How fast should I ride my bicycle?

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dsivi
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How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by dsivi »

I purchased a road bicycle a few years ago which weighs about 19 pounds. The last couple years, I have been trying to become a more serious rider. Currently, I bike mainly for exercise on a local paved 50 mile bike trail. This trail used to be a railroad track and was converted to a bike trail in my city's "rails to trails" program, so it relatively flat.

On the weekends during Spring and Summer, I try and get in two 30 mile rides. I use a bike computer and have noticed that I keep averaging roughly the same velocity - 14 mph. I don't try and target any particular speed while biking and yet I keep averaging 14 mph ride after ride. I keep track of my rides through the year and 14 mph comes up as my yearly overall average.

Is there something special about 14 mph and bicycling? As you move up in terms of average speed, does it get progressively more difficult? For example, is the jump from averaging 14 mph to 15 mph harder than the jump from averaging 13 mph to 14 mph?

Right now, I'm getting exercise, but not really setting goals. So, I need some help determining how much progress I am making.

Any advice is appreciated. Thanks
mikewazowski
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by mikewazowski »

Yes. Wind resistance above 14mph dramatically increases drag. 14 mph is a pretty good basic level of fitness for long flat rides. To improve your speed, you will probably need to start interval training. The "elite" groups that ride around me ride at around 22mph averages, but those are group rides and the peloton dramatically reduces the difficulty since the lead rider switches out after a few minutes of breaking the wind.
livesoft
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by livesoft »

Set some goals that you can reach. Try averaging 15 mph in June, 16 mph in July, 17 mph in August, 18 mph in September. How old are you? How much do you weigh? What is your resting heart rate? What is your average heart rate? Do you wear a heart rate monitor? Is your cadence 90 or above? Is your seat high enough?

And as mentioned, wind resistance is a big deal.

Also go watch the movie Breaking Away.
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PowDay
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by PowDay »

Have you played with Strava? The king of the segment stuff doesn't interest me, but the elevation vs speed stuff is interesting. You may find that parts of your ride are already up at 18-19 mph, and its the hills that are lowering your average.
Jack FFR1846
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

As a former bicycle racer, my answer to "how fast should I ride?" Would be..."wicked fast".
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SamB
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by SamB »

Averaging 14 mph on a bike trail is pretty fast. How much would you average on the road in a club sponsored century, or metric century? I don't have any racing experience, but I have been riding all of my life. I am 68 years old and managed to average 15.7 mph during a century last year, but it was the flattest 100 miles in biking (The Seagull Century in Maryland), and my bike is a 27 pound recumbent. One month before that I did a more normal century involving rolling terrain and the average was about 13.5 mph. Younger riders with road bikes similar to your's average 18-20 mph on the Seagull.
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Epsilon Delta
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by Epsilon Delta »

There's a lot of different things I could say, but the first thing that comes to mind is how fast is it safe to ride on your bike path?

I know many bike paths where between tight turns, bad pavement, kids in strollers, kids not in strollers, stop signs every block, ... 14 mph is well above what is safe. On the other hand I'm told that somewhere there's a bike path far from urban housing with 4m wide, smooth pavement, large turn radii, good sight lines and no stop signs where I could safely do 30 mph if were able to do so. Most are in between, but 16mph cruising speed interspersed with sections of dead slow and stop makes it very hard to average more than about 12mph.

If you want to get faster there are few things that work as well as riding with somebody who is a bit faster than you and trying to hang on. However, be careful who you pick to follow. The "easy" way to get faster is to never slow down. If this involves stops signs etc it is not safe.
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tainted-meat
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by tainted-meat »

livesoft wrote:
Also go watch the movie Breaking Away.
Great movie, and that quarry is still there.
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by livesoft »

The OP noted the route they took "This trail used to be a railroad track and was converted to a bike trail in my city's "rails to trails" program, so it relatively flat." To me, this means a wide, flat, no tight turns, paved path. That is, a fast path.

A higher cadence will force one to at lift their upward-stroke leg to take weight off the upward moving pedal. Eventually, one will be pulling up as well. I think one could average 16 mph routinely on such an ex-rail path. 18 mph would be harder without help from other riders, but a well-trained, younger rider could average 20 mph. I note that some triathlon types (with the bikes, streamlining, etc) will ride 112 miles in 5 hours and less.

