How to get a higher average speed on the road? (>30 km/h)

Hi everyone,

My average speed during a zone 2 ride outdoors is usually around 27 to 30km/h and I ride on a pretty flat surface(100km distance with 600m elevation). I am using the garmin vector 3s pedal and it has zero torque after calibrating before each ride. What I noticed is that the riders who are based in the same area as I live have a higher average speed with the same power I produce and range from being lighter than and heavier than me(for reference my weight is 65kgs, my FTP is 4.8w/kg and 315w in terms of power).

I had a giant propel advanced 0 2016(an aero bike) which I sold and now have a trek emonda alr 2019 and I did not notice any difference in average speed during a zone 2 ride so I might have to rule out the factor that it is my bike which is slowing me down. I have tried getting aero on the bike but still it didn’t make any difference. I would like to know some other strategies used to increase average speed. I am also aware that it depends on the terrain.

It could be that many of the riders you are seeing in your area are riding with others during their rides. If they are it is much easier to keep a higher average speed when rotating pulls and drafting. Also, the speed you can ride for 30-40km is much higher than you could for 100km simply due to power demands. All things being equal, on flat courses the only way to be faster for the same power is to be more aerodynamic, and for that I’d recommend starting with yourself rather than the bike. Your position is something like 60-70% of the total aerodynamic drag.

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As above, if others in your area are doing group rides then it’s a meaningless comparison. Weather conditions have a big part to play as well. And different PMs can have big discrepancies (are you sure it’s actual power not Strava estimated power?)

Assuming you are actually having to work harder for your speed:

What wheels and tires are you on? That can make a fairly big difference. E.g. All else being equal I typically reckon about 2kph difference between my nice wheels (Zipp 404s with GP4000s and latex tubes) and my winter/training wheels (Mavic Open Pro rims with Gatorskins). Position makes a big difference - are you comfortable riding on the drops for extended periods of time? If not maybe worth seeing a bike fitter. Clothing also makes a surprising amount of difference, a snug fitting jersey is a lot more aero than something loose and baggy.

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as @danejackson stated position on the bike makes a huge difference. My current set up has me 2-3kph (1.5-2mph) faster on the flats than my old bike. I worked a bit on improving my flexibility and being more comfortable riding with my elbows at 90 degrees while on the hoods. For reference I average about 31-33kph (19.5-20.5mph) at about 200-210 watts. I have an Argon 18 Nitrogen (aero bike) with older Zipp 404s w/ conti gp4000sII tires. Wind also plays a HUGE role. A slight headwind can slow you down tremendously.

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Buy a mountain bike so you care less about average speed :slight_smile:

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I’m 5’6", 63kg, and have an FTP of about 270.

I’m riding a Emonda ALR w/ Reynolds Assault wheels and Conti GP5000 tires.

I will average 32-34 km/h on solo road rides generally when I’m averaging about 200-210 watts with a normalized power somewhere around 230-240 watts. When I’m out riding, I basically ignore the wind and pace myself on power. I ignore my speed and try to maintain steady power regardless of if I have a headwind or a tailwind. This means I’ll often be doing 24 kmh into a headwind or 48 kmh with a tail wind.

I do like to start my rides with a tailwind though, I find that this allows me to warm up at rather low power output and still maintain speed. Once I’m warmed up, I can really hammer it into the headwind on the way home.

Generally, I ride on the hoods with a pretty decent bend at the elbow. My stem is slammed, but it doesn’t look that aggressive as I’m short.

Another thing, I tend to pick routes with as many right hand turns as possible and as few left hand turns as possible. This means that I don’t have to slow down and re-accelerate very often. As such, when I look at my zones afterwards, I spend less than 2% of my outdoor rides coasting.

If I pick poor routes or get stuck in traffic my average speeds can quickly drop.

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Got a Strava screenshot of an example route with ride stats? Something is definitely up with your average speed but hard to diagnose with the numbers and route. Thinking about riding solo…

You should be a 21-22mph hero with your numbers and route, no question about it. You should be able to do 24mph+ rides on hilly routes for an hour and on flat routes, you should be a face-melter!

Even in a 19mph headwind for a huge portion of your ride, and harsh road surfaces, you should still be doing between 19 to 20mph on a hilly route. Real example of what your ride should look like in the poorest of conditions:

Just messing around doing a 3x20 with recovery valleys etc, will land you a 19 to 20mph average speed, and that’s for a heavy set guy not being aero. Something’s up, you should be a rocket! But it can be troubleshooted, and probably very easily.

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I agree, I do most of my training on dirt roads with an endurance road bike with 33mm tires. I’m generally not very aero as I’m up on the hoods most of the time. I’m around 16-17mph (27kph) in zone 2 (avg power 190-200).

What is your average power for these rides? I ask because your FTP is significantly higher than mine, yet your speed seems to be a bit lower.

my average power is usually my lower zone 2(200w) but I’ve got 2 screenshots of rides with similar elevation. For the one with 30.5kph average speed, I was pretty close to a TT position but that was not comfortable.

To clarify, my max speed was not 107km/h. I was going under a bridge where my gps lost satellite connection and was displaying some abnormal speeds.

:shushing_face::zipper_mouth_face: If anybody ever asks: you hit 107km/h. :muscle:

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lol 4sure!!

