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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 09-25-13, 02:02 PM   #1
IAMAMRA
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a bit frustrated

I know I shouldn't compare myself to others, but I do. I wanna go faster, I just can't seem to do over 10-11 mph avg. speed. I see all these folks talking about how they have avg of 15+ and I just want to do the same. I switched up my tires to 28's, I have been working on spinning instead of mashing, and I even started using clipless shoes. When it gets really hilly, I am only hitting a 8mph avg. Anyone have any tips?

Micah
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Old 09-25-13, 02:09 PM   #2
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It's the engine that makes you go faster, not the bike.

Ride more, lose more weight, work on your fitness.

And like you said, don't bother comparing yourself to others. Who knows if their average speed came on downhills or what?

I averaged 14 mph over my commute home last night. When I looked at the strava segments on parts of my ride, there are people averaging 20+ over certain segments.

Now I have a goal Not sure I'll ever get there, but improvement is the goal, not necessarily the number
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Old 09-25-13, 02:21 PM   #3
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if you must compete, compete with your self. 25 minutes, tomorrow 26. The same ride a little faster.

Just riding and improvement will follow!
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Old 09-25-13, 02:23 PM   #4
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Hang in there. To ride fast you need to ride fast. Average speed is not really worth much because it depends on the miles in the average. If you are climbing hills at 8 mph you may be going faster than me or you may be going slower, it really depends on how long and how steep the hill is. Are you improving when you only look at what you are doing? What have you done to try to improve? Often taking an extra day off can benefit you.
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Old 09-25-13, 02:32 PM   #5
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if you must compete, compete with your self. 25 minutes, tomorrow 26. The same ride a little faster.

Just riding and improvement will follow!
I'd be aiming for 24 the day after, not 26
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Old 09-25-13, 02:36 PM   #6
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Thanks guys, I know your right, but still frustrating. On the plus side, highest mileage month to date, with longest ride to date.

Micah
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Old 09-25-13, 02:55 PM   #7
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I was in a similar spot earlier this year, I noticed when I wanted to go fast I burned out REALLY quick. I did some reading and found that best way to improve is to know my heart rate and/or power output. Well my bike is old and I didn't feel like investing in a power meter so I got a bluetooth heart rate monitor to run off my phone.

I kept track of my HR as I rode and recorded my rides. I figured out my max HR, figured out my Lactate threshold (basically where I started breathing heavily) and found a range I could stay in at a consistent speed. As I kept track of my HR and staying within a range I found that my speed increase because my body wasn't working as hard to maintain that speed, so my HR dropped. Well that means I could push myself harder and maintain that HR and therefore my speed increased.

I will be honest and say I haven't paid attention to my HR on rides recently like I did before but I can maintain a 16-18 mph pace. My best was 52 miles in under 3 hours, I think that was slightly over 18 mph.

But like everyone else has said, keep at it! Can't improve if you do nothing.
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Old 09-25-13, 02:56 PM   #8
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Keep in mind that traffic, lights, stops etc really impact your average speed. When i'm moving, I typically see 16-20 mph depending on slope, wind etc. 18 is about what I shoot for. After a ride with sufficient interruptions though, the garmin says I only went 14 mph average.

So make sure you're comparing apples to apples.

And ride more. Spend at least a little bit of time on your rides going the speed you wish you went all the time. You'll get better at it.
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Old 09-25-13, 02:57 PM   #9
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8mph up hill??? You're an animal! Makes me realize how slow I am going up hill... Lol. Seriously, though--as most have mentioned, compete against yourself. Have fun with it. It's not just about the numbers. Make sure you yell "weeee" on the way down, etc.
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Old 09-25-13, 04:53 PM   #10
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Its all about terrain. I finally noticed that many people who suggest 18-20mph usually climed a staggerind 200ft over 25 miles (via Strava etc). Its all about the hills
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Old 09-25-13, 05:05 PM   #11
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It takes a looooong time to get a lot of miles in your legs; that's one thing that will help develop speed.

