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  1. #1
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    Rode my age--but what about the speed?

    Yesterday I left in the dark and rode over to the next county for breakfast, planning to do a 54 mile ride. I'm only 53 but the birthday is next month, so this has been my plan since I started riding again last year. I actually had 57 miles when the day was over.

    I averaged 14 mph on the way out and took less than 2 hours for 26 miles. Coming back by a different route, the wind got up and it was a grind to get home in about three hours riding time. I was only able to average a little over 12 mph. This is north Texas hill country, so it can be pretty rough but yesterdays route didn't have too many big hills.

    I'm riding an old Schwinn hybrid that I have made into a tourer, and was carrying full fenders and racks, with a one bag on the rack for my reflective vest, rain gear, extra water, phone (no towns for 25 miles on return), camera, tools, and a few snacks. Total weight was probably about 40 pounds bike and all. When I started riding a year ago I was averaging about 9 mph on my 10 to 15 miles treks. Changing to 700 x 32 tires seemed to gain me a couple of miles per hour.

    I have done a couple of three day tours to the closest state parks with daily mileage less than 45 miles and average about 10-12mph most days, except when the southwest wind kicks in and have averaged as little as 8 mph. On those trips the bike and gear weigh about 80 pounds. But my usual lunch run of 15 miles is about 10-12 mph.

    Are these speeds about what one would expect? Are they too slow? How much would a lightweight roadbike with a minimum kit increase my speed?

    Sunday night addendum ----- now I feel a little foolish. I thought the rear wheel needed truing as it was wobbling a little on the way home yesterday. I just checked....broken spoke on the cog side which will take the LBS to fix, and the rim rubbing against the brake, so maybe that was a little of the slowdown.
    Last edited by Monoborracho; 04-02-06 at 05:27 PM.

  2. #2
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monoborracho
    I averaged 14 mph on the way out and took less than 2 hours for 26 miles. Coming back by a different route, the wind got up and it was a grind to get home in about three hours riding time. I was only able to average a little over 12 mph. This is north Texas hill country, so it can be pretty rough but yesterdays route didn't have too many big hills.

    I'm riding an old Schwinn hybrid that I have made into a tourer, and was carrying full fenders and racks, with a one bag on the rack for my reflective vest, rain gear, extra water, phone (no towns for 25 miles on return), camera, tools, and a few snacks. Total weight was probably about 40 pounds bike and all. When I started riding a year ago I was averaging about 9 mph on my 10 to 15 miles treks. Changing to 700 x 32 tires seemed to gain me a couple of miles per hour.


    Are these speeds about what one would expect? Are they too slow? How much would a lightweight roadbike with a minimum kit increase my speed?
    I do quite a few charity and century rides and one of the things that surprises me is the amount some people carry with them on rides. I ride a tandem and even on the longest rides I only carry- 2 tubes- puncture repair kit- spare folding tyre- multitool, and a spare chain and chain tool. Those are the essentials and rarely use any of these. On my solo it is a multitool- 1 spare tube and a puncture repair kit. Then of course there is the 3 water bottles on the Tandem and the camelback and the trailer for the food. Often forget the trailer so have to do the ride as quick as possible so that I can eat.

    If the bike is in good condition, the basic essentials are all you require. Clothing can be a problem but If it looks like rain- I wear a waterproof from the start, or carry a showerproof. Food for a 4 hour ride will be a breakfast before I start, and several cereal bars, biscuits or dried fruit for snacking on the ride. I ride light in other words- whether on the solo, or the Tandem, and cannot really compare on your speeds as I am offroad with knobbly tyres, but by my reckoning you have just taken under 4 1/2 hours for just under 60 miles. That is not bad for anyone. Cut the weight you carry and you might cut the ride by about 5 minutes.

    Then a normal ride cannot compare to an extended ride- I will average 12mph offroad on a training 30 mile ride- On a 100mile offroad that is cut to 9 mph. You go at your speed that is comfortable for you. No sense in rushing things unless you have to. You have just done a milestone that some of us are still in training for. Take it it was your first "Long" ride so well done.

    Only thing I would do- is cut the bike weight a bit. A lighter bike is easier to ride- whether it will be quicker is down to you, and the weather.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  3. #3
    In Memory of One Cool Cat Blackberry's Avatar
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    A lighter bike and narrower tires will help you go faster. Whether you're going "too fast" or "too slow," is, I think, a personal matter. I do like to challenge myself from time to time, but mostly I'm very content to like to amble along at a sauntering pace, drinking in the scenery. Others, of course, like to put the hammer down a lot more than I do. The great thing about a bike is the option is yours.
    Dead last finish is better than did not finish and infinitely better than did not start.

  4. #4
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    Probably faster than most people our age...

