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Old 09-07-17, 04:10 PM   #1
mtb_addict
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Slower = Farther?

I wonder if a good strategy is to intentional ride very slower but for more hours...then you are actually faster. Tortoise vs Hare.

Like slow down to 8mph average...and ride for 14 hours...to reach 110 miles per day.
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Old 09-07-17, 05:07 PM   #2
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That works assuming your bum can take it

For me personally, speed doesn't equate to tour-enjoyment. When I feel like going fast I do, but mostly I just ride. I don't plan any particular speed or mileage on a daily basis. I have a starting-date-place and an ending-date-place, what happens in-between is the-tour.

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Old 09-07-17, 05:51 PM   #3
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Ive always just gone at my personal "that day, that moment" comfortable cruising speed, which also happens to be fairly slow, but as Rett Butler said.....
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Old 09-07-17, 06:37 PM   #4
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I wonder if a good strategy is to intentional ride very slower but for more hours...then you are actually faster.
That doesn't mean you are faster, it just means you rode further. Significant difference between speed and distance. Not saying your idea isn't good, just that you aren't going faster.
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Old 09-07-17, 06:43 PM   #5
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Perfectly viable strategy. Wind force is proportional to the square of speed so all else equal, if you double your pace from 8mph to 16mph, you will quadruple the wind force/air friction you are fighting. In practice though, bicycle rolling/mechanical friction is proportionate larger at slower speeds, and the wind force factor really only kicks in exponentially hard as you get into the teens mph.

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Old 09-07-17, 06:49 PM   #6
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Yes - certainly scale back the effort to a reasonable level if you want to cover more miles. It's not necessarily average speed but aerobic level. (I try to avoid going anaerobic when on tour.) Fitness level matters. Someone with a high level of fitness will be not need to scale back their effort as much as someone at a lower level. When in shape, I feel like I could ride all day at 10 - 12 mph. I definitely couldn't ride all day at 15. When not in shape, I'm not going to be able to ride all day no matter how slow I ride.

Back in my prime I once rode 165 loaded miles in one day, but we spent a good 12-14 hours in the saddle.
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Old 09-07-17, 08:13 PM   #7
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Depends on what parts of you wear down first. I am in decent shape and can power along and do 100 at a 16-18 pace on flat with some rest stops and not feel bad or beat up cardio or muscle wise. Sustainable, comfortable and I could keep going I guess if I had a reason to. Problem is my knees are a bottleneck and would hurt and the second and subsequent days would be painful regardless of my pace that day.

Everyone has a limit, try to find it, minimize it if possible until something else become the new limit. Maybe mentally, knees, lack of sleep, legs, feet, stomache, back, butt, who knows. It depends on you.

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Old 09-07-17, 08:35 PM   #8
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I wonder if a good strategy is to intentional ride very slower but for more hours...then you are actually faster. Tortoise vs Hare.

Like slow down to 8mph average...and ride for 14 hours...to reach 110 miles per day.
Why not just ride at a comfortable pace for a comfortable distance?
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Old 09-07-17, 08:43 PM   #9
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I wonder if a good strategy is to intentional ride very slower but for more hours...then you are actually faster. Tortoise vs Hare.

Like slow down to 8mph average...and ride for 14 hours...to reach 110 miles per day.
sounds like a reasonable plan.....are you willing to experiment?

ride the same route with same bike and gear and report back!
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Old 09-07-17, 09:10 PM   #10
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...and ride for 14 hours...
Sounds very not-fun, unless its just for one day. (And I love bike riding.)
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Old 09-07-17, 09:27 PM   #11
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On any given day, you'll have a natural pace that feels right. You won't gain any sense of riding easier if you ride slower than that natural pace, so you'll just be spending more time in the saddle for no reason. In fact, sometimes riding "off pace" (slower) a little bit can be more tiring. it just never feels right and you can't find the groove.

