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What is considered a decent avg speed?(26 posts)

What is considered a decent avg speed?UncleMoe
Jun 28, 2002 12:08 PM
Well, my 10th year of road and mountain biking and I finally got myself a couiple of bike computers. I ride for fun and recreation, not much of a racer or group rider. Just commuting and a way to enjoy the sunshine on a Saturday afternoon.

So my question is, on your average ride (not too many big hills, but not flat either), what is a decent average speed?

I've been averaging on a low end just above 14 mph on a day that I felt crappy, to a high of a little over 16 on a day I felt pretty good. Rides cover 20-30 miles.

I figured I was below average, but I was just on another biking website that had a colorie burner calculator and they classified 14-16 mph as "vigorous", or something like that. 16-19 was racing, and 19+ was pro.
If you ride a MTB with knobby tires and an upright positionelviento
Jun 28, 2002 12:45 PM
16-19mph is indeed hard.

The question of decent average speed really depends on many factors, such as:

Gender, equipment (MTB/Road,Huffy Or C40), riding position, terrain/road quality, age, etc.
re: What is considered a decent avg speed?filtersweep
Jun 28, 2002 12:48 PM
Who can really tell?

1) In the mile it takes to get home from my route, my average "computer speed" can drop as much as .5 mph... and presumably, getting there drops it another .5 (the residential streets, stop signs, lights, etc...). That is door-to-door speed. If you have more speed impediments that I do, your average drops even more dramatically. My point is, you can be riding for an hour at 20+, but all the traffic control getting to and from home can drag you down to 18 or so (or lower)... depending on the route, so the average is rather meaningless.

2) Hills can really mess up an average... I find that going up and down do NOT even things out- and even small hills really slow things down "on average".

I saw that "calorie counter" and find it hard to believe I can burn an extra 900-1200 calories that quickly (according to my numbers).

I also find it difficult to believe that 16-19 is racing and 19+ is pro... I can relatively easily ride alone for an hour on a nice flat course and average 19+ (if I reset the computer where "my road" actually begins), and often as not, the longer I ride, the more my ave. goes up.... and I'm no pro!

I don't think ave. speed really means all that much. You are not a racer, and your "aerobic" cardio benefits kick in at relatively low speeds, you are outdoors and active, and if you have been doing this for 10 years, you must really enjoy it. That is all that matters! Also, now that you a a computer, it is likely your average will go up as you become more aware of speed.

Finally, as pointed out in that other thread, this issue is prone to exaggeration- but it really is impossible for an apples to apples comparison, since the route has such an impact.
There is no decent average speed.Spoke Wrench
Jun 28, 2002 1:45 PM
No matter how fast you go, you will always wish you were a little bit faster. As long as you have a computer to keep score, you'll never be completely satisfied unless you exceed or at least match your previous record time. If you want to just enjoy the sunshine on a Saturday afternoon, throw away your bike computer. That's what I do.
but that's only effectiveelviento
Jun 28, 2002 2:09 PM
...until someone passes you.
Good point! (nm)Spoke Wrench
Jun 28, 2002 2:11 PM
you are pretty average i thinkColnagoFE
Jun 28, 2002 1:53 PM
average really depends on a lot of things...namely how many hills and/or headwinds...whether you are drafting, etc. I usually can do 19 average (according to the bike computer) on a typical out and back with some hills and i'm far from being a cat 1 rider. the actual speeds i see are 30+ on some downhills...a lot of 20-22MPH and maybe down to 10-12MPH on the climbs.
Wherever you feel comfortable.MXL02
Jun 28, 2002 3:06 PM
Unless you are into ultrafitness or racing, what difference does it make? Especially if you are a casual rider...(not unlike myself.) Don't get caught-up in numbers. They are an aid to fitness, not an end unto themselves.
PS..those Pros you see in Europe average way over 20mph, especially on the flats. They are in a different reality than mere mortals like you and me. Average of 16mph is great in my opinion.
Wherever you feel comfortable.Corey VR6
Jun 30, 2002 3:50 PM
I had a computer for a season a few years ago and I started to really feel bad about my speeds. Then I realized it was making my riding less fun. So I threw it away, now I imagine my speeds are in 1500-2000 miles per minute range.
The pro peleton generally average aroundPecos
Jun 28, 2002 3:38 PM
28mph - 32mph over the course of a one day stage race. Obviously the length of the course, terrain, weather and other factors effect this.
This is not meant to be a swipe at any personLone Gunman
Jun 28, 2002 5:08 PM
living or dead. My disclaimer. To me ave speed is the most worthless figure floating around in the bike world. Everytime your wheel is in motion, your time and speed are being measured to an average. So if you want to get the truest average keep turning on and off your computer before each time you slow down to stop and restart. Obviously this is not feasable and I think that it contrasts perfectly with the reason average speed is fairly meaningless. Ave speed is like a yardstick without numbers. Lets say you go do intervals. At times you may be sprinting at top speed for 1 minute and then cooling down for 3/4 till the next sprint. What do you think your average will look like. How hard did you work and why do your legs feel like spaghetti and your average time was 13mph?!!! When I see/hear people talk positively or negatively about ave speed on a ride, it says they have attached too much meaning to that #.
only one piece of infoDougSloan
Jun 30, 2002 11:07 AM
True, average speed does not tell everything. But, it can be meaningful and important. There are many kinds of information that might be useful, too, like heart rate, power, elevation change, temperature, humidity, wind, etc.

