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Old 05-22-11, 12:19 AM   #1
CalPastor
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Average Speed Question

I have a 5 mile stretch with no stops and generally maintain about 16-17 mph but then have to go through town twice on my loop and so I end up with an average of 14.5 mph

Should I count my average mph on an open stretch? Just trying to see where I stack up so I can know if I can hang with some riders that say they average 17 mph...
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Old 05-22-11, 05:33 AM   #2
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As you've discovered, there's a sometimes big difference between how fast you can comfortably ride and what your actual average speed is for an entire ride. When someone tells me they average 17, I take them at their word and assume they mean their entire ride, starting and stopping included.

Or, go on ahead and ride with them and you'll find out for sure. Worst case you get dropped. It's not the end of the world, and you'll have a more accurate idea for next time.

Last edited by CraigB; 05-22-11 at 05:41 PM.
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Old 05-22-11, 06:00 AM   #3
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I'd have to assume they mean average time including everything. Very few of us can get a long ride in without some kind of stopping or large hills. Try and ride with your friends and see how you do. I bet you find that your average goes up even if you can't quite hang with them.
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Old 05-22-11, 06:29 AM   #4
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From my experience, when a group tells you they average x mph what they really mean is that our speed climbing.
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Old 05-22-11, 06:34 AM   #5
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What do the little cycling computers measure? I assume it is only when you are rolling, yes? (I am not talking about Garmins).
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Old 05-22-11, 06:56 AM   #6
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There's no one "AS" (Average Speed). You got AS on open roads, you got AS on mountainous roads, you got AS on windy days, you got AS on city roads w/lights, you got AS on a century ride, you got AS on a 30-mile ride....
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Old 05-22-11, 06:58 AM   #7
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What do the little cycling computers measure? I assume it is only when you are rolling, yes? (I am not talking about Garmins).
Some computers allow you to choose to keep the "clock" running regardless if you're moving or not, i.e. it will continue to calculate AS even while stopped. I always set my computer to have the "clock"stop when I stop.
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Old 05-22-11, 07:07 AM   #8
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My cycling computer keeps average speed for total time riding as well as time riding but only if you are moving -- if i stop for a rest the computer stops. Mine might say 11.5 for average speed but that is also including time i am at the fishing pier and walking my bike out on the pier which is a few mph and that sucks down the average for sure. My "riding" speed is more like 14-17 when i am just crusing along.
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Old 05-22-11, 07:15 AM   #9
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I would think they mean they go in the 17 mph average on the long flats and rollers. Dont think they say we average 17 on hills up or down and it would be too technical to say 17 but there is xx number of feet climbing or etc. I would think that if you can go 17 on the flats then you would be comparable to them on the hills that they are traversing. Each group will be different depending on the routes and makeup of the group. Just go for it.
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Old 05-22-11, 07:21 AM   #10
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My experience was finding a group that had a no-drop ride. The experienced in the group took care of the newbs, and the newbs got to push to keep up, but without the fear of being left behind. It was awesome to be given that chance, and I'd try to give it to anyone else who needs it.
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Old 05-22-11, 08:55 AM   #11
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What do the little cycling computers measure? I assume it is only when you are rolling, yes? (I am not talking about Garmins).
The Garmins will give you a moving average and an overall average so you can see both sides of it. The only downside is that GPS drift can count as "moving" time, even if "moving" at some minimal speed.
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Old 05-22-11, 11:11 PM   #12
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I would think they mean they go in the 17 mph average on the long flats and rollers. Dont think they say we average 17 on hills up or down and it would be too technical to say 17 but there is xx number of feet climbing or etc. I would think that if you can go 17 on the flats then you would be comparable to them on the hills that they are traversing. Each group will be different depending on the routes and makeup of the group. Just go for it.
Average speed means it's a total of miles and time put together to calculate AS
Average speed on each ride is always from start to the finish of the ride...
Some gps or bike computers can tell you two different AS. One for moving time only and another for total time - moving or not

There's two schools...
One is about heaving fun riding your bike, and another just about numbers...
Who cares what's the AS is...The question should be if it was fun ride!
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Old 05-23-11, 07:06 AM   #13
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There's no one "AS" (Average Speed). You got AS on open roads, you got AS on mountainous roads, you got AS on windy days, you got AS on city roads w/lights, you got AS on a century ride, you got AS on a 30-mile ride....
It's true there are all kinds of rides in all kinds of conditions that ultimately affect velocity, but as far as I can see, average speed for a particular ride can only mean one thing, the average speed for the entire ride - miles on the bike divided by time on the bike. The only question is how long a stop requires stopping the clock. If I get off to rest, or to walk around a farmer's market, or get lunch, I'll stop the computer. If I'm stuck at a traffic light, I don't.

I understand the need some folks have to keep the clock running all the time, whether it's to complete a ride within a given time window, or for touring or randonneuring performance measurements. But I don't think that end of the spectrum is what is being debated here. I think it's more an argument whether your average speed should cover the whole ride (hills, flats, wind, calm, traffic lights or none) versus how fast you tend to ride on the flats with no wind. And I think that if you're comparing your average speed to someone else's for the purpose of compatibility, you need to either take the whole ride into account, or get everyone involved to agree to a limited set of conditions.
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Old 05-23-11, 09:24 AM   #14
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I stop my computer as I approach a stop and then restart it after getting up to 10mph or so. I do that consistently so I can compare different rides. My cycle clubs tell you the average speed and will say something like "we average 17mph on the open roads".
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Old 05-23-11, 10:37 AM   #15
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It's true there are all kinds of rides in all kinds of conditions that ultimately affect velocity, but as far as I can see, average speed for a particular ride can only mean one thing, the average speed for the entire ride - miles on the bike divided by time on the bike. The only question is how long a stop requires stopping the clock. If I get off to rest, or to walk around a farmer's market, or get lunch, I'll stop the computer. If I'm stuck at a traffic light, I don't.
If you have a CatEye, Sigma, or other type of cyclocomputer with a magnet in the wheel, it will stop the clock for you when you stop for lunch or for a red light. It only counts the time when that magnet is passing the sensor regularly. ( They can be programmed to do just about anything, but that's how 99 % of them work. ) With this style of computer, if you're really a stickler, you might want to pick up one wheel and hold the brake if you stop and walk the bike, say to the bathroom at the park.

On the other hand, if you have a Garmin, it has an auto-pause feature that will also stop the clock for you at a red light.

You can get at your overall ride time pretty easily with a watch, but it's a lot harder to know how many of those three hours you spent actually moving the bike. And that's why bike computers tend to work this way.
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Old 05-23-11, 05:22 PM   #16
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It's my expereience when a group says the average 17 mph that means the average for flats with some stops. They don't generally count time climbing hills. And this is usually an off-the-cuff measure. The don't actually look at their average sped after every ride and figure this out. So, if you can do 17 mph on the flats, you'll probably be OK. And I agree, your average speed will probably go up even if you can't hang with the group all the time.
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