There is a Strava plugin for the Chrome browser called Stravistix. It will show you advanced stats such as your average climbing speed, average speed on flats etc. If you/we have this data we can find out if your power is being spent at the wrong times, ie too slow on the slow parts, and too fast on the fast parts. Doesn’t make a huge difference on short rides but on 100kms that’s a lot of potential speed loss.

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/elevate-for-strava/dhiaggccakkgdfcadnklkbljcgicpckn\

We also need your bike, wheel set and clothing. Riding position photo would be great also. Apologies if this all sounds a bit serious and onerous, but it can be worth it! :slight_smile:

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I know you mentioned your rides are pretty flat - could you include the distance and elevation gain for the two ride summaries you posted above?

Another, unrelated, idea could be your power meter reads high which could account for the discrepancy in speeds. When you do a hillier ride do you find your times on segments are consistent with someone with a 4.8 w/kg?

I ask because everyone here will, rightly, focus on aerodynamics on a flat ride - but without seeing your position, knowing a whole lot about your ride style, your rolling resistance, and even whether or not you have autopause turned on your head unit it is all a lot of guesswork. Whereas going uphill there are many fewer factors at play and you could eliminate or identify some key factors.

Next, in my experience, if you’re really chasing a high average speed, the biggest thing you can do is never stop pedaling and really keep that effort going the whole time. It is super easy to drop down to 50 or 75 watts on a false flat downhill and might even be more efficient, but it is giving up some relatively easily achieved speed

Lastly, who cares about average speed? It’s sort of a glamour metric in most situations. The ride is what the ride is - if you’re getting what you want to out of a given ride then keep at it - whether that’s having fun or hitting your intervals targets or somewhere in between - average speed is a bit like chasing mileage goals for the year - it’s fine, but it doesn’t tell the whole story and there are probably more meaningful goals to chase

While the focus on a metric like average speed has it’s own debate, there’s been some good ideas thrown out here to help you find a way of bringing it up on rides where you’re not pushing it hard (i.e. zone 2).

Perhaps you’re looking at the marginal gains aspect of improving your average speed (the icing), when you likely need to simply keep focusing on improving your fitness (the cake). I had a look at your profile and I have to say that you are an excellent and dedicated cyclist. Serious kudos for your consistency and you’ve stuck to it.

You’ve also been been bumping your FTP manually for quite some time. When was the last time you did a ramp test or 8/20min test to assess your FTP?

Can you provide some details on your equipment set up? What power meter are you using indoors and outdoors? What trainer are you using indoors? I noticed you don’t record HR very often, and this can sometimes help a lot in understanding how hard you actually are working and is it aligned with your Zone 2 power.

I am however remarkably baffled by your average speed given your level of fitness. Please don’t take this the wrong way, I’m only trying to provide insights into helping you get faster, but your average speed on outdoor rides is astoundingly slow for someone with an FTP of 4.8 W/kg. You realize your FTP places you comfortably as the same level of fitness of a Cat 1 racer and close to domestic professional riders.

Thanks! I am using the garmin vector 3s powermeter. When caliberating, I always ensure that my torque on the pedal is 0.0. Even I am quite surprised that I am not able to have a high average speed but I have a data from a recent fondo/organized ride I can provide. It was a race pace for the second half and I was not doing any work on the front but was hanging on to professionals and cat 1 racers. The last time I have done any ftp test was a while ago(I think in January) and haven’t assessed my fitness ever since then.

Here is the data from that ride. https://www.trainerroad.com/career/yajvans/rides/56062012-morning-ride. Normalized power was 231 for the second half(race pace) and the average speed for that was 32.4kph.

I am also surprised that I am able to maintain my weight(65kgs) as I was 70kgs before. I checked with a different weighing machine this afternoon and it was 66kgs so not a big difference.

edit: my indoor setup is a tacx neo smart trainer but I usually ride with my garmin vector 3s powermeter.
edit2: while caliberating, is having 0.0 torque fine or should it be more or less?

edit3: If my powermeter were to be wrong, I am ready to accept that I am not that strong but would like to know how am I in the right zone and what should I be doing to match my indoor and outdoor efforts.

Will do that but first I would like to know if my powermeter settings are ok

Why is the speed so important for you.
Enjoy your new bike and go out and cycle.

because he wanna go FASSSSSST. I guess i understand him. Starting my commute last year all i wanted was to break the <1hr threshold. Now i’m doing it consistently and it’s a huge ego boost. And that’s on my heavier, thicker tire’d, commuter bike.

I’m a bit overweight. At about 2.3w/kg on my FTP and i definitely CANNOT avg those speeds the OP is talking about in z2.

But i’ve noticed that in my 2nd year, my avg speeds have gone up about 2km/h, sometimes more. And i’m less burnt out after those rides. So the gains come in different packages. Could be faster recovery. Could be better handling of headwinds. Etc etc. I’m guessing as your different aspects of fitness get stronger, your average speed will increase accordingly

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I mean… everyone focuses so much on increasing their FTP, but why? Isn’t the idea that if your FTP is higher then you can go faster?! So really everyone’s ultimate goal, who trains, is to have higher speeds! Sometimes, it’s good to step back and see what you can do to go faster without any additional FTP gains.

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