Average speed during intervals is pretty useless. Average speed for a time trial is almost everything.

We need some method of communicating how we did a ride. If you are working with a coach, you might use heart rate, time, or speed (which is implied to be average speed, normally).

The best method, I think, is to simply divide miles by hours. Forget stopping and starting the computer. Well, I suppose it might be useful to know average "moving speed", as opposed to average speed over all. I can't think of any events where the former was important, though.

easy answer here...Qubeley
Jun 28, 2002 5:14 PM
You want know average? you got it:

I am a cat4 sprinter, meaning not good at maintain high tempo by myself. Today I did 6 laps around central park(36 miles, rolling with one major hill), medium intensity, my computer read 18.0 mph average. That is decent for myself. In the cat4 races(around 30miles), the average is about 24.5+-mph.
I think the pro-1-2-3 field average about 28mph over about 50 miles.
In the real pro races, usually 100-150miles in lenght, they average around 40kph, which is 25mph.
Of course terrain is a big factor, on rolling terrains, I would say 16-18mph is decent for beginners.
re: What is considered a decent avg speed?Cartman
Jun 28, 2002 6:08 PM
I've been keeping track of my mileage with a program in my palm pilot, so it is easy for me to see what my statistics are. My average is 17.42 for the season. This includes time trials, triathalons, charity rides, training rides, and hill climbs. I'm usually around 17 to 19 mph for training rides with a rolling terrain, and up to 23 mph for the time trials.
re: What is considered a decent avg speed?bic
Jun 28, 2002 6:45 PM
You want to continue to ride just for fun and rec.? Return the computers and continue the way you have been riding. The more info I seem to get the more I think and the less I just enjoy.
Just give him what he asked for!TPC
Jun 28, 2002 7:13 PM
To all those who come here and post 'ave speed is meaningless' and 'ignore speed, just enjoy the ride', my message to you is just give the man what he asked for.

He didn't ask for a debate on the merits of ave speed, so either comply or move to the next thread. It's that simple.

As for me, on a mountain bike with knobbies on paved roads i'll average 14-15 mph (including time wasted at a few lights and stop signs) and about 1.5-2.0 hrs continuous riding time over mild hills.

Don't bother me, I'm riding.
The pro peleton generally average aroundPecos
Jun 28, 2002 7:49 PM
28mph - 32mph over the course of a one day stage race. Obviously the length of the course, terrain, weather and other factors effect this.
5 years - 17.6 mphterry b
Jun 28, 2002 8:05 PM
when I started to ride, I used to think avg. speed was a good measure of my improvement. Ironically, my average has gone down over the years because I had only one style when I began to ride seriously - go ride as hard as I could for some short distance. Now, I ride 2x and 3x the distances I used to and naturally my average has leveled off.

as I said in the title, 100s of rides, all kinds of weather, short distances to centuries, hills, flats, descents, roads, bike paths, just about any combination you can think of. answer = 17.6 mph. is that good? I think so for a 48 year old guy who has no structured training program and no interest in racing.

when I look at my computer, I'm usually riding 19-22 but a short distance through a couple of stop lights at 12 mph puts a quick end to that average.

these days I worry less about how fast I'm going and more about increasing my distance and on how I am feeling while doing it. I still have average in my spreadsheet, but only because I've always had the distance column being divided by the time column. I pretty much ignore it.

you shoudl feel good about your numbers - you're out riding and that's really what matters.
re: What is considered a decent avg speed?DougSloan
Jun 29, 2002 7:26 AM
(all including all stops)

Here are some of mine:

recovery ride = 15-17 mph

1 hr or less crit = 27-29 mph

10 mile time trial = 24-25 mph

50 mile road race = 22-26 mph

hilly century = 17 mph

hilly double century 16 mph

flat century solo = 20-21 mph

flat double century group = 20-21 mph

flat double century solo = 18-20 mph

mostly flat 250 mile training ride solo = 18 mph

508 miles w/ 35,000 feet climbing = 13.6 mph

The above are mine. However, for some extremes:

RAAM winner this year = 13.62 mph (3000 miles)

1 hr record = about 34 mph

drafting behind a semi for 24 hours on a race track = 51 mph

So, the point is it varies quite a lot.

