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  1. #1
    Senior Member jjames1452's Avatar
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    Question on average speed

    What is a good average speed for a 50+ (relatively serious) recreational cyclist.

    I am 51.
    205 lbs - 6".
    Never been a great athlete - never been a couch potato.
    I started riding again 4 years ago after a 20+ year absence.
    I use 1970's-1980's steel bikes for the majority of the rides.
    My statistics show that I am right at mid 20's in kph - somewhere between 15-16 mph.

    I am just trying to get a norm, and a goal for myself.
    I was thinking 18 mph average goal for the end of the year, and perhaps next year set the goal at 19-20?

    Then most importantly, how to go about achieving improvement short of modern bikes.
    For example, after TOSRV in May, I plan on riding my 1977 red Super Le Tour 12.2 for a few months.
    Love that bike.

    thank you.

  2. #2
    Senior Member blacknbluebikes's Avatar
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    recreational... 17 to 18 mph is good. I think the average is actually 17.18632992.

  3. #3
    Senior Member RPK79's Avatar
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    Average speed is not a good measure since a "good" average speed can vary wildly depending on terrain and weather.

  4. #4
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    Can't say on average speed comparisons because with all of the variables it's practically a unique situation based on the rider, the bike, the route and conditions. I think that the best way to judge is to join a group ride, or if that's not your thing then look at Strava segments - the middle range, not the top ranks which aren't representative of pretty much anything.

    This year I've finally decided to start interval training and deliberate hill repeats, to try to improve my speeds.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by RPK79 View Post
    Average speed is not a good measure since a "good" average speed can vary wildly depending on terrain and weather.
    Also be dependent on road surface.

  6. #6
    Senior Member MinnMan's Avatar
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    Average speed is meaningless. Ride as far and as hard as you care to. Write down your average speed if it pleases you. Past that, forget about it and even if you still care about it, know that it's an internal comparison that doesn't translate to somebody else, to some other route, or other circumstances in general

  7. #7
    Senior Member OldsCOOL's Avatar
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    Train. Good diet. Do not overtrain.

    I'm a converted powerlifter, carrying more muscle than most my height and weight. I am not endurance oriented or inclined. So for me the avg's on fast 20-40mi rides I'm pushing 19-21 on flats. Hillclimbs have also improved each season.

    I think your goals are right on. Very attainable. The challenge is keeping your physique from getting used to the ride. Do your best to increase incrementally but not overtrain. But then, your body will speak up when you do.
    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

    '89 Raleigh Technium PRE

    '79 Motobecane Super Mirage

  8. #8
    Senior Member jjames1452's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
    This year I've finally decided to start interval training and deliberate hill repeats, to try to improve my speeds.
    That is a great idea. We have an approx 2 mile hill from Downtown Dayton Ohio up to Oakwood. I thought about riding that hill, coasting down, and repeating. I think two or three times each weekend repeating that hill will increase leg strength and endurance. Right now I stop twice during the hill. If I get to the point where I can repeat the hill two or three times without stopping during, that will be real progress.
    thank you

  9. #9
    It's MY mountain DiabloScott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blacknbluebikes View Post
    recreational... 17 to 18 mph is good. I think the average is actually 17.18632992.
    Yeah, I say 18 also. Assumptions: good road, no wind, no hills, 25 miles or so. It's not a great benchmark, but if you can do 18 for 25 you're in relatively serious recreational cyclist territory.
    http://diabloscott.blogspot.com/

  10. #10
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jjames1452 View Post
    That is a great idea. We have an approx 2 mile hill from Downtown Dayton Ohio up to Oakwood. I thought about riding that hill, coasting down, and repeating. I think two or three times each weekend repeating that hill will increase leg strength and endurance. Right now I stop twice during the hill. If I get to the point where I can repeat the hill two or three times without stopping during, that will be real progress.
    thank you
    I'm almost certain that the hill repeats I've done randomly have helped, but I started a plan of some threshold intervals last week. Basically an almost flat two mile stretch for six minutes (unfortunately taking all of that time). My plan is starting from the 3x6 minute interval adding a minute or two each week until I can do the 3 times 12 minutes out and back on it, or more if I can manage. I can already tell that I've got some technique to work on, aside from the speed being pathetic, so I'm actually looking forward to it.

  11. #11
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    Dayton is pretty flat, so you won't be doing hill intervals. You can still do sprint intervals, though. Your goals sound completely reasonable to me.

  12. #12
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    I just was looking at a couple of rides I did several years ago. On one, 115 miles and 7000', I averaged 17.2. On my best RAMROD, 154 miles and 10,000', I averaged 16.2. When I was a little younger and in good shape, my buddies and I would average 18 on courses of say 60 miles and 3000'. We once averaged 20 over a hilly 80 miles, but that was an outlier. Never did it again. These rides were in my late 50s and early 60s.