Focus on fun while stacking up the miles. The speed will come if you love riding for the sake of riding.
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Old 09-25-13, 05:06 PM   #12
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Totally understandable, but you must see that performance differences between cyclists are HUGE. You can use Strava to see how you are improving and measure your advancements against yourself. In the mean time the way forward is to loose weight and keep riding.
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Old 09-25-13, 05:36 PM   #13
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It's not just about the numbers. Make sure you yell "weeee" on the way down, etc.
well said
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Old 09-25-13, 05:43 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by IAMAMRA View Post
I know I shouldn't compare myself to others, but I do. I wanna go faster, I just can't seem to do over 10-11 mph avg. speed. I see all these folks talking about how they have avg of 15+ and I just want to do the same. I switched up my tires to 28's, I have been working on spinning instead of mashing, and I even started using clipless shoes. When it gets really hilly, I am only hitting a 8mph avg. Anyone have any tips?

Micah
It's simple (but difficult): you get faster by riding faster.

The same fitness that allows you to average 10-11 MPH over a longer distance can be applied to go somewhat to significantly faster over shorter distances so you do that.

Generally such work outs get broken down into intervals alternating harder efforts with rest periods where you increase the hard period duration and number. For example in decent shape I'd ride 2 x 20 minutes. Having slacked off 3 x 5 twice a week is a merely moderately unpleasant starting point.

So that you're not too tired to do that you have easy days, weeks, and months. If you skip those you won't be fresh enough for your hard-days, may have health problems from over-training, and at the very least you'll end up both tired and slow.

Do enough of that and you'll be significantly faster at the same perceived exertion level and have more endurance at lower speeds.

Before that you ride some (500) easy base miles to strengthen your joints to avoid injury and build up the endurance you need for that.

There are articles, books, etc. addressing cycling training for various interest levels and time commitments which get more into specifics of what you do on the hard days, between them, rest weeks which may be one out of four, how fast to increase your efforts, etc.

"Hard" can be calibrated in terms of Rider Perceived Effort effort or using tools like heart rate monitors and power meters where RPE is free, heart rate can be had for $100, power $300 at the wired used end of the spectrum through $800ish for affordable new wireless hardware through thousands for professional grade tools suggesting one of the first two options is a good starting point.

Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 09-25-13 at 05:51 PM.
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Old 09-25-13, 05:56 PM   #15
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There you threw in that nasty word "hilly" where that is something that is defined by many in many different ways. I know what *MY* definition of hilly is and I can probably guess it's far different than many here would have it as.

Anyway, I was having this conversation with a team mate the other day. We'd been cycling about the same amount of time and it went something like...

Remember when you went 16 miles in one hour and you thought that was stupid fast?
Yeah then 6,000 miles later 22 was stupid fast and 16 was stupid slow recovery rides.

I also recall an interview a guy did with Cavendish. The interviewer asked if he could ever get as fast as Cav. Cav replied with something similar to... go put 100,000 kilometers in your legs and then come back and see me.

Short of it is..... Many miles and challenge yourself, operative word is yourself. Don't compare to others, compare to you and make sure you out perform yourself on a given stretch of road that is constant. You do that and you will get faster... and leaner unless you try and out eat your exercise.
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Old 09-25-13, 06:15 PM   #16
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Drew Eckhardt above mentioned the word "intervals". Everybody seems to be saying that fitness gains can come a lot quicker if you 'train' with intervals. Here's a schedule for a 25min workout:

5min warmup
(10sec sprint + 20sec cruise/coast) x 10 = 5min
5min rest
(10sec sprint + 20sec cruise/coast) x 10 = 5min
5min cool-down.

I used to live near a community college that was just perfect for me to do this; I could ride there in about 5min, each lap around the college (on an isolated loop road) was about 5min, and then home 5min.

Note this is relative to any rider; 'sprint' means you giving hard effort, whatever that means for your fitness/tiredness level.

It seems simple, but I guarantee it will leave you exhausted! But persevere, if you do this a few times a week, you're supposed to start to see dramatic results in less than a month. You should time yourself over a familiar route before, during and after, so you can compare yourself to yourself, and track your progress.
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Old 09-25-13, 06:41 PM   #17
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Thanks everyone! I do have a HRM but forget to wear it most of the time. I will try that interval training as well, and as all of you said I will try to only challenge myself VS myself.

