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Old 03-02-05, 06:11 AM   #1
Old Gammy Leg
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Improving average speed

I want to improve my average speed for road cycling. I've done 500+ miles in the last month, but although I do feel fitter and stronger, my average speed just seems to stay about the same. It's difficult for me to have a rigid structured training regeime at the moment, also I don't use any form of trainer, I just ride.

- Is there anything specific I should be doing to improve average speed and endurance, apart from the obvious of riding as much as possible and trying to push harder each time.

- How quickly is it reasonable to expect to see an improvement?

Thanks
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Old 03-02-05, 06:33 AM   #2
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I have found the one thing that has helped me specifically increase my avg speed, is the use of my new trainer. i can specifically see how fast I am going, and am able to push myself harder for given amounts of time etc. But, not everyone has a trainer to facilitate with this.
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Old 03-02-05, 06:37 AM   #3
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Can you ride with someone who is a little faster?

When you go up hills go one gear higher than normal. When ever you feel comfortable go up a gear. Try two gears up. See how it feels. Try timing yourself on a couple of hills on your ride. Then try to beat the old times every time up the same hill. Invent things like that. Set your computer to display your average while you ride, then try to keep the present speed up to the average. This is a good one. Look up at the road once in a while........

Or just time the overall ride. Try to beat it.

Make a time trial course between two landmarks. Two signs. Then set improvement goals, so much faster each ride.

Yell at all the loose dogs. No wait.......skip that one.
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Old 03-02-05, 07:00 AM   #4
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I've found a heart rate monitor has helped me a lot. Having numbers to tell you how hard you are working is really helpful. I didn't think it would be that helpful at first, but now I'm in love with the thing.
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Old 03-02-05, 07:04 AM   #5
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Yeah, the TT idea is good, have been doing that. I almost always ride alone, and I do not have or particularly want a trainer. My avs speed is about 18-19 mph over a 30 mile ride, which I guess is pretty crap. That was my first month on a road bike though, so I guess there's lots of room for improvement.

What would be considered a good average speed if you want to do very low level (Cat 5?) racing?
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Old 03-02-05, 07:24 AM   #6
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In all my years of cyclingling I have tried many different training schemes. However, Riding/training with others that are a bit better than you are will help but don't try to get into situations where you are terribly out classed. It is discouraging.
Solo riding for some peaks and stays there. If you were able to be regimented, there are many training schedules that work. They are like diets, they only work if you work them.

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Old 03-02-05, 07:26 AM   #7
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Are you doing any intervals? Intervals can help you improve speed.

This is an overgeneralization, but if you can average 20 mph on your own you should do fine in Cat 5. Average speed isn't all, though. You're going to have to do your intervals so you can chase and attack.
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Old 03-02-05, 07:41 AM   #8
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There are two ways to go faster and both have been mentioned. One is ride with faster people. You'll improve with time. You need the motivation of trying to keep up to gain speed.

The other is interval work, preferably with a heart rate monitor. Intervals can be structured (a certain effort for a presrcibed time) or unstructured (riding hard for as long as you feel or say to a certain road marker). The important thing to do is push yourself, back off and recover, and do it all over again. Gradually increase the number of repetitions. For example the first week you might do 4 - 6, the next week increase by one, and so on until you work up to 10 to 12.

One of the best rountines I've seen involves use of a HR monitor. It's not all that complicated or sophisticated but it works. Ride as hard as you can for 10 minutes. Rest ten minutes with easy riding and then ride as hard as you can for a second 10 minute period. Get your average HR. That becomes your futute target.

Next time out ride for 10 minutes maintaining that target. Test 10 minutes. Go hard again for 10. Rest 10 and do harda third time. Do this two or three times a week. Next week do the same but cut the rest period down to 8 minutes. The following week cut the rest down to 6 minutes and so on until you work up to 30 minutes straight.

Then start all over again with 15 minutes of hard with tem minutes rest. Wotk up to a straight 45 minute all out.

If you combine this with a couple esay spin rides over the week and one long endurance ride or 3 to 4 hours, you'll be noticably faster.
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Old 03-02-05, 07:43 AM   #9
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'just riding' isn't going to cut it. you've got to make the most of all your workouts.
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Old 03-02-05, 08:35 AM   #10
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Stan, that's exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for. Simple, easy to work into a ride, and not requiring a detailed pre-planned schedule.

I would like to find a training schedule or routine that would work for me, but the problem is that it's difficult to know exactly when I will be riding and for how long. I try to ride 6 times per week, but I study long hours and have to contend with the *utterly* miserable weather in England (not for much longer though). If there is some kind of schedule that you guys can suggest that would take this into account, then great, I would love to have more structure in my rides and clearly my speed and fitness would see a much better improvement.
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Old 03-02-05, 10:06 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Gammy Leg
Yeah, the TT idea is good, have been doing that. I almost always ride alone, and I do not have or particularly want a trainer. My avs speed is about 18-19 mph over a 30 mile ride, which I guess is pretty crap. That was my first month on a road bike though, so I guess there's lots of room for improvement.

