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Time TIME! (i can't seem to go slower)

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Time TIME! (i can't seem to go slower)

Old 10-05-08, 07:54 AM
  #1  
Elyone
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Time TIME! (i can't seem to go slower)

Lo all:

My commute is 7 mile each way. I usually bus down (as in downhill) to work and ride back home after work. (the uphill)
When I DO ride TO work it takes me 22 minutes, at my usual 'one speed', going as fast as I can, effort. The ride back, depending on the weather, is 28-35 minutes.

Now, the wonderful (they are wonderful) Cleveland RTA canceled (correctly - this bus has super low ridership) my bus (number 42) at this months end, so I need to decide if I will routinely ride down to work too. The alternative, , is to stop commuting and take my car every day.

So this morning, I decided to try to ride slowly and see how much time it takes, in an a attempt to get there less sweaty etc. So I pedaled slower, looked around more, sang a bit (really!) and did not try too hard. Took me 23 minutes. Like (as my 12 yo says every second word), oh wow. Now, I do seem to be less breathy and sweaty, but AM I CRAZY?

I am comparing this to other Sunday rides (the only day until now that I ride TOO work here and there).

What, is going on here?
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Old 10-05-08, 08:12 AM
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On the downhill sections of my ride home I find it's often too much effort to attempt to pedal faster given the speeds I have on my bike. I coast down the hill at about 20mph, really pumping on the pedals I've made it to 27, but just casually pedaling gets me to a nice 23. You might be able to coast in at 25 minutes regardless of pedaling depending on the hill.
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Old 10-05-08, 08:05 PM
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When you ride down a steep hill, gravity does most of the work for you. I've hit 35mph while braking down a hill with blind curves and blind intersections. You *can* pedal and go faster, but you need fairly tall gears, a pretty aerodynamic position and a road that is safe for high speed. If you don't have all three preconditions, it's pretty easy for pedaling to make things more dangerous or just not *do* anything to increase your speed.

On a gentle hill, pedaling helps more. The trick here is *not* to pedal hard. What you want is to keep your cadence up at a comfortable level, while you're driving a gear that's higher than normal. And you want to keep that cadence and gear for as long as possible. Do it right, and it feels like you're flying along with no work at all, and you can keep driving that extra high gear for a mile or more. I usually hit a stop sign or light long before I make a mile tho *sigh*.

And speaking of stop lights... they're the point where it's easiest to see the difference a high cadence makes. A lot of riders will stop at a light in their normal cruising gear, whatever it might be. Then when the light turns green, they stand on the pedals to accelerate. I drop down 3 or even 4 gears from my cruising gear, and sit on the saddle (a stronger rider, which is most everyone, would only drop one or two gears). Most of the time, I zip right on past the person working hard by standing on the pedals. By the time I'm through the intersection, I'll be up to my cruising gear and still accelerating. It's not very difficult to do, because I let the bike help me. I've got gears for a reason *g*.

(and yes, if someone holds a racing license, they can pass me easily... they are as lazy as I am about letting their gears help, and they have a lot more saddle time on a much lighter bike.)
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Old 10-06-08, 01:23 AM
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but AM I CRAZY?

Slvoid had a thread on this a few years ago, observing that his time difference between riding hard and moderate pace wasn't that much.

https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ght=difference
https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ght=difference
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Old 10-06-08, 02:05 AM
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No Not crazy. Chances are while trying to pump the pedals you might not be getting much out of it. Weight and a aerodynamic riding position will help out a lot.

I am 200+ and will routinely get passed going up hills but when it comes to the other side I will be the one passing others and not pedaling very fast.
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Old 10-06-08, 07:39 AM
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My 6-mi commute is always between 28 and 32 minutes. Always. Only a catastrophe (like a blown tire!) would make much difference.
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Old 10-06-08, 07:43 AM
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Perceived effort != work done. That's all.
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Old 10-06-08, 07:46 AM
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Enjoy the ride and don't worry about minutia so much.
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Old 10-06-08, 10:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Elyone View Post
Lo all:

My commute is 7 mile each way. I usually bus down (as in downhill) to work and ride back home after work. (the uphill)
WHAT?? You BUS DOWNhill and BIKE UPhill?? I would understand the reverse, but this... this is just... blasphemous!

So this morning, I decided to try to ride slowly and see how much time it takes, in an a attempt to get there less sweaty etc. So I pedaled slower, looked around more, sang a bit (really!) and did not try too hard. Took me 23 minutes. Like (as my 12 yo says every second word), oh wow. Now, I do seem to be less breathy and sweaty, but AM I CRAZY?