  13. #13
    A might bewildered... Dudelsack's Avatar
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    Your average moving speed depends on how long a break you take at the rest stops.

    On a recent century I finished at about the same time as a couple of guys I met.

    Their moving speed was 15.5 MPH. Mine was 11.8. They took an hour break at each rest stop. I took 15 minutes. They drafted off each other. I rode solo.

    Fair? I think not.

  14. #14
    Senior Member koolerb's Avatar
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    Anything slower than 23 mph and you're a marsh mellow.

  15. #15
    Senior Member koolerb's Avatar
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    Just kidding. Around me the terrain varies so much average speed is pretty much meaningless.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    For bike riding, averages are a way to gauge one's level of conditioning and not as if it were some kind of contest to see how much better you are than anyone else. Otherwise it would be like the undergraduate days and the bell curve.

    Even the Dow Jones Industrial averages would swap out the different players from time to time.

  17. #17
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    On STP I average 17 mph (not counting stops) for 100 miles/day x 2 days. It is pretty much flat. Oddly enough, on shorter flat rides, like 40 miles, I also average 17 mph. That seems to be a natural cruising pace for me.

    But really it depends so much on terrain, wind, type of bike, and load.

  18. #18
    boattail71
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    jjames - Keep using avg. mph as a guage. It IS meaningful and can be very helpful as you know. Of course there are factors to consider when comparing rides to rides but let it help motivate you. What else do y'got? That little computer is cheap compared to a power meter.

    17-18 mph is very good. Look forward to some 20s this summer.

  19. #19
    Senior Member jjames1452's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by koolerb026
    Anything slower than 23 mph and you're a marsh mellow.
    Mmmmmmmm marshmallows love em

  20. #20
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    I am old, 66, slow, 6'4" about 230 or so. In Sept on the City to Shore MS150 ride in NJ, pretty darn flat, I averaged 17.3mph down and 16.3 mph back. A little headwind coming back and the 80 miles the day before slowed me down a bit. In reality I was pretty happy with my performance.

    Bill

  21. #21
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by boattail71 View Post
    jjames - Keep using avg. mph as a guage. It IS meaningful and can be very helpful as you know. Of course there are factors to consider when comparing rides to rides but let it help motivate you. What else do y'got? That little computer is cheap compared to a power meter.

    17-18 mph is very good. Look forward to some 20s this summer.
    Agree with nothing wrong in trying to achieve higher averages. Without hills or a Power Meter it is a major piece of the puzzle in how I gauge my rides.

  22. #22
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    I am just trying to get a norm, and a goal for myself.

    I was thinking 18 mph average goal for the end of the year, and perhaps next year set the goal at 19-20?
    Where I live the roads are hilly and lots of stops and turns, 19-20 MPH on a training ride is Cat 3 territory.

    A cyclist who can ride solo averaging 20mph over 100 miles is rare......maybe 3 standard deviations from the norm.

    It take a 200 pound rider close to 200 watts to travel at 20mph on level ground compared to less than 100 watts to travel at 15 mph. 200watts exceeds all but the fittest FTP. Your goal is nice but you will need to train very dilegently or maybe have a bit of talent from your parents mixed in.

    15 mph is probably a good norm/average. Beyond this pace/speed the energy output is non-linear. There is a huge difference between 18 mph and 21 mph......and the aerobic capacity of those who can sustain these paces for extended distances.

  23. #23
    A might bewildered... Dudelsack's Avatar
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    BTW, I pulled up this week's "leaderboard" for the 50+ Strava club, which is going to consist of the more competitive riders I would think. The range of speed went from 23 MPH to 2.3 MPH. The median speed was 15.2 MPH. The table is: BF 50 plusers | Strava Club

    As for other claims of speed, this is a well-established rule: Strava or it didn't happen.

  24. #24
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    A better measure of fitness is to find either a long flat road with no stops or a long climb.

    Time yourself on a low wind day on either of the two. I use a hill.

    Do this route at max effort once per week. Track your progress.

    This will guage your fitness better than the nearly worthless average speed.

  25. #25
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dudelsack View Post
    Your average moving speed depends on how long a break you take at the rest stops.

    On a recent century I finished at about the same time as a couple of guys I met.

    Their moving speed was 15.5 MPH. Mine was 11.8. They took an hour break at each rest stop. I took 15 minutes. They drafted off each other. I rode solo.

    Fair? I think not.
    Why do rest stops have to count? If I ride to the store, shop and return should my shopping cart time be added in?

    I think not.

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