    When I fall into the trap of worrying about my speed, I try to focus on the number of people my age who couldn't make the distance AT ALL. It's a big majority of them.
    I do a lot of group and charity rides, and over mixed terrain I average about the same speed you did, maybe a little faster in September. Generally I finish somewhere in the middle--all the 20-somethings with 11 percent body fat are faster, and most of the 40-and-up people with real lives are slower. I just did 25 miles this morning, my first ride since the day after Christmas (busy at work, bad weather, lazy...), and it nearly killed me to average 13mph. But a lot of other 50-somethings sat home watching golf on television, and I'm faster than nearly all of them. In June they'll be watching baseball, but I'll be riding faster.

  5. #5
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velo Dog
    When I fall into the trap of worrying about my speed, I try to focus on the number of people my age who couldn't make the distance AT ALL. It's a big majority of them.
    I do a lot of group and charity rides, and over mixed terrain I average about the same speed you did, maybe a little faster in September. Generally I finish somewhere in the middle--all the 20-somethings with 11 percent body fat are faster, and most of the 40-and-up people with real lives are slower. I just did 25 miles this morning, my first ride since the day after Christmas (busy at work, bad weather, lazy...), and it nearly killed me to average 13mph. But a lot of other 50-somethings sat home watching golf on television, and I'm faster than nearly all of them. In June they'll be watching baseball, but I'll be riding faster.
    +1

    Congratulations on your great ride. It is a real accomplishment, and you should be very proud.

    I have been going real slow lately, mostly due to ferocious winds, and my lack of more riding because of the winds.

    Speed means nothing, it is getting out there and enjoying yourself that really counts.

    How many guys 66yo can hop on a bike and go 30-40 miles?

    How many can bench press a couple of hundred pounds?

    I think not too many!

    Send your picture and bio for our Rogue's Gallery to

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    Let's make this a success.
    Last edited by DnvrFox; 04-04-06 at 07:00 AM.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  6. #6
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    For me, the one advantage to higher speeds is that I can go further in the same amount of time, which, of course, is quite silly on another level.

    But it makes me feel good on days when I get twenty miles in under ninety minutes, because I have this mileage goal, and because I want to be able to get a bunch of them in just a little time.

    Of course, on other days, I could care less about my speed, and, as was mentioned above, love to drink in the scenary around me. That's one of the greatest things about bikes -- the speed is slow enough to enjoy the scenary, and faster than walking, which (to me) gets boring.

    But I'll probably always get a kick of out doing ten miles in less than 45 minutes, or twenty miles in less than 90. And I ride in an urban environment, filled with stop signs, stop lights, and such.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    Congrats on your Birthday ride. It's a good accomplishment! The added weight makes it even more of an accomplishment.

  8. #8
    OnTheRoad or AtTheBeach stonecrd's Avatar
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    I have recently banished both speed and avg speed from my computer display. I now only look at my HR and cadence. So for long rides I keep my %HR at <=85% of Max (190) and my cadence in the low 90s. For shorter rides I push into the 90%MHR for various periods of the ride and push my cadnce closer to 100. By doing this I have found that I am much stronger at the end of the rides and getting better overall performance. Yesterday I did 61mi at 17.8mph average (I do look when the ride is finished). Now we don't have any hills greater than about 20ft down here so the only thing I fight is the wind, I would expect to have a higher average than someone who does more hill work.

  9. #9
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Congratulations on the ride. I think the important thing is that you are out there doing it! Take pride in that. You can't roll the clock back and become a 20 something racer. You are what you are. That said, what you are is someone who can ride their age... something most of the general population can't do. If you want to be someone who can ride their age faster, go lighter and train harder. But a word of caution; you run the risk of becoming a dreaded hammer head!
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright

  10. #10
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NOS88
    Congratulations on the ride. I think the important thing is that you are out there doing it! Take pride in that. You can't roll the clock back and become a 20 something racer. You are what you are. That said, what you are is someone who can ride their age... something most of the general population can't do. If you want to be someone who can ride their age faster, go lighter and train harder. But a word of caution; you run the risk of becoming a dreaded hammer head!
    +1

    And here's an interesting thought: most people can't ride their age -- WHATEVER their age.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member capejohn's Avatar
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    Congratulations on the ride. Now, if you go really really fast, what is the prize? I have a computer to track my miles, it shows my speed also and when I look at it I don't usually have a reaction until it goes above 35mph. That is "usually" on a downhill.
    Bike riding New England gentleman.

  12. #12
    Huachuca Rider webist's Avatar
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    I ride a lot like you do Mono. And, I really enjoy it.

    I do get a kick out of doing better today than yesterday when it happens. I don't think I'd enjoy the bike near as much though if I thought I had to.

    Congrats on the ride.
    Just Peddlin' Around

  13. #13
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    Thanks for all the kind words and advise on this speed thing. Have been leaving hints that I would like some $'s for a new roadie type bike, maybe a flat bar Trek and I might raise the bars some. Maybe I can still make the long ride in the Hottern'Hell 100. Thanks friends.

  14. #14
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Average Speed

    Yes, your average speed should equal your age as well.

    That's one of the joys of advanced cycling. Any speed is good speed. Unless you are training to race, why not just sit back and enjoy whatever speed your body feels like going.

    On my commute, at one point I am probably doing less than 3 mph. A quarter mile later it's closer to 35. They are both good.

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