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Old 10-25-03, 07:23 AM   #1
Litespeed
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Mph

I can only average about 11.5 mph when riding my bike no matter how hard I try. I have a touring frame with mountain bike components, it weighs 18 pounds and I weigh 115 and am 52 years old. Going up a hill is usually at around 7 or 8 mph and going down a hill (I'm scared on down hills) is maximum 20 mph. I doing "spinning" on my trainer at home twice a week (just started about 3 or 4 weeks ago). Before on the trainer I was just concentrating on standing climbs to build up my power so I would be better at hills. I do strength training 3 times a week and walk 3 -4 miles 5 days a week. Is there anything that will help me get my average mph up? I really feel like a whimp when I hear everyone else saying their average is 17 or more What's wrong with me?
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Old 10-25-03, 09:01 AM   #2
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maybe your computer isnt setup right
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Old 10-25-03, 09:34 AM   #3
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I've compared it to my husbands, it's right on, guess I'm just slow.
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Old 10-26-03, 05:02 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Litespeed
I can only average about 11.5 mph when riding my bike no matter how hard I try. I have a touring frame with mountain bike components, it weighs 18 pounds and I weigh 115 and am 52 years old. Going up a hill is usually at around 7 or 8 mph and going down a hill (I'm scared on down hills) is maximum 20 mph. I doing "spinning" on my trainer at home twice a week (just started about 3 or 4 weeks ago). Before on the trainer I was just concentrating on standing climbs to build up my power so I would be better at hills. I do strength training 3 times a week and walk 3 -4 miles 5 days a week. Is there anything that will help me get my average mph up? I really feel like a whimp when I hear everyone else saying their average is 17 or more What's wrong with me?

OK, you have a several things against you. First you are a small female. People who are fast in avg speed tend to be large - more muscle. Men have a big advantage over women. So small women are at a disadvantage. A road bike would help matters too. Also you are not a kid anymore so it will take longer and you just might be a little past your physical prime. And you are just starting out.

Another thing, average speed only works for comparison purpuses if it is for flat terrain with no stops and with no wind and no drafting. In other words, a time trial. I had a 27 mile loop I did. Just for fun, I compared my average speed when I just let my computer run vs my average speed when I turned off my computer for any time I had to slow down or stop for traffic reasons - stop signs, traffic lights etc. At 20 mph avg, it made a 2 mph difference in my average speed. I used to commute 11 miles. My top avg speed was 27 mph (big tail wind), my slowest was 8 (big head wind).

Even relatively minor hills can really kill average speed.

I live in Central Florida. Some guys I know ride together. Another person from out of state showed up and wanted to ride with them. He told them that he wasn't very fast and only averaged 17 mph. So they get out and guess who is pulling at 25-27 mph and killing everyone!?!? It was the 17 mph dude! So they asked him what the deal was. The 17 mph dude said with wide open eyes "gosh it was all FLAT!!!". Apparantly, he rides in very hilly terrain and hence the modest average speed.

The thing is is enjoy your cycling. Go out and do what you can and take what improvements God gives you. Don't worry about others. If it comes, it comes. If it doesn't you are still doing something that is fun and healthy. Heck, we have a group of riders in our club who are slow and mostly old. They have an annual century and call themselves "Team Turtle". They do the century. They don't go fast. They don't even approach going fast. But they do it.

The founder of "Team Turtle" took up cycling because she got out of breath walking from her car to the super market across the parking lot. She went from that to doing centuries. What a role model!
But another thing
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Old 10-26-03, 07:28 AM   #5
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"Average speed" is nothing to worry about.

1. Many folks grossly overestimate their average speed, especially if they do not have a computer that shows "average speed."

2. Most of those folks who claim 17+ average speed ride on open roads in flat territory. Not all, but most.

3. Hilly country or bike paths and roads with curves will markedly slow things down.

4. Who cares, anyway? I love to stop or slow down and "smell the roses."

So, enjoy your biking. As you bike more and more, the average speed will slowly increase naturally, if you push yourself just a bit when you ride.
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Old 10-26-03, 07:34 AM   #6
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They have an annual century and call themselves "Team Turtle".
There is a group here in Colorado in their 70's who call themselves "the old parts."

