correlated to me just training like mad, I am not sure how fast my speeds will increase with additional weight loss.

    My endurance is very good, as I just did 159 miles this weekend. So, I am "in shape" perhaps very good shape, but I am VERY slow, especially on any hills. I am basically passed like I am standing still, and I push hard. Dragging 80 extra lbs up a hill isn't easy.

    Who out there has lost weight from being about 100 lbs overweight and has tracked their speeds? Just curious as to what I have to look forward to.
    I was 266 last spring. I rode 2300 miles last year, this year I've covered 3150 already. By December '05 my weight was around 235, I hate to say it but after 3150 miles of riding this year my weight is still roughly 235 . That's the bad news I guess, the good news concerns average speeds. Last year by the fall I was able to keep in the high 16's on my varied terrain training route, this year I'm in the high 17's. I've only hit 18.0 mph average one time, and I mean I was attacking the course the whole time!
    I think you see the dramatic improvements in speed early on, because when you are that heavy, you really have no bike fitness at all. A lot of effective cycling involves getting as comfortable and efficient on the bike as possible. As you improve, you are leaving the ranks of recreational cyclist and approaching an ideal that you are physiologically capable of attaining. The only way to find out your limit is to continually push it! Honestly, at age 44 and with the amount of cycling experience I have, I thought for sure I would have pushed beyond several pesky plateaus by now, but with fall approaching, its time to take stock in what we have accomplished. The important things are to keep going, try to control your eating, monitor your progress and expand the types of cycling (and exercise in general) that you participate in. I'm starting to think that the commuters and car free people have an excellent point. I ride 4 days a week usually, about 40 miles a day - the 3 days I work I don't ride, and my body reverts to more sedentary quickly. I believe this is why I have plateau'd at 235 and not busted down to a lower set point.

  7. #7
    Faster but still slow slowandsteady's Avatar
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    In my experience bigger riders (not taller so much as higher BMI) are people who have less experience with endurance activites. (This is not me going out on an intelectual limb here.)
    Yup, you are out on a limb. I was VERY athletic as a youth and into my 20's. I was also thin.
    So, we tend to have much greater comfort in the longer gear ratios. (Bigger chain rings/smaller cogs aka bigger up front/smaller back) Doing this our cadence (the revolutions per minute of our peddals) is lower. This is called being a "masher" by more experienced cyclists who identify themselves as "spinners".
    I spin easily at 90-100 rpms. 90-100 is about my comfort rpm with bursts up to 110.
    If you want to increase your cycling speed, increase your cadence. Be it up the hills or on the flats; long distance or sprints; whatever. Most of the people in this part fo the forum will be well served by increasing their cadence.
    I have nearly doubled my speed through training as I mentioned. But if you don't carry around an extra 80 lbs you have no idea how hard climbs are. I used to run a 12.9 sec 100 meters and 26.1 s 200 meters and ran cross country to get in shape for track season and easily ran a 22m 5K. But there is absolutely no way I can even approach those speeds now because of my weight.
    You can get a computer for your bike which measures this. Now a days, they are not too expensive. After a heart rate monitor (and a bike...) it is probably the best investment in getting in shape a cyclist could make.
    I have a Cateye Astrale 8 and a HRM that I use. I also have a training program and log all of my data in an Excel spreadsheet.

    As my avg. cadence has gone up, my avg speed has gone up. I find this true across the hilly/flat spectrum. More noticable on the flats but no less true on the hills. The bigger gain on the hills is not that my top speed increases so much but that my top up hill speed is something I can do for longer.

    On one of my favorite big hills -- I used to do the first 10% at 8-10 mph until I crapped out and crawled up the rest. After a while I did the first ten percent at 10-11mph and the rest of the hill at 9-10. Now, maybe 12-14 mph for the bottom then 10-11+ for the rest. Thin riders still blow by me. But if they wait at the top, now I can say "Hi"
    Again, I didn't ask about cadence or training, just weight loss. If people notice the difference between a 22 lb road bike and a 17 lb road bike, just imagine the difference if they rode a 100 lb road bike..... Even if you are Lance or Lemond, you WILL be impacted by that kind of weight.
    "Ride lots." -- Eddy Merckx

  8. #8
    Faster but still slow slowandsteady's Avatar
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    That would be me...
    Short races, 25 mph =\- (25 mile long TT time and speed)

    Longer events, 167 miles 11.5 hrs (14.521 mph avg) (**No paceline assistance, RAAM style rules, self applied**)

    When I started: 10-12 mph for 1 or 2 miles.