Thanks for letting me vent/ask,

Micah
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Old 09-25-13, 06:58 PM   #18
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Just ride, then one day you will find that the people that passed you with no effort take a little longer to pass you and don't pull away as fast as they use to.


One day I will be able to breeze by the Mennonite girls that ride up-hill backwards.
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Old 09-25-13, 07:57 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackoDandy View Post
Its all about terrain. I finally noticed that many people who suggest 18-20mph usually climed a staggerind 200ft over 25 miles (via Strava etc). Its all about the hills
You can't even compare to others by looking at overall climb statistics such as via Strava. You might look at my statistics and think no problem because my climb is 10 feet when I am actually climbing 6-8% grades for a quarter mile then immediately going back down the same grade for the same distance. When I ride behind my house with the hills, I don't pedal down the hills because I'm going faster than I can pedal. But I'm doing this for exercise, thus I actually stop at the bottom of the hills to pedal back up rather than having momentum carry me halfway up the hills. If I didn't stop, I'd hardly be getting any exercise because I'd be pedaling only a quarter of my ride if that.

I am literally pedaling 3 mph when I'm on my hills. There's no way I could do better than that. The 25-30 mph coasting back down to the bottom for the next hill screws up my actual pedaling average speed.
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Old 09-25-13, 07:59 PM   #20
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Also keep things in perspective. Would you feel frustrated if you were out jogging and couldn't keep up with other runners? Face it, people that are less fit, are slower (I include myself here). If you get your muscles and aerobics up to par, fat should in theory make very little difference on the flat, but going uphill you are at a significant disadvantage; to maintain the same speed uphill, you have to work proportionally harder than a lighter person.

On the plus side, if we Clydes have enough balance and confidence to not have to brake, we can beat any skinny guys down any slope!
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Old 09-25-13, 08:18 PM   #21
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IAMAMRA: some points in a (unfortunately) disorderly fashion...
  • How long have you been riding? If it's less than a year, leave the speed & intervals alone for now. As others have said, just ride: get in some miles in your legs. Here's a link to a quick write-up I did on riding faster. No major details in there that hasn't been said here, I think, but maybe.
  • Are you riding a road bike? A cruiser/hybrid is an easy way to go slow. For comparison purposes, I'm 6'3" tall, weigh 260 lbs. I ride a carbon fiber road bike on 700x23 tires (Michelin Pro3Race). I use standard gearing 53-39/11-23. Right now may not be the right time to change bikes, but keep in mind, some bikes can limit you with regards to speed and distance.
  • What kind of terrain do you ride on? Colorado mountains? Is it constantly windy? Are you riding off-road? That might explain the speed issues.
  • How often do you ride? Once a week? That'll slow your improvement gains. I'm a firm believer in riding 5-6 days a week, if possible (some people's schedules won't allow it. C'est la vie.). Put in shorter rides during the week, and longer ones on the weekend.
  • Also try to change your thinking to measure your rides in terms of time (hours) and not distance (miles). I understand your current focus on MPH, and that can be useful for now.
  • During your first, "build-up" year, find some other people to ride with. This is the easiest way to go faster. It's very motivating and "misery loves company". However, if they're alot faster and drop you as you pull out of the parking lot, that can be demoralizing and cause you to want to quit riding altogether. So choose groups/friends wisely: only a little bit faster than you.
  • If you've already put in some good hours on the saddle, then you can start messing with intervals. But, make sure you know yourself. Those can be just as demoralizing as getting dropped. I hate intervals by myself. So, I do mine during group rides. (I only have one ride a week where I'm not riding with somebody else, usually alot more people.) Intervals in these group rides are not structured. Someone will attack, and I follow. Or I attack and they follow. On the hills, or flats, or down. It's all good. To offset this unstructured-ness, I have mapped out my training week to where I have group rides on every day except Friday:

    Sat is very fast spinning of the legs with a little bit of big-gear work going uphill, (pace is 28mph except at stop lights)
    Sundays is easy, steady tempo pace on flat roads (for 3-1/2 hours!) in a big gear (training strength), (pace is around 20-22mph)
    Mon is long-ish with a bit of climbing, but slow, (pace is high-teens except when climbing)
    Tuesdays is long-ish and easy, mild climbing, (pace is mid-high teens)
    Wednesdays is a long ride with a mix of fast/hard and slow-ish steady, (hard section is 20-ish with 15-ish on climbs and mid-high teens everywhere else)
    Thurs is a very fast/hard group where it kills me to keep up, (pace is 25-ish going uphill, and 34 going down for 10-laps: 70-mins to cover 31 miles! Killer!)
    Fridays is a very easy, short, spinning recovery ride by myself to prepare for the hard weekend (pace is mid-teens).