With any stops or slows, averaging 16 mph for someone age 50 and over is doing great.
Last edited by livesoft on Mon May 18, 2015 8:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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jhfenton
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by jhfenton »

Without context, asking how fast you should ride is about as useful as asking how fast someone should run. It depends on fitness, terrain, temperature, goals, and--in the case of cycling--equipment. I see runners running 13:00/mile and others running 5:00/mile. They may all be running exactly the right pace. And I see folks on bikes riding 8 mph to 25 mph. They may all be riding the right speed.

It also depends greatly on equipment. You have a 19-lb road bike, but what size tires do you have on it? Do you use clipless pedals and cycling shoes with cleats? Clipless pedals and cleats can dramatically improve your speed by allowing you to pedal in a complete circle.

I'm predominantly a runner, but I occasionally do duathlons (run-bike-run races). My only bike is a triathlon/time-trial bike, so as livesoft said, everything is streamlined and the goal is speed. The bike is not even very comfortable unless I'm down on my forearms in the aero position. If I had a standard road bike or a hybrid, I would be slower, even if the bike weighed the same amount.
fishboat
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by fishboat »

How fast should you ride?..if a 14mph average is fairly easy..then faster.

Old RR beds are fun to ride, but, by definition, they will limit themselves to about a max 3% grade up or down. I'd find some country roads with some hills and have at it. Your average may not increase, but you'll get more of a workout. Do a couple months of riding rolling hills (attack the hills out of the saddle if need be, don't slog up them in 1st gear) and then go back to your rail-trails ride. You'll find your average will increase as faster will seem as easy as the pace that gave you the 14mph average earlier. Actually you may not even notice you're going faster until you figure it out at the end.


You may also want to do a local search on meetups.com for local group rides. If you ride with someone else that kicking your but ahead of you...you'll push it more to keep up..or get ahead.

Once upon a time I used to keep a 20mph avg on a regular basis..alas..no more. I'm running about 14mph now with 30 extra pounds and 30+ extra years. Once I hit retirement (very soon) I plan on cranking things up a bit..so to speak.
frenchje
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by frenchje »

As you increase your speed the amount of power it takes to overcome the effects of wind resistance increases exponentially. So it will take much more energy to go from 14 to 15 mph than it will from 13 to 14 mph. I ride on a road bike similar to what you describe and I typically will average between 16-18 mph without a lot of training, if I've been training more I can average closer to 19-20 (especially on flatter routes).

Whenever I read articles or posts on triathlon sites about people getting faster it always comes down to how hard you are riding. For running most people should be putting in lots of easy miles/runs with a few faster/harder runs mixed in. This is because hard running takes a big toll on your body and recovery. However biking has much less impact so if you want to improve you have to ride hard (especially considering the exponential wind resistance factor). If you are just riding leisurely and still feel pretty good after a 30mile ride then you are not riding hard enough to see much gain. Riding hard does not necessarily mean go out and ride all out for 30 miles. I personally think that riders get the most bang for their buck by incorporating intervals to their riding. So for instance you might go out and warm up for 5-10 minutes. Then every 2-3 minutes ride one minute as fast as you can. Repeat these intervals 10-15 times for about 1/2 hour then finish up your ride at your normal pace. You can mix up the number of intervals, the length of the hard riding, the length of the rest, but if you do this regularly then you will definitely see improvement. There is lots of information on the internet about intervals and improving your riding, and lots of different interval plans you an follow if you want something more structured.

Averaging 14mph for a 30mile ride is pretty good but I don't think it would take a lot of work with your current base to get to the 15-16mph range or higher. You just have to ride harder when you ride. Good luck.
ThankYouJack
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by ThankYouJack »

Download Strava if you want to set goals, track progress and some extra motivation to get faster
fishboat
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by fishboat »

Should have mentioned..I assume you know this, but avoid a slow cadence in big gears (high gear inches) and favor high cadence in smaller gears (lower gear inches)...spin your brains out. Your pedaling should be circular not 'square' (down only). Keep your knees tucked in and focus on a smooth circular cadence.
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tyrion
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by tyrion »

With the caveat that I haven't actually tried this myself-

Look for some weekend group rides. Join the entry level / recreational one. Riding with others will force you to push yourself.

