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Forum: General Touring

Discussions on touring which do not fit into any of the more specific forums

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#1: A word about speed (thread)
By Allen Hildebrant on Tue 22 May 2012 05:39 (US/Pacific) Edit Delete   Reply (17)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
On this and other web sites there is often mention of speed, some people say their "cruising speed" is 22+ mph others say less. The point I would like to make is every computer that I have seen for years has a function to track average speed, This is not some arbitrary figure that the rider saw while going slightly down hill at high speed with a tailwind. I would remind all the "fast riders" out there that the Tour De France is won at an average speed of around 24-25 mph. I doubt many of the riders on a touring forum are in that category.

Just sayin'

Allen

      
#2: Re: A word about speed (thread)
By Barry MacHale on Tue 22 May 2012 06:38 Edit Delete in reply to #1     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
I hit 57 mph on a correctly calibrated cycle computer, descending from Lake Tahoe, CA to Carson City, NV. The bike was front-/rear-loaded to the gills for a cross-country trip, and the freshly-paved road was like butter.

It was both awesome and a little nerve-inducing. Normally, I "cruise" at 15-16 mph (conditions permitting).

Thanks for clearing up for us how we're probably misguided in our perceptions of how fast we really are. Nothing like a helpful reality check from a well-meaning person.

      
#3: Re: A word about speed (thread)
By Al Cyone on Tue 22 May 2012 07:09 Edit Delete in reply to #1     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
I've always felt that 15 mph was my "cruising" speed. Anything more (on flat terrain) and I probably had an unperceived tailwind (though, of course, my first instinct would be to think I'd suddenly become stronger). Anything less (a far more common experience) and it was the result of a headwind or being tired or both.

And while speed, in and of itself, isn't that important for bicycle touring, I frequently tell those who think that crossing the U.S. on a bike is, somehow, super-human, that all they have to do is average about 10 mph for ten hours a day and, in about a month, they'll have done it.

      
#4: Re: A word about speed (thread)
By iain c on Tue 22 May 2012 07:47 Edit Delete in reply to #1     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
I'm shocked! You are telling me that people are not always 100% accurate on internet forums?

My average speed is too low for bragging purposes but I did once hit 55mph downhill with a tailwind on a loaded tandem. It's steeper than it looks.

http://g.co/maps/bz384

      
#5: Re: A word about speed (thread)
By Peter Jacobsen on Tue 22 May 2012 07:52 Edit Delete in reply to #1     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
My cruising speed is certainly not the same as my average speed. I stop a lot along the way.

      
#6: Re: A word about speed (thread)
By Brian Huntley on Tue 22 May 2012 08:14 Edit Delete in reply to #1     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
My *average* speed over a full touring day is generally 20 kph or about 12 mph.

My *cruising* speed is closer to 30, but I don't count hills as cruising, up or down. So it depends what you're trying to define.

      
#7: Re: A word about speed (thread)
By [deleted] on Tue 22 May 2012 08:40 Edit Delete in reply to #1   (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Yes. I think of speeds in different categories. My commuting average when I push moderately hard is 19 mph over 10 miles, and that includes flat speeds around 22-25. Most days though I take it easy and average more like 16-17. Some days I'm too tired to care and average 13.

When I use the term cruise speed, I'm meaning a speed that requires moderate input that I can hold for 30 miles on flatish ground, but its a good workout. Of course my average over that 30 miles would typically be 18. I seem to ride consistently at an 18 mph average around my area. I don't consider myself fast, but I don't think I'm slow either. Certainly not a racer by any stretch. The only reason I ever state speeds is for reference for others. If I were to say my ride was fast or slow on a given bike, you might wonder what speed I meant by that, so this eliminates the question.

Now when I was talking to local riders along the Blue Ridge Parkway, they never seemed to use the term average speed because their very steep terrain made the term very meaningless.

Oh, one more thing. When getting a bike, ensure the speedometer is calibrated to your tire. I had two friends who rarely ride bikes, who bought DF hybrids and had the LBS install a speedometer. Then they told me they loved the bikes and could ride so easily at 25 mph on flat. I told them to set their tire size into the speedometer and his speed changed to a more believable 15 or less. The other Gus odometer showed high speeds and said his distance to work was 6 miles. I clocked his trip as 5 miles and Google maps agreed with me. Anyway, most of us know to do this, but newbies often don't or assume the store did it.

      
#8: Re: A word about speed (thread)
By Jacques du Randt on Tue 22 May 2012 08:42 Edit Delete in reply to #1     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
I have the luxury of travelling bith a bike computer and gps. When I calibrated the bike computer according to the maufacturers settings, it was about 10% out, showing I was going 10% further/faster than I actually did go...

So is your average/top speed really what you think it is...? I tested this over distances of between 40km - 60km.

This is the same for two different computers (VDO and Cateye)....

