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  1. #1
    Senior Member GaryPitts's Avatar
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    How do I get from 15mph avg to ~19mph?

    I've 56 and been riding for a year now. Roughly 4k miles. 500-600 miles a month when it's warm. My overall average speed is right at 15mph in the moderate hills of middle Tennessee.

    A month and a half ago, I bought a drop bar bike thinking it would increase my speed. Well, it doesn't I may be 1/4 mph faster on the same 1 or 2 hour loop as I am on my hybrid. So much for that idea!

    So, I'm wondering, does increasing your speed come with time or do you have to work at it, working out and such, to get up into the 18 or 19 mph average range? I know guys my age that have been cycling a long time that do it all the time. Since I'm starting late I don't know if it just comes with time or requires work. I'm not much of a worker. Ha!

    If I did want to work at it, what kind of training should I be looking at? I'm in a lot better shape than before I started riding and lost 10% of my weight, currently 200 pounds, but the speed just isn't coming. It's not that big of a deal as I ride mostly for fitness and enjoyment, but one of my goals is a century, so a faster speed would help in that regard. I've done a couple of metrics now, but thinking about doing half again that much just isn't happening right now
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  2. #2
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Only one years riding and you are up to 15mph with moderate hills. Not bad considering that it takes most people about two years to get up to that speed. When you start riding you have to get Bike fit and that normally takes about 6 months. Distance and speed increases come in that time and some for about the next 6 months---Then increases become a bit less and not as noticeable. However- take your averages now and check in a years time and there will be a difference. May even take you to the 19mph average- or more- or less.

    Others can advise you on training to get speed up but I am happy with my 14mph average with hills. I can normally do a 65 miler in about 4 hours- so 15/16mph average- but a full 100 will take more than 7.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  3. #3
    a77impala a77impala's Avatar
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    My question is why do you want to go so fast. Do you not like riding and want to get it over with? I don't get why people want
    to ride so fast, I average 12 to 14 mph on my daily ride, get a workout and enjoy the hell out of it.
    Treks, 79-710, 83-600, 85-420, 87-560, 90-930,92-970, 95-930, 96-930, 1220, LeMonds, 2000 Zurich, 05-Etape, 06-Versailles

  4. #4
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Just time in the saddle won't do it. The jump between 15 and 19 is huge. Interval training is probably the best bet for increasing speed. Or, if you can ride with others who ride faster you'll have to work harder to keep up. Taking off some of the weight will also help. Regardless of the methods you use, make sure to get adequate rest/recovery.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright

  5. #5
    Erect member since 1953 cccorlew's Avatar
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    My personal plan is to jump backwards in time and pick different parents. Mine were nice and all, but they had really bad VO2 max numbers.
    WANTED: Not a darn thing. I've got it all. Life is good.
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  6. #6
    Grammar Cop Condorita's Avatar
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    Don't ride with me. I only get that fast while coasting on downgrades.
    That which does not kill me has made a massive tactical blunder.
    Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen. Louis L'Amour
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  7. #7
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    I can relate to this philosophy since my injury last October

    Quote Originally Posted by a77impala View Post
    My question is why do you want to go so fast. Do you not like riding and want to get it over with? I don't get why people want
    to ride so fast, I average 12 to 14 mph on my daily ride, get a workout and enjoy the hell out of it.
    I really worried about breaking the 14 mph AVS last year. That is, until I had an accident in my home that put me in the hospital for a few days with a cracked scapula and a herniated disc.
    Now I have started riding again and do not spend much time or concern over my computer; just loving the fact that I can get out on the road again. Smell the roses!
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    "The bicycle, in the hands of a novice, is as alert and acute as a spirit-level in the detecting of delicate and vanishing shades of difference in these matters. It notices a rise where your untrained eye would not observe that one existed; it notices any decline which water will run down." -Mark Twain, "Taming the Bicycle"

  8. #8
    Senior Member OldsCOOL's Avatar
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    I'm at the 15 mark right now and do enjoy really cranking it on over the course of a personal TT but for me to think about a 19avg? Pffft. That's some serious work to make that big of an improvement.

    Intervals, hills and TT's.....but dont neglect saddle time entirely.
    Having a flat tire as part of the total cycling experience is highly overrated. Knowing how to fix one quickly is not.

