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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 05-23-12, 09:04 PM   #1
Velo Dog
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What's so hard about figuring average speed?

Seems like every week or two there's a new post about figuring average speed, often with a debate over how to do it.
I can think of only two ways: you divide the distance by the total time from start to finish, say 100 miles between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m., for an average of 14mph and change, or you divide the distance by the actual riding time, say five hours, for an average of 20.
What am I missing?
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Old 05-23-12, 09:07 PM   #2
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Third way - look at the AVG on your computer.
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Old 05-23-12, 09:08 PM   #3
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that first 5 miles doesn't count because it was the warmup. Neither does the last 5 miles because I was cooling down. Wait there was that couple I was stuck behind for 3 miles, and those 2 stoplights. That hill too. But those 3 miles I hammered on the flat section felt like I was averaging 25mph sustained, that must have been my real average....
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Old 05-23-12, 09:12 PM   #4
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that first 5 miles doesn't count because it was the warmup. Neither does the last 5 miles because I was cooling down. Wait there was that couple I was stuck behind for 3 miles, and those 2 stoplights. That hill too. But those 3 miles I hammered on the flat section felt like I was averaging 25mph sustained, that must have been my real average....
I usually cover the last 5 miles at speeds as good or better than when I started out... like an old horse running for the barn at the end of a ride.
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Old 05-23-12, 09:14 PM   #5
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There isn't anything hard about it, and it is meaningless, but it's nice to live in make believe land where it matters and you tell yourself the only reason your bike computer shows an average of 17 mph when you wanted it to show 20 is because you hit those 4 red lights on a 2 hour ride
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Old 05-23-12, 09:14 PM   #6
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Don't most cyclists look at their computers when they are descending a hill, with a good tailwind behind, and call the number they see on their computer their average speed?

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Old 05-23-12, 09:22 PM   #7
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It's because most of the folks here who want to use their computer to get average speed say that it's only fair to stop the watch fpr all nonmoving time (Garmins can be set to auto do this)

Obviously if you stop for 5 minutes every hour of riding, your average speed will thus be inflated relative to your time without stopping the clock.

I've done both, and at least for me, the only way to keep it honest is to never stop the watch once you're started - I get a full 1-2mph gain in avg speed when I cut out stoppage time from lights etc.
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Old 05-23-12, 09:36 PM   #8
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You cant calculate average speed if you include time that you weren't moving, or at least that makes sense in my mind. Don't most computers stop when you are stopped? Mine does
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Old 05-23-12, 10:13 PM   #9
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Last month I rode 1140 km in 720 hs, for an average speed of 1.58 kph.
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Old 05-23-12, 10:41 PM   #10
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You cant calculate average speed if you include time that you weren't moving, or at least that makes sense in my mind. Don't most computers stop when you are stopped? Mine does
I rest my case. You start a 30 mile loop, you want your average speed, you include every last second of it. Stoplights, water breaks, biobreaks, they all count in the total.

I have a local loop here in Norcal, and there are 11 minutes of lights per hour on average on this loop when I look at the stoppage time, and this isn't even urban riding. Id be joking myself if I thought I could routinely ride a solo 24mph for an hour based upon that average speed given the 11 mins of stoppage time.

I've seen even more egregious cases where riders here say they've average like 22mph solo for a organized century ride, and they're not even competitive roadies. Turns out they stop the clock for all lights, all stopsigns, all slowing to <10mph when there's a pack, stopped for an HOUR+ for lunch, stopped for another HOUR+ for 3 feed stops. You gotta be friggin' kidding me.
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Old 05-23-12, 10:47 PM   #11
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In Strava I trust
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Old 05-23-12, 11:16 PM   #12
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In Strava I trust
I love Strava for distance traveled and average speed, but for elevation gain I subtract ~35%
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Old 05-23-12, 11:47 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Velo Dog View Post
Seems like every week or two there's a new post about figuring average speed, often with a debate over how to do it.
I can think of only two ways: you divide the distance by the total time from start to finish, say 100 miles between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m., for an average of 14mph and change, or you divide the distance by the actual riding time, say five hours, for an average of 20.
What am I missing?
I think you just got riled up over a thread that was started as a joke. In turn, you started yet another average speed thread.

