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Old 07-03-12, 02:29 PM   #1
az_cyclist
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Average speeds for A, B, and C rides

You hear about A, B, and C group rides. I am curious as to what everyone feels the average speeds for these groups are. I belong to two clubs in north Phoenix. One club has two groups, more or less A and B groups. The A group is published as race pace, while the B group publishes 20 mph on the flats. For the B group, the average for a 40-50 mile club ride will be 17 - 18 mph. The other club has just one group, and the published average is 15 mph for a 50 mile ride. I would call this a B or C ride.

What are some other opinions?
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Old 07-03-12, 02:34 PM   #2
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One of the clubs I belong to has 5 groups. The As are advertised at 23+, the fastest Bs are 21+, the middle B's are 18-19, the slowest Bs are 16-17 and Cs are slower than that. That, as I said, is what they advertise. I ride in the slowest B group and my averages are consistently in the 18-19 range when I finish mid-pack, so they lie a little.

Keep in mind these sorts of ratings will be all over the map depending on where you are: the local riding culture, the members of the club, even the terrain.
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Old 07-03-12, 03:18 PM   #3
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A rides- 32 MPH.
B rides- 36 MPH.
C rides- 40 MPH.
YMMV.
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Old 07-03-12, 03:19 PM   #4
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I think most rides will average less than the published averages, as those averages are published to warn people about how fast the pace could be, but rarely is due to traffic lights and terrain. My regular A ride (a race team, with other racer-types joining in) typically averages around 19 - sometimes pushing 20. But that ride includes a fair amount of climbing, and some fast pace work that will leave anyone who is not race fit gasping and/or dropped. While the ride you mentioned may publish a higher average than we typically ride, most of the riders from that ride (and as you know I've been on those) would not be able to keep up with our team rides.

Even Around The Mountain (not the toughest, but certainly the fastest ride in the Valley) will average under 20mph, but that will include climbing South Mountain, and the fast section will average just under 30mph, on the flats, for over an hour. The rides I've been on where it is hardest to stay with the group are probably 'BOS', the Bicycle Ranch A group, our Faster A group, and from what I hear, Focus Cyclery. But none of those will have a particularly high average speed - the difficulty is how fast they take the climbs.

The only way to know what a group ride is like is to give it a go, preferably working your way up from a sub-group you know you can hold, to the faster sub-group. For instance, I did Bicycle Ranch B a couple of times before I tried the A group. Now I ride with Faster, and the only time I ride the B group is if I'm doing base and have coaching instructions to avoid high-intensity.
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Old 07-03-12, 03:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by az_cyclist View Post
You hear about A, B, and C group rides. I am curious as to what everyone feels the average speeds for these groups are. I belong to two clubs in north Phoenix. One club has two groups, more or less A and B groups. The A group is published as race pace, while the B group publishes 20 mph on the flats. For the B group, the average for a 40-50 mile club ride will be 17 - 18 mph. The other club has just one group, and the published average is 15 mph for a 50 mile ride. I would call this a B or C ride.

What are some other opinions?
Opinions about what? There's no regulation about what constitutes a fast or slow ride, it depends entirely on those who lead them. If a particular club advertises an A ride as, say, 23 mph, that's what you should expect.as AZT says, the average may be lower than advertised - many people have trouble distinguishing between the mean, the median and the mode - but you shouldn't join unless you are confident you can maintain the advertised pace for a reasonable period of time.
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Old 07-03-12, 04:09 PM   #6
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From the Massapequa Park Bicycle Club (Long Island, NY) website

Cruising speed in miles
per hour on flat road.
This is NOT the ride average.
Open*: race training
AA rides: 20-23 mph
A rides: 17-20 mph
B rides: 14-17 mph
C rides: 11-14 mph

And just for giggles, the US Cycling licensed category definitions as it equates to training time:

Cat 1: Job
Cat 2: Job, Car
Cat 3: Job, Car, Spouse
Cat 4: Job, Car, Spouse, House
Cat 5: Job, Car, Spouse, House, Kids
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Old 07-03-12, 04:09 PM   #7
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I am in the B group in my riding club. Here is a typical ride. http://connect.garmin.com/activity/188472011
We range from 19 to 17.5
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Old 07-03-12, 04:35 PM   #8
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In my club the average ride speeds vary by time in the season as well. I usually ride the B or B+ rides just cause they seem to be the most pleasant for me. In April a B ride might average 13-14 mph and by Sept. it could be up to 16 mph. As stated here by others, the rides are published on Friday with distance and anticipated average speed. The rides are on Saturday morning.

