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Is there much speed difference between men/women?

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Is there much speed difference between men/women?

Old 03-25-20, 07:55 PM
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ChrisAlbertson
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Is there much speed difference between men/women?

I'm curious, as someone asked me and I had no objective data to answer with. With road bikes, on average, are men much faster than women or are they close. I know with running the finish times are not so far apart. With other sports, the difference is great. I used to race Olympic style flat water kayaks and even a rank amateur like me could keep pace with elite women, at least for a while. My guess is that there is not much difference with road bikes. Does anyone know some real numbers from racing or perhaps ecperience with large group rides

Obviously many women are much faster than some me but I'm looking for trends and averages.
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Old 03-25-20, 08:35 PM
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I don't know about your dad, but mine told me to avoid fast women.

(So, when they pass me I *NEVER* try to grab their wheel!)
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Old 03-25-20, 08:43 PM
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I have not collected statistics, but I think you will find on short sprint events, the difference does not seem a lot, but on log distance, there is a significant distance.
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Old 03-25-20, 09:46 PM
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Not sure for casual riders, but you can check race results for comparisons.
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Old 03-25-20, 09:56 PM
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Moobs.
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Old 03-25-20, 11:17 PM
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At the elite and pro levels, yes. At my level, no.
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Old 03-25-20, 11:29 PM
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Edit to add: here's some objective data: https://www.cyclinganalytics.com/blo...output-compare

Edit #2 : take a look at the Taiwan KOM challenge results. The best female rider finished last year's race at a time of just under 3h52m, the fastest man rode the same course in a bit over 3h24m.
​​​​​​
There's a significant difference. Annemiek van Vleuten is one of the world's best female road cyclists (in fact she is the reigning World Champion and former World TT champ) and can barely keep up on training rides with the Michelton-Scott men even while drafting the entire time. And GCN thinks she might train the hardest of any pro, male or female! No slight to her at all, there's just a huge physiological gap between men and women when it comes to top-end road cycling (epic endurance events OTOH, women actually might be better)

As far as amateur riding goes, I guess I'd be in the top 10-15% on most of the local Strava segments that have 100s to 1000s of riders, but usually my times would put me top-10 amongst the times posted by females, sometimes equal to the QOM time. I've only been riding for 2 years after not doing anything athletic for a decade prior.

With large group rides in Zwift, usually I'll finish ahead of all female riders with the odd exception of 1 or 2 on days I blow up staying with a front group beyond my capabilities.
​​

Last edited by surak; 03-25-20 at 11:47 PM.
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Old 03-26-20, 12:00 AM
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Anecdotal: I pretty much got off the couch one day (long hrs office job and desk at home for "off" hours) and bought a bike after zero substantial bike riding in my life. 2 weeks and 75 miles in I injured a tendon and had to be off of it for a month. Got back on and rode another month, probably 250 mi. One day I was panting and gasping while riding up a STEEP 3% grade, these two guys OLDER than me with pronounced beer guts pass me carrying on a leisurely conversation...I nearly gave up that day.

By month 5 my times on a particular 14 mi segment were somewhere in the 65th percentile for men, but if I were a woman would have been #2 all-time for the segment. I was riding 25 lb entry-level gravel bike, #1 woman for the segment rides ~4000 mi/year and one of her bikes is a TT. Taking me out of the equation, the time rankings tell the tale, I think. There's a few thousand times in the list...We're only talking speed. What none of that measures though, is mental toughness and discipline.
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Old 03-26-20, 12:04 AM
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Note, it wouldn't let me edit - I should add the "65th percentile" I referred to in my post is a guestimate solely from memory. I don't recall exactly where I was all-time for men.
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Old 03-26-20, 12:11 AM
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Check out some of these times and it is clear that at the highest levels, men have advantage in most cycling types of events.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o..._track_cycling
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Old 03-26-20, 04:01 AM
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Yep, there's a difference. Mostly because biology rigs the game.

There's no substitute for a lifetime of inhabiting a body flooded with testosterone during formative years, not to mention the general differences between how boys and girls are psychologically conditioned. Fortunately the latter is less a factor now and more women have a better chance at maximizing physical potential without the baggage of inhibiting psychological and cultural conditioning.

A local woman pro who's in her 30s has many of the QOMs in our area. I'm a 62 y/o man, only middling fast even in my age group, and have faster times than hers on some Strava segments. But she's a better climber and has better stamina. To equal her over distance I need to have an exceptionally good day.

