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Increasing speed? stuck around 15MPH

Old 07-28-17, 03:14 PM
  #26  
northtexasbiker
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If I need a boost of self confidence I just do my normal loop in reverse. That way all of my climbing is early on and the end is mostly flat road. My average mph really jumps up.
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Old 07-28-17, 03:16 PM
  #27  
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If there are any stops at all on your ride you will always be around the 15-16mph mark. The act of slowing down and speeding up really hurts your average.
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Old 07-28-17, 03:17 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by scott967 View Post
I don't have power data to back up my impression, but ISTM that losing weight can make a dramatic difference in ave speed (I'm assuming constant ave power).

scott s.
.
Up a hill, losing weight is important. On the flat, even modest improvements in aerodynamics (like changing position or wearing tighter clothing) would typically have much more of an advantage than losing a small amount of weight.

Since we’re assuming constant power, endurance and fitness aren’t a consideration, but aerodynamics and total mass are possible independent variables. On relatively flat ground at constant power, above ~25kph/15mph, I believe aerodynamics start to matter a lot more than mass.
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Old 07-28-17, 03:19 PM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by Symtex View Post
am I the only who think that training to speed instead of power is a waste of time ? I can ride 15mph on the flat with a tailwind while in my sleep. Try to do the same on a head wind going up a 10% gradient hill and let's talk. Speed has been irrelevant to me for awhile now. I trained to power. I made significant gain on my climbing and overall endurance.
Power is preferable because it's a consistent measure of output that's agnostic regarding wind, slope, road smoothness, whatever. It allows you to fine tune your training and analyze the heck out of it. They're very useful for pacing on longer intervals and especially valuable on recovery days. But they have less utility during shorter intervals, like a minute or less. Those are generally all-out for the interval. All you need is a watch. And a power meters is still relatively expensive and is probably not a good investment for someone who's just starting out.

Training to speed may not be as accurate but it's hardly a waste of time. It's how everyone trained until fairly recently. If you have a benchmark road segment, particularly an uphill one, a TT is still a good way of measuring improvement. #trainlikeits1975
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Old 07-28-17, 03:21 PM
  #30  
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Speaking more practically, you can also ride with faster people so that (a) you can draft behind them and (b) they will push your limits mentally and physically as long as you can keep up.
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Old 07-28-17, 03:23 PM
  #31  
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You don't need a power meter to train with intervals.

If you're doing 20 minute intervals, ride as hard as you can keep it up for 20 minutes. Sprint intervals, as hard as you can go for however long the sprint is. Perceived exertion works at this level. Heart rate monitor works for training, except for short intervals of course.

From what OP describes, just riding more miles provided there is real effort here and there will improve his speed and endurance. He doesn't need to get gear crazy for this ... even clipless pedals unless he just wants them.
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Old 07-28-17, 03:43 PM
  #32  
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Yes definitely walk into your local bike shop and plunk down $1200 for a Stages Power Meter.

Also, a quality heart rate monitor can be had for under $100 and will get you a decent approximation of how hard you're working. You don't need a left foot right foot watt by watt comparison to get fast. Even the HRM is unnecessary for that.

Mostly getting fast at road cycling is about suffering, badly - with others. Over and over - as often as possible. It's honestly like that. Not 100% of the time or even 50% of the ride has to be a hammerfest. But you have to be willing to occasionally put yourself into a cave of pain beyond where you thought you could go. The way you see it done most of the time is just by riding with others who have already put tens of thousands of miles. Do their pace line rotation crap or whatever and then try to follow when they dial up the effort. Keep telling yourself it's fun!
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Old 07-28-17, 03:43 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by northtexasbiker View Post
I now know why (toe clips were a thing), but it took me some time to realize that clipless pedals are the pedals you clip in just not via toe clips. It's really bizarre branding from the outside looking in.
Those metal things that held your feet in place were the clips. In the 80s Look introduced their pédales automatiques based on their ski boot bindings, people noticed that there were no longer metal clips so they were called "clipless" pedals in English.
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Old 07-28-17, 03:48 PM
  #34  
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I'm curious what races the OP has done? How'd you fare? What lessons have you learned? What is your goal? To be competitive? To 'just be faster?'

