“Am I making progress?”
When we have been doing something for a while, it is usually a frequent question to ask. We want to know how we are improving, and we strive for more improvement. Admit it or not, the same is true with you, right?
As a cyclist, you also wonder how fast you are going. You might have checked on your bike computer to see your max, current, and average speed for each ride. Don’t worry, it’s normal. Tracking your speed is a good indicator of your fitness and development.
To start with, let’s take a look at this chart to see the average speed of male and female riders across different countries. This information was taken from Strava about global cycling in 2016.
|Country||Average Speed Male||Country||Average Speed Female|
|Holland||16.73 mph||Holland||13.21 mph|
|UK||15.91 mph||France||12.89 mph|
|France||15.14 mph||USA||12.74 mph|
|USA||15.13 mph||Germany||12.39 mph|
|Germany||14.47 mph||Spain||12.34 mph|
|Spain||13.86 mph||UK||12.33 mph|
Compared to the rest of the world, the fastest riders are in Holland, while UK cyclists also do quite well. However, determining average speed depends on certain factors. One of those is your location, if it is hilly or windy. If you are a beginner, your base level fitness will also have an effect to your biking speed.
Progress comes gradually. It comes with more practice and patience. But whatever you starting speed is, never lose hope.
In this blog post, we will provide you with tips on how to get faster on the bike. Are you ready?
Tips on How to Get Faster on the Bike
1. Pump up your tires.
You can roll faster with correctly inflated tires. That’s why you have to check your tire pressure before every ride as temperature changes and slight seeping of air can make it soft without necessarily being punctured. For the recommended pressure, check the side-wall of your tire. You can also invest in a track bike pump to easily get the pressure you need.
2. Bend and tuck your elbows.
Your greatest enemy during your bike ride is the wind. Sitting up straight in the saddle allows you to catch a lot of wind on your frontal area, thus slowing you down. For you to conquer the wind, try lowering your body closer to the bars by bending and tucking your elbows. You’ll be able to feel the difference in your speed.
3. Brake less.
Try braking less as it slows you down and it requires you to pedal harder to accelerate to your original speed. Unnecessary braking is a waste of energy and momentum. So, how can you improve?
Try to eliminate “comfort” braking. This usually happens when you are rolling along a fast road or downhill and you are getting a little bit faster than you are used to. It is fine to brake to get your speed down to your comfort level. However, if the road surface is good, free of obstructions and relatively straight, then let the bike roll and enjoy some free speed as there is no reason to slow down.
Improve your confidence as well during cornering. Less brake will help you hold your speed longer. Just remember to always brake in a straight line so you are at a comfortable level before turning.
4. Get company.
Riding with others can help you in several ways. This will encourage you to lift your effort level as you try to keep up with someone faster than you. If you also take it in turns to ride in front and share the work of cutting through the wind, you can travel faster as a group than being alone. Not only that, but it will also help build your fitness for future rides.
5. Listen to music.
Research shows that listening to uplifting and fast-paced music reduces your effort levels. According to a sports psychology researcher Dr. Costas Karageorghis, “music blocks out fatigue-related symptoms such as the burning lungs, the beating heart and the lactic acid in the muscles. It can reduce our perception of effort by as much as 10 percent.”
Therefore, you will pedal harder without even noticing it. Listen to music that has an optimal cycling cadence as this will help you pedal faster to match the rhythm.
For your safety, make sure to use headphone brands that will let you hear the outside sound. If you don’t want to plug in while on the road, you can still do so when cycling indoors.
6. Ride on the drops.
Using the drops of your bike improves your bike handling and lowers wind resistance by 20 percent compared to riding on the tops. It also reduces your aerodynamic drag, allowing you to corner and descend with confidence.
7. Ride out into a headwind and home in a tailwind.
Wind resistance can be both your friend and your enemy, so make use of the wind by planning your route. Riding feels like a struggle into a headwind as it slows you down despite the effort you put in. On the other hand, you can easily spin along at top speed into a tailwind.
8. Lose weight.
Losing some weight allows you to go faster for the same amount of effort you put in. It will help you while riding on an uphill as you have less weight to move against gravity. Also, it will reduce the drag you cause when biking on flat surfaces.
9. Do intervals.
Interval training is one of the fastest ways to increase your average speed. It allows you to cycle for short bursts at speeds above your normal average pace and slow down before going fast again.
Try this technique during any ride, not only during the set “training sessions”. You can go fast as you can to the end of the road and then recover after a short while before going fast again. Pick a target and pedal hard until you reach it, then ease off. As you do so, you and your legs will be used to cycling more than your “normal” average speed.
10. Use Aero bike and/or wheels.
You can buy speed. Aerodynamic tubing on bikes, deep-section rims, and aero-profile spokes help in reducing your drag, thus allowing you to go faster. However, improvements to your riding position will be the most important factor as the human body accounts to about 70 percent of the total drag when biking.
Many things can influence your average speed such as wind direction and strength, traffic volume, road surface, terrain, and humidity and heat. That’s why don’t be too obsessed to chase faster averages daily as it will only leave you strung out and tired. Just remember that as a way of monitoring your progress, average speed doesn’t matter that much. Just enjoy the ride, and speed will just follow.