He's talking about mortals, Doug, not you!Leisure
Jun 29, 2002 8:03 AM
Moe, 16 mph on a good day is fine.
What areas of town are you riding in, Moe?dsc
Jun 29, 2002 9:53 AM
You're still in the San Diego area, right?

I'd say 16 mph around here is pretty decent.

My avg. long weekend ride is about 60-70 miles. When I head out to the coast, I can really get going on the flats (not counting Torrey Pines!) so counting the rollers to get out there & back, I might avg. 17-18 mph.

Turning inland is a whole 'nuther thing, though. Throw in a couple of grades like Highland Valley road, and my avg. for the whole ride probably drops to about 12 mph, if I'm lucky.

So I'd say if you're doing a combination of the flats and hills around here, 16 mph is really pretty good.

Best 20-mile ""TT" on a closed loop ...Humma Hah
Jun 29, 2002 10:01 AM
... I used to keep coming back to a local multi-use park path, 5 miles around a lake, no stoplights or stopsigns, about 70 ft of climbing per lap but lots of hairpin turns, a parking lot to negotiate, sharing the trail with rollerbladers and dogs. Overall, a potentially quick route, but not a racecourse.

The cruiser has done 20 miles of that in 1:15, 16 mph even. My MTB, equipped with 1.25 street slicks pumped up rock hard, has done it at 16.6 mph.

More reasonable speeds for a fast solo 20 mile route are in the 14 mph range. Drafting a couple of patient roadies, I've bettered that average for something in excess of 100 mi on the cruiser. The roadbikes would have been at a leisurly cruise at least 2 mph faster.
Making the middle-age comeback :-)akjohn
Jun 29, 2002 6:00 PM
After several years off, I got back into cycling this spring. My previous cycling experience consisted mainly of recreational time trialing in short triathlons.
Over the last year I "earned" a new bike ( bought a new Look 281 in May) by dropping 40+ lbs of weight through resistance training , riding my old Centurion on a trainer. and participating in group spinning sessions.I started riding on the road again in mid-May (spring comes late in alaska:-).
These days I am averaging 18.2 to 18.6 on 30-40 mile rides over hilly terrain. My goal is to reach an average of 19.5 by summer's end.
I don't know how my speed compares to other riders ...but who cares? I have accepted that I will never be at the front of the peleton. But, considering that I am 45, in my first legitimate year of road riding, and feel stronger than I have in 10 years , I am very satisfied with my speed.

You know the feeling...
Sunshine and 70 degrees. You are at mile 27 and definitely in the groove...listening to the quiet whirr of your drivetrain. Your pedal stroke feels smooth and round. You are spinning down a comfortable flat. The computer is hovering around 23. Any concerns about work were dropped about 10 miles back. You feel focused, healthy, strong and alive.
I don't know about the rest of you folks, but those are the kinds moments that make cycling rewarding and worthwhile.
re: What is considered a decent avg speed?hrv
Jun 29, 2002 6:36 PM
Started in September at about 12.5; today averaged 17.0 for 30 miles. Hilly terrain. I'm happy. Hope to be close to 19 (including 5-6 mile climbs) by seasons' end, but I'll take anything over 17.

Sure, I enjoy the rides where you're chatting/smelling the flowers, but why ride a road bike if speed isn't at the core of what you do? It begs to be pushed harder!

As a side note, does anyone else hate it when you've reached the top of a climb and your avg. speed takes forever to recover, even if you're flying at 45+ ?

Another factor: Alone or in a group?KenS
Jun 30, 2002 1:18 PM
I am a recreational rider also. Sometimes I ride my MTB on the road (faux pas, faux pas) and my road bike has a cyclocross configuration, with cross tires, so I can ride easy trails.

On my mtb on pavement with 2.1 Enduroraptors, I have to work to keep the speed much above 17 or 18 mph and I usually end up with 14-15 mph averages. On the same course with my road/cross bike, I am about 3 mph faster in general when I am moving and end up with a 17 mph average. But there are many days when I am much slower because I am thinking about something, or shedding work, or just want to enjoy the scenery.

One big factor is whether you ride alone or in groups. Usually I ride alone but will occasionally hook up with other riders on pavement. When someone is blocking the wind in front of me then I find 20+ mph to be very easy.

Don't throw the computers away. They help identify your actual performance, as opposed to how you feel at that moment. They help you plan your efforts on longer trips.
Today's ride...biknben
Jun 30, 2002 5:13 PM
50.05 miles solo, 20.7 MPH. Flat to rolling route with 1,700 feet of elevation gain. There are about 5-7 traffic lights at major intersections. Computer is set to stop when I stop.

I always look at my average at the end of a ride but don't get hung up on it. The only time I take it seriously is if I'm doing a known route, solo. The I'll use it to compare to previous rides on the same route.

FWIW: My average for the year is 18.6 MPH.