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How fast should my average speed be?(22 posts)

How fast should my average speed be?wink
Sep 30, 2002 5:57 PM
I have been riding about 150 per week for 3 years now. My average speed is continually improving. At what point should I consider myself race worthy?
re: How fast should my average speed be?AlpDHuez45
Sep 30, 2002 7:00 PM
When you can spin along flats at 25 mph. Sometimes pulling a paceline can require speeds up to 35mph. Thats 35mph alone, against the wind. Thats more for the pro's though. If you train at average speeds from 20+mph, consider yourself ready. Good Luck!
funny thing about racingDougSloan
Sep 30, 2002 7:09 PM
Road racing has nothing to do with average speed; it's about peak power, responding to surges, climbing really, really hard, going from 20 mph to 32 mph then back; pulling at 30 mph, then falling back and trying to reattach as the group surges and you are about to blow. I read the pros can average around 175 watts of power in a stage race, but peak over 1,000 watts. You might well average 175 watts if that's all you did, but if you tried to hit 1,000, you'd be done for the day.

Average speed is good for time trials and double centuries, but fairly meaningless for road racing.

Nonetheless, if you want some sort of guideline, if you can time trial over flat ground, no wind, close to 25 mph for 10 miles, you'll be ok to get started. That's just a ball park, though.

Nothing to do with average speed?hrv
Sep 30, 2002 7:54 PM
There was a time when I'd base the success of my training rides on if my average speed was getting faster. Then my buddies started telling me to not worry about avg. speed and I didn't; as a result, I've gotten slower!

Do not the racers who place in the top 3 have the highest average speed of the pack? And still be able to initiate/cover attacks?Whether hilly or flat, the peloton will be traveling at a certain avg. speed and at the end of the day (thanks, Paul!) if you can't match that, see ya!

I was in a road race awhile back and the peloton probably averaged around 23+ mph, with 5000 ft. of climbing. They are probably going to have the same race next year. If I train on that course and get my avg. speed to, say, 25, I'd feel pretty confident going in, assuming that I did my hill repeats, etc. This year, I would have had to have a pact with the devil to get my avg. speed to 19 for that race.

Please help me understand how average speed doesn't matter. Don't you get faster by going faster?

A solid cat 5,
Nothing to do with average speed?RockyMountainRacer
Oct 1, 2002 5:54 AM
I agree with Doug that average speed means nothing in training. I will try to explain myself. First of all, you are probably correct that the fastest racers will have the fastest average speed for the race. But training should be done very differently from racing. If you are truly just riding the race course you mentioned at your fastest average speed, you are not training correctly.

If you want to get faster for racing, you have to do intervals and sprint work. You know what that means--go really really hard for a few minutes, then go really really slow to recover. Why? Because you can go much faster if you go really hard for a set duration (varying depending on what kind of workout you want), then allow your legs to recover before the next effort. So you will get a much better workout than if you just rode the course at your fastest average speed--your fastest average speed probably won't be all that fast.

So what I'm getting at is that intervals or sprint work are going to totally mess up your average speed, especially when you factor in time spent warming up and cooling down. Now that it is the off-season and I'm not doing intervals, I am getting a much faster average speed for the regular training routes that I ride.

You do get faster by going faster, but you go faster by doing bursts of speed followed by recovery. If you spend your training time focusing more on intervals and sprint work than average speed, I think you will see a big improvement. Of course, it will help to monitor the speed of your intervals, but don't worry about it when you are not doing a work effort. I hope I am making some semblance of sense of here!
average and peakDougSloan
Oct 1, 2002 6:12 AM
Racing scenarios:

1. You can time trial at 30 mph. I can time trial at 25 mph. We get to the finish of a 50 mile road race together. I can sprint 200 yards at 38 mph. Your top speed is 32 mph. There is no one to lead either of us out. We are side by side. Who will win?

2. You can time trial at 30 mph. I can time trial at 25 mph. You can make 400 watts for 30 minutes straight. I can make 350 watts for the same time. You weigh 185 pounds; I weigh 125 pounds. Our race ends at the top of a 10 mile, 3,000 foot climb, and we reach the foot of the climb all together. Who will win?

3. I train with intervals twice a week, riding above my AT for 5 minutes at around 32 mph 5 or 6 repeats. You never train above 20 mph, but you can hold 20 mph for 200 miles straight. Who likely would win a road race between us?