Mission accomplished?
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Old 05-24-12, 02:29 AM   #14
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Average speed is a very interesting parameter ... but on a personal level.
If consistently measured over time ... it's a good parameter to keep track of overall training and fitness level.
It can also, to some extend, be used to get a general idea of the fitness level of other riders ... but some other parameters like stopping time, total distance and elevation gain need to be mentioned in conjunction with it.
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Old 05-24-12, 02:39 AM   #15
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Average speed on what? My 50-100mile flat routes or the ones that include 5000-10000ft of climbing? What is the point of AVG speed again....?
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Old 05-24-12, 06:43 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by hhnngg1 View Post
I rest my case. You start a 30 mile loop, you want your average speed, you include every last second of it. Stoplights, water breaks, biobreaks, they all count in the total.

I have a local loop here in Norcal, and there are 11 minutes of lights per hour on average on this loop when I look at the stoppage time, and this isn't even urban riding. Id be joking myself if I thought I could routinely ride a solo 24mph for an hour based upon that average speed given the 11 mins of stoppage time.

I've seen even more egregious cases where riders here say they've average like 22mph solo for a organized century ride, and they're not even competitive roadies. Turns out they stop the clock for all lights, all stopsigns, all slowing to <10mph when there's a pack, stopped for an HOUR+ for lunch, stopped for another HOUR+ for 3 feed stops. You gotta be friggin' kidding me.
I'm having a hard time seeing how any of that matters.
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Old 05-24-12, 06:48 AM   #17
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People make too many excuses for their average speed. That's the only real problem IMO. I set my Garmin device to include zeros for both speed and power. The time spent at a stop light or a food stop during a century is time you are resting. It should still be counted as part of the ride because it's no different than coasting down the road without pedaling. You are conserving energy either way and that energy could be spent while moving to make up for the decrease in average speed. So for me, average speed is purely total distance/total time.
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Old 05-24-12, 06:49 AM   #18
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Because sometimes I forget to turn off my Garmin on the drive home, and I have stretches where I"m doing 70 mph driving down the highway.
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Old 05-24-12, 06:53 AM   #19
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I've got this chart....but I'm only going to tell you about it, not show you...
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Old 05-24-12, 06:55 AM   #20
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Hey, if they make adblock software why can't they make an app to filter out any posts with "average speed" in the title??
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Old 05-24-12, 06:56 AM   #21
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Better question, why do people care about average speed?
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Old 05-24-12, 07:09 AM   #22
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Better question, why do people care about average speed?
So they can say, "I ride this fast for this long."
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Old 05-24-12, 07:11 AM   #23
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At work some folks know I am a cyclist. It seems like the novice cyclists are fixated on average speed and folks are coming up to me saying "I rode x miles at average speed y."

I just nod my head and smile, saying "hey that's good."

I have no friggin clue about my average speed and don't give a damn.
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Old 05-24-12, 07:13 AM   #24
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Also, as a newly minted triathlete, it seems runners (and to a lesser extent, swimmers) are focused on their pace.

"I can run 7 minute miles." "I finally got my 100m time down under 2:00."

What these folks don't get is that average speed or pace may have relevance in running or swimming, but on a bike you have so many variables, wind, hills, stop lights, etc. that average speed/pace is virtually meaningless.
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Old 05-24-12, 07:15 AM   #25
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Better question, why do people care about average speed?
The vast majority of the time, I don't care.

The only time I do care is when I'm on a randonnee. The minimum speed on a randonnee (600K and under) is 15 km/h (including all breaks, of course), so on a 200K, I need to finish the ride in less than 13.5 hours. I need to keep my average speed up.
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