FWIW, yesterday I did my 17.4 mi. TT (1200 ft climbing) at 16.4 mph. By Sept. I expect to be close to 18 mph. At least that's the hope. For my club I'm pretty much a B/B+ rider.

Last edited by bruce19; 07-03-12 at 04:39 PM.
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Old 07-03-12, 04:44 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lightingguy View Post
From the Massapequa Park Bicycle Club (Long Island, NY) website

Cruising speed in miles
per hour on flat road.
This is NOT the ride average.
Open*: race training
AA rides: 20-23 mph
A rides: 17-20 mph
B rides: 14-17 mph
C rides: 11-14 mph
Though those numbers looked familiar, i'm in Massapequa also.

I see some as A-/B+ so it's a fast B or a slow A.
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Old 07-03-12, 05:23 PM   #10
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All these numbers are silly. It depends on how you define "average". In the old days average was distance divided by total elapsed time. (Remember your physics classes? Okay, maybe you didn't take physics.) If you stopped for a snack it still counted as time.

Then someone invented a computer which could do all that for you. Except that it would turn off when you weren't moving, so suddenly the average meant over only the time spent moving. Then someone invented a computer where you could set the speed below which it didn't count. If you cross an intersection at 6mph, it drops your average a lot. If you spend time climbing at 10mph, it drops your average a lot. If you arbitrarily choose not to count those times then your average is meaningless because there is no ideal or theoretically correct cutoff between counted vs. not counted speed.

We often run our tandem on almost-flat sections at steady speeds over 18mph, occasionally breaking 22, 23, even 25 for short spells. We climb much more slowly. We spend a lot of time walking into picnic areas, or slowing or accelerating through intersections. Our computer's average speed almost never breaks 12.4mph. But we spend most of our road time going much faster. So how would you rate our grouping? Surely not A. If it weren't for the stops and the caution I exercise at some intersections it might be B, as long as we don't have to go uphill. But if a group wants to wait for us we can seem to click along pretty well. It isn't quite C though because we have sometimes left casual solo riders in our dust.

The only real answer is:
A - consistently fast, quasi-competitive (despite claims to the contrary).
B - quick, but not a racer's pace, and willing to back it down.
C - casual, not caring how fast you go but enjoying the ride!
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Old 07-03-12, 05:38 PM   #11
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C= No drop, social pace

B= No drop, but hurry up already.

A= Bring your GPS if don't know the route.
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Old 07-03-12, 07:56 PM   #12
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If you define average as time while moving of distance traveled (i.e. rest and stop time is not counted) then in my club:
A: 23
B+: 19-20
B: 17-19
C:14-15

Advertised ride averages are typically 2 mph under what the pack travels at.
A rides are - every man/woman for themselves
B rides are - we will wait for you at rest stops but thats it
C rides are - we will wait for you at intersections and major turns but don't expect company while you are riding.
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Old 07-03-12, 08:54 PM   #13
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Average speeds vary too much, so my club uses max speed on the flats with no wind to classify rides.
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Old 07-03-12, 09:17 PM   #14
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From Princeton Freewheelers:

MPH's are for 1) avg. speed, followed by 2) flat cruising speed:

