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too slow?(27 posts)

too slow?beginner
May 22, 2001 6:55 AM
I've been riding with my girlfriend for about a 2 years we mostly go on rides of 25-35 miles 3 to 4 times a week, more in the summers(teachers). We average about 14 mph she rides a cannondale H400 (she cant ride drop bars afraid and uncomfortable). I ride a schwinn super sport road bike.
I see here people averaging 23-28 mph and i feel very slow. Whats the "average" speed the "average" person. I know this is vague but I'm not sure whether it's easy to increase speed or am i just a poor biker?
most of our rides are fairly flat rolling hills some wind on Cape Cod
re: too slow?Underdog
May 22, 2001 7:14 AM
I'm a teacher too. A lot of times I commute to work. It's a 17 miles ride on fairly flat roads to get to my school. I average 20 mph on that ride.
re: too slow?Underdog
May 22, 2001 7:19 AM
I'm a teacher too. A lot of times I commute to work. It's a 17 miles ride on fairly flat roads to get to my school. I weigh about 220 lbs and average 20 mph on that ride. I'm into bodybiulding so I'm not the most aerodynamic person in the world but I keep trying to up my speed.
re: too slow?Jimm
May 22, 2001 7:22 AM
First -- don't let the actions of other dictate how you feel about yourself as a cyclist. Personally, I would much rather ENJOY a ride at 13 mph then hammer one at 31. Although 14 is on the slower side of the scale (slower, not slow), 28 is on the higher side (much higher). It's really tuff to say what is a decent average speed. Distance, conditions and terrain can greatly affect the numbers. 20 for a century is very good...but, for a century, I'd bet the farm most average riders are in the low-teens. My guess is the "average" rider averages in the mid-teens. If you're enjoying your saddle time, you're far from a poor biker. The fact you get out so often is not only unfair, but an indication of your love for the sport. If she agrees, just for the heck of it, bump-up the speed on your next ride. If you BOTH enjoy it....great! If either of you don't like it, then forget it. Having fun and enjoying time with your loved one is FAR more important than average speed. Good luck!
re: too slow?Von Zip
May 22, 2001 7:24 AM
To get your average up you might try spinning at least 90-110 rpm in a comfortable gear. When that gets too easy go up a gear higher. Continue this till your desired speed is reached. This takes time and there are moments when it is tough. Train your riding partner to draft a foot off your rear wheel so she does not have to work so hard. You pull, she drafts. I ride with some cyclist that travel anywhere between 21 & 30 mph, depending on wind and terrain, with the average falling somewhere in the low twenties. I suggest to just be concerned with cadence right now and keeping that pace up and the average will follow. A fellow Cape Cod rider.
Agree w/von zippTom C
May 22, 2001 7:42 AM
My daughter who will turn 15 this summer already is averaging 14.5-15mph after only her second week of riding. Is she the next Beryl Burton or Jeannie Longo? Probably not, but I did restrict her to 40x21,40x24 or 51.4 and 45 inch gears, respectively. She uses these into the wind and can use any gear she likes as long as her cadence stays up around 90.Not everyone will be comfortable at first with high cadence spinning so give yourself time to get acclimated.
re: too slow?Dave Hickey
May 22, 2001 7:49 AM
There is nothing wrong with a 14mph average. I average 18-20mph when I ride by myself, however last night I road with my wife for the first time. I've been trying to get my wife interested in cycling so we did a 4 mile ride. We averaged 8mph and had a great time!
I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that many of thebill
May 22, 2001 8:15 AM
posters here may inflate their averages just a teensy weensy little bit. Some of the more committed "sport" riders no doubt typically travel in the low to mid 20's on flat ground with little wind, but when they're done, and the computer has factored in stops and starts and traffic lights and that slow period where they couldn't get around the tractor or the truck pulling into the road or the mom with the baby carriage (when they are, after all, getting a little rest), I suspect that the computer may say more like 17-19. (Relax, fellas, I know some of you go faster, but this person asked about averages.) Let's face it, almost no one other than a pretty committed racer truly is averaging more than about 22 mph, and 28 mph is a very serious, unheard of pace for a recreational or sport rider. If you start to talk about total distance over time rather than time on the bike, the averages start to go way down.
For someone not actively training but just going out and having a good time, which is all the world asks of you, mid-teens is very respectable. That said, remember that wind resistance increases exponentially with speed, so that those extra mph's start to come very dearly. Get your girlfriend to get in the drops -- once you get a little used to it and get the hang of tilting your pelvis forward a little and balancing, it ain't that hard, and the aero benefits can be quite dramatic.
Don't sweat it. Relax. Have fun. If you want to go faster, go faster. If you don't, don't.
That is true, true.Alex R
May 22, 2001 9:32 AM
I do group rides where the pace, after warmup, is never below 24, topping out over 30 for some sections. When all is over, the computer reads "Avg Spd 21.75". That's a 40 mile ride. If I am really hauling arse over the same route by myself, never dipping below 22 on the open stretches, with some sustained 25mph efforts, the computer reads "Avg Sped 19.95". I have never been able to make that thing read 20mph for average on a 40 miler. There are just too many stoplights, slow turns and hills.

