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Average Speed

Old 09-28-22, 08:58 AM
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_ForceD_
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Average Speed

I’m posting this in the 50+ forum just because you guys can likely relate. I’m going on 62 years old, have been (road) riding continuously since I was 20 years old. Like many of you…’back in the day’ (20s and 30s) I could generally maintain a 20mph average on my rides without a lot of difficulty…even up to distances of 40-50 miles. Of course as the years have worn on, my average speeds have decreased. These days, the distance of my rides are anywhere from 15 miles up to 50-55 miles, and I’m averaging just 14.5 (+/- a fraction), and almost all my riding is alone. There aren’t a lot of sponsored/supported rides in my area, but I did come across one last weekend…a metric century. I figured “Oh, I’ll get to ride along with people.” But there were just 80 riders signed up for the entire event (which included rides of 12 and 25 miles), only 25-30 of us in the 100km ride. So much for riding with people. I was alone for all but maybe 10 miles. No other bike even in view. When I finished, my average speed for the 62.5 miles, without even pushing myself, was 15.5 mph. IMO, that 1 mph is a significant difference. But I just don’t get how it happened. — Dan

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Old 09-28-22, 09:39 AM
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The route can have a big influence on average speed.

Are there traffic lights? Is it windy? Is the road smooth or rough? And most significantly: How much vertical gain/loss on the route?

My rides are averaging 14-17 mph, and I'm considered a fairly fast 64-year old. But I don't pay attention to average speed.

Average speed is not a good measure of effort. If you want a good measure, get a power meter. I use the Favero Assioma single-sided pedal power meter.


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Old 09-28-22, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
The route can have a big influence on average speed.

Are there traffic lights? Is it windy? Is the road smooth or rough? And most significantly: How much vertical gain/loss on the route?

Average speed is not a good measure of effort. If you want a good measure, get a power meter.
Agree.. Not sure why cyclist obsess over average speed as there are far too many conditions and scenarios that will cause massive fluctuations.
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Old 09-28-22, 10:25 AM
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Yeah. Recently finished and unsupported tour across PA. My daily average ranged from 7.7 to about 10 mph. Percentage-wise, that’s a big range. Lots of variables, like wind, elevation gain and loss, length of climbs and descents, steepness of climbs and descents, number of turns, number of traffic control devices that had to be heeded and road surface conditions.
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Old 09-28-22, 10:36 AM
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I have a route that is @25 miles with a couple of steep climbs nearing 13% for about 5 of those miles. I use a GPS Garmin to track my mileage and speed and have a personal average speed record for that route that I constantly try to improve on. But my average is only important to me when I finish that route. At 73 I'm still competing with myself and getting excited when I break my record, but only on that route. Otherwise, when I go for a ride I just push myself for the exercise aspect, even when just riding to the store. You done good increasing your average by that much for such a long ride. Pat yourself on the back and see if you can beat it in the future. It's a goal worth striving for. Good luck, Smokey
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Old 09-28-22, 10:42 AM
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I don't think much about average speed. There is a hilly ride (1400 ft of climbing over 25 miles) I do on a regular basis (that's hilly for central IA!). I can do 15 miles plus over that ride if I want to push myself. I don't do that often because most days I also have to get some other work done. Rather than focus or think about average speed, I try to listen to and pay attention to my body. Some days I'll at least push it up the hills and other days I won't depending on how I feel. Not very scientific but I have an idea of how hard I'm working.

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Old 09-28-22, 10:52 AM
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I know mph is unimportant but I grimace at my low speed city rides and feel chuffed about hauling the mail on a paved trailway.
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Old 09-28-22, 11:12 AM
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I started keeping a digital record of my riding back in 2019 and now use a Wahoo on every ride. Looks like I'm averaging 15.66 mph. I'm recently 54 y.o. and these are predominantly commuter miles. The commute is 24 miles one way with appx. 900 ft climbing.
I would say maybe about 50-60 of these rides are weekend/enjoyment rides.


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Old 09-28-22, 12:39 PM
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Remember: there are no tailwinds, there are only days in which you're awesome.
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Old 09-28-22, 01:00 PM
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Actually, the ride mentioned in my OP was on very familiar roads. It’s an area that I frequent for my rides. Of all the roads in the 100km, there were maybe 5 miles worth that I hadn’t ridden on numerous times. And in fact…since the start/finish of this ride was only 12.5 miles from my house…I rode the bike there (and back). My ride there was also at over 15 mph avg speed (the ride home was much less as I just meandered). So at well over my average ride mileage, on familiar roads, I somehow inadvertently managed a higher than usual average speed for the day.

Dan

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Old 09-28-22, 01:29 PM
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Nothing wrong with gauging average mph, especially as we advance in age.
My average began dipping at fifty. Typical rides cover almost 50 feet of climbing per mile.
This equates to climbing gradients in the 2%-4% range over my rolling terrain.
I cover nearly all my excursions as a soloist. The occasional groups only slightly improve my overall speed.
So, at sixty-four, I tend to average in the mid-15s on a forty-miler, with 2,000 feet elevation gain.
My area includes tons of over fifty beastly cyclists that can likely complete a flat 40k TT in under an hour. Sheesh.
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Old 09-28-22, 02:52 PM
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Don't really think about it much either. Speed depends on grades, winds, lights, who you're riding with, and how you are feeling on that particular day ... all kinds of variables. I'm probably slower, but not too concerned about it.
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Old 09-28-22, 02:56 PM
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Like others have said, the route makes a big difference on average speed: hills, wind conditions, even the number of stop signs / lights have an impact.