So, stick to your natural pace, relax into hills and against headwinds, but otherwise do what you normally do, and plan your days with things to do along the way. In the end it might take you 12 hours to do a hundred miles, but you'll have done more tha just ride.
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Old 09-07-17, 09:41 PM   #12
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Why not just ride at a comfortable pace for a comfortable distance?
Sometimes there's a place one really wants a given day to end at or there is a protracted stretch where one simply cannot end, so one must find a way to ride all the way past it no matter what one's comfortable pace/distance would have been for that day.
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Old 09-07-17, 09:47 PM   #13
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I've often found that there is a price to pay for simply being in the saddle. As a result, I prefer to ride as hard as I can manage without creating problems, especially up hills. That seems to give me the most miles per effort.

For those who claim one cannot enjoy the sights while riding hard, I'm just not going to buy that I'm missing much at 18-20 mph that I would have seen at half that speed. It's still slow compared to what I can process and appreciate.
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Old 09-07-17, 09:49 PM   #14
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Sometimes there's a place one really wants a given day to end at or there is a protracted stretch where one simply cannot end, so one must find a way to ride all the way past it no matter what one's comfortable pace/distance would have been for that day.
Yes, but IME riding at the natural pace with stops to rest and refresh covers more ground and leaves you feeling better at the end. For example riding 3 hours in the zone then taking a break gives you an hour vs. riding at 75% speed, plus has you starting fresh rather than just slogging along.

So, yes, if easing off 5-10% keeps you fresher and means riding another hour that's fine, but any more than that and the penalty of saddle time will offset any freshness in the legs.

FWIW - I've done a decent number of long rides and 24 hour efforts, and KNOW how saddle time, in and of itself takes a toll. In fact, I've learned that I do better pushing a bit on the speed in order to get off the bike sooner on any ride longer than 12 hours. I only ease off when climbing or turning into headwinds to make sure i don't drain the well dry mid ride.
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Old 09-07-17, 10:13 PM   #15
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Methinks the OP is hanging out a useless Red Herring. I thought the whole idea of "bike touring" is to tour by bicycle and accept it's time-distance limitations.

That is my philosophy and I follow it on each and every tour I have been on. It is not a race - otherwise I would be going around a velodrome or touring by motor vehicle/train/bus/airplane. On tour it is important (IMHO) to view sights and stop and talk with folks and...

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. Forget the speed and distance covered as a "prime motivator". Look at your real reason for touring - otherwise get a racing bike and go to a velodrome.

Just my $.02
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Old 09-08-17, 05:11 AM   #16
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Why not just ride at a comfortable pace for a comfortable distance?
Because he needed fodder for this goofy thread. It's his M.O.
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Old 09-08-17, 05:17 AM   #17
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For those who claim one cannot enjoy the sights while riding hard, I'm just not going to buy that I'm missing much at 18-20 mph that I would have seen at half that speed. It's still slow compared to what I can process and appreciate.
+1. A former poster in the Clyde forum was insecure about being a slow rider. It caused him to regularly assert that faster riders don't see as much. Total B.S. for the reason you note. Even during relatively fast day rides I am constantly pointing out things like wildlife to people in the group.
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Old 09-08-17, 06:00 AM   #18
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I wonder if a good strategy is to intentional ride very slower but for more hours...then you are actually faster. Tortoise vs Hare.

Like slow down to 8mph average...and ride for 14 hours...to reach 110 miles per day.
A few random thoughts that are just one guy's opinion...

To really know what to make of that I'd have to know how many hours of actual riding you expect to do in that 14 hours and what kind of shape you are in. I have probably done about 110 miles (=/- 15) in 14 hours (+/- 1), but that usually was because I wanted to do a lot of stuff off the bike and spent something like half of the day pursuing other activity than riding.

I doubt slowing down would work well for me if carried to any extreme. I find that riding at a decent clip at least for the time spend actually riding allows me to make the longest mileage. I might average a very modest mileage some days depending on how much time is spent off the bike, but when riding I don't like to go very slow unless struggling with difficult climb

So what is a decent clip? That is hard to say. It isn't flat out, but it isn't very slow either. It varies widely with terrain. It varies with wind speed and direction. It varies widely with individual riders. It varies with their condition at the moment even for one rider. It can be a lot faster when two or more riders can draft each other and take turns on the front.

For some, on flat to rolling terrain that might mean 12 mph while actually riding. For others it might be 18 mph, while actually riding.

Of course climbing a difficult mountain pass can lower the pace to a crawl for the duration of the climb.