But testosterone rapidly diminishes with age and cannot be easily replenished without other complications. In my case, it might offer some short term improvements in energy, recuperation and strength, but due to an auto-immune disorder, a dysfunctional thyroid and early onset osteopenia, I'd risk long term complications that might not be worthwhile.

If I were a good candidate for medically supervised testosterone therapy, HGH, etc., I'd easily beat the best times of every local woman pro.

And I'd still be slower than some of the fastest guys my age.

And I still wouldn't be able to keep up with Emma Pooley on mountain climbs.

Biology is unfair. Even when women athletes have been caught using PEDs it doesn't magically boost them to levels comparable to men. It barely gives them an edge over their (presumably clean) female competitors.

And there are exceptions. Even with my background in amateur boxing, I still wouldn't step into the ring with some women pro boxers my size, including Layla Ali. Even if I could play tennis Serena and Venus Williams would still kick my butt.

And there are differences in physiology, metabolism and balance that may favor some women in endurance events, gymnastics, etc.
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Old 03-26-20, 05:08 AM
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Things like boxing and tennis introduce skill, which is a fundamentally different question. The rigged biology is absolutely the biggest deal, and shows up in any like-for-like comparison (swimming, cycling, running, rowing, XC skiing, etc) over any distance. It looks closer in sprinting because the absolute time difference is lower, and in ultra-endurance it looks smaller because it's a less-developed area all around and is where women have less biological disadvantage.

For another example, my wife is almost never more than one place away from a Kona slot, while even my optimistic times would leave me far far away from one. Yet, I'm a huge bucket faster than her. The men's field is just MUCH stronger.
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Old 03-26-20, 06:24 AM
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Every sport involves skill. it is not like boxing is really tough to learn but XC skiing or swimming takes no technique.

In fact the biggest differences are in sports like boxing or tennis, where physical strength makes a huge difference. That is why boxes or wrestlers of both genders are divided into such limited weight classes---an extra two or four pounds of muscle makes a huge difference.

Tennis? Serena Williams' best serve was 128 mph (according to google,) while her average is/was 106 mph.

Sam Groth delivered a serve at 163.4 mph, and John Isner holds the "official" record at 157.2 mph.

Are these men that much mores skilled? Do they work harder than Serena Williams? I truly doubt it. However, Isner is gigantically tall and men in generally have about 15 percent muscle mass. Given equal training, most men are going to be that much stronger than women.

Sports relying less on burst strength show less disparity but as @surak mentions, Annemiek van Vleuten, probably the best female road cyclist in the world, couldn't hang with her male team mates.

Skill? Sure. Better pedal strokes, better understand of one's own abilities and when you push and when to recover .... but other things being equal, there is no way to overcome that extra muscle---even with athletes of the same gender.
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Old 03-26-20, 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Every sport involves skill. it is not like boxing is really tough to learn but XC skiing or swimming takes no technique.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and conclude that you don't do much skiing or swimming...
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Old 03-26-20, 06:44 AM
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The guys who previously replied to this thread, talking about Strava QOMs, have probably never pinned a race number.

There are some very fast women out there who can hang with the men in the fastest crits in California, from CAT5 up to P/1/2. Even CAT5 crits in Socal average 26mph, and it only goes up from there.
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Old 03-26-20, 07:05 AM
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Originally Posted by mercator View Post
I'm going to go out on a limb here and conclude that you don't do much skiing or swimming...
In point of fact I used to really enjoy cross-country skiing and I used to swim laps of an Olympic-length pool for fitness. Got a point? Feel free to share it.
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Old 03-26-20, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
In point of fact I used to really enjoy cross-country skiing and I used to swim laps of an Olympic-length pool for fitness. Got a point? Feel free to share it.
I don't mean to condescend, and I suppose if fitness is your goal then technique is unimportant.
If your goals involve speed or distance, then I'm fairly certain that it is.
Did they have a life guard at the pool? What do they even pay those people for?
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Old 03-26-20, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by mercator View Post
I'm going to go out on a limb here and conclude that you don't do much skiing or swimming...
You need to read the post again.
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Old 03-26-20, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
In point of fact I used to really enjoy cross-country skiing and I used to swim laps of an Olympic-length pool for fitness. Got a point? Feel free to share it.
I understood your post’s point.
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Old 03-26-20, 09:26 AM
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Old 03-26-20, 12:03 PM
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There is a biological difference. Testosterone levels during development drive most of it (lean muscle mass, more bone density to support the muscles, less body fat to push up hills, etc).

