How fast should I ride my bicycle?

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atwood
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by atwood »

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.
Try to get on the wheel of one of the riders who passes you, someone a little bit faster but not too much faster. You can take turns as lead rider. You'll go faster.
marc515
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by marc515 »

Very Fast :))

I just couldn't resist; be safe out there

m
ubermax
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by ubermax »

fishboat wrote:Ever seen guys who ride track?...thighs look like they came off holstiens..they can spin 53-12. :D
Yep, visualize Nelson Vails !!
wesgreen
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by wesgreen »

If you weren't on flat terrain, I would suggest "as fast as possible uphill, as slow as possible downhill".
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Epsilon Delta
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by Epsilon Delta »

atwood wrote: Try to get on the wheel of one of the riders who passes you, someone a little bit faster but not too much faster. You can take turns as lead rider. You'll go faster.
Be careful drafting. If the lead rider manoeuvres abruptly it can cause a crash. Some people do not want to accept that responsibility* and do not want to be drafted. Some people are squirrelly* and you do not want to draft them. Some people do not like to be drafted by unknown riders.

The best way to learn is to ride with a club. You'll learn the local etiquette and get a nodding acquaintance with many potential drafting partners.

If somebody passes you and you get on their wheel you should always ask if they mind. In our club we announce "On your wheel" and wait for an "OK" or "NO". If there's no response in a reasonable time back off because they're oblivious.

An alternative to drafting is to use a faster rider as a rabbit. Push yourself a little bit to try to stay 10 or 100 yards back. Or if the path is wide and empty, and the person is amiable, ride side by side. Have a conversation. Ask short questions that require a long answer :wink: .

* E.g. many triathletes.
dad2000
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by dad2000 »

I'll take a shot.

A reasonably fit 40 year old, at 5'10" 170lbs, on a flat rail trail, on a decent road bike, on the drops, with little wind, should easily be able to average 16mph on a solo 20 mile ride after a season of training.

If you are only averaging 14mph right now, I wouldn't spend a lot of time drawing up a detailed training program. Just get out there and ride at least 3 days per week, at least 20 miles per ride. Add mileage as the season goes on.

And like I previously said, join a cycling group. The pressure to keep up with everyone else makes you better after each ride. Do not hop on a random rider's wheel if you've never drafted. It's bad etiquette and dangerous.
tigermilk
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by tigermilk »

ubermax wrote:
fishboat wrote:Ever seen guys who ride track?...thighs look like they came off holstiens..they can spin 53-12. :D
Yep, visualize Nelson Vails !!
Well, track has many facets. The 200m flying sprinters may have thighs from beasts, but pursuit riders certainly don't. Huge difference in physiology going from a sprinter's body to one who needs to be at aerobic prime (and yes, a 4+ minute pursuit is an aerobic event).
protagonist
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by protagonist »

Assuming you have no major health issues, I would gauge how hard you are working by both the way you feel and your heart rate. They used to say (perhaps still do) that your target heart rate should be 70-80% of your max, and your max is roughly 220 minus your age. So if you are 60, your max is 160 and you should be hitting 112-128. I personally find that way too low....I am 62 and at 112 I wouldn't even break a sweat. But if you take your pulse at first every 15 minutes and later every 30 or 60, and you know how hard you are pushing yourself, you will get a feel for where you want to be.

As you condition you will find that you have to ride faster to maintain that same heart rate, so if you are doing 14 mph now to get your heart rate up to, say, 130 bpm (just a hypothetical number), and you determine that at 130 bpm you physically feel like you are getting a good workout, after a month you may find that you have to do 16 mph to get your heart rate up to 130 and get the same degree of "cardiac conditioning". You will also soon develop an intrinsic sense of when you are in the right zone.

Determine your heart rate by taking your wrist pulse for 15 seconds and multiplying by 4....that is close enough, and even if you have to stop to do it you won't lose much. Use your heartbeat and physical feeling to determine how hard you should be working. Check your speed only as a way of reinforcing your progress.

(caveat....this is all assuming you are riding for general fitness, and not to be a competitive racer. I am not qualified to tell you how to train for the latter).

One other thought...if you are plateauing at a certain speed (in your case 14 mph) I can think of several possible reasons:
1. Wind resistance increasing as many have mentioned
2. Personal training plateau which you may break through faster if you vary your exercise routine more
3. Personal limit (in your case probably not the reason)
4. Limitations of your bicycle (maybe due to reason 1 or maybe not)- perhaps you need a more streamlined and faster bike. I ride a vintage 1970s "ten speed" that I bought for $20 around 1982. Aside from things like new tires, new seat, etc that works out to about 60 cents/year.
Last edited by protagonist on Tue May 19, 2015 8:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
livesoft
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by livesoft »

Check that your bike brakes are not mis-adjusted leading to continuous weak braking. If so, that will slow you down, too.
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MP173
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by MP173 »

I will throw in my thoughts, which are very similar to Protagonists...we are similar in age and training.

