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  1. #1
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    For those of you who DON'T use average speed

    Ok, for all you folks who DON'T use 'average speed' on solo rides as metric to gauge your performance:

    What do you use to gauge your bike performance?

    I can think of
    1. Powermeter (win if you have one, no contest there)
    2. How fast you are relative to your buddies (in my opinion, a far poorer metric than average speed)
    3. Your race results (pretty good but still depends on how strong the field is)
    4. You don't care how fast you go (also legit but don't plan on racing any time soon.)

  2. #2
    KingoftheMountain wannabe Savagewolf's Avatar
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    When I raced, I was consumed by my avg and how many miles I put in. Now I'm more of a #4. I ride when I can, but I try to enjoy it more and still put in a hard effort. I gauge my rides more on the effort I perceive myself putting out rather than miles/avg speed. The only exception is that the last few miles that I put in I usually try to up the speed. If I'm averaging say 15.0 mph, I try to stay above that and raise the average in the last mile or two when I am most tired.

  3. #3
    Mr. Dopolina Bob Dopolina's Avatar
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    Before I had a PM I used HR.

    Despite those who think contemporary training models were invented with the PM, the basic concepts of training with a HRM are the same as with a PM - TIME in ZONE - but a PM is simply a better tool with which to measure.

    After that I would say know TIME on a known course.

    Then PE.

    AVE SPD is just such an inaccurate measurement unless you can do a truly uninterrupted ride (which few can) that is it a poor metric.
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    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    1.

    You can use average speed to compare to your own rides on the same course if you do it enough, but be aware that you are only guaging your performance only on that type of ride.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina View Post
    Before I had a PM I used HR.

    Despite those who think contemporary training models were invented with the PM, the basic concepts of training with a HRM are the same as with a PM - TIME in ZONE - but a PM is simply a better tool with which to measure.

    After that I would say know TIME on a known course.

    Then PE.

    AVE SPD is just such an inaccurate measurement unless you can do a truly uninterrupted ride (which few can) that is it a poor metric.

    I'm going to consider TIME on a known course the same thing as average speed. It is for all intents and purposes when comparing the same course repeatedly.

    I also collect HR data with my Garmin and feed it into Sportracks which gives useful time spent in each zone, but I find that this isn't an easily accessible metric for most. Garmin connect doesn't even provide this feature.

    For me, perceived effort generally sucks. It varies so much - at the start of an offseason, I feel like I'm going 11/10 for the hard rides, but my speed/power sucks compared to my in-shape efforts. At peak shape, what's actually my threshold pace barely even feels like a 7/10 effort most of the time for me.

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    Time - I use Strava for that kind of stuff. It's good for comparing efforts on a given segment on different days. You can see if it's better or worse than your best time and see where today's ride stacks up against your previous efforts. I don't use it so much to compare against other people; mainly just with my own previous rides.

    Avg HR - Sometimes I plan on doing 2x20's or climbing repeats, or whatever else. Using the lap button on the computer and checking my avg heart rate compared to previous attempts gives me an indication of whether I was working too hard or not hard enough relative to my target. This assumes the efforts are long enough so that avg heart rate is a meaningful metric.

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    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina View Post
    Before I had a PM I used HR.

    Despite those who think contemporary training models were invented with the PM, the basic concepts of training with a HRM are the same as with a PM - TIME in ZONE - but a PM is simply a better tool with which to measure.

    After that I would say know TIME on a known course.

    Then PE.

    AVE SPD is just such an inaccurate measurement unless you can do a truly uninterrupted ride (which few can) that is it a poor metric.
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    Telemachus has, indeed, sneezed.

  8. #8
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    Normalized power and duration of the ride. If I'm doing specific power intervals, I'll look at my mean maximal power for the interval length.

  9. #9
    Throw the stick!!!! LowCel's Avatar
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    I use one of my three power meters. I also use Strava to view segments.
    I may be fat but I'm slow enough to make up for it.