I would love to have a computer that gave me mean speed rather than average. I could finally top that 20mph average figure on long solo rides.

That is true, true.peloton
May 22, 2001 9:52 AM
I think that is very true. Warming up and cooling down at 13-15 mph for 15 each, stoplights, cars getting in the way, and the other things that come up during a ride really keep the 'average speed' down. I think when people say how fast they average they are really saying how fast they go excluding the slow sections of the ride. More of a mean speed, or an exaggeration. Unless of course, you have a Campy gruppo or a new bike.... :-)
That is true, true.Ray Sachs
May 22, 2001 11:31 AM
Wow, maybe I'm not quite as slow as I always thought. My averages are generally in the 15-17 mph range when I ride by myself in hilly terrain. My centuries (except for my first one) have all been between 15-16 mph. From the sound of things around here, that always sounded slow to me. Maybe it isn't as slow as I thought. Then again, I seem to come across at least one or two folks every ride who go by me like I'm standing still, so I know I'm not particularly fast.

Doesn't matter though - just have fun no matter what speed you're going. Some of my most enjoyable rides have been short little jumps in street clothes on a commuter bike when I just stretched my ride home by a few miles.
The computer liesBrian C.
May 22, 2001 8:37 AM
My girlfriend lives in another city 25 miles away and I frequently ride out to spend the weekend with her. According to the computer, Saturday's trip took 90 minutes of cycling time. And the average speed? 23 miles an hour. That doesn't seem to compute.
Wish there was a way to calibrate these things accurately.
re: too slow?Rick S
May 22, 2001 8:37 AM
The Cascade Bicycle Club uses this grading system for it's group rides. It's a good rule of thumb to assess the relative pace you are riding at. Note that it is the average range on level ground without breaks. The average would fall off with hills.

Easy: Under 10 mph
Leisurely: 10-12 mph
Social: 12-14 mph
Moderate: 14-16 mph
Brisk: 16-18 mph
Strenuous: 18-21 mph
Super Strenuous: 22+ mph
re: too slow?4bykn
May 22, 2001 8:39 AM
Nice ratings system, I like that.
and 22 mph solo is a LOT harder than 22 in a paceline. nmbill
May 22, 2001 8:54 AM
re: too slow?4bykn
May 22, 2001 8:37 AM
I consider myself an average recreational rider, and my average speed will vary from in the 16-19 mph range, depending on the fitness level, course, and weather. If you enjoy riding at the pace you ride, then you are at the perfect pace. People get too concerned with their performance numbers, and can forget to have fun, and that's why I ride.
Why are you riding?MikeC
May 22, 2001 9:15 AM
If you're riding for physical training purposes, yes, it's too slow. But when I ride with my wife (she's on a Schwinn comfort bike) we average about 13 or 14 mph, and enjoy ourselves. When I ride with my kids, I'm doing 8-12 mph, and doing a lot of circles in the road!
If you want to train, go out with other training riders, and start pushing yourself. But don't stop your rides with your're still building a muscle and aerobic base even through you're not maximizing your potential, and your building a good relationship base, too :)
Why are you riding?Len J
May 22, 2001 9:24 AM
This is a great point.
My wife recently started riding after back problems. She is riding a recumbant and has worked her way up to avg 12-14 mph for a 15 mile ride. I thought riding at this speed would be torture after building myself up to the speeds I train at. What I found instead was that I was not only enjoying the company, but also enjoying seeing things along the road that I missed in my training rides. It has reminded me of some of the reasons that I got into riding. The joy she is feeling at being able to ride again and at making progress is an added benefit. What a gift.
I would like to thank you all!!Jim Burton
May 22, 2001 10:49 AM
I just want to say that all of these posts made me feel LEAUGES better about my riding. I have been riding for one full year and have just this year (a month and a half ago) begun to get a little serious about my training. I see these 21, 23, 25 mph averages on the message board and get so disheartened that I almost feel like ditching this training schedule. But, to hear all of these theories about people's "averages" I have new hope. I have been riding by myself even though there are two group rides every weekend in my town because I was afraid I would be too slow and be embarrassed. I hear that the group averages between 20 and 23 mph and to date have only gotten my computer to read a max of "18mph average" for a measly 25 miles. Now to hear that not only are some riders' averages are just as stretched as my father's fishing stories,...AND if riding in a group is easier than riding alone,...I think I may try to ride with this group of very nice strangers this weekend. If, that is, I can keep up my courage.

In addition, I have been looking at a new bike, but recently my thinking was that I don't deserve one because I may not be a cyclist after all. I felt that to spend money on a bike that I could save for later would be a waste if I couldn't perform on this old bike like I want to. Well, my saving has resumed!