I see a lot of group rides around my area. Some are fit young folks who are clearly very serious about their cycling. Some are older folks (still wearing full cycling kit of course) who appear to be more interested in having a good ride than 'winning' the ride.
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by furwut »

Right now, I'm getting exercise, but not really setting goals. So, I need some help determining how much progress I am making.
I think it all depends on what your goals are - which you did not state. 14 MPH on flat terrain is probably the right speed for a reasonably fit individual seeking moderate heart healthy exercise.

If your goal is to reach a higher level of fitness than ride faster & try interval training ( I find riding in rolling hilly terrain does this naturally :wink:). But the studies I've been reading lately in the NYT seem to indicate that moderate exercise is fine for optimizing health alone.
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by campy2010 »

Jack FFR1846 wrote:As a former bicycle racer, my answer to "how fast should I ride?" Would be..."wicked fast".
As a former bicycle racer, my answer is "wicked fast (but not so fast that you can't make it to your destination)". But probably not "wicked fast" every time you're out on your bike. Otherwise, you may become wicked injured. Build distance and speed gradually.
f35phixer
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by f35phixer »

Cycle 90 RPM, that is good workout!
Professor Emeritus
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by Professor Emeritus »

livesoft wrote:The OP noted the route they took "This trail used to be a railroad track and was converted to a bike trail in my city's "rails to trails" program, so it relatively flat." To me, this means a wide, flat, no tight turns, paved path. That is, a fast path.
.
Our "rail to trails" have speed limits , since they are "used by all"

Bicyclists should always wear a helmet and ride at speeds that do not exceed 12 miles per hour.


Trails are shared recreation amenities and are accessed by a variety of users at the same time. Please be courteous to all users, and remember that pedestrians have the right-of-way.

Never wear headsets.

http://www.montgomeryparks.org/PPSD/Par ... mbols.shtm
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calmaniac
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by calmaniac »

How fast? Depends on your personal goals.

I ride with a group of about 40 guys (10-20 in winter) on the roads. Same ride every weekend with several different length options. The social part adds a nice dimension and the competition makes you faster. You also learn a lot about bikes and people.

Personally, I avoid multi-use trails for bicycle riding because my typical speed of 18-20 mph is too fast to safely negotiate the trails. I like to ride roads and live in an area with "safe" roads.
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lightheir
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by lightheir »

It's good to try and improve fitness.

Find a nice course without that you like riding, without major stoplights or traffic, and time yourself on it, and try and improve on that time.

Look up 'interval training' if you decide to get serious about it - it involves riding really hard for short periods of time, then resting, and repeating.

If you have hills in your area, ride em, and ride them all. They are interval training in disguise.

Without a pricey powermeter, a decent way to judge speed is to find a dead flat area where you can ride for at least a few minutes, and gauge how hard certain speeds feel to you.

And yes, if you're planning on riding faster than 14mph, you should do it on the roads, not on multiuse trails, as they'er not meant for speeds that fast.

And as for getting injured on the bike, it's actually pretty hard to do, so don't worry too much about that. This is VERY different from running, where you can very easily strain something if you overdo it and take yourself out for months. (Cycling is nonimpact.)
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jhfenton
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by jhfenton »

Professor Emeritus wrote:
livesoft wrote:The OP noted the route they took "This trail used to be a railroad track and was converted to a bike trail in my city's "rails to trails" program, so it relatively flat." To me, this means a wide, flat, no tight turns, paved path. That is, a fast path.
.
Our "rail to trails" have speed limits , since they are "used by all"

Bicyclists should always wear a helmet and ride at speeds that do not exceed 12 miles per hour.
12 mph makes it pretty much useless as a "bike" trail.

I'm surprised at the comments about multi-use trails. Our primary local multi-use trail is a linear state park that runs continuously from Cincinnati near the Ohio river north through several counties to Dayton and beyond. It is intended to eventually connect the Ohio River to Lake Erie, but there are still gaps. The sections I ride, at least, have no speed limits, though there are certainly crowded trailheads (local parks on the trail) where you have to slow down for safety, as well as road crossings. And you obviously have to be more cautious on beautiful weekend days in proximity to the trailheads, where you have more families and pets. But cyclists use the trail to train in large numbers. I averaged 20.4 mph on a 55.3-mile ride two weekends ago, riding north from the largest trailhead away from the crowds.

