What Is Average Cycling Speed For Beginners


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The moment you set your feet on the pedals and grab the handlebars, you may feel the adrenal rush to push your limits and ride like the wind. However, let’s not forget that when you are a beginner, it’s essential to go on a comfortable pace and then gradually increase your speed.

So, what is the average cycling speed for beginners? Here’s the answer for you. Most beginner cyclists ride at an average speed of 10-14 mph on the road. However, those who have been athletes or runners before, have a higher level of endurance. They may be capable of sustaining a speed of 15-18 mph or more.

The professional road racers typically maintain a higher speed limit of 25-28 mph on an average (flat pavement). For a beginner cyclist, we feel that an average of 13.5 mph is good enough when riding for longer distances.

Regardless of what your average speed is at the beginning, this is bound to improve and change as you continue riding and strengthen your fitness. Losing a few pounds due to continuous cycling can also make you lighter and help you pedal more efficiently.

Having said that, let’s not forget that the average speed for both beginners and professional cyclists may vary depending on various factors such as fitness level, age, weight, cardio-vascular capacity, the quality of the bike, the type of road, and so on.

When riding on a city pavement, the average speed may also be impacted by the traffic lights and stop signals (depending on the route taken). On hilly terrain, this may vary depending on the type of terrain, distance, weather condition, and so on. Let’s take a closer look at the various factors and their impact on the average speed in detail.

Factors That Affect Average Speed For Beginners

# Route And Climate

The kind of road a cyclist rides on is perhaps one of the biggest factors that determine the speed. For example, if you are riding on a smooth city route with less traffic and hurdles then chances are that you will be able to ride much faster than a route with lots of signals.

Similarly, if you are mountain biking on a less bumpy terrain then you will be able to go much faster than when you ride on a rough and hilly area. Besides that, some areas may be exposed to high winds that offer resistance and reduce your average speed.

Sometimes even gentle winds may hold you back and make it difficult to pedal efficiently. Talking about the weather, the climate condition, whether hot or cold may also have an adverse effect on your average speed.  

#.Type Of Bike

The average cycling speed and efficiency also vary a lot depending on the type of bike you ride on. The old traditional bikes were heavyweight and not as efficient as the current lot. As per the expert cyclists, shifting to a carbon fiber bike can significantly increase the speed by up to 10%.

Furthermore, secondary equipment such as tires can also bring about a difference in the overall speed and weight. Sometimes when you ride a more expensive bike, it has a psychological effect on you and this helps you go faster than usual. However, you are overweight then a few kilos less on the bike will not do much good.  

#. Length or Distance Covered

When you start cycling, your legs will need some time to warm up and you will have a slightly lower average than usual. Hence, if you are riding for an hour or less, the average speed will be considerably less than when you ride for more than an hour.

It is usually observed that the average cycle riding speed is the highest between one and two hours. In the longer rides, the speed starts to decline gradually due to the cyclist getting tired. For beginners, a little more than an hour’s ride made be okay but over two hours can be exhausting.

#. Age of the Rider

Yes, we do believe that age is just a number and when you are extremely fit with a higher level of endurance, age is not a bar. So, we would like to put it this way that the rider’s age and experience both play important roles in determining the speed.

With years of experience on the road, cyclists get a higher level of endurance, flexibility, and inner strength. While the older riders have a tough time climbing the hills and riding on rough terrains, they will be better at maintaining a steady speed on smooth pavements, over longer distances.

We all probably know many older cyclists (40s something) who are as good as the young in their 20s. However, experience counts here. A beginner cyclist who’s on the wrong side of 30 or 40 may find it difficult to maintain the average speed.

#. Riding In Group

When you ride together in a group, efficiency increases automatically. If you are riding behind someone, the wind resistance reduces a lot and you get a lesser impact. Psychological factor also comes into play as you ride along and compete with each other.

The benefits you get with teamwork cycling will vary depending on the conditions in which you are riding. On average, a cyclist’s speed may increase about 20-30% when riding together in a group compared to when he rides solo.

10 Tips To Help Beginners Increase Average Cycling Speed

road-biking

#1. Improve your riding position

As mentioned above, one of the main factors that influence your speed is wind resistance. So, consider changing your riding position so as to reduce the frontal area. This will allow you to cut through the wind more easily.

A good way is to bend the body slightly instead of sitting straight on the seat. Also, tuck your elbows from the side to ensure that you don’t catch a lot of wind while riding. As you change your riding position, you will immediately start seeing a difference.

