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Old 08-29-06, 01:12 PM   #1
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Whats an average

All this talk about averages and it makes me cringe to think how slow I am compared to some other riders. Not that it really bothers me but Sunday I did a circular route and the Computer was messing about with my heart monitor so I took the heart monitor off. Circular route and It broke down into 3 stages. Down to the coast and my coffee break and I went on the road. I normally go down via a MUP and average speed does not come into this. You have to be aware of other users of the path so a lot of slowing down to avoid them. If I use the mup it is 11.5 miles at an average of 12.6 mph. Yesterday I went by road. Quite afew little short rises on the road and it was my intention to finish each rise at the same speed I started them at. Managed it and only one junction where I had to stop for traffic and the 10 miles were covered at an average of 16mph. No problems with the traffic and no dogs- prams- walkers- runners to contend with. Coffee had a slice of strawberry gateaux to go with it so Better get some exercise in. Went from the cafe along the front and that traffic was bad for about a mile. Cars doing 10mph looking for parking spaces that were not there but they would suddenly stop just close enough to the kerb to stop me aswell. Then up the zig-zags. Only .8 of a mile to climb 500ft but it is a series of hairpin bends to get up the hill so it about 1 in 8 so not that severe. Halfway up and a bike overtook me and it spurred me on to an increase in speed. Got up to 9mph and stayed there. That gateaux could still be felt. Got to the top and passed the youngster on his bike as he was leaning over the bars trying to get his breath. I had actually only travelled 2.5 miles from sea level to 600ft- with the last bit being steeper but I had averaged 10.4 mph. Even with the traffic along the front. Then a fast downhill. a 15%er and top speed of 48mph. Into the town to get ready for my ride home and the last 10 miles were back on the MUP and an average of 12mph.

I intentionally was zeroing the computer for each stage so have no idea what the average was for the whole ride. When I look back at it- It was a good ride so no regerets. But How can I say what My average was? The road may not be that hilly, but is up and down quite a lot. The Seafront and Zig Zags I was pleased about as that is probably the fastest I have gone up them, The ride home was peacefull but I did slow down to talk to another rider for about 3 miles.

There will be parts of a ride where I can go fast- I might make a hill in a good time and my speed downhill is always pretty good. I might be slowing down to chat to a few friends or Might even have a strong Tailwind.
From now on the Computer average speed will only be looked at on the organised Metric centuries I have planned for the Autumn- And possibly the Full 100 miler if the weather is good. I have decided from now on that my Averages for a ride from now on will be the enjoyment factor. Poor, low, good or fantastic.
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Old 08-29-06, 01:49 PM   #2
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My average speed, even on a good day, is so low it's embarrassing...and thankfully I'm the only one aware of it! Several factors detract from my already lackluster cycling talent...

Encountering slower traffic on MUPs.

Stop and go car traffic, and intersections.

I don't take advantage of downhill sections, speedwise. Instead of hammering at 35 or 40mph, I usually cruise around 25. No point in taking a risk that doesn't thrill me anymore.

I don't fight headwinds. I just accept my fate and spin relentlessly...even if it's only 10 MPH.

I ride alone, so no one is stoking my competative juices, or providing free tows.

I ride long distances...80 - 100 miles a ride, three rides a week. So the combination of pacing myself and being fatigued much of the time reduces my average speed.

As someone wisely pointed out a few days ago, average speed for a given rider on a familiar course is more reflective of the weather conditions than any fitness gains or losses.

Last edited by Big Paulie; 08-29-06 at 07:20 PM.
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Old 08-29-06, 02:28 PM   #3
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You know what? All the guys swapping average speeds on here like they were bragging about their manhood just tickles my funny bone. I often wonder how many are stretching, uh, bumping it a tad to measure up to the next guy. Averages are just that. Averages. The real meat of a ride IMO is did I get the work out, the pleasure, the buzz I was looking for? I have long since given up caring if my average measured up to someone else's. If you want to increase it, work harder. If that is your pleasure. But if riding at whatever speed makes you grin and feel good then why worry about it. I will admit to paying attention to an average when I am riding with an event or race in mind. But 99% of my riding now is done average free. And I like it.