Oh, and according to signs in a few places: cyclists yield to horses, pedestrians yield to cyclists. Which makes perfect sense to me, despite the fact that I'm primarily a runner. It's easy for me to run off the trail into the grass on foot. On my bike, that would result in a quick crash. (And everyone yields to the ever-present deer. I will no longer ride on the trail at dusk due the deer activity. One minor crash was enough to teach me a lesson.)
lightheir
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by lightheir »

Not all multiuse trails are the same, and yes, there are some nice, low-ped trails that are much more like dedicated bike only trails where you can ride fast for long distances, no problem.

For majority of trails, and almost all urban multiuse trails though, 15mph is the upper limit of what's safe or courteous to ride at, since you'll be passing many pedestrians by literally 1-2 feet of space.
ubermax
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by ubermax »

Dsivi, it would help a bit if you shared your age - if you're 80 and averaging 14 over a flat 30 I'd say that's "wicked" fast as my Massachusetts friends here on the board would say ; and on the other hand if you're 30 & in good health & shape , I'd say you could stretch a bit.

If your age and conditioning are such that attaining a higher average is reachable then starting a training program would probably be the thing to do ; someone said push those pedals harder but it's often hard to maintain that for 30 miles without a training regimen that builds to it ; we have a great bike trail near us and if I want a good workout on a Summer weekend , I usually go early morning when it's not so busy ; I agree with others that doing 14mph when it's loaded with families gets a little hairy .

I'm retired now and can keep up with some young studs for a couple miles but I can't maintain that pace anymore ; some young guys pass me & I can immediately tell that I would never catch them .

But I think averaging 14mph over 30 is a decent pace and the other comments so far I think have been great !!
ohiost90
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by ohiost90 »

on that track, 53-12 is the only way to roll.
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dsivi
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by dsivi »

frenchje wrote:As you increase your speed the amount of power it takes to overcome the effects of wind resistance increases exponentially. So it will take much more energy to go from 14 to 15 mph than it will from 13 to 14 mph. I ride on a road bike similar to what you describe and I typically will average between 16-18 mph without a lot of training, if I've been training more I can average closer to 19-20 (especially on flatter routes).
That is very interesting. The issue with the wind resistance must explain what I've been noticing. It just seems that once I try to get move faster than 14 mph, I really struggle.

I'm in my 40's and in decent physical shape - about 5'10 and 170 lbs. I probably wasn't very clear in my original post. Basically, I'm trying to determine what is a realistic speed for me is. For example, if I'm struggling to hit 15 mph, is it realistic I will ever average 18, for example. Especially, given the exponential increase in power needed to overcome wind resistance.

The trail I use (rails to trails) is a mixed use trail, but I've never seen a speed limit sign. Most bikers I see are riding faster than me. There are also long stretches where you rarely see walkers and runners. Given that it was an old railroad track, it is very level overall. The only real problem is that the old railroad ran through an industrial area of the city and now the the view is basically abandoned factories for portions of the ride. Plus it goes by a sewage treatment plant where you have to hold to your breath (and peddle fast.) However, once you get past that, you get a long portion of a scenic view riding alongside a river which makes it all worthwhile.
dad2000
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by dad2000 »

My suggestion is to find a beginner group ride with a local cycling group. Often times, your local bike shop will run one, or could otherwise point you to one.

It varies some, but the beginner rides are usually around 20 miles, 12-14 mph, with flat to rolling terrain. You may find the beginner ride a little easy, but you'll learn how to ride with groups while improving your bike handling. After a couple of these, move up to the next group, and you'll find yourself challenged for a while.

I'm middle-aged, and not much of an athlete. My first ride was a little over 2 years ago... 13 miles @13.5mph LOL. Last fall, I did a century at 18+mph, trying to get to 19+ this year.
ubermax
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by ubermax »

ohiost90 wrote:on that track, 53-12 is the only way to roll.
?? are you referring to large c-ring & small cassette sprocket ?? with that combo I'd be rollin but not spinnin too much :D
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by fishboat »

dsivi wrote:
That is very interesting. The issue with the wind resistance must explain what I've been noticing. It just seems that once I try to get move faster than 14 mph, I really struggle.