I track my rides on a spreadsheet (retired engineer, I can’t help it), tracking time, miles, average speed, notes, etc. Average speed ride-to-ride doesn’t mean much but I have found that cumulative average speed seems to correlate with overall level of condition. It averages through the different routes, conditions, good/bad days etc., and as miles accumulate it’s harder to “move the needle” on cumulative average speed.
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Old 09-28-22, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by roadcrankr View Post
Nothing wrong with gauging average mph, especially as we advance in age.
My average began dipping at fifty. Typical rides cover almost 50 feet of climbing per mile.
This equates to climbing gradients in the 2%-4% range over my rolling terrain.
I cover nearly all my excursions as a soloist. The occasional groups only slightly improve my overall speed.
So, at sixty-four, I tend to average in the mid-15s on a forty-miler, with 2,000 feet elevation gain.
My area includes tons of over fifty beastly cyclists that can likely complete a flat 40k TT in under an hour. Sheesh.
50/5280 = 0.00946 ~ 1% grade.

when the wind blows i feel like my 1% grades are more like 2-3%.
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Old 09-28-22, 04:01 PM
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Started riding about 12 years ago, 99% of the time on relatively flat paved trails, 3 times a week about 14-24 miles per ride. I ride a hybrid bike and I turned 76 this summer. I seldom pass other riders, and when I do I know they are slow. My average speed in about 12.4 mph. I ride alone so I track my distance, speed, calories, and heart rate in a spreadsheet to motivate me to keep riding. I'd like to be faster, but enjoy my rides and the cardio helps me feel better and sleep better.
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Old 09-28-22, 04:05 PM
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10-12.
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Old 09-28-22, 04:37 PM
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While you say you were solo most of the time, don't underestimate how much the little time you spent near other riders helped your time/speed. Even other riders and other vehicles passing on the road help provide a draft to speed a person up some. My times for the 63 mile organized rides where I can stay in a group of at least 3 people are 3 to 4 mph faster than the solo 22 mile rides I do several times a week. And we aren't even trying to go fast on the long rides.
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Old 09-28-22, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
Don't really think about it much either. Speed depends on grades, winds, lights, who you're riding with, and how you are feeling on that particular day ... all kinds of variables. I'm probably slower, but not too concerned about it.
Agreed. Average speed is highly affected by extraneous variables. I don't pay any attention to it.
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Old 09-28-22, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by spelger View Post
50/5280 = 0.00946 ~ 1% grade.

when the wind blows i feel like my 1% grades are more like 2-3%.
Ah, but you forgot that downhill and flat terrain exist. So my uphills average 2%.
There's some much steeper pitches, of course, which I go to great lengths to avoid! LOL
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Old 09-28-22, 08:28 PM
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Ave 10-15 mph on a 32 lbs rigid MTB with all rides averaging between 50-130 feet of ascent per mile.
On my 17 lbs road bike that goes up 2-3 mph on average.
58 y/o.
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Old 09-28-22, 08:58 PM
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I did 3 consecutive days with average speeds of 14.9, 15.7, and 15.4 miles per hour.

But that's moving speed. Including stops it was 13.9, 13.7, and 13.8 miles per hour.

Another way to measure speed (distance over time) is in miles per day, where it was 233, 185, and 207.

As one continuous ride with the clock running, it was 625 miles over 63 hours for 9.9 miles per hour.

Average speed doesn't really tell much of a story, all by itself.
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Old 09-28-22, 09:30 PM
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When discussing average speed, it would be nice to mention whether it's moving time or elapsed. My best time for an Imperial double was a hair under 12 hrs., moving time a hair over 10 hrs. That was in my late 50s. I had a tailwind for some of it and did a lot of drafting. On a hilly 400k, 18.5 hrs. elapsed, on a 400k with only 6600', a hair under 15 hours. On a 200k, over 6000', a hair under 8 hours. Brevet times are always elapsed. These were all in my early 60s. On a 154 mile, 9400' event ride which I've done many times, ~16mph saddle time in my late 50s, down to 14.9 now, so 9-10.25 hrs. moving, from mid 50s to mid 70s. Elapsed times about an hour more than that, so down to a little less than 14 mph now. This is such a hilly ride that there's very little drafting, the riders being so spread out.

These days, local solo rides on my single, usually ~50'/mile, ~50 mile rides,14-16mph depending on mood and conditioning.
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Old 09-28-22, 09:52 PM
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My averages include my single rest stop, always at the top of the highest climb where I take in the view while swapping out batteries in my lights and camera, wring the sweat out of my head band and then fly back down the hill to home base.
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Old 09-29-22, 07:22 AM
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I don't really keep track of my average speed (I would guess it's around 13-15 mph). I'm in Canada, so we measure in kilometers per hour, so the averages sound much faster, lol.

What I do concentrate on these days is my cadence. I try to keep in the 80's. I have a small bike computer that shows me my cadence. Once I see it drop below 80, I push a bit harder. I always try to find a gear that allows me to keep my cadence comfortably somewhere in that range.
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Old 09-29-22, 12:25 PM
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If one gets lucky, after 70, they are still riding regularly and strong - without regard to speed/power/distance - and loving it. Saddletime rules. There are other opinions, but being over 70, those do not concern us either.

Or turn the activity into a hobby, not a bad one to age with.


Reminds me - I need a group shot outside before Winter sets in. And a thorough cleaning of my garage space to coincide.


Clear your handlebars and your mind will follow!

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