The best way I found to increase an average was to find a rider of similar abilities and fitness and ride together a couple times a week. Back in the early 90s I wanted to turn a 5 hour century so bad I could taste it. Up to that point I always fell short. So I hooked up with a local guy who seemed to have the same drive. We rode a lot together. Pushing each other, we gradually found averaging 20 MPH no big deal. The century came and we did it. Now I have no such goals as that, but by setting one, I was able to acheive. Set a new average to acheive and work on it. Be realistic. Say another mile per hour in a month or so. Keep at it and you will get faster.

And BTW - many averages people talk about are averages done in group rides. A group will almost always have a higher average than a solo rider.
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Old 08-29-06, 02:46 PM   #4
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I am really having a struggle with my averages. I know and a part of me says just enjoy the ride, at whatever pace is right for me now. Than the old competative part of me jumps in as makes sure I am aware of just how slow I have become. Its very difficult as I have been off the bike mostly for 25 years or so. But I remember. Oh how I remember the old days of thinner and faster. And its tough. So now I am trying to decide how to increase my speed. Biggest problem is that most of the available books are very heavily focused on racing. I am not interested in ever racing again, but I am interested in being a fast club rider and hopefully doing a brevet series next year. But I need to get my ride avarages up to 16-18 mph fro the current 13-15.
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Old 08-29-06, 02:56 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by howsteepisit
I am really having a struggle with my averages. I know and a part of me says just enjoy the ride, at whatever pace is right for me now. Than the old competative part of me jumps in as makes sure I am aware of just how slow I have become. Its very difficult as I have been off the bike mostly for 25 years or so. But I remember. Oh how I remember the old days of thinner and faster. And its tough. So now I am trying to decide how to increase my speed. Biggest problem is that most of the available books are very heavily focused on racing. I am not interested in ever racing again, but I am interested in being a fast club rider and hopefully doing a brevet series next year. But I need to get my ride avarages up to 16-18 mph fro the current 13-15.
Then find one like minded soul and hook up with them. Often a club or shop ride will furnish someone who would like to sharpen their riding for that weekly ride with the club or shop. Mutual support has a way of boosting both of you into new levels. But doing it in only the larger group rides can sometimes blunt your effort as being off the back all the time can be demoralizing.
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Old 08-29-06, 03:06 PM   #6
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I'm finding that my average ride is anywhere from 10-18 miles per hour faster than when I'm sitting on my couch. That's good enough for me!
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Old 08-29-06, 06:40 PM   #7
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All my rides are above average.
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Old 08-29-06, 06:50 PM   #8
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I still figure 10 mph is a good measure for me. 30 mi ride will take 3 hrs. 45 mile ride will take 4.5 hrs. That's door to door and includes bathroom breaks, coffee shop breaks, red lights, uphills, downhills, stop to admire the scenery.

Just a good average so when I leave the house i have a reasonable estimate of when I'll return.

On the road I don't have a computer so I have no idea what my high speed or average speed would be under whatever the method is that the cyclometers use. But I assume that when people post about their 18-20 mph rides, they're not using my method.
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Old 08-29-06, 07:04 PM   #9
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I started out with 12/13mph average about a year and a half ago doing maximum rides of 20 miles. I worked it up to 15mph and seemed to hit a wall and couldn't pass that average speed. (I'm not complaining though)

Now after back surgery about 6 weeks ago and my left leg 2 inches thinner than the other (due to the sciatica nerve and a vein compressed for a month before the operation) I'm back to 13 avg on 25/30 mile rides. I did about 7 outings and the damn leg doesn't seem to get in shape... Doc said it will take between 6 months and 1 year.

I'm not a fanatic of speeds and averages but it tells me how I'm doing especially when I do a certain trail that's 50% going and 50% returning.

I ride solo most of the time and oh! I still smoke. Not as much as I used to but I do smoke about 10 cigs a day. I'm sure I would be faster if not for so many years of smoke going in and out of me... but that's how I am.