(cue @carpediemracing 's reminder that avg speed means nothing, which is also true. If you go for an hour ride, and spend half of that sprinting your eyes out and recovering, your average isn't going to be anything to speak of...)
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Old 07-28-17, 04:47 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by Symtex View Post
how can you truly measure your effort ? Power is the only way. Regardless of the interval, climbing and endurance training. Power is the only measure that effort regardless of attenuating factor like wind, temperature, road gradient...etc...

It is not a cheap investment but before you decide to upgrade your wheel or groupset, you should buy a power meter. Even if it's a left only Stages. It will change the way you look at cycling. Oh get some clipless already....;-P
Yeah, that's a good point. This wasn't a GCN-does-science episode. Just Simon and Matt cruising the flats and suggesting techniques. And Matt out of breath trying to keep up with Si.

However they did a GCN test lab video on clipless vs. platform and discovered very little measurable advantage to clipless. But Simon was a pro and his results probably won't reflect on most of us who need every advantage.

But having ridden both platform with casual shoes and toe clips with those steel-soled cleated Detto Pietros, I know a good foot retention system can make a difference once we've reached reasonable fitness and good pedaling technique. It took me a couple of years back in the saddle to finally feel I've reached the limits of what I can do with casual shoes and platforms -- at least on my road bike. I don't plan to go clipless on my hybrids.
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Old 07-28-17, 04:54 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by northtexasbiker View Post
If I need a boost of self confidence I just do my normal loop in reverse. That way all of my climbing is early on and the end is mostly flat road. My average mph really jumps up.
LOL! Yup. I can cruise easily at 16 mph from the west side of Foat Wuth all the way toward downtown because it's a long gradual downhill. Almost feels like a flat until you check the data. Getting ready to leave for tonight's critical mass.

Going back home later tonight will be the tricky bit, after a few hours in the 100+F heat index.
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Old 07-28-17, 08:59 PM
  #37  
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Yes to intervals and riding with a group that challenges you. Also concentrate on smooth efficient pedaling, target 90 rpms cadence on flat. Is your seat at the proper height? Also clipless pedals. Was it LeMond who said "it never gets easier you just get faster"?
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Old 07-28-17, 09:02 PM
  #38  
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During the winter months, one thing that helps me is to take spinning classes, and to really push myself during those spinning classes.
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Old 07-29-17, 07:45 AM
  #39  
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Go faster = work harder.

Do well in races = be more uncomfortable during training and extremely uncomfortable during races.

There is a Training and Nutrition thread (Training & Nutrition - Bike Forums)

But basically, going faster means not letting up when you normally let up, pushing until you are very uncomfortable, and then maintaining that level of discomfort for longer.

It could be you have some level of performance where you feel exhilarated but not exhausted, where yo are making an effort and it feels like enough, where you habitually ride and consider that to be a good pace. It will take concerted mental effort to break out of this rather comfortable level of occasional discomfort and ride at a pace which feels worse but delivers higher numbers.

That's why people suggest group rides. If your goal is not to get dropped, you can surpass your normal level of effort by focusing on staying on the wheel of the rider ahead, and you can override your brain and body's signals to slow down or ease up, because you have an external focus
Hold the wheel" can be stronger than "this is hard enough."

When yo depend on your brain to be the sole motivator, it wastes energy debating itself: "This is enough, ease up." "No, stay with it." "This hurts!" "It's worth it!" "No it's not ... and tomorrow it will hurt worse." "It's worth it ... " and after a little of that your body eases up without you noticing.

"Don't get dropped" has a pride component too ... and people will make crazy efforts just to not have to explain later that they couldn't hold the pace. My swollen ego has pushed my body to places that no other part of me wanted ior even dreamed I could reach--just so I didn't have to admit afterwards that yeah, I got dropped..
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Old 07-29-17, 07:49 AM
  #40  
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Best method I've found:

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Old 07-29-17, 07:58 AM
  #41  
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Faster

Pump up your tires. Hit some hills, push into the wind. Work thru your knee pain, it takes longer for joints to get stronger than muscles. Ride at as high a cadence as you can...smoothly. Developing a nice stroke is so important. Go ride, at least some every other day. Eat good food. Chase that guy that passed you, catch that guy in front of you. Road intervals can keep it interesting.
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Old 07-29-17, 08:10 AM
  #42  
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I have my fast loop that is about 18 miles. This is the one I push myself on and gauge my average speed build up.

