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Avg Speed, Hr & Power in windy & calm days

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Avg Speed, Hr & Power in windy & calm days

Old 05-21-13, 01:37 PM
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Avg Speed, Hr & Power in windy & calm days

There's no hills where I live so wind is the main thing that affects day to day riding. The wind was wicked today (about 30mph) and almost directly in my face on the return trip. So it was a good comparison of avg speed, HR & power on a windy day like today vs. a calmer day on the same route.

Today's ride #'s
Avg power - 275 w
Avg HR - 155
Avg Speed - 18.8 mph

Calm day ride #'s
Avg power - 269 w
Avg HR - 149
Avg Speed - 21.7 mph

So my power & hr were higher today while my avg speed dropped over 13%. I'd say that's significant and shows quite effectively why avg speed isn't worth much as an indicator of performance, even for the same rider, on the same course.
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Old 05-21-13, 01:45 PM
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so one of your conclusions from comparing TWO rides is avg speed is not a good indicator?
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Old 05-21-13, 01:46 PM
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BTW, awesome wattage.
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Old 05-21-13, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by dalava View Post
so one of your conclusions from comparing TWO rides is avg speed is not a good indicator?
Yup. But it's not like the windy day is an outlier. Any time it's windy my avg speed drops and if I can overcome the mental issues of cycling with and into the wind, my power stays up there. It's just rare that I have two rides with opposite wind conditions and such similar power profiles. So I thought it was an interesting contrast. I understand that many will groan about another avg speed thread.
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Old 05-21-13, 01:59 PM
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Average wattage means nothing without the rider's weight. I can out climb many riders that produce more power than me, because I weigh less than them.
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Old 05-21-13, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by BoSoxYacht View Post
Average wattage means nothing without the rider's weight. I can out climb many riders that produce more power than me, because I weigh less than them.
On flats wattage does mean a good bit without rider weight.
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Old 05-21-13, 02:05 PM
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Average wattage on ride #1 compared to average wattage on ride #2 for the same rider does not require weight to be meaningful. I haven't gained/lost weight between rides. I weight 85kg. Weight is meaningful when comparing watts/kg from one rider to another, but not when assessing the usefulness of wattage vs speed as a metric for performance for one rider on two rides.
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Old 05-21-13, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveWC View Post
Average wattage on ride #1 compared to average wattage on ride #2 for the same rider does not require weight to be meaningful. I haven't gained/lost weight between rides. I weight 85kg. Weight is meaningful when comparing watts/kg from one rider to another, but not when assessing the usefulness of wattage vs speed as a metric for performance for one rider on two rides.
I was commenting on the person that said,"awesome wattage". Sorry I didn't quote him.
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Old 05-21-13, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by BoSoxYacht View Post
I was commenting on the person that said,"awesome wattage". Sorry I didn't quote him.
I figured. You are right.
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Old 05-21-13, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by LowCel View Post
On flats wattage does mean a good bit without rider weight.
Very true, and it's also why a headwind effects me more than a rider that produces more watts to go the same speed on the flats.
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Old 05-21-13, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveWC View Post
Yup. But it's not like the windy day is an outlier. Any time it's windy my avg speed drops and if I can overcome the mental issues of cycling with and into the wind, my power stays up there. It's just rare that I have two rides with opposite wind conditions and such similar power profiles. So I thought it was an interesting contrast. I understand that many will groan about another avg speed thread.
Average speed is funny. It's useful if you are riding the route, with similar conditions. Comparing my average speed to a friend of mine that lives in the Alps means nothing.
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Old 05-21-13, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by BoSoxYacht View Post
Average speed is funny. It's useful if you are riding the route, with similar conditions. Comparing my average speed to a friend of mine that lives in the Alps means nothing.
Agreed. My point is that it can be equally useless when comparing one rider's rides on the same route when conditions change.
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Old 05-21-13, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveWC View Post
Agreed. My point is that it can be equally useless when comparing one rider's rides on the same route when conditions change.
So true. When I compare my times on a given route, conditions are a major factor.

There is one route I use often, when there is no wind. The 1st 20 miles climbs 1000ft(I know that is nothing),and the final 30 has some stoplights that can effect the average speed.

