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  1. #1
    Senior Member rousseau's Avatar
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    Average speed annoyance

    Recreational/fitness-oriented rider here. Just got a road bike last week after a year of riding a cheap Fuji hybrid,which I bought out of the blue one day following 13 years of no riding at all. My average speed over the last 18 weeks and 1,700 kms has improved from 18.3 km/h to my current 26.3 km/h. There are four reasons for the increase:

    1. Put slicks on my hybrid two months ago.
    2. Legs are getting stronger.
    3. I've lost 10 pounds over the last 18 weeks.
    4. I bought a used Giant Kronos road bike, and in just one week have become a confirmed "roadie." There's no going back.

    But here's something I've begun to notice that bugs me. I realize there's nothing I can do about it, so perhaps I'm just venting. Either way:

    Why is it that slowing down to make a turn at an intersection reduces the average speed on my computer from, say, 26.7 down a few ticks to 26.5, but then it takes a good kilometre or so of humping above 30 km/h to get it back up to 26.7? Seems analogous to the old weight loss conundrum--you work your butt off and watch your diet for a month to shave off a pound or two, but then all it takes is one sordid weekend with some cheesecake and it's all for nought.

    I guess my question is a philosophical one: why are things always so damn hard?

    Tangentially, I will certainly buy a trainer for when the snow falls, but it cannot compare to actually being outside and riding through the ether because there's no coasting on a trainer. I love coasting. It feels wonderful.

  2. #2
    hill hater nova's Avatar
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    Simple takes a few secounds to go from 28 to zero but longger to go back up to 28

  3. #3
    The Rabbi seely's Avatar
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    This is why I took a computer off my road bike--I found myself racing myself, or rather, racing my average and caring so much about what the computer said that I was burning myself out to the point where I wasn't improving any. I stopped caring about the ride and became almost obsessive about my performance level and maintaining some "ideal" average speed. In any case, the point is, just ride to have fun and don't worry so much about your average speed. You shouldn't be racing your computer.
    commuter turned bike mechanic turned commuter (also a Velocity USA employee, but this is my personal account)

  4. #4
    Senior Member Nermal's Avatar
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    I ought to take mine off, and throw it away. Then I would know I'm really getting faster.
    Some people are like a Slinky ... not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs.

  5. #5
    HWS
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    Fuji Shill HWS's Avatar
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    Don't look at the average speed until the end of your ride.

  6. #6
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Just ride staight, no turns = no drop in your average speed.

  7. #7
    Crankenstein bmclaughlin807's Avatar
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    Heh... I leave my computer on cadence... that's the only thing I really care about watching right now.

    It shows me my speed, too... but I only glance at that when some ******* behind me honks because I'm going 1 mile under the speed limit and taking the lane.
    "There is no greater wonder than the way the face and character of a woman fit so perfectly in a man's mind, and stay there, and he could never tell you why. It just seems it was the thing he most wanted." Robert Louis Stevenson

  8. #8
    crushing all limitations
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    If you love "measuring" your rides, get a heart rate monitor....then you can watch your aveage heart rate drop and the number of calories you've burned add up as the weeks and months go by!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by xlntRider79
    If you love "measuring" your rides, get a heart rate monitor....then you can watch your aveage heart rate drop and the number of calories you've burned add up as the weeks and months go by!
    I only use HR and Cadence. (Oh, flip the speedo on for downhills)

    At the end of my ride, I look at the avg speed to put in my log. it means nothing to me, just a blank that needs to be filled.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Nermal's Avatar
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    Don't those heart rate monitors feel a little intrusive. I've got the one that came with my rowing machine, and it's only been used once. I think it clipped to your ear, or maybe it was your nose. Have they gotten a little more user friendly since then.
    Some people are like a Slinky ... not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs.

  11. #11
    Banned Bikepacker67's Avatar
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    Wanna gain about 3mph on your average speed?

    Just disengage your comp before you slow down at intersections, and don't re-engage until you're back up to speed.

  12. #12
    Senior Member here and there's Avatar
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    Better yet, don't pay attention to your average speed Since I stopped paying attention to that I enjoy my rides alot more. I just focus on enjoying the ride and getting some darned good exercise

  13. #13
    Senior Member Albany-12303's Avatar
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    Sometimes a cover the front of my computer with electrical tape and remove it at the end of the ride.
    2005 Lemond Sarthe
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  14. #14
    hill hater nova's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by desmo13
    I only use HR and Cadence. (Oh, flip the speedo on for downhills)

    At the end of my ride, I look at the avg speed to put in my log. it means nothing to me, just a blank that needs to be filled.

    What logging software do you use?

    I worry more about avarage cadence and my avarage max speed over a week month what ever . Avarages over a day or ride dont realy matter much unless you ride the same route multiple times a day.

  15. #15
    Senior Member angelo's Avatar
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    avg speed does not mean a whole lot because terrain and traffic make useful comparisons very iffy, as the OP noticed.

    Someone said this before, but if you want to get faster, don't pay attention to average speed.

    Instead, follow a training program. A program will modulate hard and easy days, include intervals to get your body acclimated to producing more power, and maximize your rate of improvement. Hard-charging on your average speed will just tire you out for no good reason and take much longer to produce results.