#2. Are the tires well inflated?

We suggest that you check the tires to ensure that they are well-inflated because only then they will be able to roll much faster on the road. If you are a regular rider, check the tire pressure after each ride because the temperature and slight leaking of air may result in them becoming softer.

If you are a beginner, get it checked by a cycle mechanic before you embark on a long trip. The sidewalls of the tire should also maintain a constant pressure. We suggest that you invest in a quad quality mini pump that can help you with the flat tires or emergencies on the road.

#3. Make less use of the brake

This works on an obvious logic that braking often will slow you down and require you to pedal even harder to get back to your speed. With unnecessary braking, you will only wear yourself down and lower your momentum.

To improve your speed, put a stop to comfort braking when you are rolling on a hill or going downhill. This helps in accelerating the speed and you go a bit faster than usual.

#4. Ride on a drop-handled bar

Sometimes upgrading your cycle and getting a new advanced bike can bring about a world of difference. For example a mountain bike with drop-handled bar can significantly improve your bike handling experience. If you grab the drop instead of the top, it diminishes your aerodynamic drag and helps you go down with speed.

By riding on the drops, you can significantly reduce the wind resistance by 20% as compared to riding on the tops. However, some people find it difficult to reach the brakes when riding in a drop position and others simply do not find it comfortable.  

#5. Go riding on a headwind and return home on a tailwind

As a beginner, riding against the wind may be hard for you and may also wear you out pretty soon. If you wish to go on a long cycle ride, plan your trip in a way that you go out when it’s a headwind. As you will fresh and energetic, it will be easier to handle the wind resistance.

Coming back home with a tailwind will make riding easier and make you feel like a superhero. This will also give a boost to your speed levels and increase your confidence.

#6. Lose a few pounds

If you want to go faster and increase your average speed then we would suggest that you reduce your weight. Becoming a few pounds lighter will decrease the drag and make it much easier to ride against the force of gravity. So, follow a healthy diet and focus on burning fat. Riding cycle extra 30 minutes per week can help you lose as much as 1 lb in a month’s time.

#7. Build Muscles

If you wish to increase your average speed, we suggest that you build muscles and gain strength with gym training. It takes a good amount of time to improve your efficiency as a bike rider and there’s absolutely no alternative for the time spent on your bike. So, practice as much as possible.

If you go cycling regularly, this will help in gradually improving your average speed and the distance you can cover also increases. Good muscle strength also helps in pedaling faster and more efficiently than usual.

#8. Aerodynamic bike, wheels

Yes, money can give you some speed but you have to be careful as a beginner. Some of the things that can help you ride faster are aerodynamics tubing, deep-section rims, aero-profile spokes, and so on. The human body is responsible for causing about 70 percent of the drag, so bringing a change in your riding position will make a huge impact.

#9. Wearing cycling gear

If you want to increase your cycling speed, ditch that old t-shirt and get properly fitting cycling jersey and shorts. As they are made of moisture-wicking materials, you will be dry and comfortable wearing them, thus ride faster and more efficiently. 

For better performance, look for a slimmer garment without any flapping tops. Also, get cycling shoes with cleats that stay fixed on the pedal without slipping so you can pedal much faster.

#10. Interval training

As a beginner, if you are serious about increasing your speed then we suggest interval training. Expert coaches recommend that you aim for a higher speed than your average and maintain that speed for some time before getting back to your normal speed.

With these short bursts, you will be able to slowly push your limits without exhausting yourself. However, you should make sure that you perform interval training on a safe road without much traffic and signposts.

Talking about training, here’s a complete guide on how should a beginner road cyclist train. Those who are looking for a step-by-step road map on what comes after what, they need not look any further. 

Here’s our beginner’s 8-week cycle training program with week by week breakdown of activities.

Step by Step Training Guide For Beginners

You did the research and bought your new bike with everything that goes with it. Being thorough, you even had an expert help fit the bike to your body. It is now time to get on your new machine and ride off into the sunset, terrorizing the roadways.

Wait, not so fast! There is still one question to ask yourself.  So, what is a safe riding routine for a beginning cyclist? To answer this question, we put together an eight- week training plan designed for someone brand new to the sport.

Don’t worry if you have trouble keeping up with riders in the local cycling club. If you follow our program faithfully, you will be catching up in no time at all!