    (Don't get discouraged by my numbers: they're just to show how differing groups allow me to have different training days, even though they're mostly all group rides.)
  • If you're good with structure, you eventually may want to find a coach. They're not just for racing/racers--they just like teaching people and helping them improve. They live vicariously through their students. (I coached at one time.) But, that's an expensive route and may not be for you. Cheaper: seek advice online, buy Joe Friel's book, educate & coach yourself.
  • Try to remember: do what you can do, and don't think you're terrible just because you can't duplicate somebody else's numbers. I race my bike in criteriums and a very occasional road race. I'm a cat-3 racer. I've raced with beginners (cat-5) and can drop them at will, and I've raced with almost pro's (cat-1) and former world- and Olympic champions who can drop me at will. Those same cat-1's? They race against local pro's who can drop them. Local pro's race against regional pro's who drop them. Regional pro's race against Continental pro's (like at Tour of California) who drop them. Continental pro's then face European pro's who drop them like a lead balloon. Finally, the Top-10 European pro's (Cancellara, Boonen, Contador, etc...) drop the rest of the European pro's after 150-miles of 26mph effort over hills and through traffic furniture.

    Point is: there is always somebody faster!
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Old 09-25-13, 08:37 PM   #22
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Thanks for the post MK. I am working my way up to ride with the local bike club 55 group due the to the mileage. I don't want to get dropped on my first ride and they posted their route so I can practice the ride before the cub ride.

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Old 09-25-13, 09:32 PM   #23
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You can't even compare to others by looking at overall climb statistics such as via Strava. You might look at my statistics and think no problem because my climb is 10 feet when I am actually climbing 6-8% grades for a quarter mile then immediately going back down the same grade for the same distance. When I ride behind my house with the hills, I don't pedal down the hills because I'm going faster than I can pedal. But I'm doing this for exercise, thus I actually stop at the bottom of the hills to pedal back up rather than having momentum carry me halfway up the hills. If I didn't stop, I'd hardly be getting any exercise because I'd be pedaling only a quarter of my ride if that.

I am literally pedaling 3 mph when I'm on my hills. There's no way I could do better than that. The 25-30 mph coasting back down to the bottom for the next hill screws up my actual pedaling average speed.
My point is that your 3mph average on a hill is probably comparable to some guys 15mph on a flat bike path. Many times the Strava or Garmin reports show that people with a fast mph are achieving the speeds on almost flat terrain. Its like comparing apples to oranges. Its not about the mph, its about hills. Cycling fitness is and always will be about hills.

Ive ridden 50 mile flat rides and 50 mile hilly-rides and I know which one is easier.
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Old 09-25-13, 09:32 PM   #24
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Micah, you're already doing great. And you're probably the only honest guy. Guys who say they go 17 see 17 on their computers when they're cruising. They're not averaging 17.

Remember that no matter who you are or how fast you are, there are some people who are slower than you and some who are faster than you. You'll pass some, and some will pass you

Enjoy the ride.
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Old 09-25-13, 09:49 PM   #25
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FWIW, I've only been riding for almost 2 months, only 3 or so weeks of which have been on my road bike, and I also do around 8mph on hills, depending on the grade. I did an easy 10 miles tonight and fought some wind. Came out with exactly 14 mph average. I also have a bad habit of trying to "compete" with others and myself, and really don't feel like I'm doing well unless I'm average AT LEAST 15 mph, but then I live in a hilly area and some of my routes are laden with traffic lights and stop signs.

I'm really hoping that in a year's time I'll be able to average 25+ like some of these guys do.
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