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.