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Expected Speed

Old 10-12-20, 11:34 AM
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Cooper1991
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Expected Speed

I just bought an entry level mountain bike - Trek Marlin 6. Last time I rode a bike was 45 years ago. On the flat with minimal wind against I've been averaging 14km/hr over 12km as that's comfortable for me. I'm definitely a bit heavy and also probably 60% fit but it feels like a disappointing speed for the flat. I also start to get a sore neck after an hour and find it painful to look up and ahead too often. Is all of this normal? What should a normal speed for someone 60 years old over 115kg on that bike?
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Old 10-12-20, 11:36 AM
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Ride More...All Normal
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Old 10-12-20, 11:59 AM
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It is what it is. Ride more and hopefully you can improve. Even if you don't get faster it's better than sitting on the couch.
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Old 10-12-20, 12:20 PM
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Can't tell you for sure what your speed should be, but there are some things to think about:

1. You are probably less than 60% fit, and that might be a hard pill to swallow. I know because I had to admit that some time ago. When I got back on a bike earlier this year after a 8-10 year hiatus, I found myself donked at the three mile mark on a flat trail with no wind and riding a more road oriented bike. Did not go on because I thought I would not be able to make it back. I'm a little older than you, but only about 5 pounds overweight and have always been very active. I found I was not near as fit as I thought.
2. Since I started, I've been riding 3 to 4 times a week, with usually 2 10-15 mile rides after work, and 1 or 2 20 mile rides on weekends. I also push myself when riding to the point where I am always sweaty and tired when finished. My "workout" rides are not leisurely. I've found that my energy levels and endurance have increased dramatically in a short time. This past Saturday, I rode 20 miles at an average pace of about 14.5 mph, and when done felt like I could have done 20 more. Time got in the way though. If you keep at it, I would expect that you would improve your fitness, speed and enjoyment of the bike.
3. The mountain type bike will not be near as fast as a road oriented bike due to the higher rolling resistance of the knobby tires and other things. You would likely have less rolling resistance and greater speed if you change the tires to a smooth tread tire/tyre. Would pick up more speed if you went with a road bike or a road oriented hybrid. The reality is that today's road bikes are incredibly efficient at covering distance quickly. Mountain bikes are good for going up and down hills over rocks and tree branches, but at a slower speed (unless you are young and gnarly).
4. There are times when I'm huffing along trying to go as fast as I can, when a 25 or 30 year old passes me like I'm standing still. They are riding a mountain bike and barely putting in an effort. It can be pretty demoralizing until you admit that you are 60 (or older) and no longer are your 25 year old self, or see that they are on an e-bike.

So, I agree - ride more and don't quit. The benefits are worth it.
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Old 10-12-20, 01:23 PM
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is that 9mph average over the course of 6 minutes or 60 minutes?
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Old 10-12-20, 01:42 PM
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Gary in NJ
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When I got the cycling bug this summer the only bike available to me was my son's 5 year old Marlin 5, very similar to the 6 (in 2015 it has a 12-34 cassette). After a few rides I too thought I was a bit slow on that machine (about 12-13 mph average on hilly roads). The first thing I realized was that the cheap spring forks were sapping my energy - especially if I had to get out of the saddle. Since my son had moved out and left the bike at home, I felt completely OK modifying to my immediate needs (most of my mods are reversible). So I replaced the spring fork with a solid carbon (375mm) fiber fork (this also allowed me to raise the stem length a good 30mm). With this change I picked up 1 mph on my normal loops. Next to go were the 29er 2.20" tires. They were replaced by 700c x 32 Continental GP Four Season tires - and with that change I picked up an additional 2 mph. Now my rides were in a more respectable 15 to 16 mph range. Next I cut 1.50" off each end of the bars to make them shorter, replaced the 100mm stem with a 35mm stem, added Ergon bar-end grips and raised the seat to the proper height to make the bike more comfortable and to get my power to the wheels. Another 1+ mph were added. With all of the changes I made to the bike, I reduced the weight over 6 pounds and could easily cruise 17-18 mph on the flats.