It's normal for a 20mph average, but I'm very happy when I push it and flirt with 21mph.
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Old 05-22-13, 11:32 AM
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I can easily hold 20mph on the offroad bike path at my fathers which is all trees and calm winds. However out where I live even on days the wind is supposed to be just 'calm or 5mph' it's 10 gusting to 15mph, and I can never maintain those speeds. Really my interest in biking has lessened because of where I live. Limited roads to ride on, they are all gravel too.
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Old 05-22-13, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveWC View Post
Agreed. My point is that it can be equally useless when comparing one rider's rides on the same route when conditions change.
And that's the big discovery here? I could've told you without riding
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Old 05-22-13, 12:11 PM
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Agree, not surprising given the 30mph wind. I'm still not throwing avg speed out the window because I rarely encounter 30mph, but it should be pretty obvious to anyone riding with that variable condition that your power's going to be drastically different.

(I have a lot of mts where I live so I don't think I've ever ridden directly into a 30mph headwind - the canyons tend to block the wind.)

Give a 5mph wind speed, and I'd be a lot more curious to see how inaccurate your avg speed is for both efforts.
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Old 05-22-13, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by hhnngg1 View Post
Give a 5mph wind speed, and I'd be a lot more curious to see how inaccurate your avg speed is for both efforts.
Two things... a 5mph wind is not a wind. It's a calm day IMO. So yes, take wind out of the equation for a flat day and avg speed tends to be consistent.

But no one says that avg speed is an inaccurate measure. It's very accurate. It's just meaningless. My best avg is 22.6 mph but it doesn't mean anything. It's irrelevant and can't be compared to any other rider on any other course for any other day. It doesn't mean anything to me other than that I had a lot of power that day. My avg power/ NP was 307/315w and that is something that means something. I can directly compare that ride with my ride from yesterday into/with the wind where I averaged 275w and determine how well I did, whereas I would come to a completely different assessment if I compared the 22.6mph with the 18.8mph from yesterday.

I also can't determine any type of training program using average speed. It's just an outcome, a result of how I did given the conditions. But given that conditions change from course to course, day to day and with the weather, it's an irrelevant outcome that can't be compared to any other outcome and provide any meaning.
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Old 05-22-13, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by dalava View Post
And that's the big discovery here? I could've told you without riding
Not a big discovery, a disputed discovery. There are still those that will argue that avg speed is meaningful.
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Old 05-22-13, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveWC View Post
There's no hills where I live so wind is the main thing that affects day to day riding. The wind was wicked today (about 30mph) and almost directly in my face on the return trip. So it was a good comparison of avg speed, HR & power on a windy day like today vs. a calmer day on the same route.

Today's ride #'s
Avg power - 275 w
Avg HR - 155
Avg Speed - 18.8 mph

Calm day ride #'s
Avg power - 269 w
Avg HR - 149
Avg Speed - 21.7 mph

So my power & hr were higher today while my avg speed dropped over 13%. I'd say that's significant and shows quite effectively why avg speed isn't worth much as an indicator of performance, even for the same rider, on the same course.
Are you trolling a particular vowel deficient tri geek?
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Old 05-22-13, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveWC View Post
Not a big discovery, a disputed discovery. There are still those that will argue that avg speed is meaningful.
Except that avg speed does have meaning during some contexts. If all your testing is on an uninterrupted course under the same weather conditions, it can be useful. If you're doing aerodynamic testing in a velodrome, it can be useful. If you understand its faults, you can actually make use of the number. It can tell you some very useful information that wattage alone couldn't.
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Old 05-22-13, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by hhnngg1 View Post
Agree, not surprising given the 30mph wind. I'm still not throwing avg speed out the window because I rarely encounter 30mph, but it should be pretty obvious to anyone riding with that variable condition that your power's going to be drastically different.

(I have a lot of mts where I live so I don't think I've ever ridden directly into a 30mph headwind - the canyons tend to block the wind.)

Give a 5mph wind speed, and I'd be a lot more curious to see how inaccurate your avg speed is for both efforts.
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Old 05-22-13, 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveWC View Post
Two things... a 5mph wind is not a wind. It's a calm day IMO. So yes, take wind out of the equation for a flat day and avg speed tends to be consistent.

