Yoru cycling average speed is one of the best measures when it comes to your progress. It will undoubtedly improve as you progress and can also serve as a good way to gauge your efforts and progress over the cycling season. Knowing how to get faster at cycling will not only improve your average speed but will also boost your performance in the long run and allow you to travel further in the same amount of time.
We often reach a certain time and place where we feel at the top of our abilities and going further up seems progressively harder than it was up until that point. That plateau can be quite demotivating for some cyclists but luckily there are a few tips that you can try out and use to your advantage when it comes to raising your average speed.
Before we move forward, make sure you check out my Guide on some of the best bike speedometers, which are essential when it comes to tracking cycling metrics. There, I’ve discussed some of the top models in detail and have given you a few tips on how to choose the right one for your bike.
Tips and Tricks to improve your average cycling speed
While an intense training schedule can do wonders for your performance, there are a few not-so-hard tips that you can try out on your next session and see first hand whether they are truly effective for you or not. Some of those are:
- Improving your position
- Eat as you go
- Correct your pacing
- Add music to your ride
- Keep training at the sweet spot
- Be mindful of your braking
- Keep track of your weight
- Improve aerodynamics
- Route planning
Now, some of those might seem obvious and pretty straight-forward while others need a little bit of extra explanation. Either way, we will dive deeper into each of those tips and see how they affect your average speed…
Improving your position
Your body position is one of the crucial elements of cycling as it improves your aerodynamics and the angle at which your muscles are working, which is essential to your development. Of course, you can get an expensive frame and even more expensive wheels to improve your aero but the easiest way to bump up your average speed stats will always remain your position.
The difference between staying up straight on the bike and dropping down with your elbows bent and a flat back is massive. The good thing is that you don’t have to take my word for it. Do a regular cycling session with a relaxed body position as you normally would do. Measure your time and then do the exact same route in similar conditions but pay attention to your posture throughout the workout and then put both times side to side. Also, take into consideration how tired your legs and arms would feel after the second session. One of the downsides of keeping a good body position is more strain on your muscles but that tends to go away as you progress.
The bottom line here is that the faster you’re going the more you will benefit from being aerodynamic and the more you will raise your overall speed throughout the cycling session.
Eat as you go
Cycling requires a lot of energy and when you go for workouts longer than 90 minutes, it is advisable to keep your body fueled. Many cyclists forget about that but it is a paramount tip for anyone wanting to have a consistent tempo without power drops during the ride.
Energy drinks, carbohydrate bars, or even energy gels are good for up to 40-50 grams of carbohydrates per hour which is more or less enough for your body to not run low on fuel.
Correct your pacing
Another tip that doesn’t necessarily depend on your fitness level is your pacing. How you distribute your efforts along the ride has a huge impact on your average speed at the end. Many beginners make the mistake of setting off too fast or not following a good tempo during the ride. Starting off fast will inevitably make you slow down by a significant amount by the end of your ride. This will result in a low average speed compared to a moderately high but constant tempo.
It is always a good idea to back off a bit on your efforts when riding uphill. This, however, will require you to put in the work on the flats and maybe even on the downhills if it is safe for you to do so.
Add music to your ride
To build upon the previous tip, music is not only a great motivator but is also a good way to keep a constant tempo when riding on the flats. Some cyclists prefer making special playlists that follow a unified tempo across all songs (120bpm for example). That adds rhythm to your ride and makes it easier to follow a constant tempo, ultimately resulting in a higher average speed.
Keep in mind that fully sealed earbuds or headphones aren’t advised when cycling on public roads as they will strip you of the ability to be mindful of your surroundings.
Keep training at the sweet spot
Many cyclists consider training at just under 90% FTP (functional threshold power) the sweet spot. This allows you to put a lot of effort while still being able to get up and train on the next day. The more powerful you get, the longer you will be able to train in that sweet spot and the faster you will go on average.
You can even train in that spot with traditional stationary bikes or good recumbent bikes but that won’t allow you to improve as fast as the real thing.
Be mindful of your braking
One of the most obvious tricks you can do to improve your speed is being mindful of your braking or simply put – braking less. Braking should be done only when necessary as it makes you lose your momentum and speed, potentially requiring you to pedal harder to get back up to speed. This can disrupt your tempo or even drain your energy a lot faster compared to maintaining a proper tempo. One of the best ways to cut down on unnecessary braking is reducing the so-called “comfort” braking which occurs when you are going a bit faster than what you are typically used to.
Keep track of your weight
It is a general principle that the less an object weighs the further it can go with the same amount of energy. With cycling, this might seem a bit weird at first but if you compare different rides where you had less gear or even rode with a lighter bike, you will see the general significance of even a few pounds of weight on top of you. The longer your cycling session, the more important this is and as you progress you will start looking for different ways to cut the weight of you, your gear, or your bike. The last one is usually the most expensive.
Routes are very important for a variety of reasons. For starters, if you plan a route that will take you a thousand feet up in elevation, then your average speed will most likely not be great. However, if you plan accordingly, you might help your average speed go off the charts. Routes around flat terrains tend to be more conducive for speeds but aren’t always a good way to keep pushing your limits.
Another aspect of routes is the wind. Smaller roads might provide shelter from strong headwinds at the start of your session while you can use the larger roads for the way back when the wind will go in your direction further helping you improve the average speed.
What are the average speeds of cyclists?
We went through all those important tips that might help you increase your speed but we are yet to answer one major question – how fast is … fast? Well, to answer that we must take a look at the average speed of cyclists around the world. That stat also depends on the terrain type, fitness level of the cyclists, weather conditions, and so on.
Still, the average male cyclist rides at around 16 miles per hour with females being a bit behind with a little bit over 13 miles per hour. Getting average speeds anywhere above these numbers will mean that you are already faster than half the cyclists in the world.
Click here if you want to learn how to warm up for your cycling workout!
In conclusion, learning how to get faster at cycling isn’t hard and with a few “cheats” you can greatly improve your average speed. Keep your riders shorter, don’t take uphill routes, use the wind to your advantage, keep position and aerodynamics in mind, and don’t forget to refuel as you go. If you follow these and a few other small tips, then you’d sure be on your way to speed-town!