The next change was to get a proper road bike, which added further to my speed, comfort and joy of riding. But now that Marlin (with 40mm Continental Terra Speed tires) is a good gravel/trail bike. I think if my son wants it back...I'll buy him a new bike.
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Old 10-12-20, 02:01 PM
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I would like to echo the words of Mojo31. I'm 62 been riding 2 years after many years off and I also considered myself active. My first ride two years ago was on the street I live on, it's to be fair quite hilly. I rode 3/4 of a mile and turned around to enjoy the "downhill" finish so my first ride was 1.5 miles and to be honest I thought I was going to expire before I got off my bike.


But something made me stay with it. At first I might ride once a week and winter I wouldn't ride at all. All during the winter of 2018-2019 I was planning, setting goals and fixing up my bike. When spring 2019 arrived I was anxious to get outside. That Spring/Summer/Fall of 2019 I estimate that I rode no more than 700 miles. But it was enough to get me thinking about riding bikes so I continued working an a trainer all last winter.


So now I'm in I think fairly reasonable shape and have reasonable bicycle chops. I ride between 100-150 miles/week sometimes more. On Saturday I did a 53 mile ride on a rail trail using a hybrid with street tires. I main concern for the ride was keeping my cadence numbers over 80 rpm, striving for 95 rpm. Let me say that the trail I was on was absolutely packed with cyclists. In the almost 4 hours I don't think I was passed by another cyclists but I passed many. My average speed according to my Garmin was 13.7 MPH. So two years ago I rode 1.5 miles and nearly died, today I do 50-75 mile rides. I average about 17-18 mph on 30-40 mile road bike rides with moderate climbs and maybe a serious climb or two.


So OP Cooper1991, you average 8.7 MPH, I really don't think that is bad at all given that you are just starting out. It takes time and effort and quite a few visits to the hurt locker. I would say that since you took the time to post this information on a forum that you want to do better and I hope you do work at it. I did a 35 mile organized ride at about the 5 month point into this foray. The route has hilly I think about 2200 feet but I had to get off 3 times and walk. I was a bit humiliated but it served the purpose to light a fire under my backside and today I would do that same ride without even stopping. Assuming that you are in a region that is looking at winter shortly I would urge you to find a way to keep working at your fitness with the goal of doing the same ride you just did at an average speed 25% faster 10.5 MPH, do it man!
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Old 10-12-20, 06:35 PM
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Put in 1000 miles and report back.
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Old 10-12-20, 07:49 PM
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I assume you are riding your Marline 6 on roads or MUPS? Put some slicks on the wheelset if you have not already and lockout the fork. That should help and get some bar ends for it to give yourself more hand positions. The Marlin is a heavy bike 35 lbs and you will never be able to keep up with fit riders on proper road bikes but it is a good beginning for you. I started on a Marlin 6 in 2014 and only averaged 13 mph to start.
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Old 10-12-20, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
Put in 1000 miles and report back.
I think good advice for any newb would be to ride the first 1000 miles before even looking at speed.
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Old 10-12-20, 09:10 PM
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At least you have a start there. 90% of newbies buy similar. That bike is made for fooling around on MUP trail hills. It only goes 20 mph max with those 34/22 cranks. It will take a long time until you get lighter and faster. Hopefully you live where it's not cold and winter soon, like here. Pffft
Your sore neck is because of that pathetic straight broom handlebar. ZERO comfort change positions. It needs a bar with sweep back, the more the merrier in my case.
Anyway, it's hard to have a fast avg. when not on the highway. For me anyway.