  10. #10
    jmX
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    I use a power meter, but I still use average speed as a very reliable source of progress. I have a 30 mile long MUP I can ride on every day with only a single intersection and very minimal bike traffic, and the wind in SoCal is about as predictable as it gets....ocean breeze 90% of the days peaking at 1-3pm.

    I train exclusively by watts, but many of my "goals" are based on average speed while others are purely about watts. Having avg speed goals lets you factor in aerodynamics (evolving your body position mostly) as part of your progress.

    I could graph my avg speeds only for my daily workouts over the last 2 years and it'd be a gently upward sloping line (started around 17.5mph for 20mi, now up to 22'ish for 20mi), with probably a few outliers for those rare days where the wind was extremely high. From a day to day basis my avg speed will fluctuate up and down by 0.5mph or so, but smooth the noise out and it's a nice progression over time.

  11. #11
    Senior Member reef58's Avatar
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    I haven't looked at speed really in years. I use power. Although it is flat here it is windy, so 16mph, or 20mph can be the same effort same route different days. If I were doing a time trail it would be important, but i would dose the effort based on watts not speed.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmX View Post
    Having avg speed goals lets you factor in aerodynamics (evolving your body position mostly) as part of your progress.
    This is a terrific point and a good argument for having a course that you can use average speed over time on. There's really no other way to get to the aerodynamics. At some point you probably get good enough that it's too coarse a measurement method for the marginal changes you might be making.

  13. #13
    Throw the stick!!!! LowCel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by svtmike View Post
    This is a terrific point and a good argument for having a course that you can use average speed over time on. There's really no other way to get to the aerodynamics.
    If you are going to do that the wind had better be the same every day, otherwise it's going to be sure.
    I may be fat but I'm slow enough to make up for it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LowCel View Post
    If you are going to do that the wind had better be the same every day, otherwise it's going to be sure.
    Agreed. It's not going to be feasible for everyone.

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    Throw the stick!!!! LowCel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LowCel View Post
    If you are going to do that the wind had better be the same every day, otherwise it's going to be sure.
    Oops, meant going to be hard to be sure.
    I may be fat but I'm slow enough to make up for it.

  16. #16
    Mr. Dopolina Bob Dopolina's Avatar
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    +1.

    I think I started somewhere around there.
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  17. #17
    Descends like a rock pallen's Avatar
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    I use strava to see how I do on segments I've created, but most of those results are an indication of wind. All my KOMs and personal records are from days where I had a nice stiff tailwind except one where I was riding with someone else that really pushed me.

    Mostly, I dont worry about progress. I do intervals where I try to maintain an all out effort over a certain section of a ride - sometimes these correspond to segments in Strava, more often not. I try to go hard climbing hills, either trying to stay over a certain speed or just attacking as hard as I can. I also look at total time on courses I do regularly like my commutes, but again, my "good days" are almost always about a tailwind.

    A power meter would be fun, but really I'm not that serious about the whole training thing at this point. I do things I know will give me a good workout and try to have a good time. The biggest benchmarks for me are how I do on a 200k or century ride - if I can finish strong and keep the hills from killing me.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Commodus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hhnngg1 View Post
    Ok, for all you folks who DON'T use 'average speed' on solo rides as metric to gauge your performance:

    What do you use to gauge your bike performance?

    I can think of
    1. Powermeter (win if you have one, no contest there)
    2. How fast you are relative to your buddies (in my opinion, a far poorer metric than average speed)
    3. Your race results (pretty good but still depends on how strong the field is)
    4. You don't care how fast you go (also legit but don't plan on racing any time soon.)
    Well...I think no. 3 is the only one that really matters.

    For training purposes I don't know why you need any data other than your HR and time. I guess a powermeter's nice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Commodus View Post
    Well...I think no. 3 is the only one that really matters.

    For training purposes I don't know why you need any data other than your HR and time. I guess a powermeter's nice.
    I've had plenty of days where I've been hammering high volumes for me, and my HR is sky high for some pathetic paces. If I just used HR, it would look like I'm getting a great workout, but in reality, the average speed for that course shows that I'm clearly wayyy off the mark.