But no one says that avg speed is an inaccurate measure. It's very accurate. It's just meaningless. My best avg is 22.6 mph but it doesn't mean anything. It's irrelevant and can't be compared to any other rider on any other course for any other day. It doesn't mean anything to me other than that I had a lot of power that day. My avg power/ NP was 307/315w and that is something that means something. I can directly compare that ride with my ride from yesterday into/with the wind where I averaged 275w and determine how well I did, whereas I would come to a completely different assessment if I compared the 22.6mph with the 18.8mph from yesterday.

I also can't determine any type of training program using average speed. It's just an outcome, a result of how I did given the conditions. But given that conditions change from course to course, day to day and with the weather, it's an irrelevant outcome that can't be compared to any other outcome and provide any meaning.
Disagree that the meaningless speed number is useless. If you ratched that number up in the right conditions (meaning not 30mph winds one day, 0 on the next), on the same course, you're improving.

You could say the exact same thing about TrainerRoad's virtualpower. It's an awesome training metric, allowing you to precisely and reproducibly get an objective read on YOUR effort, even if it's not truly equivalent to a real powermeter's output. YOu can't compare it to anyone else, and it's only good for you, but as long as you obtained that number through the FTP test (like the 2 x 20 all out), you're good to go using that very number on the rest of the workouts which dictate what % of power to target.

Again, for the rest of the peanut gallery, if used judiciously, avg speed is a pretty good metric IF USED JUDICIOUSLY, particularly for repeated solo time trials on your favorite training course.Training by power is still much better if you have access to it as it can help equalize many of the variables. Still, if we're dealing with extremes, you can imagine comparing a 80 mile climbing ride in Death Valley at 120F versus an 80 mile ride with same elevation profile in perfect 55F riding temps. Even your powermeter will show dramatically lower power for same perceived effort on the Death Valley Ride, but that doesn't mean the powermeter's not useful, it just means you're not using it in the right context.

And a 5mph wind is still a 5mph headwind. You're cherrypicking the extremes by not posting examples of how your avg speed barely differs if the wind speed is +5 or +10mph different, but only posting +25-30mph wind speed differences.

And again because it keeps coming up, I still train with power, and not by avg speed now that I have a powermeter.

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Old 05-22-13, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by hhnngg1 View Post
And again because it keeps coming up, I still train with power, and not by avg speed now that I have a powermeter.
I'm trying to understand how someone would "train" with average speed. Give me an example of a typical training program that utilized average speed at its root and maybe I'll get it.
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Old 05-22-13, 07:22 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveWC View Post
I'm trying to understand how someone would "train" with average speed. Give me an example of a typical training program that utilized average speed at its root and maybe I'll get it.
+1

In the very narrow, best possible circumstances it can only tell you what you did. Despite the never ending claim that it is a useful metric there has never been a demonstration of how it could be used as a TRAINING TOOL.

The answer is that it can't because there are far too many variables (like wind) that would make any accurate determination impossible.

Mostly useless.

So long and thanks for all the misses.

I'm off to the restaurant at the end of the ride.
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Old 05-22-13, 08:07 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveWC View Post
I'm trying to understand how someone would "train" with average speed. Give me an example of a typical training program that utilized average speed at its root and maybe I'll get it.
THat's because you're erroneously assuming that everyone needs a granular, hi-performance training plan that a competitive roadie or serious noncompetitive roadie who's still trying to eke out max performance needs. However, the vast majority of recreational cyclists do NOT need such a granular training plan.

For these folks, it would be enough to ask them to ride as much as possible, and for periodic testing, take their average speed on their favorite courses that have the least (or no) stops while going as hard as possible. Your speed goes up, you're getting better. Crank up distance, crank up speed, and you've got yourself an absolutely functional plan.


Even for me, if I didn't have a powermeter, I would do this exact same thing just with intervals - select my favorite hillclimb to repeat, or short loop course, and then hit the stopwatch, and time myself to the top or finish for each interval. If I'm getting stronger, I ratchet up the time target.

It's certainly nowhere near as granular as using a powermeter, and competitive roadies looking for every training advantage would definitely find many shortcomings in it compared to the superior powermeter, but it's extremely functional for the vast majority of riders, and 100% legitimate.

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