But, they are all excellent bikers who do their practice runs on Lookout Mountain, a notoriously steep climb just west of Golden.
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Old 10-26-03, 09:04 AM   #7
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Thanks everyone for the encouragement, now I don't feel so bad. Yesterday my husband and I rode a fairly flat route (33 miles) but we had a ton of stop signs, stop lights and weaving in and out of people. Once I got to a stretch that was approximately 7 miles long with no stops and just a few people I got my average up to 11.9 (best I have every done) and there was a strong head wind. I did a lot of spinning on that stretch just to try and keep my legs a little fresher. Like everyone says, I don't think I will worry about it so much anymore I will just go out and enjoy my ride, that's what it is all about. I'm just glad my husband is great about riding with me. I think now I will just concentrate of getting use to my clipless pedals and enjoying the rides.
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Old 10-26-03, 09:08 AM   #8
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You need to go downhill faster.

j/k
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Old 10-26-03, 09:45 AM   #9
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Hi,
the thing that slows you down the most (when you want to go faster) is weight in the rims and tires. Lighter wheels would help. I like Ultegra/Open Pro/Vredstein Fortezza 25c tires. My wife rides this setup, and loves it. I have borrowed wheels (not hers) and tried that combo, and I have got to say I love it too. Fast, light, not terribly expensive.
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Old 10-26-03, 12:40 PM   #10
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Don't feel so bad..I'm 50 yrs. old, weigh 114 lbs and my bike weighs in at about 20lbs. I just started cycling again the end of July after not being on a bike for many yrs. I was intially disappointed by the fact that my best average speed so far has been 11.7 mph. But it's quite hilly where I ride, I'm just getting back into this, and I recognize that I can't ride like I'm 30 yrs. old. Don't compare yourself to men, who generally are stronger riders, or young poeple who have been riding for a long time. Do you love riding your bike? I do, and that's all that counts for me. If I have to compare myself to someone, I'd rather think of most of my friends, who would be pooped out after the 1st two miles of my 26 mile rides. There's nothing wrong with having a goal of becoming faster, but in the meantime, enjoy yourself and the health benefits of what your doing, and don't forget to check out those flowers.
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Old 10-31-03, 11:22 PM   #11
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i see a lot of people hammering on the largest gear ratios, rocking side to side. If you do that, you should change gears so you have a faster cadence. works for me
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Old 11-01-03, 01:09 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Pat
The thing is is enjoy your cycling. Go out and do what you can and take what improvements God gives you. Don't worry about others. If it comes, it comes. If it doesn't you are still doing something that is fun and healthy.
Well said.

Regards.
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Old 11-01-03, 07:15 PM   #13
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I'm curious, why are you so scared of going downhill? Do you not trust your equipment? if you don't ever go over 20mph (I ride faster then that on flat), I think you are missing one of the best points of cycling.

With all that braking, you are also killing all of your momentum. remeber physics? you are turning all of your potential energy into heat (friction from your brakes) instead of forward motion (velocity) I'm not saying that you have to hammer at 40mph down hills, but you can just coast, and carry a bit of momentum into the next roller.
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Old 11-02-03, 12:58 PM   #14
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I guess I'm afraid of ending up as part of the pavement, you have to remember, I'm 52 years old and only starting riding about 6 years ago (never really rode as a kid). I have been trying to improve but with not as much weight on the front of my bike (I use mountain bike handlebars) my bike tends to shake a little on downhills. I'm sure it's just me making it shake because sometimes I put a death grip on the handle bars. I am getting better though. Yesterday I got up to 22 mph and today 21. I know that if I just relax and try to stay off the brakes the bike handles better. I guess what really makes me nervous is all the debris in the bike lanes, your constantly having to try and avoid rocks, glass or trash. Where we rode yesterday, all the bike lanes were clean, they must have swept all the streets after the fires burned through (I live in San Diego). We lost a lot of our beautiful back country trees, but come spring and after a couple of rains things will start growing again.
I'm getting more use to my clipless pedals so my confidence is getting much better. I know I will never be able to fly down hills at the speeds some people do, but I don't care, I'm going to do what I feel most comfortable with and not take to many risks.
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Old 11-02-03, 01:43 PM   #15
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Most importantly, do not go faster than you feel comfortable.

I think for those of us reentering or starting biking at an older age, speed and control downhill is particularly scary.

I restarted when I was 58, and getting my speed up going downhill was/is a real challenge.

On the Ride the Rockies, I go so much slower than many of the younger folks on downhills that I have to watch because I can be a danger to them.

I am now up to a comfortable 40 mph on certain downhills - when I can see the bottom and I know the road either levels out or goes uphill.

On real long downhills (i.e., a drop of 4,500 feet from Rabbit Ears Pass into Steamboat Springs, CO, over about 8 miles), I just stop every now and then and get myself together for another go!!

I think that once you miss those teen and age 20+ years of learning to go fast and be comfortable at high downhill speeds, it is a real chore to make up those years at a later time.