    Currently, I'm working on uphill windsprints and hope to increase the "Burst of Speed" capability for that breakaway at the end.
    So, how much did you lose in the time period going from 10-12 mph to 25 mph?

    I did about 8.5 mph on a 6.5 mile course with multiple stops in the beginning. Pathetic really. I did the MS150 this weekend!! Hard to believe how fast a person can progress if they stick to a program.
    "Ride lots." -- Eddy Merckx

  9. #9
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slowandsteady
    So, how much did you lose in the time period going from 10-12 mph to 25 mph?

    I did about 8.5 mph on a 6.5 mile course with multiple stops in the beginning. Pathetic really. I did the MS150 this weekend!! Hard to believe how fast a person can progress if they stick to a program.
    359 pounds lost btwn early and recent speeds. See this thread, very first post and you'll understand!
    Weight Loss: Post Your Before and After Pics here!

    You are right, consistent training can truly work wonders!
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


    . “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”- Fredrick Nietzsche

    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." - Immanuel Kant

  10. #10
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    http://www.kreuzotter.de/english/espeed.htm

    This is a speed and power calculator that will tell you the difference in speed that a change in weight will make.

  11. #11
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    I know this isnt the answer you are looking for but it is related.

    I dont really want to get into the nitty gritty here but I used to be a strength coach and I did some work with performance nutrition.

    1: Dont get too hung up on 'Weight' this isnt touchy feely stuff, its sense. Like BMI, Weight is not a good indicator of progress.
    2: I read in the before and after thread about one guy that did a cabbage soup diet, the problem with that is that he would have experienced 1lb of muscle loss for each 2lb of fat loss. Now, while 'weight loss' was the goal, I am pretty sure 'Calorie burning capability loss' wasnt intended.
    3: You have to feed your engine with all the goddies that it likes (sometimes its the things you like too, though not often )
    4:LBM (Lean Body Mass) this is how much you would weigh if by some miracle you could strip off ALL your fat. Even stuff like bones and skin require calories to be healthy. A person with a LMB of 100KG will burn 100 calories an hour at complete rest, 90 during sleep (women are a little less).
    5:So, to burn as much fat as possible you need to have the biggest engine you can get (a 5L Mustang will burn more gas than a 900cc FIAT, even when idling)
    6:I really suggest you talk to someone that is doing or has a qualification in Perfomance nutrition, this way you can maximize muscle increase and thus fat burn, without losing precious muscle loss.

    As for hills and flats, burst and cruising, its a little more complex than just 'trying'. You may not have the right % of white (fast twitch) muscle fibers (women typically have less than men). If you dont have these specific fibers in the right quantity then you will never be any good at that particular aspect of riding and there is nothing you can do about it either, its just about the cards that we are dealt. Some people are blessed with a near perfect combination or some weird fibers that off great performance for both aerobic and anaerobic activity, these are the elite athletes, it has not so much to do with trying (although they obviously do train hard) its more to do with a natural ability.

    Anyway, if you are interested in muscle fibre, google fast and slow twitch muscle fibers and see what I am talking about.

  12. #12
    Faster but still slow slowandsteady's Avatar
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    Perhaps I need to give a little more background. I am a scientist with an excellent understanding of nutrition and physiology. I also understand how to train.

    Before my weight gain which is medication related to some extent, I was very athletic and ran track as a sprinter, ran cross country, rode horses, went mountain biking and so on. Since I excelled as a sprinter and even at one point could leg press over 450 lbs, I know I have the capacity for fast twitch fibers and powerful legs.

    I am okay at endurance and will probably never be more than okay. I ran cross country to get into shape for track, but being short with really short legs doesn't help me as a distance runner. It is less of an issue on the bike, but none the less, I am am clearly suited for bursts of power.