Bests!
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Old 08-29-06, 08:23 PM   #10
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Speed

I find that a lot of reports of cycling speed is much like golf scores (in reverse).
Since I live in Canada, I use metric measures.
20 km/hr is my average speed. I am slower uphill and a lot faster downhill, but I still average about 20 km/hr (i.e., 13 mph).
I have ridden with riders who were keeping pace with me and while my speedo said 20 km/h, theirs said 30 or more.
When people tell me they average 25 mph (40 km/h) or more on long distances, I just laugh.
My guess is that their speedo is not calibrated correctly (some are set for metric, but claim to be mph)
Or they are measuring a very short ride.

If you don't like your low numbers of mph, change to metric.
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Old 08-29-06, 08:35 PM   #11
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On hardpack roads and twisty trails with pedestrians, I average slightly over 11mph. Two conversations with acquaintences will knock it down to 8.something. My best two averages were at 12mph, which is surprisingly more effort than 11.2. I want more; will accept what I've got.
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Old 08-29-06, 08:40 PM   #12
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I stopped worrying about averages when I found that my latest bike computer kept the clock running while I was off the bike. I was getting average speeds of 0.2 to 0.4 MPH.
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Old 08-29-06, 10:14 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cadillac

If you don't like your low numbers of mph, change to metric.
Yay, metric! Much more appropriate for bicycle speeds and distances. I guess the USA is one of the last countries holding out for the British Imperial system. As with any other major change, you only discover the advantages after having used it for a while. Canada went metric about thirty years ago, but I've gotten pretty good at doing speed limit conversions when I'm driving in the US.

On a bike, at 30 kmh you're covering a kilometer every two minutes (since at 60 kmh it would be a kilometer a minute). At 20 kmh, it's a kilo every three minutes. So if you double that to 40 kmh, you cover a kilometer in 1:30. And 100 kilometers is a nice distance to cover on a bike. In Imperial, you've only gone 62 and a half miles. Now if only they could have reconciled nautical miles with some metric measurement so you could see how many degrees longitude you traveled...

Also, if your bottles hold one liter of water, that's one kilogram. I think the weights are the hardest part of the metric system. Older Canadians still tend to buy meat by the pound, although it's common to buy it per 100 grams. And don't ask me what a hectare looks like. I'm not even clear on the dimensions of a hectare... Or an acre, come to think of it...

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Old 08-29-06, 11:06 PM   #14
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I would like to aver age.
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Old 08-29-06, 11:16 PM   #15
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I find it difficult to understand how one can consider an average speed based on all of the different variables involved. Even if I rode the same "flat" course on a daily basis I would still have to take into consideration other variables such as wind, and heat. Not sure there's much value in that reading from the computer.
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Old 08-29-06, 11:19 PM   #16
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Not sure there's much value in that reading from the computer.
+1
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Old 08-30-06, 12:05 AM   #17
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I use my average speed as a goal to push harder, that is to always maintain a speed slightly faster than whats on the computer. I also us it as a gage to see if I did any better than the last time I rode a given course. I ride alone, mostly due to my work schedule, and because I have found no one to ride with. While I used to average about 12.5 - 13 MPH on my DF, I have found that my average speed is better on my bent (14.5-15 mph now). How can I compare myself to others? I guess I would have to ride with them to see if I measure up. But no matter what my average speed, any ride outside is better than sitting in my chair watching the boob tube
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Old 08-30-06, 05:01 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dauphin
I find it difficult to understand how one can consider an average speed based on all of the different variables involved. Even if I rode the same "flat" course on a daily basis I would still have to take into consideration other variables such as wind, and heat. Not sure there's much value in that reading from the computer.
+1 .
Wind and heat/high humidity have everything to do with avg speed. I only take in consideration my avg speed on this one particular trail that I do often because it starts 2 blocks from home.

When I ride with 2 co-workers/friends the avg goes down dramatically but the fun factor goes up.

The value of the readings are interesting for me at an anecdotal level. There is a long-straight-stretch where I can go at 32km/h or 27km/h depending on the wind direction and intensity. If I see that I'm doing the first half of the ride with a strong tail wind, than I know I'm going to suffer on the way back -- that helps me make the desicion to turn around sooner if I'm feeleing weakish that day.