What helps me is going on long 50 and 60 mile rides. Makes the fast 18 so much easier.
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Old 07-29-17, 08:26 AM
  #43  
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Wind sprints = ride into the wind as hard as you can in a fairly hard gear until you can't maintain the pace, then turn around and spin back to where you started (don't shift) and do it again for 4-6 x.

Hill repeats = Ride up a challenging incline shifting as needed to maintain momentum but which leaves you spent at the top, then spin (not coast) to the bottom. You can do a series of hills or turn around and do the same hill 4-6 x.

Tabata = Warm up then ride balls to the wall for 30-60 seconds, recover for 1-2 minutes, repeat 8-10 x.

Monster Mash = Push a big gear for a short distance until your legs burn, recover, repeat x 3 (don't overdo this one as it can really make you sore a day or two later).

Remember the training triad: Hard Work + Good Nutrition + Adequate Recovery = SUCCESS

Sometimes your best gains can be made by taking a couple of active recovery days and tweeking your nutrition. Active recovery = casual riding way below threshold for short rides, going for walks, recreational swimming, etc. Gentle activity that keeps blood and lymph moving but which doesn't tax your muscles at all. When it comes to nutrition, you will not have peak performance while simultaneously losing weight. Accept sub-optimal times while actively trying to lose weight but up your calories (while still maintaining quality nourishment) for a few days before the big event. I'm not talking about gorging yourself, just increase the protein and carbs to assure complete repair and to top off energy reserves.

Avoid excessive alcohol, late nights, illness, and reduce stress as much as possible.

Do some yoga, Pilates and stretching to make sure that you aren't fighting muscle tension during hard rides. If I've done hard hill repeats, etc. and haven't completely recovered, my calves and thighs are tight and it seriously impacts my ability to spin up past 90 rpm. Same thing if you have recently done heavy squats at the gym.

If all else fails, try downhill with a tailwind
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Old 07-29-17, 08:37 AM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by tararogue View Post
When I'm trying to get base miles in and/or commuting, though, on my own, I CANNOT seem to get past 15.3-15.5 miles an hour. I once hit 16 on average on a 16 mile ride, but that was one time. It's so weird that I am literally always in that range no matter what I seem to try and do.

So, this may be a fairly silly question, but what have you found to be successful for slowly increasing your strength and speed?
As you develop as a cyclist your times/speeds will start to plateau/taper. This is natural as you approach your physiological limits. I found that doing long rides forces me to recruit new muscle groups (because I get sore). Doing shorter rides, even hard ones (like a race), I get tired, fine, but the next day I'm not sore, just fatigued.

In parallel with developing as a cyclist you'll want to adapt your position as you get stronger. You'll find yourself able to hold a longer, lower position. Typically there's a boost in aero efficiency as well as power. The power may not be there initially but a lower back (or sharper hip angle, to a point) allows you to recruit your glutes more. This in turn opens up more potential for you to tap (potential that you'll gain and eventually taper).

Cycling is such that for most situations wind resistance is the most significant factor in avg speed; air resistance increases exponentially. For those tracking by speed it is hard to track improvements because the same increase in power at 10 mph and 20 mph will NOT result in the same increase in speed. At 10 mph you might gain 2 mph. At 20 mph it might be 1 mph.

Consider that there are some significant things that can affect your average speed on a commute/ride. Your speed should go up as you adapt your position and become more powerful and more aero. However, to answer your question about speed on a given ride...

1. Wind. Like I said before, wind is super significant. I went for a ride as Hurricane George was hitting land in the area. Avg wind was 50-55 mph, gusts were over 80 mph. I could maintain 60 mph for about a minute on a FLAT road, and coasting I was going 15-20 mph (from "go fast enough to balance" to "I don't think I'll go much faster without pedaling"). That's an extreme example but wind is super significant, it's the crux to all group riding/racing tactics on flatter roads. If you're averaging 13 mph in 10 mph wind (23 mph effective wind speed) and then the wind is either zero (13 mph effective wind speed) or 20 mph (33 mph effective wind speed) obviously you'll go much faster or slower.