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Old 10-12-20, 09:10 PM
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You're doing OK in your current state IMO. Keep riding and your fitness and speed will improve.
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Old 10-13-20, 08:00 AM
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Gary in NJ
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Cooper,

Fitness comes with time and effort. You may be 115Kg today, but in short order you could be below 100Kg - that will make a big difference in speed (and effort). What type of riding are you doing. Are you road riding or trail riding?
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Old 10-13-20, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by GamblerGORD53 View Post
Your sore neck is because of that pathetic straight broom handlebar. ZERO comfort change positions. It needs a bar with sweep back, the more the merrier in my case.
Or at the very least get a set of bar ends so you'll have more hand positions. That worked for me.
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Old 10-13-20, 09:29 AM
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riding on a trainer multiple times a week seemed to yield a repeatable higher average MPH once the indoor conditions were setup for ideal fit. That resulted in achieving a higher outdoor MPH average over a period of time on routes that inhibited a predictable continuous traveling speed.
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Old 10-13-20, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
I think good advice for any newb would be to ride the first 1000 miles before even looking at speed.
> the bicycle TAO: speed and distance do not matter > you can ride your bike and get complete enjoyment plus health benefits without ever knowing how far or how fast ... if numbers matter any exercise machine will do ............................................... mea culpa to strava - istas
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Old 10-13-20, 10:41 AM
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Everybody is different and has different physiology. So yes it is normal for you, but that doesn't mean you can't or won't improve. Keep riding and you'll see.
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Old 10-13-20, 11:05 AM
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I never understood the desire for speed in recreational cyclists. If you race, well that's a different story and is all about speed, but recreational riding is just that, recreational. I ride at whatever speed feels good on a any particular day. Sometimes I like to speed up a bit for the feeling of exhilaration I experience. At other times I coast a lot and don't work too hard to keep up speed. I simply enjoy riding. Speed doesn't matter.
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Old 10-13-20, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by jackb View Post
I never understood the desire for speed in recreational cyclists. If you race, well that's a different story and is all about speed, but recreational riding is just that, recreational. I ride at whatever speed feels good on a any particular day. Sometimes I like to speed up a bit for the feeling of exhilaration I experience. At other times I coast a lot and don't work too hard to keep up speed. I simply enjoy riding. Speed doesn't matter.
Because if you are cycling for exercise, than the higher the speed the more aerobic the exercise will be. On a typical ride my heart rate will average in the mid-160's (peaking near 190 depending on the climb) for two hours. When I go on a recreational ride with my wife my heart rate stays around 100. One is exercise, the other is an activity. Speed matters.
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Old 10-13-20, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by jackb View Post
I never understood the desire for speed in recreational cyclists. If you race, well that's a different story and is all about speed, but recreational riding is just that, recreational. I ride at whatever speed feels good on a any particular day. Sometimes I like to speed up a bit for the feeling of exhilaration I experience. At other times I coast a lot and don't work too hard to keep up speed. I simply enjoy riding. Speed doesn't matter.
Fast is fun whether or not you ever pin on a number.
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Old 10-13-20, 11:39 AM
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Being able to ride for almost an hour is pretty good. As others have intimated, don't worry about speed - your speed will trend up as you ride more often. Instead, focus on time in the saddle and exploring places you wouldn't have gone if you were in a car.

Other hints:
  • Take regular breaks when riding. There is no prize for having the sorest arse.
  • As mentioned, get some 'bar ends' which allow you to change hand positions as you ride, which should help with neck pain. There are other adjustments you can make to the handlebars (position or change to a different shape) that might help if the pain doesn't gradually get better as you ride more. Even rotating the bar in it's clamp or changing to a different type of grips can make a difference.
  • Keep your tires well inflated (if riding on hard packed surfaces, a 115 kg rider should keep their tires pumped up around 50psi or more - more will roll a bit faster, but with transmit more road shock to your body; lower pressure will be more comfortable but requires more energy to keep the bike rolling, and if you go too low you can get pinch flats.
  • Finally, 'reward' yourself for riding - go to an ice cream shop in the next town or grab a pint at a pub or take a relaxing rest next to a burbling creek - and after a while the riding itself will be more of a reward. My favourite reward I only earn once per season or less - my reward for riding so much that I wear out my tires is new tires!
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Old 10-13-20, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Cooper1991 View Post
What should a normal speed for someone 60 years old over 115kg on that bike?
There is no "normal" speed. Ride and have fun.
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Old 10-13-20, 02:17 PM
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Ride every day for at least a month, then check where you are. The increase in speed and distance will astound you if you keep at it. Once you get some base miles in, you can figure out what your goals should be. You may start to like longer rides, you may like climbing hills....
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