    Those stating that I shouldn't get too hung up on weight, clearly have never lugged out the kind of weight that I am. Just imagine strapping a 40lb bag of dogfood to your back, then another one on your stomach and start doing 100 miles or more a week. Then come back to me telling me how the weight doesnt matter.

    I know that the biggest component in acheiving fitness is to exert myself. Weight loss alone will not make me more fit.

    In fact, I am probably more fit than most skinny people, especially women who do crash diets and basically ignore exercise. I am following weight watchers which is a healthy program and no fad diet. I would never bother with something as ridiculous as a cabbage soup diet. When you have 80 lbs to lose, a couple of days of soup ain't gonna cut it.

    Despite all of our limitations, if we train hard enough we can do reasonably well at anything. I used to run a 22-23 minute 5k as a woman with a 26 inch inseam. This is okay and could beat many many women out there. I am far better as a sprinter, but it is cr@p when people say you weren't blessed with "xyz" so it is hopeless.
    "Ride lots." -- Eddy Merckx

  13. #13
    Solo Rider, always DFL
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    Based on http://www.kreuzotter.de/english/espeed.htm , the link listed above for power calculation, the following can be obtained with a few back and forth substitutions.

    Assuming: 5’6” rider, on a “roadster”, weighing 200 pounds, at 68 degrees Fahrenheit, at 1150 feet above sea level (mostly the defaults involved here…), at 13.5 mph you are averaging an output of 119 watts.

    Keep everything else constant but drop the weight down to 120 lbs., and check what speed that wattage would give you, and you wind up with: 15 mph

    That is, simply put, the amount of change for those variables, if all you do is take weight off the body on flat ground.

    IF, however, you factor in a constant 10% grade in the road slope field, 13.5 miles per hour, at 200 pounds comes out to 788 watts. At 120 pounds in rider weight, 788 yields 19.3 miles per hour.

    The flats won’t show much improvement, but the hills can be expected to show quite vast improvement in average speeds with a loss of weight.

    These are all hypotheticals, given that I don't know your height/weight/terrain/bike setup, and the calculator may have its own flaws, but it definitely gives you a starting point... and you can do your own checking on the details at the link above.

    I do know that I had an easier time climbing hills at 165 pounds, when I was 23 than I do now at 210 and 31 y.o. ... I'm about 6'3", so while I'm overweight now, I was a bit emaciated at 160-170 IMHO.

  14. #14
    Senior Curmudgeon FarHorizon's Avatar
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    I find that my major speed increases come not from weight loss, but rather from finding that comfortable position on the bike where the saddle doesn't hurt when I pedal. I've had one and only one bike (out of about a dozen) that fit so well I could concentrate on the ride and not the bike or my aching body. Being the idiot that I am, I sold the comfortable one before measuring it! Now I'm scrambling to get back to what I had. Ironically, the comfortable bike was a road-racing bike used previously by a local racing team! Why that bike fit me so well, I still don't know. It was a 58cm "Outback" brand aluminum frame with a carbon fork and full Campy components. The Campy Vento wheels were just a bit too delicate for my weight at that time, and I let the thing go. Anyone know where I can find another of THOSE???

  15. #15
    Senior Member Hambone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarHorizon
    I find that my major speed increases come not from weight loss, but rather from finding that comfortable position on the bike where the saddle doesn't hurt when I pedal. I've had one and only one bike (out of about a dozen) that fit so well I could concentrate on the ride and not the bike or my aching body. Being the idiot that I am, I sold the comfortable one before measuring it! Now I'm scrambling to get back to what I had. Ironically, the comfortable bike was a road-racing bike used previously by a local racing team! Why that bike fit me so well, I still don't know. It was a 58cm "Outback" brand aluminum frame with a carbon fork and full Campy components. The Campy Vento wheels were just a bit too delicate for my weight at that time, and I let the thing go. Anyone know where I can find another of THOSE???
    could you find the geometry of that?
    Inside me is a thin man dying to get out.
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  16. #16
    Senior Curmudgeon FarHorizon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hambone
    could you find the geometry of that?
    Unfortunately, no. Outback is no longer in business, and the bikes are rare.

