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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 11-11-08, 11:00 AM   #1
SunFlower
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How Fast Should I Ride ??

Okay, I know this is an odd question but bear with me. I am a fairly new cyclist coming over from running. In running we have had the same distances for 100 years to measure runners against each other. When a runner wants to get in shape or compete they have an almost exact way to measure their progess and level simply by their stop watch. They can meaure mile times, 5K times, 10K times an so on. They can also know their own time and simply look at any running race and see how they would have done compared to other runners.
However, in cycling, races and terrain are so varied its hard to tell how I compare to other riders. In some cases its even hard to see if I have improved.
If I want to see how fast people are riding in cyclocross or criteriums its kinda difficult because you have to time the laps but then again they are often not riding all out. Thus, I cant time a lap and then go train based on those times.
So, how do I best guage my riding times and speed ? Simply by mph on straights ? How then do I compare that to other riders ? Hills ?
I am going to start doing basically time trials on the beach bike path in Los Angeles and start getting some times for 10, 20, 30 mile rides and slowly start improving times. So, my question is, how fast should someone be riding on a flat surface, at sea level for those distances ? I want speeds that I can use to compare me to other riders and how I would fare in certain races. I dont want numbers for the worlds best or for pros.
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Old 11-11-08, 11:04 AM   #2
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you want to settle around 33.33 mph as an average.
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Old 11-11-08, 11:06 AM   #3
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what kind of bicycle will you be riding?

height? weight? age? sex?

post your results for a ten mile TT and then look it up on bikecalculator.com

then you will have a rough estimate of your average power.
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Old 11-11-08, 11:07 AM   #4
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Average speed is a terrible metric as many variables affect it: terrain and wind, to name two.

Cycling is not running, and you can't think about performance metrics as translational between the two.
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Old 11-11-08, 11:07 AM   #5
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For proper e-wang comparisons, you need a power meter. Av speed is pretty useless because the slightest shift in wind, even on the same course, can have a dramatic effect on how fast you can go.

Just do it once and then try to beat yourself. The only way to figure out how you compare with others is to ride with others.
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Old 11-11-08, 11:07 AM   #6
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To summarize what everyone else is going to tell you:
You should ride faster than the people you want to beat.
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Old 11-11-08, 11:15 AM   #7
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As fast as you can.


But seriously, unless you intend to only compete in time trials, measures of speed aren't so relevant. A race is about tactical cunning as well as raw strength. Bike handling, hill climbing and so on also pay a part. A stronger rider can be beaten by a sly one who follows wheels.

If you want to keep a measure on how your speed is coming on, join a club that does evening TT's every week. Most clubs in the UK do this all summer. Then you can see if you can do the same course faster, in various conditions. The weather and the course have an effect though, as does the type of bike you are on. For example I started doing TT's this year, and did a 10 in 27:30. My best time, later in the year was 24:10, but there are plenty of better riders on better bikes, some did it in 19:something, so I've got a way to go!

As for comparing yourself to other riders in road racing conditions, see if your club does an evening chaingang for training during the racing season. Then ride with them, and see how long you can hold on before you get dropped. Later, you'll hang in all the way, and later still, you'll be going strong enough to look around you and see how much pain everybody else is in, so you'll know you are doing alright.

Have fun!
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Old 11-11-08, 11:16 AM   #8
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If you are familiar with running, biking is not so much different. It really isn't a matter of how fast you go, but if you do the same route multiple times, comparing your times from attempt to attempt.

After I moved to a new area last year, I found a 25 mile loop that I could do in about 1:30 or so. I was fairly disappointed because I was able to do a 25 mile loop in my previous town in about 1:15. However, my previous town was basically dead flat, and my current loop has about 1200 feet of climbing in it. Too much variability to just say I should be able to go 20 mph.

Depending on terrain and conditions, most of my rides average between 16 and 20 mph when I ride alone. The speeds go up fairly quickly when with others. To give you a comparison, I am 40 years old, in fairly good shape and am able to tough it out at the back end of the "fast group" in my club rides, but I wouldn't take any trophies home in races.
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Old 11-11-08, 11:19 AM   #9
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Welcome to cycling. Now....forget everything you learned in running.