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  9. #9
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    Group rides will provide both the harder training required, and also help with "speed skills" like an increased cadence. Riding fast in a group is much easier, and that helps you get the skills. The fact that they will probably push your limits significantly will give you the strength. You will also see how they are doing it, and get ideas for good solo rides. Initially, you will likely not be able to keep up. Just smile through that period and work until you can not only keep up, but lead the group.

    That said, your focus should be less on speed right now, and more on cadence (target 90+), smooth pedaling, position (work to gain the strength to ride the drops a lot), and general riding skills. Focus on those, and the speed will appear almost like a side benefit.
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

  10. #10
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by a77impala View Post
    My question is why do you want to go so fast. Do you not like riding and want to get it over with? I don't get why people want
    to ride so fast, I average 12 to 14 mph on my daily ride, get a workout and enjoy the hell out of it.
    These posts really put a sour taste in my mouth. Obviously, the OP wants to go faster. The fact that you don't want to is really not the point, now is it? This thread isn't about you and how slow you want to go, it's about the OP, and how fast HE wants to go.

    And, by the way, riding faster isn't about "getting it over with". We faster riders also typically ride a lot -more- miles, because otherwise we most likely wouldn't be faster. Our fitness also allows to ride to places that might be unattainable for riders who aren't as fit, and see a lot of great sights as a result. Fast is fun, pure and simple. It also leads to a greater level of fitness, which can be extended late into life, with a wide range of health benefits.
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

  11. #11
    Senior Member OldsCOOL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AzTallRider View Post
    These posts really put a sour taste in my mouth. Obviously, the OP wants to go faster. The fact that you don't want to is really not the point, now is it? This thread isn't about you and how slow you want to go, it's about the OP, and how fast HE wants to go.

    And, by the way, riding faster isn't about "getting it over with". We faster riders also typically ride a lot -more- miles, because otherwise we most likely wouldn't be faster. Our fitness also allows to ride to places that might be unattainable for riders who aren't as fit, and see a lot of great sights as a result. Fast is fun, pure and simple. It also leads to a greater level of fitness, which can be extended late into life, with a wide range of health benefits.
    Yup. I get a rush out of a fast 30. There is nothing like blazing up the road, it's an entirely different feel and thrill.
    Having a flat tire as part of the total cycling experience is highly overrated. Knowing how to fix one quickly is not.

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  12. #12
    Senior Member OldsCOOL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AzTallRider View Post
    Group rides will provide both the harder training required, and also help with "speed skills" like an increased cadence. Riding fast in a group is much easier, and that helps you get the skills. The fact that they will probably push your limits significantly will give you the strength. You will also see how they are doing it, and get ideas for good solo rides. Initially, you will likely not be able to keep up. Just smile through that period and work until you can not only keep up, but lead the group.

    That said, your focus should be less on speed right now, and more on cadence (target 90+), smooth pedaling, position (work to gain the strength to ride the drops a lot), and general riding skills. Focus on those, and the speed will appear almost like a side benefit.
    You've touched on something not spoken of much....at least here in this forum....and that is the ability to ride strong in the drops for distance. Drops will save your ride if you are in a stiff headwind.
    Having a flat tire as part of the total cycling experience is highly overrated. Knowing how to fix one quickly is not.

    '85 Trek 460 road racer

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  13. #13
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldsCOOL View Post
    You've touched on something not spoken of much....at least here in this forum....and that is the ability to ride strong in the drops for distance. Drops will save your ride if you are in a stiff headwind.
    And really push up the average speed.
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

  14. #14
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AzTallRider View Post

    That said, your focus should be less on speed right now, and more on cadence (target 90+), smooth pedaling, position (work to gain the strength to ride the drops a lot), and general riding skills. Focus on those, and the speed will appear almost like a side benefit.
    Good to hear this as it's what I'm working on for this season. Wish I could find a riding buddy that's faster than I am (Not that I'm fast). I rode with a Tri guy down in Florida and was surprised how hard I rode. Didn't really seem like it at the time but when I got back to the motel and saw the download I kept thinking "Why can't I push myself like that when I'm riding solo?"

