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Do you track your speed?

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Do you track your speed?

Old 03-28-22, 09:34 PM
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VegasJen
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Do you track your speed?

Just as a personal goal, I've been trying to break a 20mph pace for a 20 mile ride. Haven't done it yet. In fact, I haven't quite been able to break 18mph yet, although I've been really, really close a time or two. But I think I can do a 20mph pace if I was on flat ground. The problem around here is that getting anywhere close to flat over 20 miles would probably mean doing multiple laps of the same circuit. I'm not a fan of riding like that but maybe one day I will map out a course just to give it a shot.

I've had some people argue that going down hill should even out the uphill parts but I assert that you never get back going down hill what you put in going up.
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Old 03-28-22, 09:54 PM
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I define my own segments on RWGPS based on stretches I can ride without interference and try to beat my own time and peak speed for fun, but they are usually short segments. While I take note of the average moving speed of each ride in total to gauge vs my perceived exertion, it's usually merely a reflection of the amount of traffic, obstacles, forced slows and stops, on top of the always fluctuating variable of wind on the day. If you can't manage 20 miles relatively uninterrupted, too much of your success will depend on the conditions you encounter, and there's also an element of taking on too much risk trying to make ride targets when too many other people are around.
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Old 03-28-22, 10:15 PM
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I used to shoot for 5 hour centuries. A few weeks ago did 20 miles at 20 MPH but those centuries were 25 years ago.
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Old 03-28-22, 11:25 PM
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Originally Posted by yaw View Post
I define my own segments on RWGPS based on stretches I can ride without interference and try to beat my own time and peak speed for fun, but they are usually short segments. While I take note of the average moving speed of each ride in total to gauge vs my perceived exertion, it's usually merely a reflection of the amount of traffic, obstacles, forced slows and stops, on top of the always fluctuating variable of wind on the day. If you can't manage 20 miles relatively uninterrupted, too much of your success will depend on the conditions you encounter, and there's also an element of taking on too much risk trying to make ride targets when too many other people are around.
Most of my rides, I don't generally have to worry about stopping for traffic. There are a few stretches where I have precious little shoulder, and I'm constantly stunned at the liberties drivers take with my life.
The highway is the best option for me to get something remotely resembling flat, but even that is going to include a couple hundred feet of elevation change in 10 or 20 miles. I might go out and do a dedicated run out there just to see if I can get that 20mph pace on *flatter* ground.
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Old 03-28-22, 11:29 PM
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Originally Posted by VegasJen View Post
Most of my rides, I don't generally have to worry about stopping for traffic. There are a few stretches where I have precious little shoulder, and I'm constantly stunned at the liberties drivers take with my life.
The highway is the best option for me to get something remotely resembling flat, but even that is going to include a couple hundred feet of elevation change in 10 or 20 miles. I might go out and do a dedicated run out there just to see if I can get that 20mph pace on *flatter* ground.
Why is the value '20' so important that you are trying to find a terrain that enables it?

Hard to tell without knowing how old you are, how long you have been riding, how frequently you train, and what your general riding is about, but if you can manage near 18 currently then 20 is a goal worth pursuing without looking for a road that enables it. 20 on that other road may not be worth as much as 18 on your current road, so where's the outcome other than numerical?
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Old 03-29-22, 12:26 AM
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It's just what I want to do. No other reason than that. Well, maybe a little denying my age. I'm on the wrong side of 50 and fighting it with everything I have. I enjoy riding, but it's just one of several things in my arsenal. I also skate, run, free weight and elliptical train.
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Old 03-29-22, 03:28 AM
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if it helps, try to find out the miles before mental fatigue takes place & then take that number, add 1 or 2 miles on to that for targeting the tracked average speed for yourself.
Some may suggest there's a hard number for that, but I would much rather determine that number on my own for a better idea of personal capability.
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Old 03-29-22, 04:03 AM
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I don’t care about average speed, there are too many variables. Wind, temperature, traffic, etc all have an impact. I’ve run the same route at 21.5mph one day and 18 two days later with roughly the same power.
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Old 03-29-22, 05:11 AM
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No
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Old 03-29-22, 05:37 AM
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All of my rides, runs, etc are tracked on an app. I only look at the data for consumable/maintenance purposes, though.
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Old 03-29-22, 05:55 AM
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I look at it at the end of a ride, but I don't track it.