I am comparing this to other Sunday rides (the only day until now that I ride TOO work here and there).

What, is going on here?
Over short distances, the extra effort doesn't really result in significant time savings, especially in an urban environment (traffic lights, signs, traffic and so on). It would make more difference on the uphill leg, I suppose, but on the downhill the gravity just pulls you down, doing most of the work.
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Old 10-06-08, 10:37 PM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by chephy View Post
WHAT?? You BUS DOWNhill and BIKE UPhill?? I would understand the reverse, but this... this is just... blasphemous!
yeah ive been thinking the same thing

i dont see why, other than that he seems to always push it hard and probably doesnt want to go into work sweaty. still though, i imagine that its getting cool in cleveland as it is here and sweating is less of a problem (though it has been raining here, so in rain gear sweating would still be a problem)

i myself have noooo problem with coasting down a hill. i dont know of the hill in question, but even a slight angle, with a decent distance down, will allow getting up to a good speed with a minimum of effort.
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Old 10-06-08, 11:47 PM
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I guess the difference between sweating and not sweating is very small--literally just one heartbeat, if you measure on a heart rate monitor. If I do my 4 mile commute in 14 minutes I'm cool and breathing easy. If I do it in 13 minutes, I'm sweating and panting. With experience you get so you can put the "right" amount of effort into any ride.
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Old 10-07-08, 12:39 AM
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sweating hard

This is the problem with cyclists............we think that having a bike that weighs 2 pounds less will make us fly up hills and that if we pedal hard we will magically go so much faster that we will amaze ourselves. Its just not true. More effort just gives diminishing returns. I've taken to riding easier and my times are seldom more than a few minutes different over my 8.5 mile one way commute.
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Old 10-07-08, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by charles vail View Post
...More effort just gives diminishing returns...
I object. Not about the time, you're all quite right about that, but i feel better when i arrive at work or home if i giver. The harder you cycle, the more endorphines are released, hardly diminishing returns, at least that's my experience ymmv.
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Old 10-07-08, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
I guess the difference between sweating and not sweating is very small--literally just one heartbeat, if you measure on a heart rate monitor. If I do my 4 mile commute in 14 minutes I'm cool and breathing easy. If I do it in 13 minutes, I'm sweating and panting. With experience you get so you can put the "right" amount of effort into any ride.
Remember, aerodynamic drag is the biggest loss in cycling on level ground. At speeds more than about 10 miles an hour, the aerodynamic drag increases roughly with the square of the speed. That means to go twice as fast requires four times as much work. Increasing speed from 16 to 20 mph requires about 60% more work, but saves less than 4 minutes on a five mile trip.
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Old 10-07-08, 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Pig_Chaser View Post
I object. Not about the time, you're all quite right about that, but i feel better when i arrive at work or home if i giver. The harder you cycle, the more endorphines are released, hardly diminishing returns, at least that's my experience ymmv.
I'm with you, I have a 5 mile commute each way that I TT, and whenever I see lights change green in front of me I'm quite pleased. I really need to get a computer for my bike since at the moment I don't have a good enough way to timing my ride exactly. I don't get a chance to get out on a bike much else during the week during the school year so I put in as much work during those 10 miles each day as I can.
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Old 10-07-08, 10:09 AM
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Go hard and fast and change at work, you might only save a minute or two but it's not about that. It's about the feeling of your lungs burning, thighs burning, eyes watering and the ripping sound of the air as you scream along the road.

The only time I cycle slowly to work is when I'm hungover or ill, even today with a cold, sore throat, cough and aching legs from last nights roller league I still made an effort to try and keep to 17mph on the flats and uphills.
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Old 10-07-08, 10:15 AM
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I've noticed when I push hard and when i just cruise, it's not that much of a difference for me either. I was just thinking it was traffic lights. Even if I push hard, I always seem to get stuck at the same lights. My ride's so far that i'm sweaty either way though...
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Old 10-07-08, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Pig_Chaser View Post
I object. Not about the time, you're all quite right about that, but i feel better when i arrive at work or home if i giver. The harder you cycle, the more endorphines are released, hardly diminishing returns, at least that's my experience ymmv.
Agreed. I always ride as fast as I can on my commute home, and set a stop watch to challenge myself to go faster. I've taken more than 25 % off my commute time in the last couple years.

