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    What is considered a respectable sprint speed on flats?

    On my hybrid I got up to 23.1mph on a flat 500ft stretch of road. On my new road bike I got 26.3mph on the same 500ft stretch of road. I haven't really practiced sprints much. I've read up on racing (which I'm think of trying out eventually) and apparently at a Cat-5 crit, racers will often maintain a speed of 28-30mph during an entire crit. I can't even get that fast when I'm hammering, which is a little discouraging. How fast is considered a respectable sprint speed on flats?

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    That's a VERY relative point. What's fast for you isn't fast for me, or vice versa.

    For me I can easily hit 30mph on any stretch of flat road, but I don't consider myself a has rider.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kertrek View Post
    On my hybrid I got up to 23.1mph on a flat 500ft stretch of road. On my new road bike I got 26.3mph on the same 500ft stretch of road. I haven't really practiced sprints much. I've read up on racing (which I'm think of trying out eventually) and apparently at a Cat-5 crit, racers will often maintain a speed of 28-30mph during an entire crit. I can't even get that fast when I'm hammering, which is a little discouraging. How fast is considered a respectable sprint speed on flats?
    Well in a crit, you'll be drafting 90% of the time, so it's easier (but obviously not easy) to maintain high speeds.

    Even crit 5 racers will be stronger than almost all casual riders. They can maintain 21+mph without drafting for long periods of time. There is no shame in not being as fast as them.

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    I can maintain 23-24 on the flats for 4-5 miles without any wind and on a 200 yard sprint 30 plus isn't an issue. I have no idea if that is considered respectable but it is relatively fast for the people I normally ride with. For the young guys that race not so much.

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    Quote Originally Posted by link0 View Post
    Well in a crit, you'll be drafting 90% of the time, so it's easier (but obviously not easy) to maintain high speeds.

    Even crit 5 racers will be stronger than almost all casual riders. They can maintain 21+mph without drafting for long periods of time. There is no shame in not being as fast as them.
    Even faster than that, one of my cat 4/5 crits was 26+ mph average. 98% in the draft.
    I'm not afraid of failure, I'm terrified of not trying.

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    Don't let not being faster than an average Cat V deter you from racing. Start at whatever level you are and commit to develop and improve.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kertrek View Post
    ...and apparently at a Cat-5 crit, racers will often maintain a speed of 28-30mph during an entire crit...
    Well, each race is its own individual event, but average for a Cat-5 crit? Probably more in the 24.5--25mph range. Add another 1/2mph for each level up, to Pro/1-2's who maybe average 28+ for a crit. And the more prestigious the race, the faster the speeds.

    However--and this is a BIG however--it's not the average speeds that matter in crits. It's the accelerations: they'll kill you. Cat-5's have no problem going from 18-19mph as they sit around watching each other, and then reacting to a rider or two trying to break away at 28+mph. Pros go from 27-28mph, accelerate to 32-33mph and then recover at 28. It's very hard. Then there's the accelerations out of corners. A 4-corner crit for 30-minutes on a 1-mile course? Easily hitting 40-60 corners per race. That's alot of accelerations & recoveries.

    As for sprinting? Wow, that's all over, too. For Cat-5's, maybe 35mph to begin with. Regional pro's easily best 40mph, with World Tour sprinters/International Track sprinters beating 42+mph (70kph). (Our local Saturday Training Ride, which attracts regional pros, cat-1's etc, and retired Olympians & World Tour riders has a sprint, a downhill false-flat where they'll hit 42--44mph.)

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    Too many variables. I can probably maintain 25+ for 500 feet. I could cruise for miles around 20mph in flat and perfect windless conditions. Of course i never ride in those conditions. I can avg 15mph on 20+ mile rides with decent amount of climbing. I can also cruise at 25mph with a fast group and expend less energy than cruising at 17 mph solo.
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    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kertrek View Post
    On my hybrid I got up to 23.1mph on a flat 500ft stretch of road. On my new road bike I got 26.3mph on the same 500ft stretch of road. I haven't really practiced sprints much. I've read up on racing (which I'm think of trying out eventually) and apparently at a Cat-5 crit, racers will often maintain a speed of 28-30mph during an entire crit. I can't even get that fast when I'm hammering, which is a little discouraging. How fast is considered a respectable sprint speed on flats?
    If you are interested in racing, you should start going on the local race-oriented group rides.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

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    On Saturday I'm gonna go to one of those bike shop group rides, in the beginner group. Before worrying about racing tactics, I should learn how to ride in a group.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kertrek View Post
    On Saturday I'm gonna go to one of those bike shop group rides, in the beginner group. Before worrying about racing tactics, I should learn how to ride in a group.
    if your fitness level is below the rest of the group and they stop to regroup after a climb or before one. Try and be the first to start off again by a few seconds. It will help keep you from getting dropped faster. If you can catch a wheel of the shop owner or sag guy it will help until you learn the road and gain endurance on their route too.