There's nothing wrong with having a goal, and 20 miles in an hour is not a bad goal. Just be aware that, in cycling at this level, a 2 mph difference is a BIG difference. I have no idea what your physical capacity is - there are people who can hop on a bike today and be cycling at 20 mph in a month. If your athleticism is more average, then IMO it would be a good idea to start to familiarize yourself with training concepts (base training; over-training; interval training; etc.) and put together a plan. You can try driving to a flatter area (I ride in Rhode Island some times, it is pretty flat) to ride. I rode 80 miles in 4 hours there once (running from a series of thunderstorms). If you're not comfortable riding the highway, then trust your instincts. You know the roads in your area, the drivers in your area, and yourself best.

As far as going downhill, your instincts are correct. Speed is measured in miles per hour, so if you ride for 10 miles downhill at 22 mph and 10 miles uphill at 18 mph, then your average is 19.8 mph. It's more complicated than that, it's never an exactly even split, but basically you spend more time going slowly than you do going fast, so your "average" is never in the middle speed-wise - in the example above, your miles per hour per mile {miles/hr/mile} would be 20, but not your miles per hour {miles/hr}.
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Old 03-29-22, 08:24 AM
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I do shoot for an average speed on each solo ride. It varies each time depending on my route and weather. But yeah, I set one in my mind and try to hit it.
During the ride, I never look at my average speed.
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Old 03-29-22, 08:41 AM
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Runners: "min/mi for a steady deliberate and enjoyable effort, perform workouts, track pace, track improvements, how to choose a pacer for a run event etc....."

Cyclists: "speed is meaningless and autopause is a sin and a bunch of other old man yells at cloud Fred nonsense getting angry at science, technology, or having 'goals' "

Speed can be much more relative for a cyclist.........but......there's nothing wrong with having goals related to it.
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Old 03-29-22, 08:45 AM
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I don't pay any attention to average speed during a ride, but I do track it and Strava sends me little graphs for segments and routes that compare speed over time. This data is interesting, and trying to PR segments is fun, but in terms of training data I'm not sure speed is of much value. There are too many variables that can affect speed, and most of my segment PR's occur when I'm either riding in a group, or have a massive tailwind, or happened to get lucky and catch green lights/no traffic, etc.
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Old 03-29-22, 08:59 AM
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After a ride I'll look at the average speed I made for that ride and compare it to other rides of the same route. I've never worried about what my average speed is for a level distance though. Nor would I like riding 3 miles of level road and much less 20 miles.
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Old 03-29-22, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
Runners: "min/mi for a steady deliberate and enjoyable effort, perform workouts, track pace, track improvements, how to choose a pacer for a run event etc....."

Cyclists: "speed is meaningless and autopause is a sin and a bunch of other old man yells at cloud Fred nonsense getting angry at science, technology, or having 'goals' "

Speed can be much more relative for a cyclist.........but......there's nothing wrong with having goals related to it.
I'm not sure how your fred hot take fits into this, but road running is structured around events with specific standardized distances, so pace is a more directly comparable metric. In cycling, the equivalent would be 40k TT's or track cycling, which are fairly specific compared to running, where almost everyone in the sport does a timed 5k or 10k and uses pace as a training metric. If running had power meters, you'd probably see less focus on pace.

I've seen plenty of runners debate the use of auto-pause as well, especially when it comes to bragging about specific times.
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Old 03-29-22, 09:13 AM
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No, I did at first but found it was a meaningless metric; msu2001la basically stated the same POV for me. It has no value if you do a lot of climbing or group rides since there is a lot of other factors affecting speed.

I only watch my speed and power during rides to gauge pace.
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Old 03-29-22, 09:20 AM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la View Post
I'm not sure how your fred hot take fits into this, but road running is structured around events with specific standardized distances, so pace is a more directly comparable metric. In cycling, the equivalent would be 40k TT's or track cycling, which are fairly specific compared to running, where almost everyone in the sport does a timed 5k or 10k and uses pace as a training metric. If running had power meters, you'd probably see less focus on pace.