You never know when the extra ability for speed will come in handy. The other night I was chased by a couple young thugs who wanted to jack my bike. Thanks to my nightly "training rides", I was able to outdistance the guy on a bike who was at least 30 years younger than me.
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Old 10-07-08, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by dscheidt View Post
Remember, aerodynamic drag is the biggest loss in cycling on level ground. At speeds more than about 10 miles an hour, the aerodynamic drag increases roughly with the square of the speed. That means to go twice as fast requires four times as much work. Increasing speed from 16 to 20 mph requires about 60% more work, but saves less than 4 minutes on a five mile trip.
I thought it was the cube, not the square.
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Old 10-07-08, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by daintonj View Post
Go hard and fast and change at work, you might only save a minute or two but it's not about that. It's about the feeling of your lungs burning, thighs burning, eyes watering and the ripping sound of the air as you scream along the road.

The only time I cycle slowly to work is when I'm hungover or ill, even today with a cold, sore throat, cough and aching legs from last nights roller league I still made an effort to try and keep to 17mph on the flats and uphills.
hard and fast is for wussy, smooth and smart will get you there faster, with more left in the tank.
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Old 10-07-08, 10:33 AM
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I don't push my commute 100% but I do ride faster on the stretches that I want to finish quickly ei busy road I want to get past quickly for safety reasons. Overall, I've slowed down and simply enjoy the ride more. This weekend I pulled my 7 year old through a 14 mile ride that I've made dozens of times by myself. She has a trailer bike (Burley Piccolo). Pulling her up those hills nearly killed me. Its all good, going fast or going slow, I'm still going.
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Old 10-07-08, 10:39 AM
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The things that will make the difference are, as chephy said, traffic lights and signs mostly. I've noticed this on my computer average times - when I'm a little more 'liberal' and choose not to stop at some reds my average goes way up.

Similarly acceleration time counts a lot, too - if I pound down after stopping and get right back to cruising speed quickly, this helps no end in taking those seconds off. I stress here 'seconds'. Over my usual 10 mile commute the variance is usually within around 8 minutes of each other whether I'm thrashing or just attempting to take it easy. Even a minute difference really affects the average speed on such smaller distances, though. I'm able to keep much higher averages on longer rides than I'm able to on my commutes.

When my commute is further, the averages are generally easier to keep as I have longer spells to keep my cruise speed going. (I ride to the train station most days, but have several distance options with different stations).
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Old 10-07-08, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by daintonj View Post
Go hard and fast and change at work, you might only save a minute or two but it's not about that. It's about the feeling of your lungs burning, thighs burning, eyes watering and the ripping sound of the air as you scream along the road.

The only time I cycle slowly to work is when I'm hungover or ill, even today with a cold, sore throat, cough and aching legs from last nights roller league I still made an effort to try and keep to 17mph on the flats and uphills.
This is how I do things, despite trying to go slow, I can't help but get sucked into racing the next car along, or chasing the next bike or trying to get to X St. for when it says 8:41 on my computer clock. I always carry a change of clothes for work, so I'm never worrying about sweat (I'm a natural furnace, I tend to sweat regardless) - I like the extra push for days when I want to work out or get some stress out.
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Old 10-07-08, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by dscheidt View Post
Remember, aerodynamic drag is the biggest loss in cycling on level ground. At speeds more than about 10 miles an hour, the aerodynamic drag increases roughly with the square of the speed. That means to go twice as fast requires four times as much work. Increasing speed from 16 to 20 mph requires about 60% more work, but saves less than 4 minutes on a five mile trip.
I'm not sure about the math, but the idea is correct. The concept is the same in airplanes, in cars, on bicycles, or (yes) on foot. In general, efficiency decreases rapidly above a particular speed for a given vehicle. That's why you'll travel farther on a tank of gas at 55mph than you ever will at 85mph, or why jets rarely use their afterburners, or...pick your example. I'm beginning to realize that riding slightly more slowly (14-18mph instead of 20+mph) makes me far less likely to become hot and bothered on trips to class, yet results in nearly the same arrival times. Hopefully I'll figure out a good balance between speed and comfort now I've got my computer attached.
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Old 10-07-08, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by daintonj View Post
Go hard and fast and change at work, you might only save a minute or two but it's not about that. It's about the feeling of your lungs burning, thighs burning, eyes watering and the ripping sound of the air as you scream along the road.

The only time I cycle slowly to work is when I'm hungover or ill, even today with a cold, sore throat, cough and aching legs from last nights roller league I still made an effort to try and keep to 17mph on the flats and uphills.
I tried to avoid sweating but I just couldn't go slow enough to not sweat so I just go wide open and change at work but my time depends on the wind. My hills are not so big but it's not unusual for us to have 15-20mph winds. If they're with me I'm fast, if they're agin me I lose 5 to 10 minutes on my 6 mile trip. My riding buddy calls them "Florida Hills"
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