Saturday, 5 June 2010

Average Speed for a new Road Cyclist

One of the regular questions that beginner road cyclists often ask is that sort of speed they should be achieving. Speaking with some potential new members at our cycling club - North Cheshire Clarion - social night the other week, without doubt it was the most commonly asked question.

Looking back, when I first started out on my hybrid, I was averaging about 12.5 mph over a distance of around 30 miles or so. When I moved to a road bike, this upped to around 14.5 mph average speed, primarily because of the lower weight and riding position. I've just completed a ride today at an average speed of 17.3 mph after around 10 months on a road bike, so you can see, improving speed is all about patience, fitness and miles in the legs.

However, your speed depends on so many factors such as: -

  • Your body weight.
  • Your bike.
  • The Wind.
  • The quality of the road surface.
  • Heat.
  • The Route Profile.
  • Your fitness.
This is to name just a few. The point I'm making is that success on the bike isn't just about speed, so don't feel disillusioned if your speed isn't making big gains all the time. For me, it's primarily about fitness and health. Therefore, some rides are faster than others, depending on the profile, distance and weather, plus what I want from it (miles, hills or intervals).

To really measure your progress, you need to be doing the same route, ideally using a bike computer with heart rate monitor. That way, over the same route, you can get a better idea of how you're progressing, taking into account weather conditions on the day and how hard your heart is working (training zones).

I've learned now to not feel disappointed if I come in from a ride and I've only averaged 15 mph for example. First thing I do, look at the route profile, how much ascent was involved and then consider the weather conditions. It's surprising - for example - how a headwind can really slow you down. So, keep going, remember to track your rides on something like Dailymile or Mycyclinglog to keep your motivation going. My Garmin 705 syncs automatically with the Garmin training centre, so that's really convenient if you get one at any point.

1 comment:

  1. If most blogs/forums are to be belived most people tend to average 20+ mph.
    Most of my rides are bellow 13mph average thanks to traffic, hills, wind etc. Its only when I do a longer ride around cheshire that I go over the 15mph level. 18mph+ takes a major effort.