You are right; the winner of a race always has the highest average speed. No way around that one. But, that does not mean the winner had the most even speed, in fact, just the opposite is likely true. Climbing and sprinting are far more important than average speed.

average and peakREPO42
Oct 6, 2002 9:46 PM
Average speed is somewhat of a guide to training, but not an important one. In order to compare the average speed of two different rides you will also need the exact same riding conditions... rain, road conditions, temperature. etc....explosive speed and recovery time are the keys to being a good racer... I'm not the fastest on a flat, but I can draft to a hill then plan an attack there...I'm light and fast in can average the fastest speed in a race, but if you do not recover quick enough to cover any attacks in the end then being the "fastest rider" is useless... And remember it's not always the fastest rider who wins, but the most tactical one... knowing when to attack, when to push the pace, when to draft, etc....If the fastest rider always wins the race then why would more than one person show up at the start line?????
It is a useless gauge, unless.....K-Man
Oct 1, 2002 6:21 AM
you are talking about the same course in the same conditions. A 25mph average in your area, might be fast, 30mph in mine might be fast, 20 in other areas. I can ride from my house north I have a good selection of climbing, if I ride south it is pretty much flat as a pancake. Ovbioulsy average speed will vary greatly depending on the terrain. My take is average speed is only good for a self evaluating training tool to be used on the same course in the same conditions (wind/rain)

Nothing to do with average speed?letsGoOn2
Oct 3, 2002 6:48 AM
If you want to become a TT specialist then training with average speed in mind is a fine way to go. Road racing, however, is quite a different animal.

Foremost is the fact that your competitors are on the course with you. If you want to beat them then you're gonna have to get away from them somehow. The catch is that even if you are an outstanding time trialist, it is very difficult to just ride a weaker rider off your wheel.

To get away, you need to be able to put down an effort that's too intense for the competition to hang with. The effort doesn't necessarily need to be very long, but it will be MUCH more intense than what you encounter on a 40k TT.

By definition, the average speed of the winner will be the highest. The question is do you use your energy to pull the pack to the finish line so they can beat your tired legs in the sprint, or do you use your energy to atack them so hard that their eyes cross, their lips go numb, and they have visions of Jesus just before mentally giving up?

For road racing, I would use my peak speed, peak power, and ability to recover from extreme efforts to gauge the success of my training rides.
Kudos for the great response, and yet more questions.hrv
Oct 3, 2002 8:55 AM
To give some history on some of my comments, by the end of the year I'll have about 6k miles in my legs, lifetime total. I need way more miles built up to be able to approach the average speeds that the road races are going, let alone stay with the attacks (doing not too bad in flat crits). I would guess that most of the above posters have pretty high mileage under their legs compared to mine, and take for granted that they can hang with a pack without surges. It'll be interesting to see my take on this in another year or two, thats for sure. Bottom line: I still view myself as basically unfit for road racing and can't ride the 'average speed' of the pack right now.

Of course I know you have to train for attacks and do intervals -- my original post made that clear. But is there any training I can do to make it easier to hang with the pack as they 'time trial' up the road or do I need to be patient and pile more miles on?

p.s. for me right now, I don't believe there is such a thing
as 'junk' miles. It's all good!
Kudos for the great response, and yet more questions.letsGoOn2
Oct 3, 2002 12:17 PM
Longer tempo rides are important too, so long as you don't try to cram intervals or hills into them as well. By "tempo" I mean a sub-LT pace. TT's or TT-ish rides are good training too, but make some room in your week for intervals, sprints, and possibly climbs. Most importantly, don't try to mix goals in a single training ride. I.e don't crush the hills on your tempo ride and don't go too long on your interval days. Decide beforehand what you're trying to improve on a given ride and stick to it.
Time to get out there and race!hrv
Sep 30, 2002 7:29 PM
This was my first year racing and guys placing in the top averaged between 22 - 28 mph, depending on how hilly the courses were. If you can't stand to be dropped and you don't have an average speed of at least 18 mph, then do more training. But how will you really know what you'll need unless you try it? What are you waiting for? Nothing to lose and all to gain.