I'm in my 40's and in decent physical shape - about 5'10 and 170 lbs. I probably wasn't very clear in my original post. Basically, I'm trying to determine what is a realistic speed for me is. For example, if I'm struggling to hit 15 mph, is it realistic I will ever average 18, for example. Especially, given the exponential increase in power needed to overcome wind resistance.
While true, don't let the wind resistance thing psych you out. I'd guess with more miles and some effort you could up your average by a couple-few mph. FWIW..I'm 58, 5'11" & 230lbs and I average 14mph (lately) over similar, flat terrain. At nearly 20 years younger and (aghmm) 60 lbs lighter (cough..I need to lose a few pounds :) you should be riding me into the ground. My road bike is state of the 1980-art..20-21 lbs (Cinelli knockoff/all Campy/2x butted Columbus).

Check meetups.com..you should find local riding groups (those associated with local bike shops as well as regional/statewide groups).
fishboat
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by fishboat »

ubermax wrote:
ohiost90 wrote:on that track, 53-12 is the only way to roll.
?? are you referring to large c-ring & small cassette sprocket ?? with that combo I'd be rollin but not spinnin too much :D

Ever seen guys who ride track?...thighs look like they came off holstiens..they can spin 53-12. :D

Take a peak..
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/07/sport ... .html?_r=0
ohiost90
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by ohiost90 »

ubermax wrote:
ohiost90 wrote:on that track, 53-12 is the only way to roll.
?? are you referring to large c-ring & small cassette sprocket ?? with that combo I'd be rollin but not spinnin too much :D
Yes that was what I referring to. Actually, mostly in jest as many/most? people can't push that gear for very long even on a flat. My rides ave ~ 20 mph and I don't push that gear(or at least for very long) on a flat.

I would also suggest that there is nothing magical about a cadence of 90 rpms. I'm more comfortable at 80 or so rpms. I also find the taller guys(like me) prefer a slower rpm than the short guys. Nothing scientific here, just my observation.
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by livesoft »

ohiost90 wrote:I would also suggest that there is nothing magical about a cadence of 90 rpms. I'm more comfortable at 80 or so rpms. I also find the taller guys(like me) prefer a slower rpm than the short guys. Nothing scientific here, just my observation.
Although you are more comfortable at 80 rpm, there is something magical about 90, 100, 105 rpm. And scientific. Of course, one needs to use a lower gear to maintain the same forward speed at 100 rpm than they do at 80 rpm. Here's the magic: At 80 rpm, one gets comfortable with not lifting their upward stroking leg. At 100 rpm, if one doesn't lift (at least the leg), one cannot do 100 rpm because the leg going up impedes the rpm and slows one down.

There is even evidence that a high cadence is great for running.
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randomguy
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by randomguy »

dsivi wrote:
frenchje wrote:As you increase your speed the amount of power it takes to overcome the effects of wind resistance increases exponentially. So it will take much more energy to go from 14 to 15 mph than it will from 13 to 14 mph. I ride on a road bike similar to what you describe and I typically will average between 16-18 mph without a lot of training, if I've been training more I can average closer to 19-20 (especially on flatter routes).
That is very interesting. The issue with the wind resistance must explain what I've been noticing. It just seems that once I try to get move faster than 14 mph, I really struggle.

I'm in my 40's and in decent physical shape - about 5'10 and 170 lbs. I probably wasn't very clear in my original post. Basically, I'm trying to determine what is a realistic speed for me is. For example, if I'm struggling to hit 15 mph, is it realistic I will ever average 18, for example. Especially, given the exponential increase in power needed to overcome wind resistance.

The trail I use (rails to trails) is a mixed use trail, but I've never seen a speed limit sign. Most bikers I see are riding faster than me. There are also long stretches where you rarely see walkers and runners. Given that it was an old railroad track, it is very level overall. The only real problem is that the old railroad ran through an industrial area of the city and now the the view is basically abandoned factories for portions of the ride. Plus it goes by a sewage treatment plant where you have to hold to your breath (and peddle fast.) However, once you get past that, you get a long portion of a scenic view riding alongside a river which makes it all worthwhile.
How fast you can get is pretty personal. You are on the downside of athletic performance so depending on how well you are trained right now, just staying even might be winning. As you get faster technique tends to matter more and more. You don't need to go super aerodynamic (you know TT bars, the helmet, and the rest) but working on reducing your drag can help. Same thing with working on pedaling technique and getting your cadence right.