I've seen plenty of runners debate the use of auto-pause as well, especially when it comes to bragging about specific times.
-Runners do have power meters now, have for a few years now. But not used with the same popularity as with bikes.

-Many fondos without timed segments still list a cutoff time, just like footrace events.

-Timed segment fondos, well, they time the uphill segments. Then you still also get a time based cutoff to arrive at the start of each climb.

-Fondos, despite having some group/pack parts, can often breakup on the climbs and then your personal "speed" becomes good to know or track if you're trying to finish under a cutoff or get a PR or get an age group podium or something.

-Speed/time are relevant in fondos and gravel grinder races to plan your nutrition strategy around aid stations. Distance/speed = time to arrive at aid station. Nutrition is time based. Knowing and planning for your speed helps you plan for the time to get there and the needs in-between. Shoot, the roadie pros it matters as expected pack arrival time at feed zones, tracking wind or weather on the route, tracking the breakaway group, etc.... It might not be a "goal" but it's a relevant metric for planning and execution.

-Group rides are groups, but they publish group pace in........speed.

-The times mentioned above are for you to get from one place to another, over a distance. Distance/time = speed

-The runner autopause debate can be summarized with the cyclist one if we think about it in accepted milestones: 400m, 1mi, 5k, 10k, 1/2, full......10mi TT, 25mi TT, time up an important climb, a segment..........the things worth caring about counts all time spent doing the task.

Disclaimer: I run so that I can do duathlon alongside the rare TT race. Not fast, but not slow either. So, it's an easy item to pick on bike riders about.
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Old 03-29-22, 10:36 AM
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At the end of each longer ride, I view my average speed over that ride to roughly gauge when I will be able to join some colleagues on a group ride (with allegedly more or less the same elevation gain over more or less the same distance) without totally shaming myself.

But otherwise, that metric is not that objectively meaningful; as most above have said, too many variables. It is just a number to confirm my feeling whether I got home earlier or later than anticipated.

Last edited by SoSmellyAir; 03-29-22 at 11:00 AM. Reason: Red word added in view of WhyFi's salient point below.
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Old 03-29-22, 10:57 AM
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I get that people think that average speed is a meaningless metric, but I'd argue that, outside of a race, most metrics are meaningless unless and until we ascribe some personal meaning to them. If someone pushes harder and improves their fitness or efficiency because they're trying to edge up over XX mph, then that's not at all meaningless - quite the opposite. Sure, there are a lot of factors that go in to average speed, and that makes it a horrible yardstick from region to region, person to person and sometimes even from day to day, but that doesn't mean that it can't be useful and motivating to people.
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Old 03-29-22, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
Runners: "min/mi for a steady deliberate and enjoyable effort, perform workouts, track pace, track improvements, how to choose a pacer for a run event etc....."

Cyclists: "speed is meaningless and autopause is a sin and a bunch of other old man yells at cloud Fred nonsense getting angry at science, technology, or having 'goals' "

Speed can be much more relative for a cyclist.........but......there's nothing wrong with having goals related to it.
Feel better now?
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Old 03-29-22, 11:02 AM
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Sometimes.
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Old 03-29-22, 11:23 AM
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It gets tracked as a function of my recording most of my rides, but it isn't that useful to me so I don't look at it that often.
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Old 03-29-22, 11:27 AM
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A few years ago I tried a 20 miles ride with a goal of 1 hour. I missed it by seconds, 19.9? something mph. It's part suburbs, part city, several lights, tons of traffic, a few small hills. I was happy enough with that for an old, overweight, weekend cyclist. Never raced, never wanted to. These are simply personal goals.
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Old 03-29-22, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
I get that people think that average speed is a meaningless metric, but I'd argue that, outside of a race, most metrics are meaningless unless and until we ascribe some personal meaning to them. If someone pushes harder and improves their fitness or efficiency because they're trying to edge up over XX mph, then that's not at all meaningless - quite the opposite. Sure, there are a lot of factors that go in to average speed, and that makes it a horrible yardstick from region to region, person to person and sometimes even from day to day, but that doesn't mean that it can't be useful and motivating to people.
Right- the metrics you can measure are what matter. For me, I’d rather see a higher average power over the same route vs average speed, but average power is meaningless in other situations. Outside of Zwift- no group ride is advertised with a predicted W/kg.
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