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

Your average speed.

Old 03-09-07, 06:35 AM
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Your average speed.

Hi I'm new. So here's my question. On a ride of say 30 to 50 miles. Assuming that it is a flat course, nice road, no wind, and you are riding by yourself (no drafting). What do you think your average speed would be? For the purpose of the question you don't have to stop for traffic lights or anything like that. Also you aren't trying to ride full out, just a nice medium intensity ride. Also what is the weight of the bike that you are riding. Thanks.
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Old 03-09-07, 06:38 AM
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Not really sure. I don't have any flat roads, and rarely have days without some sort of headwind (ranging from slight to very annoying). Not really sure exactly what my bike weighs....with waterbottles, I'd say over 20 pounds.
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Old 03-09-07, 06:43 AM
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This has been discussed ad nauseum and the consensus is that average speed is useless as a factor of anything. Try searching on it.
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Old 03-09-07, 06:44 AM
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+1

I was just trying to be nice to the new guy though
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Old 03-09-07, 06:51 AM
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I quit looking at my average speed a long time ago. So many things can effect the numbers that you can't really rely on it to be accurate.
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Old 03-09-07, 07:07 AM
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On a flat road, no wind, no drafting, etc for 50 miles I would imagine I would average around 21 - 22 mph if I wasn't pushing it too hard and I wasn't doing a recovery ride.
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Old 03-09-07, 07:37 AM
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On a flat road, no wind, no drafting, etc for 51 miles I would imagine I would average around 22 - 23 mph if I wasn't pushing it too hard and I wasn't doing a recovery ride.
George
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Old 03-09-07, 07:41 AM
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Hilly New England terrain with few stop signs, probably 16-17 mph. But I'm 50 and I hate riding.
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Old 03-09-07, 07:50 AM
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Average speed? Hmph. My speed is much faster than average.

Everyone is right, it's not a good indicator of anything, but it's one of the few pieces of data the average cyclist has to cling to. Don't fall into the trap of worrying about your average speed all the time. If I did that, I'd go mad.

For a sprint workout or hill repeats my average speed is about 12mph. For an interval workout, it creeps up to 17-18mph. For an endurance ride, 18-20. TTs are 24-26.

The funny thing is that the training rides I do with the lowest average speeds are the ones that make me the fastest (sprints, hill repeats, and intervals). They are all much more beneficial than just going out and pedaling hard for 2 hours.
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Old 03-09-07, 07:53 AM
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I've been training all season and couldn't tell you my average speed on any ride. I could tell you time in the saddle, average power, maybe even a little something about HR, but I have no idea what my average speeds have been. I race Cat 4.

So you can tell how very valuable average speed is...
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Old 03-09-07, 08:06 AM
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It's funny, on my spreadsheet I keep a good bit of information. I keep date, time, weight, calories, avg hr, type of ride, what bike, how much climbing, avg watts, max watts, who with, where and if anything special happened. What I don't keep track of is average speed.
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Old 03-09-07, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by biker7
On a flat road, no wind, no drafting, etc for 51 miles I would imagine I would average around 22 - 23 mph if I wasn't pushing it too hard and I wasn't doing a recovery ride.
George
Hmmphh, well I was talking about on a bad day. On a good day I average 23 - 24 mph.
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Old 03-09-07, 08:10 AM
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Um...I have never seen a flat road with no winds and a nice surface...where does one find this road? Honestly I don't even think that would be fun to ride on.

In my area which goes from rollers to really steep I tend to average between 15-17 mph riding solo and depending on exactly how much climbing there is....and there is always wind.

But lets go for this mythical flat, no wind perfect road...I would think I would avg some place between 21-27 mph.
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Old 03-09-07, 08:13 AM
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Couldn't say............that is a perfect world and I don't live in one. But I would like to think that I would avg. 25 mph!
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Old 03-09-07, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by msheron
Couldn't say............that is a perfect world and I don't live in one. But I would like to think that I would avg. 25 mph!
Actually my idea of a perfect world would involve a few windy downills. All flat would be pretty boring. Of course I'm from WV so my idea of perfect is a bit distorted.
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Old 03-09-07, 08:20 AM
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I'm relatively new to cycling and it seems intuitive that average speed CAN be a good indicator of how I'm doing. For example, I can't remember feeling great on a particular ride and winding up with a low average speed. Also, I know the fitter members of my club put out consistently higher averages than I do. Can someone explain WHY average speed is a meaningless statistic? Granted it is affected by many variables, but aren't all statistical indicators ( like elapsed time, Maximum speed, etc.) One thing I like to do is compare Average speed to Maximum speed to get an indication of the hilliness of a ride. Ie. Max=48mph / Avg.=13mph, Hilly ride. Bad logic on my part?
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Old 03-09-07, 08:24 AM
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Old 03-09-07, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Mukluk
Hi I'm new. So here's my question. On a ride of say 30 to 50 miles. Assuming that it is a flat course, nice road, no wind, and you are riding by yourself (no drafting). What do you think your average speed would be? For the purpose of the question you don't have to stop for traffic lights or anything like that. Also you aren't trying to ride full out, just a nice medium intensity ride. Also what is the weight of the bike that you are riding. Thanks.
Soo fast that if you're in front of me, my jersey turns blue, and if you're behind me, it turns red.

