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  1. #1
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    How do you calculate your average speed

    Dudelsack made a post in one of my threads that got me to thinking.

    I don't want to post average speeds that are overinflated. If I had a nickel for every guy that posted he regularly hit 300 yard drives I would be rich man, or at least riding a carbon bike. So, how do you guys calculate your average speed?

    For me I have Garmin eTrex Venture GPS mounted to my bike and I use the trip computer which calculates average speed based on time moving. In other words the time sitting at a stop light does not count against me. If I remember correctly my Cateye Cadence bike computer calculates the same way (I only use it for cadence since I have the GPS mounted to my bike).

  2. #2
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    As long as you do have two readings, do they agree? And if the value of the measurement is to recognize improvement when it is achieved, isn't comparison more important than methodology?

    However, if you are including rest time, there's always the question of whether the rest time was excessive and hence you took away from your average by larding around rather than pedaling.

    I always think the "fish stories" of cycling are the length and grade of local hills, and "we didn't go very fast only 21 mph average."

  3. #3
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    Moving average for the total ride is generally accepted.

    That's the way your Garmin and CatEye calculate it, and so do my Blackburns.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
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    This one is easy to answer.

    For an accurate "internet average speed" look down at your bike computer a couple times when you're on a nice flat or slightly downhill stretch and going at a good pace on your ride. Next, assume you did about that speed the whole ride. Easy!

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    A might bewildered... Dudelsack's Avatar
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    I use it right off Strava.

    I wouldn't get too wrapped up in it.

    My average speeds tend to go up as much as 20% or more if I'm on a group ride, because I'm drafting much of the time a and trying not to be left behind.

    Riding on my own I don't crank it unless I'm on a segment.

    I do look at the hammerheads rides on the same terrain. My averages range from 11-14 MPH. Theirs goes from 17-20 MPH. These are cat 2 racers. When a recreational rider claims to be going faster than that, I take it with a grain of salt.

    ex: This fellow took 15th in his age group at thr World CX competition here in Feb. He's also the famous Dr. John: http://app.strava.com/activities/52274364
    Last edited by Dudelsack; 05-05-13 at 06:58 PM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aramis View Post
    This one is easy to answer.

    For an accurate "internet average speed" look down at your bike computer a couple times when you're on a nice flat or slightly downhill stretch and going at a good pace on your ride. Next, assume you did about that speed the whole ride. Easy!
    This what I mean by "fish stories!!!"

  7. #7
    Senior Member volosong's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Planemaker View Post
    ...how do you guys calculate your average speed?

    For me I have Garmin eTrex Venture GPS mounted to my bike...
    As other have said, just let the receiver calculate it. Your eTrex can display that value if you select it as one of your data fields. Also, it would be interesting to see if Strava will upload an eTrex file. If so, then Strava will give you that data point also. Good unit you have there. Haven't heard of anybody using an eTrex as a bicycle computer, but it sure has the capabilities.

    - - -

    p.s. On one of the display screens of my GPS receiver, I have "average moving speed" displayed. It has been a motivational tool for me. When about 2/3rds into a planned ride, I might check that value and if I see it just below, or right at a benchmark value, then I'll put in a little more effort to get and stay above that. For example, near the end of a ride, but with enough miles left to make a difference, if I see my average moving speed at, let's say, 14.8 mph ... then I'll stop slacking and try to get it at or above 15.0 mph, then try to keep it there till the end of the ride. Sometimes it works ... sometimes not. Depends on how much I'm hurting, how many miles are left, and which way the wind is blowing.
    Last edited by volosong; 05-05-13 at 08:06 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by aramis View Post
    This one is easy to answer.

    For an accurate "internet average speed" look down at your bike computer a couple times when you're on a nice flat or slightly downhill stretch... assume you did that speed the whole ride. Easy!
    Shoot, I'm a lot faster than I thought...
    For the OP, the only way that seems honest to me is total miles divided by total time. If you ride 10 miles in 30 minutes, rest for 30 minutes, then ride back in 30 minutes, you've ridden 20 miles in 60 minutes. But I'd count my average speed as about 14.

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    Senior Member downtube42's Avatar
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    Total distance covered / total elapsed time.

    Not so great for bragging rights, but a pretty darn good reflection of effort. My Plain Jane Cateye Mity 3 is configured to run continuously rather than the default pause when stopped.
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    Since I live and ride in NYC, I don't give any value to average speed. When I commute 10 miles to work it takes an hour on my MTB/Commuter, and it takes 59 minutes on my carbon road bike. It really doesn't make a difference that I can pound the road bike up the bridges and hills and hit 23mph on the flats, because these are all just quick bursts. Most of the time I'm approaching a red light, waiting at a red light, or accelerating from a red light. The time spent at red lights exceeds by far the time spent at green ones and moving.

    Now, I also have a park loop that I can do where I never have to apply the brakes (also part of my commute). In the park, I've been able to maintain a 20mph AVERAGE speed based on my Cateye over 3 laps of 3.4 miles each. That's a pretty good speed and I always use this speed as a comparison to "internet" speed. I can hit 25 on the flat, 34 on the downhill, but the uphill of course slows me down. I've done the uphill at 21, but after doing that I may as well stop pedaling and call an ambulance. Usually a fast uphill is at 16-17, or a modest 14 if I'm just doing a casual run. When I see internet speeds of 20+ on the commute I know that's nonsense.