So, be safe, go your own speed, and enjoy.
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Old 11-12-03, 04:59 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Litespeed
I really feel like a whimp when I hear everyone else saying their average is 17 or more What's wrong with me?
Nothing. I was just like you when I was riding 10 years ago. I was always just worried about going fast. I swear, I never looked up from my cycling computer. Slowly, I kept getting frusterated and eventually stopped riding all together. For some reason, I still enjoyed the sport (i.e. I would watch the TDF or any TV show on biking and I would still read the magazines), but I never rode. I even bought my dad a mountain bike for x-mas several years ago. But I never really enjoyed riding after that and I attribute it all to my worries about my speed and going too slow.

Two things changed my perspective this year:

1. I bought I mountain bike. A year ago, my sister (who had gotten into cycling during my absence) took me on a ride and she kicked my a$$. That was the push I needed (I've always been the better athlete) to get back into the sport. I think I just bought the bike to get my revenge, but as I rode more, I started to enjoy it a lot. I never worried about speed as there were other things to worry about (big trees!). As a result, I was able to enjoy other aspects of cycling, not just the speed. Mountain biking forced me to slow down.

2. Riding with my dad. This past summer my dad and I went to visit my sister in a remote part of the province. Since there was not much to do, my dad suggested that we take our bikes and do some road rides. I thought it was a good idea and, for some reason, I decided to take my road bike from my past cycling life (I still kept it in excellent shape). Since my dad is an older gentleman and able to ride only at slow speeds, I was forced to go at his pace. Well, I realized how much I enjoyed riding when I didn't have to worry about how fast I was going. It brought a whole new perspective for me and I've found my love for cycling again. I kick myself everyday for stopping riding during my hiatus, but I guess it was a lesson hard learned.

Anyways, sorry for the rant, but my moral of this story is: Don't worry about speed and enjoy what you are doing. You never know, one day it may drive you out of the sport.
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Old 11-12-03, 05:04 PM   #17
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Since my dad is an older gentleman and able to ride only at slow speeds,


Really. Gosh, I'll have to start riding more slowly so that I can fit the stereotype!!

How old is your dad, anyway?

Anyway, some of us in our later years like to think we can at least sort of keep up with the youngsters. Perhaps it is just our imaginations running wild and pure fantasy.

I am pleased that your dad is riding, and that he was the one who got you back in. Even at a slow speed, that is a neat opportunity.

Thanks for sharing.

Last edited by DnvrFox; 11-12-03 at 05:11 PM.
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Old 11-12-03, 05:17 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by DnvrFox

Really. Gosh, I'll have to start riding more slowly so that I can fit the stereotype!!

How old is your dad, anyway?

Anyway, some of us in our later years like to think we can at least sort of keep up with the youngsters. Perhaps it is just our imaginations running wild and pure fantasy.

I am pleased that your dad is riding, and that he was the one who got you back in. Even at a slow speed, that is a neat opportunity.

Thanks for sharing.
He's not that old. 60 years old. But after 25 years of smoking and being about 30 lbs overweight, the fact that he loves his mountain bike and has been riding consistently for the last 5 years, I figure he's doing pretty well.

Plenty of "older" gentlemen have kicked my a$$ and I figure age is nothing more than a state of mind. The stereotype I have in my mind is one where I'm going to have to try to hang on to their wheel because someone "older" is going to be inflicting some pain on me today.

Yeah, it is pretty neat. I never imagined that my dad and I would be going for a ride together.
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Old 11-12-03, 05:20 PM   #19
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He's not that old. 60 years old. But after 25 years of smoking and being about 30 lbs overweight, the fact that he loves his mountain bike and has been riding consistently for the last 5 years, I figure he's doing pretty well.
That is great. Now if he could just kick the smoking part, it would be more than great.
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Old 11-12-03, 05:37 PM   #20
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That is great. Now if he could just kick the smoking part, it would be more than great.
Actually, he has quit. Smoke free for 5 years. I think he traded the smokes for the bike.
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Old 11-12-03, 07:19 PM   #21
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Actually, he has quit. Smoke free for 5 years. I think he traded the smokes for the bike.
Bravo!!

Tell your youngster dad (I beat him out by 4 years) CONGRATULATIONS!!
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Old 11-12-03, 10:59 PM   #22
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Plenty of "older" gentlemen have kicked my a$$ and I figure age is nothing more than a state of mind. The stereotype I have in my mind is one where I'm going to have to try to hang on to their wheel because someone "older" is going to be inflicting some pain on me today.

BUt why stereotype yourself in such a way as to be the younger getting pain inflicted on one so as to have to hang on to the older guy's wheel?

Jacob
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