Speeds are worthless.

The only way to know if you are doing "well" is to ride with others.
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Old 11-11-08, 12:05 PM   #10
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Ride at ridiculous speed. Works for me.
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Old 11-11-08, 12:12 PM   #11
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speed? I sometimes come to a near stop on the track to get somebody to move in front of me. Speed only counts in the sprint. The rest is just positioning and spinning through cramps/pain etc.
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Old 11-11-08, 12:12 PM   #12
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Get a cadence meter and try to keep it around 100 for your rides regardless of distance, as you improve you will get stronger, use your lower gears less, and your times will improve. For people new to the sport like us it is better to get out and ride more miles developing peddle stroke, group ride dynamics and bike handling skills than to worry about times, splits, or intervals.
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Old 11-11-08, 12:18 PM   #13
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Get a cadence meter and try to keep it around 100 for your rides regardless of distance, as you improve you will get stronger, use your lower gears less, and your times will improve. For people new to the sport like us it is better to get out and ride more miles developing peddle stroke, group ride dynamics and bike handling skills than to worry about times, splits, or intervals.
This.

Then join a group and get dropped. Repeat until you are the one dropping and then join a faster group. Repeat.
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Old 11-11-08, 12:30 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
Welcome to cycling. Now....forget everything you learned in running.

Speeds are worthless.

The only way to know if you are doing "well" is to ride with others.
Really ?

I prefer solo efforts over wheel sucking and watching other people's butts all day.

When I can ride 10 miles in 22 minutes or 25 in a hour or 100 in under 5 I figure I am doing well.

And I enjoy the view more.

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Old 11-11-08, 12:40 PM   #15
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How fast you can ride is only one part of racing. Racing can be described in three categories: Time Trials, Criteriums and Road Races. While they are all bike racing they all have different needs and abilities.
If you want to gauge your strength and speed on a bicycle against others find out if there are any local time trials in the area and use it as a rough gauge of your speed and strength compared to those there on that given day, their condition, as well as weather and road conditions. That is only the start.
As Psimet2001 said "forget everything you learned in running".
Check with your local bike shops for a club or team. Ride with them and ask many, many questions. That is generally how we all learn.

Having been 10k runner with a 30:32 best time and competed in plenty of 10k's, half and full marathons I found riding and especially race training to be the most demanding competition I have been in. It also has a fairly long learning curve of around 3ish years before you become a fairly decent racer...skill and experience are much more important than how fast you can go and how strong you are in a race.
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Old 11-11-08, 12:45 PM   #16
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About 43 mph.
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Old 11-11-08, 12:52 PM   #17
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"It never gets easier, you just get faster"
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Old 11-11-08, 02:40 PM   #18
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ludicrous speed! Go!
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Old 11-11-08, 02:50 PM   #19
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Okay so I went out to get a baseling time for a flat 10 miles. I rode at a slightly over comfortable pace and I did 41:10 for the 10 miles on my road bike. I think thats an average of 15 mph. Now I am going to slowly increase the distance and speed.
I know my times must seem slow to most riders but I am just starting out. Just curious though....how bad was my time ? haha
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Old 11-11-08, 02:53 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by SunFlower View Post
Okay so I went out to get a baseling time for a flat 10 miles. I rode at a slightly over comfortable pace and I did 41:10 for the 10 miles on my road bike. I think thats an average of 15 mph. Now I am going to slowly increase the distance and speed.
I know my times must seem slow to most riders but I am just starting out. Just curious though....how bad was my time ? haha
There is room for improvement. Keep working on it.

BTW - here's a chart I did of either this or last year's TT over a 10 mile course as a part of an Omnium we do...Results are for citizen men's category....entry level racers.

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Old 11-11-08, 04:44 PM   #21
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great, i suck
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Old 11-11-08, 04:50 PM   #22
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My average is 16-18 mph on the coast.
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Old 11-11-08, 05:04 PM   #23
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My average is 16-18 mph on the coast.
yeah but you get to ride all the time...do you even have a job?
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Old 11-11-08, 05:06 PM   #24
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yeah but you get to ride all the time...do you even have a job?
Work is for suckers.
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Old 11-11-08, 05:12 PM   #25
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fast enough
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