But seriously, average speed is indeed meaningless because so many variables come into play (tire pressure, wind, temperature, humidity, altitude, how you're feeling that day, etc). What's important is "faster than the next guy."
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Old 03-09-07, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Equinox
I'm relatively new to cycling and it seems intuitive that average speed CAN be a good indicator of how I'm doing. For example, I can't remember feeling great on a particular ride and winding up with a low average speed. Also, I know the fitter members of my club put out consistently higher averages than I do. Can someone explain WHY average speed is a meaningless statistic? Granted it is affected by many variables, but aren't all statistical indicators ( like elapsed time, Maximum speed, etc.) One thing I like to do is compare Average speed to Maximum speed to get an indication of the hilliness of a ride. Ie. Max=48mph / Avg.=13mph, Hilly ride. Bad logic on my part?
Around where I live there are so many different climbs that it really affects your average speed. Comparing this to someone that lives in Florida and is riding on a nice calm day on flat land could be a little depressing. Compare this to another guy living in Florida riding with 35 mile per hour winds. Then you will see how comparing average speeds on the internet is pretty much worthless.
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Old 03-09-07, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Equinox
Can someone explain WHY average speed is a meaningless statistic?
Average speed is affected by wind, weather, tires, wheels, bike, riding position, temperature, you name it. Waterrockets brought it up already, but I looked back at some of my hardest workouts, i.e. intervals, and the average speed was 16mph. And that was a damn hard workout with 9 max effort sprints and 3x5 minutes at my 6-minute max power over 1:18. The reason is that during the recoveries I'm going 10-14mph. I've also had some easy spins with average speeds of 20mph.

HR is a little better, but still in the same boat. HR can be thrown off by fatigue, hydration, caffeine, meds, overtraining, mood, stress, etc.

The reason that power meters have come into being is that it's the only reliable measure of the work that you're doing to propel the bike forward. The average speed may change, as could the HR, but a 300-watt effort is a 300-watt effort is a 300-watt effort, whether that's at 25mph on the flats, 10mph into a 30mph headwind, or 6mph up a hill.
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Old 03-09-07, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Mukluk
Hi I'm new. So here's my question. On a ride of say 30 to 50 miles. Assuming that it is a flat course, nice road, no wind, and you are riding by yourself (no drafting). What do you think your average speed would be? For the purpose of the question you don't have to stop for traffic lights or anything like that. Also you aren't trying to ride full out, just a nice medium intensity ride. Also what is the weight of the bike that you are riding. Thanks.
Without stopping, no wind, medium intensity (the interpretation of that depends on the fitness level of the individual...I'll speak for myself) and in the flatlands of Illinois, I'd say, on my 26 pound vintage steel roadie...I'd average (depending on how I felt that day) 20-23 mph. I base this figure on a couple 2 mile, relatively non-stop segments of a 17 mile commute where I could comfortably hold 20-23 mph for the duration (but again, thats with variable wind, carrying a trunk bag with lunch/change of clothes/some tools/a tube/a frame pump and a handlebar bag with keys/cell phone/wallet/etc.) Oh yeah...I'm an occasional smoker and turn 33 this year too.

YMMV.
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Old 03-09-07, 08:57 AM
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To the original poster...

A lot of the folks who have posted are competitive cyclists (i.e. they race on weekends) so they simply don't do many rides that match your hypothetical scenario, other than maybe during the off-season. Since average steady-state speed is only one of many indicators of race results, someone who races is not likely to pay much attention to average speed during or after the ride.

Still, even with the caveat above I think yours is a fair question, so...

I looked at the data from a recent 70-mile ride in the Raleigh, NC area and my highest one-hour-average moving speed was 23 mph (at 250 watts). The average wattage for the entire ride was 250 watts, but the speed for the entire ride was 21mph, so I think the 23mph number clearly represents nearly ideal conditions for my area, i.e. the flattest, least-trafficky, best kept roads in a one hour section of the ride.

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Old 03-09-07, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by mwrobe1
Without stopping, no wind, medium intensity (the interpretation of that depends on the fitness level of the individual...I'll speak for myself) and in the flatlands of Illinois, I'd say, on my 26 pound vintage steel roadie...I'd average (depending on how I felt that day) 20-23 mph. I base this figure on a couple 2 mile, relatively non-stop segments of a 17 mile commute where I could comfortably hold 20-23 mph for the duration (but again, thats with variable wind, carrying a trunk bag with lunch/change of clothes/some tools/a tube/a frame pump and a handlebar bag with keys/cell phone/wallet/etc.) Oh yeah...I'm an occasional smoker and turn 33 this year too.

YMMV.
Problem with the analysis is that holding 20-23mph doesn't end up giving an average speed of 20-23mph.
Your average speed for a ride will always end up being less than your typical cruising speed.

Also to put this in a little perspective, the traditional bench mark for a 25 mile Time trial was breaking an hour (or 25 mph) That won't win anything these days but its still not easy to do, even with tt bike aero wheels etc. Given that you've got to be pretty strong to do 25 mph in a maximal effort on a TT bike, it's a little unrealistic to think most folks could average 23 mph for 30 miles just tooloing around.
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Old 03-09-07, 09:16 AM
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I've never had a ride such as the OP describes. I suppose I could find flatter roads closer to Kansas but it is always windy. So, any response of mine would be pure conjecture. That being said....22.42332233 mph.
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Old 03-09-07, 09:20 AM
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