  15. #15
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    Since you apparently got a new drop bar bike, are things like seat height, position etc. as they "should" be.
    Even having the seat 1/4" too low can make you noticeably less efficient over distance.

    I assume the new bike is the 2012 Specialized CruX Comp Disc Apex??

    SKINNIER TIRES!!!!
    bikepedia (which is often wrong) states that you have 33?MM tires.
    Put on some 25's.
    Last edited by Bill Kapaun; 04-03-12 at 05:38 PM.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
    Since you apparently got a new drop bar bike, are things like seat height, position etc. as they "should" be.
    Even having the seat 1/4" too low can make you noticeably less efficient over distance.
    Not to mention what it can do to your knees.

  17. #17
    Señor Blues on the path's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AzTallRider View Post
    And, by the way, riding faster isn't about "getting it over with". We faster riders also typically ride a lot -more- miles, because otherwise we most likely wouldn't be faster. Our fitness also allows to ride to places that might be unattainable for riders who aren't as fit, and see a lot of great sights as a result. Fast is fun, pure and simple.
    Yup. Riding is always fun, and riding faster is more fun.

    I was happy enough to go out and do my 12-16 mile rides, and I was getting fit at the same time. I could keep up with the pack on the 40 mile group rides, but I couldn't keep up with the guys that separated and took off.

    A friend has adopted me as his cycling student (a true reversal from a different time, but that's another story) and has been helping me along. One thing he keeps stressing is to make my solo rides longer. So, now I go out and do 30 - 35 miles, and try to get some climbing in on those rides. I concentrate on spinning, and generally keeping the pedals moving at all times except for the really steep descents. I don't really think about speed, but my average is creeping up as I spin and smooth out my pedal stroke. And my ablility to ride in the drops for extended periods of time (something that took a while to develop) really helps on days like today, with fairly strong, gusty winds for the 2 hours of my ride.
    IMO, FWIW, CFM, YMMV, E PLURIBUS UNUM

  18. #18
    Senior Member John_V's Avatar
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    I have been riding for two and a half years and last year was averaging 14-15 mph on my road bike. Although I could hit 20+ mph, I couldn't stay at that speed for any length of time. I don't like riding in pace lines but I sometimes do, if asked to join in. I started mixing intervals and spinning into my daily rides and slowly increasing the ride distance. For me, this did more to increase my speed than riding with faster riders, although it does help to be pushed further and faster by stronger riders.

    I am by no means fast enough to enter races or crits, but at 65, I am doing 3/4 of my daily 30 mile rides at 17-18 mph with no problems, whatsoever. I'm not sure how much changing from a triple to a compact double crank had to do with it, but I did notice a slight increase in speed when I bought my Colnago. My cycling goals is more distance related than speed related, but with enough riding and training, both are obtainable.
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  19. #19
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    I noticed that the OP didn't say how far or how long he'd like to be going faster.

    I usually go out on each ride with some sort of a plan in mind, or at least I try to. Sometimes pushing myself is hard but that feeling usually goes away after the first 20 minutes once I'm warmed up (probably because the endorphins are starting to flow).

    Like AzTallRider said, good technique is the most important thing. This early in the year, I've been focusing on getting my cadence back up, smoothing out my pedaling and getting my legs back. I've also been increasing the distance in my outings, from 10 to 15 to 20 to 30 miles and more. I'm not sure how much time I'm going to have this year so it's going to be critical that I make use of the time I have. Sadly, there doesn't seem to be any alternative to getting in those first 1000 base miles in before I'll start feeling in a groove. Since the OP has logged in over 4K I don't see that as a problem but you'll have to start going out for longer rides. Start with some sort of a plan and be patient, you need to build strength, stamina and the rest will follow.

    If the weather conditions aren't great (like 20-25mph headwinds), take a different route and work on other things like being in the drops for a sustained period of time or (what I should really be doing), going on some long climbs... again and again... other times, it's going to the big chain ring more.

    There are plenty of training books you can read as well that can help you set your goals and allow you to structure a way of reaching them.