    The fastest I ever rode though is during the Seattle to Portland double century. I did the first 100 miles in 4 hours 15 minutes. That's 23.5 mph average, no stopping. I was in a non-stop paceline where I never managed to find the front. I completed the entire ride in just over 10 hours.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Mort Canard's Avatar
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    I have a spreadsheet log for my rides where I record avg speed along with a lot of other things about the ride. I very seldom post avg speeds on the forum because of all the B.S. about them on the forum. They are for my own comparison and not much more. If I do happen to use an average speed in a post I make sure to explain that it is a figure from a bike computer rather than miles ridden/elapse time. That way other riders can interpret the figures accordingly.
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  12. #12
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    For me, average speed means average moving speed not including time stopped. But my time for a given ride is total time from start to finish. So I might ride a 100 mile century in 7.5 hours while averaging 15 mph. Not 6.67 hours (moving time) or 13.33 mph (distance/total time).
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

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    I just take a GC riders average for TdF mountain stages and divide it by 2. That gives my average for a flat windless ride.

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    I don't often look at my average speed. At the end of the day, I'm usually only interested in the total climb and the total distance. But if I do look at average speed, I think the one that excludes stationary time is most relevant for a casual ride.

    Interesting side note: As I said, I'm usually most interested in the total climb. One thing I've noticed hereabouts is that you don't even need an altimeter to estimate it. When we ride in the mountains, be it the Santa Monicas, PV or the San Gabriels, it almost always comes out to about 1000 feet of climb for every 10 miles or so. The only rides that come out to substantially more than that are the ones with steep hill repeats or long flat sections, and those are the exception.
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    Just push the button on your bike computer until it is displayed.
    It's really very simple.
    If you don't know the way, you shouldn't be going there.

  16. #16
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    I don't know, but I think my Cateye strada cadence does moving average. To me total average is the more relevant number because I tend to ride without any sort of planned distance but rather a time I need to be somewhere (work or a time I tell my wife I'll be back so we can do whatever we have planned). I tend to try to push those times as far as I can to get as much riding as I can in, so knowing how far I can get in the total amount time I have left is what I find most important. That includes time spent stopped at lights. I have a general feel for that by now, so really the only things I look at on my computer most of the time are distance traveled and current speed because sometimes I know I need to push it above my normal average cruising speed to make my time constraint so I need to check back to see if I haven't dropped down to my old groove.
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  17. #17
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    Many devices like Garmins allow you to get a threshold where the computer starts measuring. Mine is set at 5 mph because a lot of my rides involve many traffic lights and congestion. If I didn't set it that way, my average might be 3 mph lower.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  18. #18
    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    Since I am old and retired, I am not tied down by numers anymore. While working we were alway hammered with numbers. I am now in the "just ride" group of cyclist. I dont pay any attention to cadence or speed, or ave speed. At times I poke along, or make good speed, or when feeling like it I hammer up a hill. That my friendsis the freedom of retirement. I am my own boss now, and he treats me really well.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    Garmin Edge series comes with the software to download the data onto the desktop. Its called "Training Center". I take that data and modify it somewhat to determine certain average speeds. By using that as raw data, I go to an Excel spreadsheet to arrive at yet another average speed.

    Basically I subtract the slower miles from the Garmin calculated average moving speeds. I determine the cut-off at 3 minutes 50 seconds. Anything at that point and slower, I cut-off.

    The presumption is that slower speeds means I was either climbing or not working hard enough on the flats. The Excel spreadsheet also gives me the percentage of time that's faster than the cut-off. This allows me to compare the performance on the same route at different times of the year.
    Last edited by Garfield Cat; 05-06-13 at 09:33 AM.

  20. #20
    <riding now> BigAura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leob1 View Post
    Just push the button on your bike computer until it is displayed.
    It's really very simple.
    +1. Moving Average.

    50+ rest as much as you want.

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    I always pressed the Garmin button and got the moving average. But I stopped looking at it. Mine is never competitive. The few times I tried to assess it compared to what I read around here, I consoled myself by using the "look down when you are riding well," approach and concluded that when I get off the stop and go streets and cruise a few times around a 3 mile loop with no stops in a local park I am a little closer to you guys, but still no cigar.
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    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aramis View Post
    This one is easy to answer.

    For an accurate "internet average speed" look down at your bike computer a couple times when you're on a nice flat or slightly downhill stretch and going at a good pace on your ride. Next, assume you did about that speed the whole ride. Easy!
    We joke about this, but I don't think it happens all that often. Which is to say, most if not all average speeds posted sound pretty reasonable to me, allowing for terrain and weather. Now, "Cruising Speeds" are a little more loosely-defined and might sometimes be subject to, er, "inflation."

  23. #23
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by donheff View Post
    I stopped looking at it. Mine is never competitive.
    Me too. My question to all you average speed-aholocs is: Why?

  24. #24
    Senior Member az_cyclist's Avatar
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    I make note of both my riding time and average, and (to an extent) my overall time. For my overall time I dont usually include the time for a coffee stop but do include all other time (traffic lights, flat tires, regroups). I dont know that either method is gospel for the effort for a ride.

  25. #25
    Seat Sniffer Biker395's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    Me too. My question to all you average speed-aholocs is: Why?
    I can tell you why I don't bother.

    First, I don't care.

    Second, even if I did care, it's a factor of so many variables, it really doesn't make sense to monitor it day to day. Winds, stoplights, traffic ... heck, even air temperature can be significant. If I were of a mind to monitor anything analogous, it would be something like average power, work, or something to that effect.
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