Forgetting average speed and finding my climbing legs

I used to be a major average speed junkie. In many ways I’m still a recovering average speed addict. Oh you went out for a ride? How far? What was your average speed? Questions often asked and often answered like they mattered.

Sure, comparing your average speed can be useful, it can show progress or even prowess but it’s only a small part of the overall ride story.

I once got to a point where I’d pick routes based on being able to hold a higher average and if I wasn’t banging out higher averages I wasn’t having it, sad times I know! All it did was lead me to picking flat or lightly rolling routes with favourable winds,  which turned me into a poor climber. Don’t get me wrong I’m not a rubbish climber, but at 140lbs soaking wet I should be much, much better!

Last weekend I did something I used to avoid. I rode a hill route on my own and on purpose. My final average speed over my 62km ride was 23kph. Yep. That’s a lowly 14.4 miles an hour for you imperial minded folks! Probably my slowest ride in quite some time. But that statistic tells very little!

The route profile tells a much more interesting story!

I climbed roughly 1350m (over 4400 feet of elevation gain) completing five straight reps of my local Cat 3 climb. I paced myself to try and complete each ascent in the same amount of time, by that final time up my legs were feeling pretty heavy.

I didn’t look at any ride metrics until afterwards, I just had the map display on my Garmin (okay, my new Wahoo Bolt) and you know what? I actually enjoyed climbing for a change. I’ll become a hill conquering climbing whippet yet!

9 Comments Add yours

  1. The Omil says:

    Well said. After the ‘everest’ (and the training for it) I’m over 56,000m of climbing for 2017 (185,000 feet) but realise that I have become obsessed with average speed since July. I was thinking about nice flat roads for tomorrow’s ride for exactly that purpose – but will now go for some hills instead (probably better training value too).


    1. Crazy. No way I could contemplate Everesting as five reps of the one hill in a row was enough! Tomorrow I might try and find some flat roads too.


  2. J.E. Lowder says:

    Great job! No doubt you’ll be a KOM Master in no time. I too struggle with ASP (average speed psychosis) and catch myself editing my Strava title to justify why I wasn’t as fast as usual :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha! Yep guilty here of sometimes naming rides to justify lower speeds…


  3. heavyman927 says:

    lol Love it! We are one and the same except …. I’m addicted to other stats. I did a video for my blog called Slow Roll Bike Ride. I just wanted to show why my average was always so low. The ride was 37 miles with 3700 ft of climbing. Average speed? 12.3 mph! I know it’s not impressive climbing wise, but it’s all we have around here. And it was a blast. Maybe my next obsession will be average speed. You’ve left an opening, you know…. :)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Quan says:

    As a MTBer, I don’t pay attention so much to average speed… but I always laugh hearing my roadie friends obsess over it! Good for you for letting it go… enjoy the ride!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I’ve come to realise the most important statistic is the width of your smile!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. bgddyjim says:

    I feel your pain, brother.

    Liked by 1 person

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