    When it comes to riding solo, I haven't gone on a group ride since I was in my late teens so that would make it close to 40 years. Riding in a group forces you to develop good riding habits and makes it easier to force you to push yourself. I haven't forgotten those lessons and I'll probably start going on some group rides later on. It's only been a year since I've started doing some serious riding again and two years since I put my butt back onto a saddle so right now I prefer to ride solo so that I can work on the things that I want to improve on.

    You may want continue riding solo but if you haven't ridden in a group before it's a good idea to try it. If you can't find a group try and talk a friend or a neighbour into it or even a relative.

    That's not to say that it's all work and no play. There are some days when I'll just cruise around at 11-12 mph and just enjoy the feeling of being out on the road.

    Don't forget to pay attention to diet and hydration on those longer rides and never, ever forget to enjoy what you're doing.

  20. #20
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    My first thought when I first saw the title was the answer to the question "How do I get to Carnegie Hall"

  21. #21
    Senior Member Mobile 155's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GaryPitts View Post
    I've 56 and been riding for a year now. Roughly 4k miles. 500-600 miles a month when it's warm. My overall average speed is right at 15mph in the moderate hills of middle Tennessee.

    A month and a half ago, I bought a drop bar bike thinking it would increase my speed. Well, it doesn't I may be 1/4 mph faster on the same 1 or 2 hour loop as I am on my hybrid. So much for that idea!

    So, I'm wondering, does increasing your speed come with time or do you have to work at it, working out and such, to get up into the 18 or 19 mph average range? I know guys my age that have been cycling a long time that do it all the time. Since I'm starting late I don't know if it just comes with time or requires work. I'm not much of a worker. Ha!

    If I did want to work at it, what kind of training should I be looking at? I'm in a lot better shape than before I started riding and lost 10% of my weight, currently 200 pounds, but the speed just isn't coming. It's not that big of a deal as I ride mostly for fitness and enjoyment, but one of my goals is a century, so a faster speed would help in that regard. I've done a couple of metrics now, but thinking about doing half again that much just isn't happening right now
    15 to 19 is a monster jump. A question might be what are you using to train with? How are you measuring average speed? Last year I put in 6500 miles some of those miles were in a race or two and my yearly average was only 16.5. So far this year it is only 15.6. What is the difference? More climbing. A 14 mile climb in the middle of a 50 mile ride will drop my average like a rock. Shoot a 4 percent grade for 9 miles will drop my average. Every Stop light and stop sign lowers my average. And your computer doesn't make pure averages from top speed to slower speed. In other words 10 minutes of 20 MPH will not erase 30 minutes of 10 MPH and average it to 15. Your average would be less.

    But I do know a guy that has figured how to kick his average speed up to close to 20. He resets his computer when we turn onto a long pace line run of ten to fifteen miles. At the end of the run he marks his average and shuts down his computer till we get back up to speed going in another direction. I don't think it has made him any faster but his average looks good on paper.
    Last edited by Mobile 155; 04-03-12 at 06:41 PM.
    Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by overthehillmedi View Post
    My first thought when I first saw the title was the answer to the question "How do I get to Carnegie Hall"
    By singing your way there ?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
    15 to 19 is a monster jump. A question might be what are you using to train with? How are you measuring average speed? Last year I put in 6500 miles some of those miles were in a race or two and my yearly average was only 16.5. So far this year it is only 15.6. What is the difference? More climbing. A 14 mile climb in the middle of a 50 mile ride will drop my average like a rock. Shoot a 4 percent grade for 9 miles will drop my average. Every Stop light and stop sign lowers my average. And your computer doesn't make pure averages from top speed to slower speed. In other words 10 minutes of 20 MPH will not erase 30 minutes of 10 MPH and average it to 15. Your average would be less.

    But I do know a guy that has figured how to kick his average speed up to close to 20. He resets his computer when we turn onto a long pace line run of ten to fifteen miles. At the end of the run he marks his average and shuts down his computer till we get back up to speed going in another direction. I don't think it has made him any faster but his average looks good on paper.
    +1
    I'd shoot for consistency over a longer distance. Also, climb hills, lots of them.

  24. #24
    Senior Member yamura's Avatar
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    "......but I did notice a slight increase in speed when I bought my Colnago....."

    Happens every time. Riding a Colnago is always good for an extra mph or two!

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by alanknm View Post
    By singing your way there ?
    Practice, practice, practice!

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