What would be considered a good average speed if you want to do very low level (Cat 5?) racing?
Let me get this straight - you've only been training (unstructured) for a month and you're averaging 18 - 19 MPH with no drafting for a 30 mile ride? What the hell are you complaining about?
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Old 03-02-05, 10:44 AM   #12
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Old Gammy Leg: How did you ride those 500 miles? Were all of your rides pretty much at the same pace or did you vary your speeds on your different rides? You probably need a variety riding speeds. On some days do long steady distance, on other days do short fast efforts. This variety in riding should help.
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Old 03-02-05, 11:23 AM   #13
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Let me get this straight - you've only been training (unstructured) for a month and you're averaging 18 - 19 MPH with no drafting for a 30 mile ride? What the hell are you complaining about?
Well, I've ridden an MTB for a few years... but only for fairly short occasional rides, and with nothing like the enthusiam I've found for my beloved new road bike!

I thought 18-19 mph was well slow... I don't even know what it's like to draft cos I've never done it... no idea how much difference it makes to your speed?

Most rides are at pretty much the same pace, I tend to constantly push reasonably hard, with occasional slow spins to recover when I get tired... I've not been doing intervals where I really ride as hard as I physically can. Distances are between 20 and 50 miles.
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Old 03-02-05, 11:46 AM   #14
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I am overjoyed when I ride 25 miles over varied terrain and achieve an average speed of 13 MPH! I'm old and fat though. You probably aren't either old or fat.
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Old 03-02-05, 12:03 PM   #15
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It's all about how much you enjoy it though... As long as you're happy and having fun, everything else is secondary. It's just as important to me to be out in the countryside, experiencing the wonderful freedom of cycling, as it is to get faster and fitter.

But no, my username is a bit deceptive - I'm 26 and do not have any form of gammy leg!
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Old 03-02-05, 01:46 PM   #16
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18 - 19 MPH average is not bad at all... how was the ride though, hilly or flat. For some rides like my ride last night 19 MPH is not bad at all... of course it was constent climbing and lots of stops with sprinting.

Quote:
This is an overgeneralization, but if you can average 20 mph on your own you should do fine in Cat 5. Average speed isn't all, though. You're going to have to do your intervals so you can chase and attack.
20 MPH can do a CAT 5... I hope that is true, or is that only for road races? I can average 22 - 24 MPH on a training ride easily and I do not know if I am ready for cat 5...

In the last month I have increased my average on our usual night ride quite a bit (2 MPH gain in 1 month). The reason is when I go out I ride hard when I need to and build arobic base when I do not. For me 18 - 19 MPH is base building speed. Honestly the best way to build speed is to ride with people who are faster than you are... that is what I did and look where I am... I can hang
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Old 03-02-05, 01:52 PM   #17
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I think it's also important to note how you are averaging speed. Some computers do it for you, which generally results in slower than expected average unless you have no stops on your route. If you are just looking at the speedo while you are cruising at speed you would probably have a higher average speed.
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Old 03-02-05, 02:56 PM   #18
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Exactly

On my commute ride there are many lights & stop signs over the flat course of 9mi. To average 19mph I need to ride at least 24-26mph between all stops and accerate hard and get up to speed quickly after every stop. But on a weekend ride on open road I can keep a steady 24mph much easier as I don't tire myself out from all those hard starts. I do think the stop and start riding is similar to intervals and has provided benefit for imprproving speed on open roads.

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Old 03-02-05, 03:00 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Gammy Leg
Well, I've ridden an MTB for a few years... but only for fairly short occasional rides, and with nothing like the enthusiam I've found for my beloved new road bike!

I thought 18-19 mph was well slow... I don't even know what it's like to draft cos I've never done it... no idea how much difference it makes to your speed?

Most rides are at pretty much the same pace, I tend to constantly push reasonably hard, with occasional slow spins to recover when I get tired... I've not been doing intervals where I really ride as hard as I physically can. Distances are between 20 and 50 miles.
Chances are the short occasional MTB rides didn't do much to improve your fitness. So I'm assuming this past month was the first real month of riding any sort of distance regularly? That right?

Considering it's your first real month of traning, 18 - 19 MPH for 30 miles without drafting ain't to shabby. It takes some people a few seasons of riding that much 12 months out of the year to get their average speeds up to that. And then they may only add 1 to 2 MPH per season after that.