Likewise if you ride with a friend and you're drafting you'll go much faster. I typically go about 15 mph on my training rides, averaging about 150 watts. However, in a couple (Cat 3) races in 2015 (last time I raced at that venue) I averaged in the upper 150w range. Because of drafting I avg something like 23-24 mph (and I placed 3rd in both of them,
, the other
).

2. Lights/stop signs, or other things that make you stop. I stop for all lights and stop signs. I never realized how significant stopping at lights was until I started using Waze in the car. I quickly learned that going faster on the highway was virtually useless (80 vs 65 mph) because the % difference in speed was not huge. It would be better doubling my speed in a 25 mph zone, although that's usually pretty dumb/dangerous. Percentage-wise, going 50 in a 25 is like going 130 in a 65. However, stop for a minute at a light, and it wipes out huge chunks of speed related savings. On the bike it means that if you get some friendly green lights it can make a difference in avg speed.

3. A distant third is your fitness. Of course your body's adaptation plateaus if you do the same thing over and over again. Your body adapts to stress, and once it's adapted to your commute it won't really need to adapt any more. What you want to do is introduce some significant stressors. Racing is excellent, if it's above your current level. The repeated accelerations, the work well above your threshold, they all help dramatically stress your body and force adaptations. You'll hit another plateau, of course, and at some point you'll nudge into genetic limiters. If the last bit wasn't true then we'd all be capable of doing 30 mph for an hour and sprint at 45 mph.

You can work on improving your speed but the reality is that the most significant gains in avg speed will be from factors beyond your control, wind and traffic.
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Old 07-29-17, 10:37 AM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by tararogue View Post
Hi all!

So, this may be a fairly silly question, but what have you found to be successful for slowly increasing your strength and speed?
Slowly increasing your strength & speed: by riding with others in a group, you will notice that the mental attention is not on you but as you in that group. The faster they go, the faster you will go. This is the answer to slowly increasing. The faster way is speed work aka intervals.

If the group is slow, so will you be slow. Each group will have its dynamics. Pick one that has faster (than you) riders and same as you riders. This is more fun than doing solo intervals. Try a local bike shop that has organized rides during the week. Or bike clubs in your area.
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Old 07-29-17, 01:33 PM
  #46  
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I hate riding in groups, so that's out.
Clipless? Why??? I still use toe clips and straps, yet I can pedal at 18-19mph riding speed on my 30-pound commuter just fine. My average - including traffic lights - is over 17mph.

FWIW, the bike is under 25 pounds, but full water bottle, frame pump, tool kit, blinkies, rear rack carrying a change of clothes (work clothes), wallet, and cell phone add weight.
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Old 07-29-17, 01:41 PM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by tararogue View Post
Hi all!
...
On average, I ride about 60-80 miles a week.
Simple.

You just need to ride more.
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Old 07-29-17, 02:13 PM
  #48  
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Tires can have a meaningful impact on speed. Learn about rolling resistance and consider getting yourself some tires with superior rolling resistance. Almost as important is air pressure. Make certain your tires are pumped up properly. Excellent rolling resistance tires with precise pressure can improve speed several MPH - more than anything except mechanical improvements.

Beyond that, work on gear technique. Try experimenting with accelerating or postponing shifts to make certain you're shifting at opportune times and maximizing speed. This may be particularly beneficial on easy descents where a lot of time can be lost.

Last edited by Tony P.; 07-29-17 at 02:22 PM.
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Old 07-29-17, 05:09 PM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by tararogue View Post
Hi all!
I CANNOT seem to get past 15.3-15.5 miles an hour. I once hit 16 on average on a 16 mile ride, but that was one time. It's so weird that I am literally always in that range no matter what I seem to try and do.
This is kind of a peculiar question to me. Speed is variable, unless you have a speed regulator built in somewhere or somethings wrong with the bike. The harder, faster, you push the faster you go. Are you switching to higher gears as your speed goes up? are you over spinning?
Just pick a smooth, flat stretch and ramp it up. How long you can sustain it depends on your fitness.
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Old 07-29-17, 07:22 PM
  #50  
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I think he has found a level of exertion with which he is comfortable and to go faster he has to push himself past what is currently comfortable.
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