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    Senior Member datlas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by caloso View Post
    If you are interested in racing, you should start going on the local race-oriented group rides.
    qft. Don't worry about the number on your computer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kertrek View Post
    On my hybrid I got up to 23.1mph on a flat 500ft stretch of road. On my new road bike I got 26.3mph on the same 500ft stretch of road. I haven't really practiced sprints much. I've read up on racing (which I'm think of trying out eventually) and apparently at a Cat-5 crit, racers will often maintain a speed of 28-30mph during an entire crit. I can't even get that fast when I'm hammering, which is a little discouraging. How fast is considered a respectable sprint speed on flats?
    You're going to see a lot of numbers thrown around, but those numbers are either complete ass-pulls or lacking in context. A 28-30 mph average for a Cat 5 crit is extremely hard to believe, although who knows, really? I'm a Cat 3, and the fastest crit I did all year was about 27 mph average. That was a HARD race, at a major event that everyone is peaking for. But I've done slower races that were harder still. Average speed is certainly correlated with the difficulty of a race, but not perfectly. Also important to realize that I cannot ride solo at 27 mph for 40 minutes, but maintaining that speed in a peloton is a different story. Likewise, the speed you can reach in a solo sprint on a flat road is only loosely correlated with sprinting success in a race, where tactics and positioning play a role, along with the fact that you are (ideally) coming out of the draft already going faster than the 26 mph you quoted, having made less effort to get to that speed in the first place.
    @caloso has the best advice for you thus far. If you are interested in racing, start attending the racing-oriented group rides and start building fitness and getting experience riding in a group. Forget about how fast you are going, for now. It's mostly a distraction.
    The Honest Bicycle Program - Heady talk about bikes, bike racing, bike racers and bike riding. standarddouble.com/whbp

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    Quote Originally Posted by grolby View Post
    You're going to see a lot of numbers thrown around, but those numbers are either complete ass-pulls or lacking in context. A 28-30 mph average for a Cat 5 crit is extremely hard to believe, although who knows, really? I'm a Cat 3, and the fastest crit I did all year was about 27 mph average. That was a HARD race, at a major event that everyone is peaking for. But I've done slower races that were harder still.
    Agree. Fastest Cat 4 crit I did was 26 mph. Ironically it was not an especially hard race because everyone just piled round in the bunch with few attacks and less big accelerations than usual.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    Agree. Fastest Cat 4 crit I did was 26 mph. Ironically it was not an especially hard race because everyone just piled round in the bunch with few attacks and less big accelerations than usual.
    There is one course at our weekly crit series that will often average over 27mph for the cat 4/5. It's the easiest 27mph you'll ever do. It's almost like a racing oval with only one turn really requires any effort to stay connected.

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    Fast sprint speed = faster than me.
    Slow sprint speed = slower than me.
    Bikes: Old steel race bikes, old Cannondale race bikes, less old Cannondale race bike, crappy old mtn bike

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kertrek View Post
    On Saturday I'm gonna go to one of those bike shop group rides, in the beginner group. Before worrying about racing tactics, I should learn how to ride in a group.
    Do you know your rolling average speed for a 10-15 mile ride with rolling hills? (No huge hills but some hills that may be 4% -5% grade)

    If it's a Peformance Bike beginner group ride, the one that I do, normally averages between 10-11 mph. But we do have one hill that probably averages about a 10% grade (for the actual hill part), but it's not very long. It's weird when you drope the hamer at 400 watts (estimated), and you're only doing 5-6 mph. But we do take a good number of rests to regroup, as it is a no-drop ride.

    Here's the Strava info for the ride starting in Cary, NC.

    Chances are a beginner ride will feel like a recovery ride to you. If you want it to be more of a challenge, take the hybrid. You'll probably see other cyclists on hybrids at the ride.