But the big thing is training. To go fast, you need to practice go fast with intervals and the like that push your body. You can google around for some good cycling training plans. In endurance training, to get faster you tend to need to do harder training than you are doing. Either you put in more time or you up the effort level. And of course losing weight is always a win (5'10 170 isn't exactly fat but the odds are you could lose 15-20lbs of fat before you started losing muscle).
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by lightheir »

It honestly sounds like you're probably in the middle or lower-middle of the bell curve of ability where most of us lie. With serious training, I'll bet you can get to even 20mph averages on a 'real' road bike (I don't know if you're riding one now), but without drafting, it'll probably be very hard for you to go faster than 22mph for an hour. (That's pretty hard for most typical serious adult athletes who commit to the training.)
derosa
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by derosa »

Riders can get 120 rpm. There is no barrier at 100 or 105 rpm. Yes it takes practice.

Spin and Grin. IF you are pushing it then you need to drop down a gear and get your rpms up.

Get off the greenway and get on the road. You have a road bike not a sidewalk bike.

Interval training. There are two components to riding. 1 - finishing the distance and 2 - feeling good when finishing. #1 is just being able to ride a set distance. All you have to do is ride the bike farther than that distance. #2 is strength and you get that from hard intervals.
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dsivi
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by dsivi »

derosa wrote:
Get off the greenway and get on the road. You have a road bike not a sidewalk bike.
I kind of understand what you are saying. I bought a true road bike and I don't like riding on the road and I know that sounds somewhat silly.

However, I just don't like dealing with cars when biking - I just don't feel comfortable. The trail I use is definitely designed for bike riders and is heavily used by them. It's paved and very smooth and flat and you can get an almost uninterrupted 50 mile ride if you so desire.
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by livesoft »

I say you are doing fine, but need some motivation to go faster. You can ride farther and slower, but maybe this weekend, try riding faster for half your normal distance and see what happens. For instance, go out fast and kill yourself. Then ride back slow.
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campy2010
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by campy2010 »

dsivi wrote:
The trail I use (rails to trails) is a mixed use trail, but I've never seen a speed limit sign. Most bikers I see are riding faster than me. There are also long stretches where you rarely see walkers and runners. Given that it was an old railroad track, it is very level overall. The only real problem is that the old railroad ran through an industrial area of the city and now the the view is basically abandoned factories for portions of the ride. Plus it goes by a sewage treatment plant where you have to hold to your breath (and peddle fast.) However, once you get past that, you get a long portion of a scenic view riding alongside a river which makes it all worthwhile.
Your descriptions reminds me of the Schuylkill River Trail in Philly.
SimonJester
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by SimonJester »

As a teenager I once rode my bicycle down a steep winding hill and hit 40 mph. Talk about scary, if I had hit something im pretty sure I would not be here today, no helmet of course...

12 to 14 sounds about right for flat surfaces.
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dbr
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by dbr »

dsivi wrote:
derosa wrote:
Get off the greenway and get on the road. You have a road bike not a sidewalk bike.
I kind of understand what you are saying. I bought a true road bike and I don't like riding on the road and I know that sounds somewhat silly.

However, I just don't like dealing with cars when biking - I just don't feel comfortable. The trail I use is definitely designed for bike riders and is heavily used by them. It's paved and very smooth and flat and you can get an almost uninterrupted 50 mile ride if you so desire.
Of course. There are plenty of bike trails that are used nearly exclusively by bicycles and are fine for riding at any speed. In my community such trails are sometimes accompanied by separated pedestrian paths and signed to indicate which is which. There are also bike trails that are really multiple use trails or in any case significantly used by pedestrians. It is both rude and dangerous to ride too fast on those trails. It is also true that bicycles are entitled by law to use streets and roads and that in many instances a cyclist wanting to make good speed is better off on the road, especially if there is a well engineered bike lane or a good shoulder but even if there is not. It is almost never a good idea to ride a bicycle on an actual sidewalk as normally understood by the term. In some places doing do is against the law.

People who want to read infinite discussion, rants, etc. on the topic can go here: http://www.bikeforums.net/advocacy-safety/ or on the "41" here:
http://www.bikeforums.net/road-cycling/ .
dbr
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by dbr »

Strangely someone just posted this:

http://www.bikeforums.net/road-cycling/ ... 4-mph.html

PS The commentary so far is less than enlightening.
Slackter
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by Slackter »

It all comes down to the person and what your looking for (cardio vs weight loss). I use a bike computer that has a "ghost rider" feature. If you ride the same route, enable it and try to stay ahead of the "ghost".

