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What's so special about 17mph?(13 posts)

What's so special about 17mph?jose_Tex_mex
Aug 13, 2002 10:35 AM
Have you ever noticed in your training rides that 17mph seems to be an almost magic number? Especially, for those of us who experience cold winters. Once you can do an average of 17mph you're ready to ride with the big boys and girls.

I imagine this number represents something significant in power vs wind resistance curve. Does anyone have any data to support this or any other idea?

I have just noticed [where I ride - hilly] doing an avg of 16mph is not a problem. However, a 17mph avg requires MUCH more effort.

Just wondering...
I think it variesDougSloan
Aug 13, 2002 10:47 AM
Nope, I don't think there is anything magical about 17 mph. For me, it could be 15 mph one day and 25 the next. It's got to vary a whole lot among different people, too.

There is probably a special numberDCP
Aug 13, 2002 11:23 AM
for everyone. Riding in the flatlands here, 17 doesn't mean much to me. An average over 19, however, gets my interest.
Same for melaffeaux
Aug 13, 2002 11:41 AM
I can average 16 anyday (unless there are a lot of hills). Getting to 17 is a bit of work, and hitting 18 requires me to nearly kill myself.
re: What's so special about 17mph?MXL02
Aug 13, 2002 12:12 PM
Yeah, maybe the other guys have been riding longer and don't remember, but it seems to me that in the beginning, averaging 17 mph seemed like sort of a barrier, that once broken, kind of put you in a different league.

I will say the averaging 17 mph in the flats doesn't get you very far with most of the riding groups and pace lines in my neighborhood. 19mph is probably a more realistic average for those groups, with some going to 21 - 22, depending on the distance and wind.
It breaks 6 hours for a century? You got me. nmdzrider
Aug 13, 2002 12:44 PM
re: What's so special about 17mph?Steve98501
Aug 13, 2002 12:47 PM
I average 17 (range 16+ to 18+) on my club rides with average hills and wind. Unfortunately, what's special about it is that I get to "start" with the big boys and girls. Our club rides separate into 3 groups once we're well out of town and no more stop lights. Club riding seems downright brutal. My average places me in group 3, aka: last place finishers who really aren't cycling slouches.

I think at 17 mph, the paceline is really beginning to conserve serious energy over a 30 mile ride. I know that when my group turns in an 18+ ride, it was because our paceline functioned smooth and flawless. Of course, group 1 is smoother, flawless, and stronger and came in at 21+ on the same ride. I guess I thought a 16 or 17 average speed meant "mere mortal."
re: What's so special about 17mph?yeah right
Aug 13, 2002 3:54 PM
I think this is exactly what people refer to when they say "so what." not to be critical, but what are average hills and winds. that could be completely different than what I think of when you say that. When you say "I think at 17 mph, the paceline is really beginning to conserve serious energy over a 30 mile ride", I'm thinking are you talking 17mph on the flats, because that wouldn't really be going fast enough to worry about tucking in. if I were riding with friends and the road allowed we'd be side by side, and we're not at all great riders. for once, i think lazy hit it on the head, it doesn't mean anything unless you really describe the route, and especially stops and starts. i'm sure your 17mph is harder than what i'm thinking it to be, but who knows?
re: What's so special about 17mph?--Only if there is a headwindwaynebo
Aug 13, 2002 2:26 PM
This is a pretty easy speed to achieve. I'm not a racer although I train like one and find 17 mph is a zone 1 day . What really sucks is my average speed goes down with age but the enigma is I seem to get stronger with age. When I was 30, I always averaged over 20 on my rides of 1-2 hours. Typically I'd ride about 21.5-22. I checked a distance with my car and it was equal to my bike speedometer so 1/10 of a mph or so was probably a ball park deviation. I can remember riding a 16 mile out and back course with two small hills and a 30 degree headwind and average 24.5 mph without aero bars or aero anything. I don't think I could do that now but recently I did a Computrainer designed hill time trial (9% hill, 5.66 miles at 31 minutes). This equaled 366 watts which, in theory, means I should be able to do a 20k flat TT in 26.5 minutes. I doubt I could do that in the "real" world. 17 is good start but you'll definitely need to ride in a group to experience pace line speeds and that will help increase your solitary speed. Do intervals too : )
It depends upon where you live and ride becauseLazywriter
Aug 13, 2002 3:23 PM
I am right outside of NYC in a congested suburban area (by Ohio and Pennsylvania country standard for example) and I can readily average 17-18mph but I find myself pushing in the 20 plus range on open roads which are few and far between around here. There are so many lights and cars compared to an open country road so all those stops really screw up an average. The slowing down and regaining speed is the killer.
You guys who can average 20 plus routinely must have clearer pathways. Not saying you aren't faster than me, but I rode in the country farm land and thought it was just my good mood of being in a new are that made me push harder when in reality it was the many miles of open roads without a need to stop or slow down.
Moral of the story, don't look at average speed so much. Pay more attention to how fast you can go and maintain on an unobstructed road without blowing up. Just imagine how you would do if you had say, 15 unobstucted miles. I cannot even go 2-3 without lights and stop signs, traffic etc.
It depends upon where you live and ride becausebear
Aug 13, 2002 5:49 PM
after I read this comments I when out to my regular tuesday ride and I notice that at 17mph the wind starts to work against you! you just can soft pedal and do 17mph.... I would go 20 to 22 moh for a little while and when i stop working hard I would fall just below 17,,
re: what is a 30 degree headwind and how do you measure one? nmcyclejim
Aug 13, 2002 8:56 PM
re: what is a 30 degree headwind and how do you measure one? nmwaynebo
Aug 14, 2002 7:54 AM
I should have included the term "yaw" instead of just 30 degrees. Being an ole Navy surface officer I was tempted to say, Cap'n I've got an unknown target 30 degrees off the starboard (right) bow (pointed part of ship or boat)... but I digress. 30 degrees means the wind was coming at me from between "head on" and my right shoulder. On the way back the wind would be at 210 degrees off the port (left) stern (rear of ship). In other words, think of a relative compass with regards to the direction you are going as always 000 degrees and you can never go wrong. Get it ; )