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Setting goals(8 posts)

Setting goalsDelia
May 14, 2001 2:19 PM
This is a tough question...and I know 'it's all relative' BUT I want have some idea of what a realistic 'goal' would be. You see, I've been on some 25 mile rides and I know to most of you that's really nothing. The rides are easy enough for me to do, but I want to know how well I'm doing them. So I guess my question really is, what's a decent speed and distance for an experienced female rider? There must be an average somewhere, but I really don't know where to look for those types of stats. I want to have something solid to work towards this season...I know alot of people will say that I should just concentrate on improving...know what I can do and then do better....but I like to know how I'm doing in relation to other riders. So could someone point me to some stats please.
Hmmm....grz mnky
May 14, 2001 2:45 PM
It is all relative as you point out. One rule of thumb I liked when I was first paying attention to the time speed distance in San Diego thing was to be able to do 20 mi. in one hour. This was over a perfectly flat route with minimal winds - the Silver Strand from Coronado to Imperial Beach and back was perfect. Usually we're not that lucky to have such a nice stretch - maybe you are. There are just so many variables that it is pretty hard to quanitfy in any absolute terms. Probably the best thing to do is to try hooking up with a group of other like minded women (or men). You can check with LBS for regular rides or participate in the organized rides, 10, 25, 50, 100 miles or whatever. You'll have some good companionship and you'll be able to assess your condition. You may even be able to meet people and do some rides in the future - I always carry a few business cards for when I meet someone and we start talking. It's a drag trying to find pencil and paper or remember email addresses out on a ride. If interacting doesn't work for ou consider getting heart rate monitor (they're good for training anyway) and start getting used to it and determining what rate you can maintain. You can get all analytical, but the good thing is that the HR really captures things like stress - one day you may have a nasty headwind so your average speed isn't that good, but you may still be working at 85% AT. There are just so many factors and unique aspect of everyone that hard and fast rules or speeds may not apply. If you really want the absolute consider joining the USCF and racing - you start at the bottom group and work your way up as speed and experience builds. One warning though - the speed and strength of a dedicated racer is devastating! You may find that you like long distance type of riding and finishing a century in under 6 hours is more to your liking.
Ok, here goes...Greg Taylor
May 14, 2001 2:52 PM
There are a couple of ways to do this....

You could measure your progress against "traditional" performance benchmarks, like doing a 5-hour century (a 20 mph average) or a one hour 40k time trial (a 25 mph average). These, however, aren't really that helpful because, as you say yourself, "its all relative." It does, however, provide a very general rule of thumb.

Lance Armstrong's coach, Chris Carmichael, assesses fitness for his training program by having riders do a 3 mile time trial. For guys, a time under 8 minutes (22.5 mph average) is considered pretty good. I don't know what that figure is for women. This is all laid out in Carmichael's book (I forget the title -- something like the "The Lance Armstrong Training Program". Forgetting the title is actually pretty embarassing: I own the book!)

Your best bet, I think, is to go out and find a local club with "graded" rides, and find your niche. A lot of clubs catagorize their group rides as "A" (fast), "B" (not so fast), or "C" (comfortable). Find the group that you can hang with, and then take it from there. Once you start burying people in your group with your wicked sprint or killer climbing ability, move up to the next group.
How do you define decent?MeDotOrg
May 14, 2001 2:53 PM
There are so many variables here...your age, your general health, the quality of your bike, wheels and tires, the type of road you're on, the weather, the wind....

I see women in their 60's completing Centuries (100 mile rides) in very respectable times. As to what is a "decent" time for 25 mile rides, see the variables in paragraph one. The first thing to do is keep track of your average speed over the same course several times. If you push yourself a little when you first start riding, you should definitely see steady improvement, perhaps a couple of miles an hour over the first few months.

After that it gets harder. If you really want to continue improving, you probably should start following a specific training regemin. (i.e., Chris Carmichael or anther good trainer).

Unless you are thinking of riding competitively, I think it's important to approach training as a way of increasing your enjoyment of the sport. If meeting and/or exceeding your goals gives you satisfaction, by all means stick with it. But if setting goals turns bike riding into a "hair shirt" of drudgery that you avoid instead of relish, cut back on the training. The reason most non-competitive riders ride is to improve their health in an enjoyable way.

But to finally answer your original question, if you want specific numbers, I would say over a relatively windless flat course a relatively new rider should be happy with 15-18 mph, and hope to increase to the 20s. Again, this is just a "guesstimate..."
re: Setting goalssimstress
May 14, 2001 3:15 PM
It's great to have a goal towards which you can train. I don't have any stats to share, but here's some anecdotal experience, FWIW. I've been riding a few years with a hiatus or three interleaved. I started racing a few local crits in Women's Category 4 this season. I didn't do too badly, averaging 20-21mph for 30- and 45-min crits, but the veteran Cat 4's routinely lap the field.

My training rides are about 17-18mph for about 30 miles of rolling hills. We don't have flat roads around here, so I can't say how I would do on flats.

If this is your first season of riding, I think that building your base mileage alone will increase your average speed. Later on, you'll need more focused training to see further improvement. When the time comes, there will be many books with training programs from which to choose.
That's really good advice...Greg Taylor
May 14, 2001 3:27 PM
...in the last paragraph.

Sounds like you (Delia) have a competitive streak as well. You should go check out a race (either road or mountainbike) in your area. They are NEAT.
my long ride last year was 31.58 miles on 10/19Haiku d'état
May 14, 2001 3:18 PM
31.58 relatively flat miles and i felt like i'd accomplished a great deal, which i actually had. relative? yes, it's ALL relative. my long ride this year so far was 102 not flat miles on 5/5. i'm not sure on setting goals using stats, my goals were losing weight and riding more. i did--40 pounds and between 1200 and 1500 miles. this year my goals are:

* maintaining my weight 'til late fall
* ride 3000+ miles before 1/1/2002
* complete local fall century
* complete local (fall) ms-150
* losing another 15 pounds over winter
* riding the trainer in horrible weather like a devil dog

the 2001 local fall century was my yearly century goal, which i've already met four months in advance with a doozie of a century (elsewhere). still gearing up for the local fall century, though.

perhaps you should consider quantifying your goals with events or distances, personal benchmarks and/or other, more self-oriented objectives. don't worry about other folks until you feel you're at a point to be truly competitive. none of us can give you a concrete goal--it wouldn't be fair. that's up to you!

right now, i'm my only competitor (though my riding partners sometimes don't see it that way, but it's all in fun).
re: Setting goalsDaveG
May 14, 2001 3:31 PM
Improving average speed is one type of goal, but if you are fairly new to the sport I would recommend concentrating on mileage based goals. Some ideas:
- pick a ride length to shoot for. If you have not done it. A century is a worthy goal.
- shoot for a number of miles for the season
- join a club (if you have not already) and set a goal of moving up one class/grade. Most clubs have rides graded on typical average speed. This makes it easy to judge how you are doing relative to others
- set goals that are attainable. Setting unrealistic goals will be very demotivating when you fail. If you exceed your goal, set a new one.
God luck