    A beginner ride will be good for learning the signals for group riding. Chance are you won't see any pacelines forming at beginner rides. If you use the A-B-C-D system where D is beginner, A-B are the Cat racers, C is where you'll probably see your first pacelines forming, and those will be loose compared to the A-B groups.

    GH

  19. #19
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    It's the speed that lets you cross the line first (paraphrasing Maitre Jacques).

  20. #20
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by caloso View Post
    If you are interested in racing, you should start going on the local race-oriented group rides.
    To expand on this, check out this thread which is stickied at the top of the 33: New to Racing? Here's a tip or two
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  21. #21
    Is reporting your post Dan333SP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mkadam68 View Post

    As for sprinting? Wow, that's all over, too. For Cat-5's, maybe 35mph to begin with. Regional pro's easily best 40mph, with World Tour sprinters/International Track sprinters beating 42+mph (70kph). (Our local Saturday Training Ride, which attracts regional pros, cat-1's etc, and retired Olympians & World Tour riders has a sprint, a downhill false-flat where they'll hit 42--44mph.)
    Maybe for the people that upgrade immediately. I won a Cat 5 race with a seated "sprint" that peaked at 31 mph. Granted, it was after a gradual uphill.

    I'd guess now, as an experienced perma-4, I can hit 35-36 in a sprint under the right conditions (in a draft up to about 30 before moving into the wind, no big headwind, relatively flat ground). If I just went out and tried to sprint with no other riders, maybe 33? Not sure, my form isn't great.

    OP, like others have said, a 5 race may average 23-26 mph depending on terrain and riders, but floating around in the pack is easier at that speed than riding solo at 19 or 20 for the same length of time, if it's a smooth race without too many accelerations. If there are lots of tight corners, drafting won't matter quite as much because you'll have to dig hard out of every turn and you'll burn yourself out faster.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kertrek View Post
    On Saturday I'm gonna go to one of those bike shop group rides, in the beginner group. Before worrying about racing tactics, I should learn how to ride in a group.
    This is the 41. Stop making sense..
    IMO, FWIW, CFM, YMMV, E PLURIBUS UNUM

  23. #23
    Senior Member SpeshulEd's Avatar
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    41...mph
    Hey guys, lets go play bikes! Strava


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    The answer is actually 42...

    After 10-years of training, I can hit 38mph on perfect flat straight with no wind (verified by going both ways). In a crit, that usually translates into ~45mph with drafting. There's a guy here who posted a video of hitting +40mph by himself on a straight. What a monster! Was it PatentCAD? Waterrockets? Cypress? Can't quite remember.

    As for actual sprinting-success in a race? Forget about speed, it's really irrelevant. I've beaten guys way stronger than me and been beaten my scrawny geek-types. About +90% of race wins are from mental tactics and strategies, not strength and outright speed:

    - are you drafting the entire time? Even to move up positions?
    - are you staying near the top 10-20 in the pack?
    - are you staying off the brakes in corners and using maximum-speed out of the corners? (results in max-speed down the straights with little energy)
    - are you watching and counting the top-5 guys who win each prime?
    - are you following the guy who will get 2nd-place behind you on the last lap?

    While lower cats may go a decently fast average-clip, it's the lows and highs that really determines how you hang on. Cat-4/5/6 can range in speed from 15-35mph+. Cat-1/2/3/p will range from 10-45mph+. You need to be training with these ranges in mind. How often are you doing sprints per week? How often are you doing anaerobic-intervals? Those are the training-days that will allow you to finish and win the lower cats. Look up Waterrocket's Training Bible in the Training section. If you spend all your training time at LT/AT going your average-speed, that's the fastest you're gonna go in a race. Heck, in a lot of my 4/3 races, we'll start off with a TTT at 10-20% above LT/AT at 28-30mph for 2-3 laps to burn off pack-fodder.
    Last edited by DannoXYZ; 09-22-15 at 08:40 PM.

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    Well today I was maintaining 23mph comfortably, not even trying to go fast, before I casually glanced at the bike computer. When I pushed hard I got up to 29mph, on level ground. That was motivating. I'll be up to 30mph in no time. I should be in good shape. Thanks for all the replies, I'll have to go through and read all the links. And once I start group riding I'll improve a lot. This is just about week 2 of owning a road bike, so there's plenty of room for improvement.

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