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A lot of people I've talked to seem to think a high average speed is important to get a good workout in, or that it shows off your toughness somehow.

I've got a computer, finally, and I just got back from one of the hardest solo workouts I've had in a while. A pretty short ride, just over 2 hours, and the average speed for that time was 17.2 mph.

Coach's plan for the day: "Find a 6-8% hill. Do 2-minute intervals in sets of 3-4, Build to the 5b zone, then at 30, 60, and 90 seconds, 'attack' for 10 pedal strokes. Recover in zone 1."

This is a far harder workout than maintaining 20mph for 40 miles.
 

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tell these people...

Argentius said:
A lot of people I've talked to seem to think a high average speed is important to get a good workout in, or that it shows off your toughness somehow.

I've got a computer, finally, and I just got back from one of the hardest solo workouts I've had in a while. A pretty short ride, just over 2 hours, and the average speed for that time was 17.2 mph.

Coach's plan for the day: "Find a 6-8% hill. Do 2-minute intervals in sets of 3-4, Build to the 5b zone, then at 30, 60, and 90 seconds, 'attack' for 10 pedal strokes. Recover in zone 1."

This is a far harder workout than maintaining 20mph for 40 miles.
average speed doesn't mean D*CK! pretty basic logic...all depends on wind, surface conditions, body temperature, TERRAIN, diet, hydration...all things equal, do you really believe a 15mph average on flat terrain is the same as on a 8-10% grade in terms of workout? BS flags are wavin'!!!
on a windless day on perfectly flat pavement, I can maintain 22-24mph for quite awhile. into a headwind I may find 16-18mph to be challenging. on my hill circuit training outs, I think I give about a 17mph average (including descents upwards of 30-35mph). when I'm tired, overtrained, hung over, hungry, etc. who knows what the average will be...in races, I'll average 26-28mph on flat crits....your people are clueless to the realities of riding.
 

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I did a lunchtime with some co-workers a few years ago. When we finished, one of them commented that we almost averaged 20 MPH. My computer showed a little of 17 MPH. It turned out that the difference was in went we reset the computer for the ride. I reset when I swing my leg over the bike. The 20 MPH guy reset when we hit the open road and were out of the parking lot, stop signs and traffic lights.
 

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meaningless

It doesn't mean anything, except for the macho guys on the group rides that always have to brag afterwards...."we did 70 miles and averaged 21mph"........meaningless. That's why the watt meters are so much better. If you tell me that you can average 350 watts over a 60 mile ride...then I'm impressed. What I do for training, is, I have about 4 different routes, with different distances and different gradients, where I live is the seventh windiest place in North America....it's pretty common to have winds of about 25mph average with gusts in the mid thirties. Well, I rate my work effort on a scale of 1-4, and one ride per week is a 1/2, and 2 rides per week are in the 3/4 category, the others are all 2/3. Then I look at my average time to finish those routes, and I want to see a trend....downward. As far as average speed, it doesn't matter. Even with the wind, I can average 20-21 on a ride, because on the way out-into the wind- I'm only doing about 13-16, but on the way back, I can average 28+ with a tailwind. The only way to make it mean something is to find out what your average is on a COMPLETELY flat windless course. I also have the kurt kinetic watt meter to use with the trainer......let me tell you, seeing what the pros average, well, it humbles you pretty quick.
 

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yep..

physasst said:
It doesn't mean anything, except for the macho guys on the group rides that always have to brag afterwards...."we did 70 miles and averaged 21mph"........meaningless. That's why the watt meters are so much better. If you tell me that you can average 350 watts over a 60 mile ride...then I'm impressed. What I do for training, is, I have about 4 different routes, with different distances and different gradients, where I live is the seventh windiest place in North America....it's pretty common to have winds of about 25mph average with gusts in the mid thirties. Well, I rate my work effort on a scale of 1-4, and one ride per week is a 1/2, and 2 rides per week are in the 3/4 category, the others are all 2/3. Then I look at my average time to finish those routes, and I want to see a trend....downward. As far as average speed, it doesn't matter. Even with the wind, I can average 20-21 on a ride, because on the way out-into the wind- I'm only doing about 13-16, but on the way back, I can average 28+ with a tailwind. The only way to make it mean something is to find out what your average is on a COMPLETELY flat windless course. I also have the kurt kinetic watt meter to use with the trainer......let me tell you, seeing what the pros average, well, it humbles you pretty quick.

hearing the average reports of the pros after 150+ miles on undulating courses is mindblowing...24-28mph...ouch.
 