It strikes me that if you can't average at least 10-12 mph for the day you probably won't want to be riding 14 hours.

Bottom line... I think going long hours when you can't manage a decent clip is an okay strategy, but just artificially slowing the pace much probably isn't.
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Old 09-08-17, 06:25 AM   #19
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My experience is that I hurt the same after 6 hrs of riding whether I ride 15mph or 7mph. My a$$ wrists and neck are the problem with long days in the saddle unless of course I'm trying to hit ~20mph then I'll just tire out long before the 6hr mark.
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Old 09-08-17, 07:51 AM   #20
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I wonder if a good strategy is to intentional ride very slower but for more hours...then you are actually faster. Tortoise vs Hare.

Like slow down to 8mph average...and ride for 14 hours...to reach 110 miles per day.
It works up to a point.

After 192 miles, you run out of hours in the day!!!

There are lots of variables:
  • Speed including breaks
  • Speed excluding breaks
  • Road Surface
  • Climbing, how steep, and net climbing/descent.
  • Load
  • Trailers
  • Morning After.... How many days riding? Rest Days?
I find that I need to stop briefly every 30 to 50 miles or so. So, for your 120 mile ride, that would be about three rest breaks. Those rest breaks can be killers on the average pace, but at the same time, I absolutely need the rest, and after a short rest and a few calories, I can do much better.

I've never been a fast rider, and find that I naturally pace myself a bit slower on 100+ mile rides. There may be something about an maximum number of KWH one can realistically put out in a day, and slowing down allows one to minimize the power expended over the same distance. But, I also try to push myself some just to reduce the overall time in the saddle, especially early in the ride while I'm still somewhat fresh.

My longer rides tend to be single day rides, or a long ride followed by shorter rides.
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Old 09-08-17, 08:18 AM   #21
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I certainly feel much better after long rides with the fiancee and her pace, instead of my own pace which is quite a bit higher (even if not still "fast"). My comfortable pace is generally just this side of heavy breathing in whatever weather/terrain/load conditions I am in.

Part of bike touring to me is enjoying what I am doing, not just doing something to do it. Of course, YMMV in those goals. Under that paradigm, I'm just going to travel at whatever is comfortable for what I am doing, and not worry about speed/distance goals. That said, artificially slowing myself from a natural pace is frustrating, and unless I have good reason to do so it does not add to my enjoyment.
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Old 09-08-17, 08:32 AM   #22
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when I ride w Wifey (slower) it's kinda like torture
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Old 09-08-17, 09:34 AM   #23
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I call it 3/4 pace. July bikepacking rig weighed maybe 60 lbs with food and water. Faster downhill, slower uphill My motor only has so much horsepower and fuel in the tank. I never want to redline on a multi day trip. I don't intentionally go slower, but what I would call a "comfortable" pace. And that varies. Lots of days see 8-10 hrs of pedaling. 2, 50 mile days to start that trip saw me needing a " rest" day on the third.
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Old 09-08-17, 09:40 AM   #24
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About 7 mph for several months , got me from SW Ireland, to NW Scotland , in 1997.. With a lot of pub stops to play music with the Locals.


I did not push myself with mileage goals, but rode to see where I would probably never be again... Had to get a Visa extension after 6 months..
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Old 09-08-17, 10:27 AM   #25
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I have a natural pace that I typically ride. The variable that changes is more often how many hours I spend in the saddle - and this affects the total distance.

When I *intentionally* change, then it is almost always to try speeding up, e.g. riding somewhat faster or skipping short breaks. The reason behind my intention is most typically related to weather, e.g. headwinds forecast or to a logistical constraint like a ferry or closing time in a store. My intentional change might tire me out more but is then a trade-off for something else.

I have difficulty seeing how intentionally riding slower than my natural pace will help much. I will spend more time in the saddle and also have more time when other factors like an increase in wind or heat or onset of rain showers might affect my ride.

My other suggestion to the OP is this is probably better done as an experiment on your own than a polling question for the group. That way you will know what works for your particular situation. In addition, not everyone might have the same model, e.g. rather than riding at a natural pace your particular style might always be that you are pushing yourself and hence no longer doing that might make a bigger difference.

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