2 or so years ago, I had a 20-22 average as a solo rider, it was killing me to get that speed as we have lost of hills and I'm NOT a skinny rider (225lbs). Now, I am satisfied with a 16-18 average. Taking time and not trying to pedal all out makes it a much more enjoyable ride. Hech, I've even seen things on a route that I never saw before.
tigermilk
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by tigermilk »

You say you are on paved roads. On my road bike on asphalt or concrete I average 20 or so at an endurance pace of several hours on flat no wind. Slow rolling tubes and tires may drop that to 19. Back in my amateur racing days I'd be doing 23-24 mph for an hour on my road bike, 26 or so on a time trial bike. But I am fitter than most I ride with.

If you think in terms of power, wind resistance is increasing the power demand by a cubic relation, whereas rolling resistance and gradient is linear. So going from 10 to 11 would require 30% more effort, but 10 to 20 would be 8x more effort accounting just for wind. At 14 MPH you may be putting out 100 watts, which is pretty low. Start speeding things up. At 17 MPH it would be around 170 watts. But to get faster you have to go, well, faster.
livesoft
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by livesoft »

tigermilk wrote:But I am fitter than most I ride with.
Uh, no kidding.
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black jack
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by black jack »

Out of curiosity, I checked the bike times for the DC National Triathlon (figuring triathletes are fit but generally not specialized bike racers, and drafting is not allowed in the bike event). In 2012 it was a 25 mile course, mostly flat I assume (since it went along the Potomac River).

The top finishers in that race - elite athletes on lightweight racing bikes - averaged about 24 mph over the course. You don't have to go far down the results list to find people who averaged less than 20 mph.

OP: interval training is the key, if you want to get faster. I envy your 50-mile path. Enjoy yourself.
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Fallible
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by Fallible »

dsivi wrote:
derosa wrote:
Get off the greenway and get on the road. You have a road bike not a sidewalk bike.
I kind of understand what you are saying. I bought a true road bike and I don't like riding on the road and I know that sounds somewhat silly.

However, I just don't like dealing with cars when biking - I just don't feel comfortable. The trail I use is definitely designed for bike riders and is heavily used by them. It's paved and very smooth and flat and you can get an almost uninterrupted 50 mile ride if you so desire.
I'm just a content comfort-bike rider who also likes those long, paved, smooth, flat surfaces where you can hit a fun stride. So why, if you know what you like, you're doing it now, and you're happy doing it and have no burning desire or great goal to go faster, can't you keep doing what's fun, keeps you fit, and makes you happy?
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wander
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by wander »

As fast as you can still control it.
randomguy
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by randomguy »

black jack wrote:Out of curiosity, I checked the bike times for the DC National Triathlon (figuring triathletes are fit but generally not specialized bike racers, and drafting is not allowed in the bike event). In 2012 it was a 25 mile course, mostly flat I assume (since it went along the Potomac River).

The top finishers in that race - elite athletes on lightweight racing bikes - averaged about 24 mph over the course. You don't have to go far down the results list to find people who averaged less than 20 mph.

OP: interval training is the key, if you want to get faster. I envy your 50-mile path. Enjoy yourself.
Umm those guys are not close to elite athletes. Elite athletes (triathalon elite. Runner elite and we are talking sub 29) run sub 32 min 10ks. Not 37 min ones like the winner did.
stlutz
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by stlutz »

I'd worry less about interval training, heart rate monitors and the like and find ways to mix up your riding more. I ride a lot and being rather small I climb well. I can climb and climb and not get any better. The way I get faster on the climbs is to do flat rides in the wind. Mixing it up he a lot of benefit.

On your original question, there are no magical speeds. As has been noted, each additional mph is harder than the last.
rj49
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by rj49 »

I second the idea of mixing up your riding. You might try a mountain bike and go for a heavier workload and not worry about speed, especially if it might get you riding in different terrains and in colder/wetter weather, or running errands or other rides that don't require special shoes or clothing. A bonus of using a mountain bike is that when you get back on a road bike, you'll feel like you are flying on air. If you're data-obsessed, focus on heart rate and calories burned, or time in saddle instead of distance.

If you have a true need for speed, you could try an izip Path electric bike, which gets up to 28 mph on the flats with moderate pedalling. I had one, and the looks I got from the dumbfounded racers as I blasted past them on the flats and hills were priceless. I even had drivers pull aside me to say they'd never seen anyone climb a hill that fast or that I should ride the Tour de France.
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