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I never even look at average speeds, sometimes people ask me, and I have no idea. Time, heartrate/wattage are all that matter. Intervals too of course.
 

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In order for your time to trend down your speed would have to trend up unless of course the distance trended (is that a word?) down as well. As I was reading this thread there was one thing that everyone was overlooking, until you mentioned time. Don't we train to go faster? Speed is absolutely relevant, but only as a relavant measure. One time against another time over the same course. The times can be of the same or different riders. I now that if I can complete one of my regular courses in less time (faster) after a period of training then the training paid off. What other measure is relevant? At the end of a race does everyone download their data from their power meters and determine the winner by who generated the most watts? No it's who crossed the line first, who completed the course in the least amount of time - who was fastest.
 

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Uprwstsdr said:
In order for your time to trend down your speed would have to trend up unless of course the distance trended (is that a word?) down as well. As I was reading this thread there was one thing that everyone was overlooking, until you mentioned time. Don't we train to go faster? Speed is absolutely relevant, but only as a relavant measure. One time against another time over the same course. The times can be of the same or different riders. I now that if I can complete one of my regular courses in less time (faster) after a period of training then the training paid off. What other measure is relevant? At the end of a race does everyone download their data from their power meters and determine the winner by who generated the most watts? No it's who crossed the line first, who completed the course in the least amount of time - who was fastest.
Well, more power=more speed. You actually train to increase the amount of wattage you can put out, the more wattage you can put out for a longer period of time, equals speed.

Of course there are many other factors to winning races than speed or wattage, who conserves the most power, when you attack, or start your sprint.

But make no mistake, your training your body to put out more power, the most efficient way to achieve this, doing intervals, trainging with power, etc.

You going faster in some route is no more meaningful than someone putting out more power, they both do not relate to a pack race, tactics have no bearing on your solo route, nor do they have any bearing on how many watts someone can put out. In fact there are many more variables with your solo route speed than with wattage, such as wind, on a power meter, if your putting out 300 watts and there’s a 10mph head wind, or there's a 20mph headwind, it's still 300 watts, however if you go out and do your route in 1:30 with a 10mph headwind, and then you do it in 1:30 in a 20 mph headwind, there’s a difference there, for example.

Anyways, training with power just takes most of the variables out of training, 300watts is 300watts is 300watts, no matter the conditions, other measurements vary, heart rate varies on how fatigued the rider is, one day you'll be putting out 300 watts at 150 the next 159.

I'm no expert though, this is just what I've picked up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Uprwstsdr said:
Speed is absolutely relevant, but only as a relavant measure.
Say what?

Uprwstsdr said:
No it's who crossed the line first, who completed the course in the least amount of time - who was fastest.
Well, the "who completed the course in the least amount of time" matters in a time trial. If you have a pseudo-time trial course, known to be free of traffic and obstructions that you judge yourself on time or average speed EXACTLY the same way every month or whatever, than that could mean SOMETHING.

But for racing, the person who is strongest, smartest, and luckiest wins. The fastest guy can pull the whole pack around and lose every time because he's not faster over 200m, of course...
 

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I think average speed is a fine measure for each individual, but comparing to people that don't ride the exact same course is a bit meaningless.

I like to see how I compare at any given time to PRs on the typical daily routes I ride. That's how I measure improvement. I don't race and don't want to, so no power meter or HRM for me. Actually, the HRM might be nice...:)
 

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Whatever, you of all people know what I mean regarding sprints, drafting, etc. Road racing isn't a tri, people don't expend their energy in such a way as to complete the distance with as high of an average speed as possible. Blah.
 

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The only thing I use average speed for is to calculate a ballpark figure for calories burned. I figure it's "average enough"... I may only do 7mph up the hills & take longer, but then I coast down the hills faster, so I figure it all evens out in the end (as far as a rough idea on calorie burn goes.)