Ax
23/ Up
26+

A+
21 - 22
24 - 25

A
19 - 20
22 - 23

B+
17 - 18
19 - 20

B
15 - 16
17 - 18

C+
13 - 14
15 - 16

C
11 - 12
13 - 14

D+
9 - 10
11 - 12

D
8 - 9
up to 10

When I first started riding with a club, I found out that "B" rides were extremely dangerous. You would get a lot of very fit people that really didn't know how to ride a bike in a group. I pushed ahead and moved to B+ and A rides, where the rides were much safer due to the experience of the typical participant. When I was starting to lead Ax rides, I could keep up with avg. Cat III racers, and Cat II's would ride away from me at any point. The speeds of the higher category rides assumed effective pace lines.
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Old 07-03-12, 09:42 PM   #15
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My club has separate speeds for different types of terrain:

D Casual
Flat Terrain: 1012 mph
Moderate Terrain: 810 mph
Hilly Terrain: 68 mph

C Easy Touring
Flat Terrain: 1214 mph
Moderate Terrain: 1012 mph
Hilly Terrain: 810 mph

CC Touring
Flat Terrain: 1416 mph
Moderate Terrain: 1214 mph
Hilly Terrain: 1012 mph

B Moderate
Flat Terrain: 1618 mph
Moderate Terrain: 1416 mph
Hilly Terrain: 1214 mph

BB Spirited
Flat Terrain: 1820 mph
Moderate Terrain: 1618 mph
Hilly Terrain: 1416 mph

A Training
Flat Terrain: 20+ mph
Moderate Terrain: 1820 mph
Hilly Terrain: 1618 mph

(Most of the mid-week rides are advertised as CC pace, but actually go at a BB / A pace.)
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Old 07-03-12, 09:55 PM   #16
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(Most of the mid-week rides are advertised as CC pace, but actually go at a BB / A pace.)
This is the key statement, isn't it?
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Old 07-04-12, 07:36 AM   #17
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I belong to 3 clubs in the area and the ride categories are varied. Two clubs base their categories on benchmark climbs (or loops) in the area. The third club has speed ranges for each of the five ride classes, but strangely enough the speed ranges apply to the average for the particular ride, 14-16 mph being very different in the flat versus 75'/mile climbing ride. We do a few club rides on the tandem, the ones that don't have killer climbing. Oh, and most clubs don't start their rides prior to 0900, which burns too much daylight for us.
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Old 07-04-12, 09:31 AM   #18
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Oh, and most clubs don't start their rides prior to 0900, which burns too much daylight for us.
Our club in northeastern CT has 9 AM start times until June 1st and then Saturday start time is 8 AM. The only problem I have is the B rides (and especially the C rides) have a stop mid-way (around 20-25 mi.) that takes too long for me. When I do solo rides of 40 mi. I don't incorporate a stop and I prefer it that way. Stopping for drinks and muffins in a group of a dozen or so riders assures a 1/2 hr. stop and I just hate that.
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Old 07-04-12, 10:04 AM   #19
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Our club in northeastern CT has 9 AM start times until June 1st and then Saturday start time is 8 AM. The only problem I have is the B rides (and especially the C rides) have a stop mid-way (around 20-25 mi.) that takes too long for me. When I do solo rides of 40 mi. I don't incorporate a stop and I prefer it that way. Stopping for drinks and muffins in a group of a dozen or so riders assures a 1/2 hr. stop and I just hate that.
I'd hate it too. What is the point of stopping if one is going to be out for less than three hours?

This is the big reason for riding alone or with a very few like-minded individuals. Signing up to groups like these inevitably means doing the ride that others want, rather than the ride one needs (if one is training) or prefers. Personally I prefer to do most of my socialising off the bike.
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Old 07-04-12, 10:40 AM   #20
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I've never done any organized group rides. All our rides from the LBS are very disorganized and loosely based on 20+ years of friendships and shared experienced. The clubs around here that I know about advertise their ride speeds in terms of what an individual can maintain by themselves.

In all the posts above here - When an average or "on the flats" speed ... or whatever is posted - Is that the speed of the group as it rides together or the speed an individual rider should be able to maintain on their own with no group or paceline?

For example - I can easily maintain 17 - 19 mph on level ground by myself for long periods and can do 20 - 21 mph by myself for several minutes (leading a pace line?) so would I be looking for a group with a 17-19 cruising speed or somewhat higher since I would not be pulling that higher speed for extended periods.

Just curious about how these things work.
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