Anyway, I think one can become a slave of that little computer... One time I forgot it and at first I felt naked; but I ended doing a very relaxed ride.
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Old 08-30-06, 07:04 AM   #19
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I look at my average speed after my daily ride since this ride course is the same every day. As for progress I look at my average for the week since I expect that this will normalize out the daily differences with wind, stop lights etc. To date my fastest average day was 20.3mph and my fastest average for a week is 19.4mph. In a year my weekly average has moved up from arounf 17-18mph to 18.5 - 19.5mph. So there has been some improvement. This is a 21 mile daily ride with no hills. The other thing to note is that this ride is generally with two people taking turns pulling. So if you are by yourself it is going to be harder and if you are in a big group ride it will be a lot easier. I feel for me that I expend the same output by myself riding at 20mph as I do in the middle of a group riding 24-25mph.
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Old 08-30-06, 08:09 AM   #20
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A couple of years ago, I was riding with a friend (who is 70+), we were doing a long charity ride, and were on the 4th day of a 5 day 450 mile ride - we average about 14mph. Anyway, we were cruising along, chatting about young women and whatnot, when a pair of younger riders passed us on our left. I started to pick up the pace a little to stay with the two young guys when my friend told me 'relax, when you are passed by someone half your age - that is how it should be'.
I don't worry too much about my speed, but I do take comfort in the fact that there are very few kids half my age who could do the number of miles that I do (I average 150-200 miles per week)
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Old 08-30-06, 08:16 AM   #21
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I am reading above posts and see that everybody does something different.
In my case:
Road biking is out because it is just not done here. Not safe because the roads not made for it and drivers not used to it.
Therefore we go on Rails to trails and circular park roads.
That means that we often repeat the same trip with no stops at the fastest speed we can do.
Basically biking is treated like exercise except for more hours and that is a good thing.
Under these conditions, average speed is meaningful because it gives a measure of effort over time. Not intended to brag about it but useful for an old guy to see if he/she is improving or falling behind.
On Rail to Trail limestone with 700 x 38 tires I can go 17.5 MPH average at full effort, no stops. I am very happy about that because a year ago I struggled with 16.5 MPH for the same track.
On a circular paved and undulating park route I am trying to get over 20 MPH average solo and looking at every trick in the book to do so. I let you know when I will reach this personal goal. Nothing to do with bragging because there are many who go much faster on that same road.
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Old 08-30-06, 09:57 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stapfam
All this talk about averages and it makes me cringe to think how slow I am compared to some other riders...
From now on the Computer average speed will only be looked at on the organised Metric centuries I have planned for the Autumn- And possibly the Full 100 miler if the weather is good. I have decided from now on that my Averages for a ride from now on will be the enjoyment factor. Poor, low, good or fantastic.
somehow I never get 'number cruncher' from any of your posts. Sure, some comp juices flowing every now and then; but like heavy breathing, thats just another affirmation of "I'm Livin!".
So this here post seems just 'reaffirmation', comin from you.
Right On

Numbers... important of course for that competition thing, with yourself and others. valid within that narrow spectrum.

but otherwise, is it ever a worthy measure? Some days the legs are wooden and the lungs shriveled. Other days you can beat the chest like Kong (or Wonder Woman ). Both benchmarks are valid.

numbers... I like them. They tell me funnny things about myself; but otherwise I let the cagers really do the worryin about numbers.

cycling really has only one speed - the speed of life
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Old 08-30-06, 10:15 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CRUM
You know what? All the guys swapping average speeds on here like they were bragging about their manhood just tickles my funny bone. I often wonder how many are stretching, uh, bumping it a tad to measure up to the next guy.
Most of them.
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Old 08-30-06, 10:18 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by lhbernhardt
Yay, metric!
Freakin commie.

I seriously think that some of those who brag about their high speeds the most have never figured out how to change their computers from km/h to m/h and report their km/h speed as m/h.
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Old 08-30-06, 10:33 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chipcom
Most of them.
Where is this bragging? Maybe in the road forum but I don't see anyone saying they are doing 50mi at +20mph average in this forum. In fact most people seem to be in the 15-20mph range which seems reasonable to me. If you think my highest 19.4 average for a week is embellishment see attached, I would be glad to provide any specific data you want. As stated my highest elevation is 40', I have 6 stop lights on the daily ride and the wind around here is in your face for about 30% of the ride at 10-15mph.

I am just stating facts, I'm not saying I'm better or worse than anyone else.
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