      
#9: Re: A word about speed (thread)
By [deleted] on Tue 22 May 2012 08:53 Edit Delete in reply to #8   (2)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Interesting. Did your speedometer use tire size or actual circumference. Since my bikes front tire is 20" I measure the distance of one rotation and enter that. Still may be off. But I think it's more accurate than just tire size.

      
#10: Re: A word about speed (thread)
By Robert Ewing on Tue 22 May 2012 09:34 Edit Delete in reply to #1     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
I think we need some definitions. What do folks mean by 'cruising speed' and 'average speed?' Every time I stop to take a picture and walk my bike to the view point, every time I slow down or stop to look at the map, and every time I slow down to take in the view my average speed goes down on my computer. And in each instance there is the time to merge back on the road and accelerate back up to cruising speed. Maybe there is an app for a smart phone that can make the calculations, but my bike computer can't. So for me cruising speed is something of an educated guess of what my average, "no stopping no slowing down" speed on relatively flat, paved road is. It is only human to round these imprecise numbers up a wee bit. So maybe it should be called it 'ideal speed' or 'best case average speed.'

As for the long stage races like the TDF, the average speed of the peloton on 'ideal' flat road conditions can be far in excess of the 40 kph (25 mph) total average for the winner of the maillot jaune. There is so much strategy of holding back one day, and then to race flat out on up a hors catégorie the next where you see the cheering fans walking beside the racers as they gut it out to the summit and glory.

Of course for me this is all academic. I keep my bike computer in kilometers to keep from getting depressed about my average speed dropping into single digits ;-)

Robert

      
#11: Re: A word about speed (thread)
By Robert Ewing on Tue 22 May 2012 09:40 Edit Delete in reply to #9     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
>I measure the distance of one rotation and enter that.

Years ago someone told me to put lipstick on my front tire and actually ride the bike to measure the true distance per rotation. It seems to work pretty well.

      
#12: Re: A word about speed (thread)
By [deleted] on Tue 22 May 2012 12:44 Edit Delete in reply to #11   (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
But I'd run out of fingers and toes pretty quickly. How do you do that for a mile? It'd get hypnotizing pretty fast.

      
#13: Re: A word about speed (thread)
By [deleted] on Tue 22 May 2012 12:57 Edit Delete in reply to #10     Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Re your comment about average vs cruising speeds, I only note average speeds when I go a set distance with minimal stops, such as commuting. On a tour, I don't look at average.

The way I think of cruise speed, I notice the rough high and low speeds in areas I know are flat or very close. A good stretch for me for that is the bike path between Hamel and Staunton. Flat and straight. Easy effort, 18 mph, moderate effort 20 mph mostly with some 21 or 22.

Or on my way to work, the road is not perfectly flat, but in a long section the grades are minor, like 1/2 % or maybe 1. On the upslope, I tend to go 19' then on the section that goes down at 1/2%, I move up to 23 mph.

Same when I ride around the flight line at base. Theres a very gentle slope up toward the north, a flat at the end and a gentle down going south on the far side. I go 19 up, 20 across the end, and 22-23 down. So I figure my cruise speed is around 20-21, unless I'm tired then it's more like 18.

      
#14: Re: A word about speed (thread)
By Jerry Witherspoon on Tue 22 May 2012 13:00 Edit Delete in reply to #9     Reply (2)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Bruce,

What should be done to calibrate a computer is to use a tape and actually measure the circumference of one's tire. Then, input that figure, converted if necessary, into the computer data base. (Google is wonderful) Anything other than that, such as using a factory size number, isn't true.

BTW, when I quote average speeds, I'm speaking of that number produced by computer at the end of the ride.

Spoon

      
#15: Re: A word about speed (thread)
By Robert Ewing on Tue 22 May 2012 13:32 Edit Delete in reply to #12     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
>How do you do that for a mile?

Well I can tell you it is not easy. Add in the fact the lipstick needs to be reapplied at frequent intervals. I have though it would be best done on a tandem where the captain swipes the front tire with the lipstick (preferably bright red) and the stoker, who has little responsibility and can't see much besides the captain's rear, could count the red dots on the pavement as they go by. He or she would probably be happy with the scenic diversion.

On a trike or bent I would think you would have to face your mirror towards the ground and probably need therapy afterwards.

      
#16: Re: A word about speed (thread)
By Erin Coye on Tue 22 May 2012 15:41 Edit Delete in reply to #7     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Fastest ever touring day carrying 4 bags + two stuff sacks 61 miles no stops 3 hours. 20+mph pure tailwind from Chester to Haver Montana. There has never been another day even close to that.

11 Mile urban hilly commute using gears from 28x28 to 48x17 12-15 mph ave. Anything over 16mph I pushed and lucked out on the lights/hazard avoidance or road my feathery bike for some reason.

If someone asks I say my twiddeling along utility pace is 13-17. I've never used a cyclo computer though I do pay attention to heart rate, cadence and gearing.

