Average speed - improving

Willo

Well-Known Member
Location
Kent
After getting a new road bike as compensation for not being able to run following an injury I've got the bug despite being back fit and running also. I vowed just to enjoy some cycling without clock watching, but am now increasingly looking for some challenge (for example, my morning 10 mile scenic route to the station is becoming a bit stale without trying to improve the time, same with longer weekend runs where I want to see some evidence of improvement......). I'll likely invest in a new computer soon but my question after all that (unnecessary:blush:) preamble is how average speed is actually calculated?

When folk quote their average speed as x mph, do they mean that's the average speed when actually moving or does that take into account stopping at lights, junctions etc.? For example, I went for a (hungover!) 18 mile spin at the weekend - some hilly bits and into a headwind - and just crudely calculated my average speed at just 15 mph. However, that included stopping at several juntions, a railway crossing etc. I'm flirting with the idea of working towards something like London-Paris, and would like to properly gauge myself against the average speeds some of the organised rides set as a guide. I'm also assuming a computer would calculate average speed discounting the stops, is that correct (as otherwise I could just continue with my manual calcs)?

thanks and apols if asking the obvious
 

JamesMorgan

Active Member
Most computers enable you to measure either the average speed including stops, or the average excluding stops. Even if you exclude stops your average does get reduced significantly as you slow down/speed up for lights, junctions etc, so the route has quite an impact on your overall average.

You need to be a little careful that you don't get too obsessed with improving average speeds which can lead to unnecessary risk taking. I prefer to focus on average speed for a given average heart rate. That way I can check that I'm actually getting fitter rather than just pushing myself to go faster.
 
OP
Willo

Willo

Well-Known Member
Location
Kent
Thanks (and noted re risk taking). Suppose, more succintly, I want to know how it's commonly calculated to understand what people mean when they say an average speed of a ride is x mph.
 

BrumJim

Forum Stalwart (won't take the hint and leave...)
My computer stops counting every time the bike comes to a stop (auto stop/start feature). However this is a victory of convenience over accuracy.

So when I quote averages (and try to use the term "rolling average"), it doesn't include traffic light or other junction stops.
 

JamesMorgan

Active Member
Willo said:
Thanks (and noted re risk taking). Suppose, more succintly, I want to know how it's commonly calculated to understand what people mean when they say an average speed of a ride is x mph.
I think most people quote whatever their computer tells them (whether it is calibrated correctly or not). I think the typical default setting for most computers is to exclude stops.
 

e-rider

crappy member
Location
South West
most people quote it not including breaks - otherwise if you stop for lunch your av. will drop massively.

Enter some TTs if you want to test yourself and get max av. speed possible- commuting to work isn't the best idea as you need to focus on traffic not your cateye computer.
 

amaferanga

Veteran
Location
Bolton
A lot of people on internet cycling forums take their actual average and multiply it by the FBS (Forum Bull Sh!t) factor to arrive at a number they think will impress people. Also, people use the word hilly to refer to anything with any hills whatsoever (e.g. a bridge over a railway line) as that reinforces just how talented a cyclist they are to average 18mph over a hilly route.

FWIW I think moving average is usually more meaningful, especially if (like me) your routes involve crossing a city to get out into the hills (my stopped time varies from 2 - 5 mins over ~30 miles depending on how bad the traffic is in the city and how the traffic lights fall for me). But comparing your averages with other people who cycle other routes won't really tell you much anyway.
 
OP
Willo

Willo

Well-Known Member
Location
Kent
Thanks for the replies. I'm not going to get too hung up on it, but do find myself needing some targets to focus on. As with others, my cycling typically involve some elements of main roads/junctions/lights before getting out into the country where cycling less interrupted. Think I'll get a computer and see how much difference there is between the 'rolling' and absolute averages. Point re valid comparisons noted, mainly for monitoring my progress, but would like at least some feel for what I need to do if I wanted to take on Lon to Paris, for example.
 

amaferanga

Veteran
Location
Bolton
Is London - Paris a race?
 

Dan B

Disengaged member
amaferanga said:
A lot of people on internet cycling forums take their actual average and multiply it by the FBS (Forum Bull Sh!t) factor to arrive at a number they think will impress people. Also, people use the word hilly to refer to anything with any hills whatsoever (e.g. a bridge over a railway line) as that reinforces just how talented a cyclist they are to average 18mph over a hilly route.
Don't forget to add the Stradivarius Constant (a.k.a "fiddle factor") - usually about 3mph - to the result, and then round up to the nearest 5mph.

The other thing you can do to get your average up is, instead of using a cycle computer, to base your initial calculation on what some bloke in a car shouted at you as you were going down a hill.
 

Fiona N

Veteran
But you need something to tell you what the distance is otherwise you get the same problems - estimating distance by rounding to the nearest 10 miles :smile:
 
OP
Willo

Willo

Well-Known Member
Location
Kent
amaferanga said:
Is London - Paris a race?
No and I would be more interested in simply doing it, rather than get hung up on a time. However, if riding in a group, I want to have some confidence that I'm up to the general pace required.
 
OP
Willo

Willo

Well-Known Member
Location
Kent
lukesdad said:
Forget the computer. Average speed is the time taken to travel a given distance.
That's what I've been doing (using an online map) and it's perfectly adequate. Was just curious as average speed is used a fair bit on the forum and I wasn't sure whether people meant 'rolling' average or as you state above. Suppose, from my perspective, it seems that a half decent cycle computer is fairly cheap and would be interesting to understand how I'm progressing.
 
Top Bottom