    Also, you need a device that can accurately record your HR throughout the ride and break it down in time spent per zone, which isn't straightforward - Garmin Connect does not offer this functionality, and you need 3rd party solutions. (Polar does this I think, but they're not as popular as the Garmins.)

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    If I feel good, breathing well, able to get power when I need it, spin the gears when I have too, thats about it. I know my fitness is good. Why complicate it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by big chainring View Post
    If I feel good, breathing well, able to get power when I need it, spin the gears when I have too, thats about it. I know my fitness is good. Why complicate it.
    I used to feel this way when I was a runner, and just 'ran hard'. Ran 'very hard' when peaking for race season in x-country, and paced 'easy' on the easier days.

    Sure, I got better, but it totally paled in comparison to how much better I got as an adult athlete using objective number training data for running. In fact, sticking to a dedicated training program with solid OBJECTIVE training goals was the key to my sucess, from going from a 7-minute mile 5k max speed, to a sub-7minute marathon pace despite being 20 lbs heavier and 15 years older than those 5k days. (My 5k dropped by 2 and a half minutes, which is enormous.)

    It's easier to get clean metrics in running due to lack of drafting, so it was easy for me to learn how useful your times and paces are. (I did all my speedwork on a collegiate track since every second of the interval counted.)


    I was shocked when I came to cycling and saw people raving about this 'powermeter' thing. Outside of super-hilly run/bike courses, it basically allows you to do what you do in running, meaning get an objective number of your effort, but costs a boatload more money. I do, however, see why people would rave about it given my results in running - you can really make big time progress and push your limits often beyond what you think/feel are your limits with a good plan with objective numbers to hit. I would have never run up to 100 miles a week at the paces I did without the stopwatch data showing that I wasn't overtraining (paces declining) and improving at the distances that count.


    I'm actually finding my average speed data for my specific courses reproducible enough to easilly be able to be used as fitness metrics. Definitely no big variation as people are warning about. (The variation comes with group riding with drafting or trying to compare different courses.)

  22. #22
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina View Post
    Before I had a PM I used HR.

    Despite those who think contemporary training models were invented with the PM, the basic concepts of training with a HRM are the same as with a PM - TIME in ZONE - but a PM is simply a better tool with which to measure.

    After that I would say know TIME on a known course.

    Then PE.

    AVE SPD is just such an inaccurate measurement unless you can do a truly uninterrupted ride (which few can) that is it a poor metric.

    What Bob said.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  23. #23
    Senior Member agoodale's Avatar
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    +1 to Bob plus a few xtra. items

    HRM - TIME in ZONE. While in the zone I concentrate on cadence & breathing. I try to ignore what my legs are telling me.

    After that I would say know TIME on a known course with same wind pattern. The wind around here is very consistent. I try to only test with a tailwind so that the # is the best it can possibly be.
    Last edited by agoodale; 05-24-12 at 11:29 PM.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Commodus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hhnngg1 View Post
    I've had plenty of days where I've been hammering high volumes for me, and my HR is sky high for some pathetic paces. If I just used HR, it would look like I'm getting a great workout, but in reality, the average speed for that course shows that I'm clearly wayyy off the mark.

    Also, you need a device that can accurately record your HR throughout the ride and break it down in time spent per zone, which isn't straightforward - Garmin Connect does not offer this functionality, and you need 3rd party solutions. (Polar does this I think, but they're not as popular as the Garmins.)
    I guess my argument is, you're still just focusing on the wrong thing. Don't worry about your 'pace'. It's like the guys who go out and say, "okay I'm going to do 40 kms..." Distance is also irrelevant. Go out and do 2 hours, or 3 hours. Govern your effort with your HR.

    Or not, it's okay. I'm not an expert, and you seem like maybe you're a 'numbers guy'. Gotta do what you like.

  25. #25
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    i judge performance by my weight! if i still look like a bratwurst eating fat ass after my jan ullrich diet over the winter, then im not riding hard enough, or often enough.
    we've got both kinds, country and western.

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