Otherwise, I pretty much know my "true" average speeds, one for flat & one for climbing. This is one reason I've never been on a club ride... when they say "A group avg 21 mph", are they talking avg speed on the computer? I live in a pretty hilly area... no way are you gonna' AVERAGE 21mph on a computer around here...
 

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physasst said:
It doesn't mean anything, except for the macho guys on the group rides that always have to brag afterwards...."we did 70 miles and averaged 21mph"........meaningless. That's why the watt meters are so much better. If you tell me that you can average 350 watts over a 60 mile ride...then I'm impressed. What I do for training, is, I have about 4 different routes, with different distances and different gradients, where I live is the seventh windiest place in North America....it's pretty common to have winds of about 25mph average with gusts in the mid thirties. Well, I rate my work effort on a scale of 1-4, and one ride per week is a 1/2, and 2 rides per week are in the 3/4 category, the others are all 2/3. Then I look at my average time to finish those routes, and I want to see a trend....downward. As far as average speed, it doesn't matter. Even with the wind, I can average 20-21 on a ride, because on the way out-into the wind- I'm only doing about 13-16, but on the way back, I can average 28+ with a tailwind. The only way to make it mean something is to find out what your average is on a COMPLETELY flat windless course. I also have the kurt kinetic watt meter to use with the trainer......let me tell you, seeing what the pros average, well, it humbles you pretty quick.
"That's why the watt meters are so much better. If you tell me that you can average 350 watts over a 60 mile ride...then I'm impressed." Even average Watts is suspect. Constant TT type Watts or all intervals or somewhere in between. Though I admit that I would be impressed with 350 avg for 60 miles no matter how you got them. - TF
 

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I think it has been beaten to death that power, heart rate, etc. are more meaningful metrics for training, so it is odd that these debates continue when WE KNOW THAT ALREADY!!!!!!!!! Since this is a racing sub-board, or at least that is the first word in the name of it, and it appears necessary to state the obvious, get a load of this. If your race (time trial, road race, crit,...) has a specified distance, and I'll bet they all do, then the AVERAGE SPEED divided into the distance tells you how long it took you to finish. If that time is less than everybody else's, you won. That's why racers will always talk about average speed, because it's a benchmark for comparing with other riders if you hold the course variables as constant as possible. And they will do it even for training, despite its limitations, because in the end we're thinking about racing and time required to finish is the ONLY variable that matters in that setting, and it can only be linked to the distance via average speed. You can do all the power/heart rate stuff in a spinning class if you had the equipment. You can talk distance after any charity or club ride or after "finishing" your first century. What separates racers is finishing a specified distance first. Average speed goes to the definition of racing and that's why we talk about it. Toughness?
 

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Problem is the Average Speed on a computer is not Distance / Hours, well at least I am pretty sure it isn't. It is more like the average of all your actual speeds so if you spike with a 55mph downhill then that is going to push your average speed on the computer up more than it would if it was just caclulated as Distance / Hours.
 

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rickkkus said:
What separates racers is finishing a specified distance first. Average speed goes to the definition of racing and that's why we talk about it. Toughness?
This is very true for a mtb race. And, I guess, in a road race too... but it's only important as between the racers in that particular race on that particular day... and in that sense, I can't ever remember b.s.'ing after a race about the average speed. Of course in any race the winner will have had the highest average speed. The "benefit" of comparing average speeds seems to be whether "this" race was harder than "that" one. But the next week on the same course, the winner could have a lower average speed and still have worked way harder (think pack sprint vs. solo break). The solo break, though "slower" is actually a significantly harder effort. Likewise, in the pack sprint scenario, the guy who wins and the guy who came in 25th are going to have very similar average speeds (esp. as the race gets longer)... but there's still no denying that there's a huge difference between 1st and 25th.

Because of the impact of drafting, in mass start road racing average speed doesn't really tell you much.

In time trials, otoh, tell me your 40k time and I'll tell you if you are fast. Me, not so fast, but not so slow either -- 40k = 56:09.
 
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