I am a 59 and ride 3-4 x weekly and would like to get to 4-5x but the weather has been restricting this spring. My typical ride is between 15 - 19 miles and my average is 15mph. My equipment is a Trek 380 mountain bike (heavy and slow) without clips. I do not have the mountain tires, which adds a little speed. The bike is probably 20 years old and the gear shift needs some work.

I have "target times" during my rides at various locations. These help me push a little more if the energy level is there (and the wind is not a factor). I use "Map My Ride" which is an app on my phone. Before I switched to a larger phone it was carried on my handle bars and that really pushed me harder as each mile the app would announce the elapsed time, average mph, etc. Since it is my pocket, my time is a little slower.

A heart rate monitor is also used and it is probably my best tool used. Based on Protagonist's calculations, my rate should be similar to his and like him, the 112 bpm is barely a workout. I target 120-130 with a push to 140. There is a hill (11%-14% grade) which pushes the bpm to the 150-155 range. That is all I want.

I talked to my BIL this past weekend he has lightweight equipment and is probably 80 pounds lighter than me. His normals are
1. 20mph for sustained rides.
2. 150bpm
3. 180 bpm for short periods of time.
4. 50 mile rides.

He also trained all winter with hardware and software (in his basement) which simulated outdoor rides. He comment was that he is in the best shape of his life right now. He is in his early 50s.

So, there are two extreme philosophies, based on our environment and desires. I am content with a 15 mph ride and excited with a 15.4 mph ride. He shoots for 21mph.

Ed
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black jack
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by black jack »

randomguy wrote:
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.
I picked triathletes as being exceptionally fit athletes who are not specialized in one event, and who are not allowed to draft while cycling, and picked the DC National Triathlon because I was vaguely familiar with the bike course.

Your dismissal of the "eliteness" of the top finishers in the DC triathlon piqued my curiosity, so I looked at the top finishers in the USA National Olympic distance triathlon. Only one broke 33 minutes for the 10K (32:55), and only two others broke 34 minutes - of course, that 10k comes about 90 minutes of swimming and cycling. So your definition of "elite" seems rather ... elite.

Most did the 24.8m bike ride at about 24-26 mph.
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Chin00k
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by Chin00k »

I'm 61 years old, 5' 11", 185 lb and ride 3-4 times a week (80-110 miles per week) during the warmer months. My average speed is Mach 0.0243.
randomguy
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by randomguy »

black jack wrote:
randomguy wrote:
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.
I picked triathletes as being exceptionally fit athletes who are not specialized in one event, and who are not allowed to draft while cycling, and picked the DC National Triathlon because I was vaguely familiar with the bike course.

Your dismissal of the "eliteness" of the top finishers in the DC triathlon piqued my curiosity, so I looked at the top finishers in the USA National Olympic distance triathlon. Only one broke 33 minutes for the 10K (32:55), and only two others broke 34 minutes - of course, that 10k comes about 90 minutes of swimming and cycling. So your definition of "elite" seems rather ... elite.

Most did the 24.8m bike ride at about 24-26 mph.
Last I checked, olympic tris are draft legal. I think you are looking at age group championships. Those are good athletes but they are not the elite. They are the guys that go out and train for an hour after work and maybe two on the weekends. That is a hole different category than the elite guy that is training twice a day for 4 hours. And for reference the gap between 37 min and 34 mins for a 10k is huge. A 34 min 10 guy can run a marathon at 37 min 10k pace (assuming they put in enough mileage). Or going the other way a 37 min guy would struggle to run 2 miles at the pace the 34 min guy can.

Saying those guys are not elite isn't a criticism of them. It is just pointing out that they are the everyday athletes not the genetic freaks.
lightheir
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by lightheir »

Actually, the vast majority of olympic distance, and in fact, the vast majority of every distance triathlon is NOT draft legal.

There are ITU world-elite circuit Oly-distance races that are draft legal, but those are for the super elite. Very few age-group triathons in the US are draft-legal.
lightheir
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Re: How fast should I ride my bicycle?

Post by lightheir »

lightheir wrote:Actually, the vast majority of olympic distance, and in fact, the vast majority of every distance triathlon is NOT draft legal.

There are ITU world-elite circuit Oly-distance races that are draft legal, but those are for the super elite. Very few age-group triathons in the US are draft-legal.
And I'd also say that any AGer running a 10k at the tail end of a triathlon is 37minute is pretty darn talented. Sure, it's not world-class, but it's fast enough to win the run in the age-group section in most races.
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