Again, thank you guys for being honest and helping out us beginners. To the guy who averages 14mph, if you enjoy being with your girlfriend on a bike, don't worry about how fast you go! Those rides sound like so much fun. I would hate to see you give it up, as I'm sure your girlfriend would, also.
re: too slow?carbon man
May 22, 2001 11:46 AM
This is an interesting post. I have rode mountain bikes for the past few years and just bought a road bike this winter. I finally worked my way up to 19mph solo rides and feel like this is a pretty good pace for the hills and wind I have to deal with in my area. I believe that many people stretch the truth on average speeds. Just enjoy your ride because your riding condiontions are never going to be the same as other posters, so average speed will only pertain to the conditions of where you are at.
Are you having fun?look271
May 22, 2001 6:17 PM
Then don't worry about it. If you want to train to get into better physical condition; then push yourself some. Like some of the posters said,try spinning at a higher rpm; 90-100 is good. If you are just riding to enjoy it, then don't sweat it.
re: too slow?KaReC
May 22, 2001 6:21 PM
i haven't been here long but anyone who says they avg. 28 mph or higher needs to be in europe full time training for a pro team esp. on centries. I rode in germany for 3 and a half years on serious mountains with a group of SERIOUS riders and we nevered avg. over 25 mph for centries. we could reach speeds of 65 downhill. and dying at 8 to 10 uphill. i now ride serious but fun and avg about 20 mph on the east coast of 50 milers. and that's FLAT land. When i ride with friends which i prefer we avg. about 16 to 18 mph. Therefore you are NOT to slow. When i was young and in germany we rode in a few small races against some of europes finest. we trained hard and consistant. we got CRUSHED. I sold my bike and came home. now i'm old and enjoying our sport much more.
re: too slow?Mark Hollander
May 22, 2001 9:43 PM
You just have to look at the Pro's and their ave. speeds to tell if someone is STRECHING the truth. Where I live (Adelaide, South Australia) we have a Pro, 6 stage road race. Some of the best cyclists in the world race for teams like Saeco, Farm Frites, Credit Agricole, AG2R etc. And after 6 days of racing on Criterium, and flat/hilly road stages they ave. 40kph/25mph.
The only people averaging above 40kph are track cyclists.
I ride on my own mostly, and ave. 33kph/20.5mph on the flats and about 26kph/16.25mph through the hills. That is pushing flat out the whole time. Of course this is a moving ave. not a total ave. Recently I was passed by a group of 6 younger guys on a training session, I tagged on to the back of their group and stayed there until they turned off. Our speed was 39kph/24.3mph. Now I have never held that speed for more than a 1km on my own before, but being in a larger group made it so easy I was barely pedalling. When I ride with my wife, we take the mountainbikes and ave. 14kph/8.75mph. We have an excellent time riding through Belair National Park. I have found I enjoy riding with her more than riding on my own. So to sum up my rant, some people will claim to ave. 44kph/27.5mph but they fail to mention they were either racing (you don't have to slow/stop for traffic lights etc) or they were in a group on the flattest of roads. Ride at your own pace, it's certainly make it more enjoyable than trying to compare yourself to someone elses (supposed) ability.
Just be happy she rides with you.STEELYeyed
May 22, 2001 10:15 PM
I have tried to get my wife on a bike,but she just sits there on the couch smoking those cigarettes,she has a rather large inheritance coming someday,maybe I'll buy her a few more packs,that new Colnago C-40 may not be that far off........just kidding. Just enjoy what you have and don't do anything to discourage her,let her set the pace,she might surprise you.
I feel much better now ...bianchi boy
May 23, 2001 6:52 AM
It's good to hear that others don't truly average 20 mph+. I typically average between 16 and 18 mph riding by myself. I am really pushing it to average 18 mph, but that is on hilly terrain and counting all of the slowdowns for traffic lights, etc. Ironically, I find that my best average speeds are generally on longer rides. I guess that's because you spend a smaller percentage of your riding time stopping at intersections, etc. On the century I rode a few weeks ago, I averaged over 17.5 mph for the entire ride -- which really blew me away. However, my speeds were definitely helped by drafting with other riders and the relatively flat terrain compared to where I usually ride.

On the other hand, some of my toughest rides have the lowest avg speeds. I rode up in the mountains this past weekend, from Greenville, SC, up to Saluda, NC. It's a 36 mile round trip. I averaged 13 mph on the way up, climbing most of the way, and it took me 1:25. Coming down the mountain, I averaged closer to 20 mph with several long stretches over 30 mph, and finished that leg in 55 minutes. The whole ride averaged out at 15.3 mph, but it was much more of a workout than many 17+ rides I have taken.
Yes. You should quit riding immediatelymr_spin
May 23, 2001 9:17 AM
Who cares? Enjoy the ride.

If you are trying to go faster and aren't, then maybe you are doing something wrong. If you aren't really trying to go faster, don't worry about it.

Trust me, you can train your butt off to go faster than you can believe, but there will always be someone faster than that.
What is the point of your riding?Berkeley Mike
May 24, 2001 12:02 AM
If you two get out as frequently as you say it sounds like a total success. I'd take a good look at anything that changes the fact of your rides unless you want to end up riding alone.