good luck,
Your're ready53T
Oct 1, 2002 7:48 AM
150 miles per week for 3 years indicates you are familiar with riding. Next step, enter a training race if you can find one this time of year. You will get dropped, but that is critical to the learning process. I did not get dropped in my first crit, but I did in my second one. Learning the game of racing can only be done in a race. It takes a long time to do because you are trying to learn while oxegen deprived. The most imporatant lessons occur at about 99% of max HR, such as 1) the pack will not go 33 mph forever, they will slow down in about a minute if you can hold on and 2) you have to catch the pack when you go off the back, if they get out of site, you are done. and 3) when it's time to sprint that means you, even if you can't breath there is much learning that occurs in the last 200 meters.
"The most imporatant lessons occur at about 99% of max HR"noveread
Oct 1, 2002 8:46 AM
Perfect! What a phrase! I love it.

This was my first year of really riding seriously. I rode on average 130-160 miles/week. My plan was to train to race next year. However, at the end of this season, I tried a practice crit. I didn't get dropped, had no problems staying in the front (didn't pull though) and even faired modestly in the final sprint, though I did see a heart rate I hadn't seen in a decade (199bpm). The short crit only averaged ~24mph (less than 20 entrants). Meanwhile, on a 40k loop that I do once a week, if I try to do a TT effort, I can only average about 19.5mph. I'm slow.

You'll be fine, give it a go. But like the others said, be sure to do you interval and sprint work next year.

I like thatDougSloan
Oct 1, 2002 9:36 AM
I think Chris Carmicheal said something like "don't expect to go harder in a race than you do in training." How often do any of use hit 99% hr in training? I'd guess most of us don't, but then peg the meter in races. You are right -- if you are not prepared for this, it's sort of scary maxing out like that. You'd think that you are just going to die right there on the course, and never possibly keep up long enough not to avoid not only getting dropped, but even dragging your sorry butt to the finish line solo off the back. I know personally I have let up on climbs at 95%, when I should have pushed to 99%, thinking that I'll try to reattach on the next descent. That rarely works.

I like thatnoveread
Oct 1, 2002 1:31 PM
Yep, up until that race the highest HR I had seen all year was 196. After the race I had rethink what my maximum HR was!

It seems that in the final sprint (of the race and of the training rides since) I tend to absolutely demolish myself. For the last few training rides, I've been hanging on the back of the fast guys as they start the build up to the final sprint. Then when the sprint hits I try to sprint. I rarely come around any of them but after the line, I seem to barely be able to ride in a straight line and sucking wind BIG, BIG time. Once it took me several minutes before I could put any significant effort back into the pedals. Of course, that lead up to the sprint was way faster than that crit was...

Wow, the difference between following strong 3s and a former 2 as compared to the 4s and 5s in that training crit.

"The most imporatant lessons occur at about 99% of max HR"53T
Oct 16, 2002 7:48 AM
Thank you, thank you vey much.
But I am 44 Years Oldwink
Oct 1, 2002 12:59 PM
And I never raced before, I am not looking for excuses, but what is the average age of a novice racer. How do you get used to riding in a pelaton - having never done it? I guess you just do it. Thanks to all of you for good insights!
group rides firstDougSloan
Oct 1, 2002 1:11 PM
I think you definitely want to do a number of group rides first, preferably with some racers. You can learn a lot by observing and asking questions. You'll be much more comfortable when it comes race time, then, especially when the testosterone-meters get pegged.

The age thing is irrelevant. However, when you start racing, if you have a choice, choose the 35+ 4/5's rather than the Senior 5 race group. The former tend to be a bit more controlled and safer.

average age is an oxymoronlonefrontranger
Oct 1, 2002 1:19 PM
In your typical Cat 4/5 or Citizen's race, they do not age grade, so you'll see every age from 14 to 60-something, with the median running in the late twenties to mid thirties, and if it's a club or training race you'll often see women in there, too.

"Varmit" here on the RBR board might be a very good resource for you, as I believe he was near your age bracket when he started out. He came to some of the clinics we held in Cincinnati back when my SO and I were promoting events there. His development as a strong Master's racer is living proof that at the low to midrange amateur level focused specific training is far more important than age.
thanks againwink
Oct 1, 2002 5:32 PM
I really apprieciate all your input. I plan to train and learn this off season with the intent to try to do a few races next spring or summer.
Winker- don't forget Joop Zoetmelk won the tour in his late 30'sOld_school_nik
Oct 2, 2002 6:06 AM