  17. #17
    Faster but still slow slowandsteady's Avatar
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    These are all hypotheticals, given that I don't know your height/weight/terrain/bike setup, and the calculator may have its own flaws, but it definitely gives you a starting point... and you can do your own checking on the details at the link above.
    I am basically perfectly round. 5'2" and 195 lbs.

    Yes, that website is very good. It gave me a really good idea as to what changes to expect, even if my wattage never increased. I ride at essentially sea level(34 ft to be exact). I have a road bike(20lbs) that I ride mostly on the hoods, and about 30% of the time on the aerobars.
    "Ride lots." -- Eddy Merckx

  18. #18
    Senior Member Hambone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarHorizon
    Unfortunately, no. Outback is no longer in business, and the bikes are rare.
    you should post to the mechanics board. There are some serious dudes there.
    Inside me is a thin man dying to get out.
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  19. #19
    You got Madoned! munkyv22's Avatar
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    I started out holding about 16Mph as a good pace.

    Now for a ride of less than 30 miles I will average about 25 Mph. I'l slow the pace for longer races. Short TT distances can break 30 Mph.

    You've just got to keep pushing.
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  20. #20
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    I don't train for anything, but I did pick up around 2 mph avg. speed in about 4 months. Prior to this year, I rode a mtb. In Feb. '06, I bought a fixie and started riding it more than the mtb. I wasn't training or racing or anything, just commuting and going for rec. rides. Then after 4 months I got on my mtb and noticed I went from being a masher to a spinner w/o trying to. My shift points had changed and rather than change gears at ~75 rpm, I'd "spin" up to 90-100 rpm and then change gears. I had picked up around 2 mph just riding a fixie and being forced to spin out over 120+ rpm on downhills and powering through almost the full 360 deg. pedal stroke on uphills and into the wind. BTW, I haven't lost any weight either so the speed didn't come from weight loss.
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  21. #21
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    The short answer to your question in my experience is about 2mph for 20lbs lost. During the time when I lost 20 lbs I went from about 8mph to 10 mph average and I no loger felt like I was going to die doing it. The next 20 lbs I've increased my average up to 12-12.5mph and I am very comfortable at that pace. I don't expect that curve to continue as I lose more weight. At a certain point limits in the bike and other parts of my body will slow the curve dramatically.

    As others have remarked I really notice the improvement on a long gradual 2 mile hill on my commute. Initially this hill was a killer. In the past couple of months I've tried to ride this hill harder a few days a week. Now I can keep my average speed up the hill at 12.5 mph or higher. Even more fun is when I can push the average speed higher as I ride up the hill. Some of these recent increases have nothing to do with weight loss as much as they have to improved cycling technique. But I agree with the OP that the less body weight you are lugging up the hill or on the ride the easier and faster the ride will be.

    Like other posters I have gotten stuck on certain plateaus in terms of speed and weight loss (including my current plateau) but every pound dropped makes things easier.
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  22. #22
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    Looks like tons of advice here. Mine probably isn't very valuable but I'll toss it in anyway:

    Over 15 years of commuting I went from 255 down to 195 - got married - had kids - got old - now I'm getting back toward 230lbs with over 32K miles.

    When I started at 255 I was on a road bike - 10-12 mph - 255 lbs. Three months and it was 14-16 mph. Weight was going up (peaked at 260 - then I hit critical mass and started imploding). Switched to a cross-trainer as I lost weight and cranked up the miles to 3K per year. By 195 lbs I was 17 to 19 mph on the cross bike.

    Switched to a mountain bike and it slowed me down enough that it's not as much fun. Now I'm 14-16 mph and my weight going up. I sense a new road bike in my future...

    My experience is if I want to climb faster I have to climb a lot. If I want to go on the flats better I have to chase someone a lot (ride with a friend). Climbing while chasing someone and it's suicide

    I go 10% faster on a road bike then I do on a cross trainer. I go 10% faster on cross trainer then I do on mountain bike.

    If I can clip my huge freakn feet to the pedals I get about another 10% speed increase.

    There you have it.

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