If you were to draft in a group ride, for example, you would probably gain a solid 2 MPH and possibly more. You can conserve up to 40% of your energy via drafting - Armstrong is a master at this! It took me 12 solid months of training before I could do a solo 50 miler with a puny average speed of 16.9 MPH. Of course, I'm old and fat.
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Old 03-02-05, 03:06 PM   #20
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Ride as much as you can even if you only have 30min. Obviously for 30min periods you will focus on strength (speed) and interval type work.

A little story. A triathelete friend of mine about a year ago learned I was commuting to work every day. I asked why they didn't, they said that it was too short a trip (10miles) to make it worthwhile for the hassle - that they only did 'real' training. At the time they were a faster cyclist than me. Well after a year of riding my 9mi commute (18mi per day) on every work day (plus some long rides on weekends) I am a faster cyclist than them on a 20mi course, haven't checked for greater distances.

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Old 03-02-05, 03:17 PM   #21
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I agree that intervals are one of the best ways to improve your overall average speed.

Incorporate intervals into a regimented training routine along with distance and easy days.

For extra motivation, try doing your intervals with a riding partner.
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Old 03-02-05, 04:25 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doctor Morbius
Chances are the short occasional MTB rides didn't do much to improve your fitness. So I'm assuming this past month was the first real month of riding any sort of distance regularly? That right?
Yup, that's right. Also I don't do any other sort of exercise, don't go to gym or anything. So maybe I'm doing a bit better than I thought... It's made more difficult as the weather in England is usually terrible, even in summer, but at least it should improve a bit now that spring is nearly here. Nothing more frustrating than crap weather when you're desperate to go out and ride.

my58vw - how many miles are you riding per week? How long can you maintain a steady 24 mph for on the flat, without drafting? You must be quite in shape, yet you're concerned about being ready for CAT5... I was under the impression that 5 is the absolute lowest category, and most low-level races are mixed CAT 4/5... surely not everyone in these races is super-fit? I was maybe vaguely considering doing some racing later in the year, but I think it will be a while before I can pull a 24 mph average for any serious distance.
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Old 03-02-05, 06:24 PM   #23
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Truly flat roads with no stop signs I generally average 23 - 24 MPH in the drops for 30 - 45 minutes, of course that is at the edge of arobic riding. When I am pushing I can actually cruise at 25 MPH + but I am definitly hitting the upper limits on anarobic work. I am a very very strong rider on the flats, at 6'6" I can develop lots of power when I need too... just need to work on hills.

I have always been a time trial person but I am just getting into criteriums. I hear from some people that the average in a 4 corner criterium can be 27 MPH+... that is the average.

I can not say if you need to be able to do 24 MPH to be competitive in a crit, I am just speaking from experience. I will have a little more information after Sunday when I finish my first crit. Let me say for all the speed on the flats I am not a climber at all, Some of my normal training routes with steady climbs I am averaging 16 - 17 MPH depending on the route. Remember that averages are based on a lot of factors, just because one person can average 24 MPH does not make him more fit then someone at 19 MPH unless the routes are exactly the same. As they have said there are alot of factors in average speed. A few training routes I can go 5 miles without having to slow down, that really pushes the average. On a normal 60 mile training ride my average generally approaches 20 - 21 MPH. It all depends on your body type. My night group ride pushes 25 - 26 MPH at times if not faster in a paceline but the average is low (about 19 MPH) because of the climbing we do and all the starts and stops.

I remember pulling a 5 person break at 24.5 MPH up this 3 percent grade and after 3 minutes being tired and anarobic... it all depends. I have gotten extremly strong in the last month after entering the build period of my race training this season. Put me with some of these guys I rode with last night (cat 4 and cat3) 1 month ago and I would be dropped so fast. During base this year I was only averaging 17 MPH on training rides. 19-20 MPH where you are is awsome.

I would not say I am in increadable shape, I just work hard. I ride 6 days per week, typical week is about 150 - 170 miles when it is warm outside (60 mile long enduance ride, 40 - 50 mile fast club ride, 2 20 - 25 mile race paced club rides, and 2 days of intervals, 20 or so miles) and one day off. I have heard all kinds of numbers thrown around, one says if you can run 30 MPH in a pace line taking your pulls you can be competative in CAT 4,5. Some say if you can run 25 MPH in the drops by yourself you can be competative in CAT5. The only way to find out is to go and race. I am doing that this week (finally)...
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Old 03-03-05, 03:13 AM   #24
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Do tell, I waiting to hear of yoru racing experiences - donīt crash!
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Old 03-03-05, 04:34 AM   #25
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Improving average speed can be discouraging. I have a real tank -- a 36 pound Ross road bike which I ride on a 15 mile set route. I my best average speed is 13 mph for the 15 miles. I recently acquired a 22 pound aluminum Trek 1400. My best average over the same route was 14 mph. The course is hilly, and I was looking for a greater improvement. My theory is once you're at speed, it's hard to improve your average speed unless you go to heroic efforts. My tank is slow on the uphills, but goes like a bandit down hill.
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