I briefly went through last year's time trial results from multiple races. TT's were chosen to remove the "lack of aggression" and small field size factors that I see in women's racing. Every single race result showed the same pattern: The winning time of the P/1/2 women wouldn't get a podium spot in the men's 3 category and usually wouldn't crack the top 60% of the men's P/1/2 field. Same course, same conditions, same gear.

And also, inb4 TL.
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Old 03-26-20, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by mercator View Post
I don't mean to condescend, and I suppose if fitness is your goal then technique is unimportant.
If your goals involve speed or distance, then I'm fairly certain that it is.
Did they have a life guard at the pool? What do they even pay those people for?
I think there may be some misunderstanding here.

You posted:
Originally Posted by Bah Humbug View Post
Things like boxing and tennis introduce skill, which is a fundamentally different question. The rigged biology is absolutely the biggest deal, and shows up in any like-for-like comparison (swimming, cycling, running, rowing, XC skiing, etc) over any distance
Tio me it seemed you were saying that boxing and tennis took skill while swimming and XC skiing did not ... which i can assure (and I think you know) is a ridiculous belief. technique is extremely important in Every sport. efficiency in pedaling, swimming stroke, stride, make a huge difference.

That was exactly what I said. not sure why you would disagree.

There are some sports where pure physical strength makes a bigger difference. Wrestling and boxing are such sports---where, assuming comparable skill, five pounds of muscle will decide the bout. This is why boxing and wrestling have so many weight classes, and at the light end, the difference might be five pounds or less.

It is not that technique doesn't matter .... it is that a small advantage in strength makes the deciding difference. So, participants are given a maximum weight limit, and can carry as much muscle of whatever quality they can develop into the ring or cage, or onto the mat.

In other sports a small strength difference doesn't make the playing filed as uneven---or so the organizers of sports around the world have decided.

Since men tend to carry more and denser muscle than women----in general---it is assumed that with a man and a woman of equal weight who train equally hard, the man will have some genetic advantage, which is why women and men do not compete head-to-head in some sports (including swimming and cross-country skiing.)

Maybe this is all some misunderstanding, and if so .... let's just drop it and forget it.
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Old 03-26-20, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by mercator View Post
I'm going to go out on a limb here and conclude that you don't do much skiing or swimming...
Or boxing.
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Old 03-26-20, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by colombo357 View Post
The guys who previously replied to this thread, talking about Strava QOMs, have probably never pinned a race number.

There are some very fast women out there who can hang with the men in the fastest crits in California, from CAT5 up to P/1/2. Even CAT5 crits in Socal average 26mph, and it only goes up from there.
It isn't unusual to see P12 women in a Cat3 men's field.
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Old 03-26-20, 02:18 PM
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Comparing track and field events provide stark examples. The event are the same length, they’re a level playing field. Even though male and female don't race against each other you can compare their times for a given distance for example;

100 Meter Dash

Women's Olympic Record: 10.49 by Flo-Jo (Likely a doper).

HIGH SCHOOL Boys Record: 10.00 by Trentavis Friday.

10,000 Meter Race

Women's World Record: 29:17:45 by Almaz Ayana.

HIGH SCHOOL Boys Record: 28:32:07 by Rudy Chapa.

High school boys are faster than Olympic level female athletes. The 5-10th place finishers from the Women's Olympic 100 meter dash in 2016 would not even be fast to enough QUALIFY for US high school boys national level competitions.

The rims in the NBA are the same height as the rims in the WBNA. You can see and hear the difference between male and female dunks. The majority of the NBA can dunk. The vast majority of females cannot dunk. A good travel AAU basketball team made up of high school boys would decimate an All-Star WNBA team....and it would not be close. In the same way women's Olympic soccer teams (sorry Futbol) lose to high school aged boys in friendly matches.

My favorite cycling moment over the last few years was the 2018 La Course. Watch the interview at the finish from Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig to see how amazing Cycling is for Women. No matter who’s faster, her passion made lots of fans of the sport.

Last edited by aplcr0331; 03-26-20 at 02:24 PM.
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