      
#17: Re: A word about speed (thread)
By Al Cyone on Tue 22 May 2012 16:33 Edit Delete in reply to #1     Reply (2)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
One reason it might be helpful to know one's "cruising" speed is if you're planning on going on a club ride. My local club uses the following system:

Pace

A - 18+ mph
B - 13-18 mph
C - 8-13 mph
D - under 10 mph

Terrain

1 - Primarily flat; occasional rolling hills
2 - Moderate rolling hills
3 - Mostly rolling hills
4 - Hilly with one or more steep climbs
5 - Consistently hilly with several steep climbs

So I'd know that "A" and "D" rides are not for me and I'd probably be happiest with a "B1".

      
#18: Re: A word about speed (thread)
By [deleted] on Tue 22 May 2012 16:57 Edit Delete in reply to #14     Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Spoon, exactly, thats what i have to do for my 20" since many of the cycle speedometers dont have 20 pre-programmed.

And It's one thing to say that you ride at a certain cruise speed, but your computer generated speed is what you really average over the whole ride. A person tends to forget the effect of stop lights, hills, etc. when planning a trip, never use cruise speed, always something like your typical average, as you mention, or you won't alott enough time.

      
#19: Re: A word about speed (thread)
By [deleted] on Tue 22 May 2012 17:00 Edit Delete in reply to #17     Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Our club seems to have two speeds, the race pace pseudo peloton and the everyone else speed. I can't hang with the first group since it rides more in the + speed than the 18. So I'd be in the B. well at least this year and three years ago. The intervening two years had me 15 lbs heavier than now and struggling to average 17, mostly 16.5 average rides.

      
#20: Re: A word about speed (thread)
By Jonathan Voelz on Tue 22 May 2012 18:13 Edit Delete in reply to #1     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
The real secret is to always set your device to read in KM.

Always more impressive since you go faster and farther....

(From the unwritten book: "Tips For Age and Gravity Challenged Touring Cyclists")

For what it's worth...

      
#21: Re: A word about speed (thread)
By [deleted] on Tue 22 May 2012 18:49 Edit Delete in reply to #20     Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Yes, but it sure keeps your riding partners confused. ;-). Well, unless they use that fancy metric system too.

      
#22: Re: A word about speed (thread)
By Pete Staehling on Wed 23 May 2012 04:00 Edit Delete in reply to #1     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
"This is not some arbitrary figure that the rider saw while going slightly down hill at high speed with a tailwind."

Well maybe not as arbitrary as the numbers some might report, but it is still kind of arbitrary because it with vary greatly from day to day with terrain, mood, weather, load carried, traffic conditions, and riding partners if any. When it comes down to it the whole concept of average speed is pretty meaningless in a touring context, other than as a means to plan roughly how many miles you can make in a day. Even for that it is of limited utility. I know that there times when riding with fast company where I might ride in excess of 20 mph for an hour and average 15 mph for the day. There are also times when crawl or even walk over tough passes I make 6 mph average for the day.

The more useful figure, at least in my opinion, is how many miles per day are averaged over the whole tour.

      
#23: Re: A word about speed (thread)
By [deleted] on Wed 23 May 2012 04:19 Edit Delete in reply to #17     Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Al, I looked at your club's site and I think the speeds they use would be average speed. They mention a hypothetical ride as being a B57 - terrain 4. Then they go on to explain that given the terrain, the pace will be between 13 and 18.

The Metro East club here has a similar grouping of 18+ and two lower categories. The 18+ group averages more than 18 over 50 mile rides, while I average 18-, so I can't keep up with them.

      
#24: Re: A word about speed (thread)
By Durrin Hynes on Wed 23 May 2012 05:26 Edit Delete in reply to #1     Reply (2)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
I'm not sure "cruising speed" means very much in the bicycling context: I generally quote average moving speed when I talk about speed. Personally, I am happy with 20 km/h when fully loaded, subtracting a bit for conditions such as wind, hills, rain...

I once had a day with a 12 km/h moving average, and felt I had ridden hard. I imagine I will feel the same way about some of the alpine days I have coming up this summer. I'm sure that people that have ridden long stretches on steep _and_ poor quality gravel have averaged much slower and felt good about it.

      
#25: Re: A word about speed (thread)
By don martin on Wed 23 May 2012 07:04 Edit Delete in reply to #24     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Maybe we are approaching this speed thing from the wrong direction. I once covered 22 miles in 6.5 hours of hard travel (from the Albert Rim to the Rabbit Hills of south centrtal Oregon). In all fairness, I walked about a third of it and carried everything over a couple of gulleys. Moving average of a little under 4mph and I was happy to have it.

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Click here for a larger version of the picture

But there is a short cut - just seven miles up this jeep trail . . .

Image on journal page: Day 9: Hogback Road - BLM Sunstone Area in journal Rocks in my Head by Don Martin (Completed Mar 2012)


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