  16. #16
    Faster but still slow slowandsteady's Avatar
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    Don't those heart rate monitors feel a little intrusive. I've got the one that came with my rowing machine, and it's only been used once. I think it clipped to your ear, or maybe it was your nose. Have they gotten a little more user friendly since then.
    Yes, they are much better than that. I love mine. I often forget I am wearing the band around my chest. It is a sigma sport PC14. Really cheap, but serves the purpose.

  17. #17
    Warrior Cyclist cycle17's Avatar
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    There are these little buttons on cyclocomputers...press the little button until it displays time or distance instead of avg speed. Problem solved. :-)
    Just Do It..

  18. #18
    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    Speed is a function of time and distance. As for computers, I rode this morning without mine and had a much more pleasant ride. I also took note of the time I left and returned and noted that my average speed was up, actually the best I've done on this route. BTW, that's what computers are good for, comparisons over the same route.


    bruce19

  19. #19
    hill hater nova's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by angelo
    avg speed does not mean a whole lot because terrain and traffic make useful comparisons very iffy, as the OP noticed.

    Someone said this before, but if you want to get faster, don't pay attention to average speed.

    Instead, follow a training program. A program will modulate hard and easy days, include intervals to get your body acclimated to producing more power, and maximize your rate of improvement. Hard-charging on your average speed will just tire you out for no good reason and take much longer to produce results.
    Well avarage speed does have a valuable maning but only over a long period. For example if you track your avarage speed over full seasons and then compare the avarage speed of last season to this full season when that time comes then it has some value. Avarage max speed also has value as it lets you see how your doing when it comes to your peak performance. I asked about this same thing in another topic and a reply was that its only applicable in the short term if its the same route same conditions.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikepacker67
    Wanna gain about 3mph on your average speed?

    Just disengage your comp before you slow down at intersections, and don't re-engage until you're back up to speed.
    But if your computer's disengaged, how will you know when you're back up to speed again?

  21. #21
    Senior Member rousseau's Avatar
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    I understand why some of you don't use computers at all, as it can take away from your enjoyment of the ride. Truly, I do. But I can't do that at the moment. I've been keeping an Excel file over the last 18 weeks with my times, speeds, distances, etc., along with averages for same by week and overall, and I gotta say it's been a lot of fun tracking my improvement. It's motivational, as well. I think I've got another year or so before I really get the last of the blubber off my body and regain a more "normative" and healthy weight. When that happens, and the improvements to speed and time start to plateau, I daresay I may care less about my cycle computer outside of tracking the distance of my rides.

    Then again, maybe I'll continue to be competitive against myself. Who knows? For now, I'm having a blast. And to the poster who suggested I remove my computer at intersections where I have to slow down or stop...good idea! I did that for two intersections today. It made me feel good. So sue me!

  22. #22
    Senior Member va_cyclist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau
    Why is it that slowing down to make a turn at an intersection reduces the average speed on my computer from, say, 26.7 down a few ticks to 26.5, but then it takes a good kilometre or so of humping above 30 km/h to get it back up to 26.7?
    1) As mentioned by a previous respondent, braking changes your speed more quickly than accelerating.

    2) Average speed is distance/time. When you decelerate, time keeps advancing at the same rate, but your speed drops. As you accelerate, time continues to accrue. You're constantly calculating your average against an ever-larger denominator of time, so it takes more numerator (distance traveled) to regain the same pre-slowdown ratio.

  23. #23
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by va_cyclist
    1) As mentioned by a previous respondent, braking changes your speed more quickly than accelerating.

    2) Average speed is distance/time. When you decelerate, time keeps advancing at the same rate, but your speed drops. As you accelerate, time continues to accrue. You're constantly calculating your average against an ever-larger denominator of time, so it takes more numerator (distance traveled) to regain the same pre-slowdown ratio.
    Uh, that's it... time marches on. That is the key.

    Time is the one "variable" that continues to accumulate no matter what speed you are going, thus, when you brake you are acclerating in a negative way (relative to your already accumulated average) (deaccelerating) but the clock is still moving in a positive way. When you accelerate, you are moving in a positive way, but the clock has kept up it's relentless positive movement.

    I am picturing this in my head using cartoon illustrations of Einstein's theory of relativity... but I doubt I am explaining it as well as I picture the vectors showing why the negative builds up so quickly. Sigh.

  24. #24
    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    Time is the main element.
    That's why climbing hills kill you average speed. You can spend two hours slowly grinding up this hill and come back down that same hill at 50mph but you're not going to regain your cruising average.
    Your cruising average has been lost in those two hours you spent grinding up that hill at 5 mph. A 50mph descent for just a few minutes is not enough to get back your lost average speed.
    Last edited by roadfix; 07-18-06 at 05:09 PM.
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  25. #25
    Seņor Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Fixer
    Time is the main element.
    That's why climbing hills kill you average speed. You can spend two hours slowly grinding up this hill and come back down that same hill at 50mph but you're not going to regain your cruising average.
    Your cruising average has been lost in those two hours you spent grinding up that hill at 5 mph. A 50mph descent for just a few minutes is not enough to get back your lost average speed.
    +1

    Another example: imagine you head out into a headwind and your average speed is 15 mph. Then you turn around and go back home, and your average speed for the second leg is 25 mph. Your average for the whole trip is not 20 mph, because you rode for a longer time at 15 than you did at 25.

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