There are several objectives to the plan:

1. Learn basic skills

  • Mounting and clipping in
  • Body positioning
  • Hand positioning
  • Shifting gears
  • Hazard avoidance

2. Increase function and flexibility

When muscles, tendons, and ligaments remain sedentary, they tend to shorten, increasing the likelihood of injury while pedaling. Our eight-week program addresses this problem by using low-intensity workouts for the first two weeks, which allows the joints to gain mobility gradually over time.

3. Strengthen core cycling muscles

There are several primary muscles used to propel your bike forward in an efficient manner:

  • The quadriceps (quads)
  • The abdominals
  • The hamstrings
  • The adductors (inner thigh muscles)
  • The abductors (outer thigh muscles)

The program develops both type I and type II muscle fibers by changing variables such as resistance (gear selection), speed, duration, and force output (speed and resistance combined).

4. Increase aerobic capacity

Not only does the de-conditioned body have less lung capacity than a trained one, but the muscles that allow for expanded breathing are also weaker. Internal and external intercostals play a vital role in an athlete’s ability to use oxygen efficiently.

Our eight-week program gradually increases the time and force output required to not only expand the lungs but also strengthen these important internal muscles. The result is increased oxygen uptake vital to the success of a cyclist.

Be careful not to be in a rush to increase your aerobic capacity. Pushing too hard too fast could result in an overloading of the lungs, which could cause damage to the organs of the respiratory tract.

The outcome of this is not good. Throat infections, bronchitis, or other conditions may set in and put you on the sidelines for weeks.

The 8-Week Program

You will need a quality heart rate monitor like this to make sure your workload is at the right level during the different phases. The last thing you want to do is take your eyes off the road just so you can fidget with your heart rate monitor!

Phase I: Laying the groundwork (two weeks)

Objectives:
Learn basic skills
Improve function and flexibility

Week One

Day one:

Easy. A 40-minute ride on smooth, level pavement. Cadence is 60RPM, increasing gradually to 70RPM. Keep the heart rate (HR) at 60% ( somewhere between 110-120 Beats Per Minute or BPM).

Day two:

Recovery. Gently stretch any sore muscles from the day before.

Day three:

Easy. Same as day one. Now try increasing the cadence to 70-75 RPM while maintaining HR at 60-65%. Concentrate on breathing.

Day four:

Same as day two

Day five:

Rest

Day six:

Long, slow distance (LSD). Develop your type I muscle fibers by increasing your workout to over an hour. Limit the ride to 1.5 hours. Keep HR between 60-65%. If it creeps above 70%, use a lower gear or stop and rest.

Day seven:

Same as day two

Week Two

Day one:

Easy. A 50-minute ride on smooth, level pavement. Cadence is 70 RPM. Keep the heart rate (HR) at 65-70% ( somewhere between 120-125 BPM).

Day two:

Stretch

Day three:

Same as day 1. Try and use the next higher gear while maintaining continuous cadence for the full 50 minutes. Keep HR below 70%. Concentrate on breathing.

Day four:

Stretch

Day five:

Rest

Day six:

Long, slow distance (LSD). Limit the ride to 1.5 hours. Keep HR between 60-70%. If it creeps above 75%, use a lower gear or stop and rest.

Day seven:

Stretch

Phase II: Basics (Three weeks)

Objectives:

Increase function and flexibility
Increase core strength
Expand aerobic capacity

Week Three

Day one:

Easy. A 60-minute ride on smooth, level pavement. Cadence is 70 RPM. Keep the HR at 70% ( somewhere around 125 BPM).

Day two:

Moderate. 90-minute level ride. Cadence is 75 RPM using a higher gear ring. Try and keep HR below 75% during the entire workout.

Day three:

Stretch

Day four:

Easy. A 60-minute ride on smooth, level pavement. Cadence is 70 RPM. Keep the HR at 70%.

Day five:

Rest

Day six:

LSD training. 2 hours continuous 70 RPM cadence. Build aerobic and muscular endurance by resisting the temptation to stop.

Day seven:

Stretch

Week Four

Day one:

Recovery. 40 to 60-minute ride on smooth, level pavement. Cadence is 70RPM. Keep the HR at 60 %. Use lower gear if needed. This should be a leisurely ride.

Day two:

Cruise intervals. 90 minutes. Start with 70 RPM cadence for 10 minutes. Increase to 80 RPM for five minutes. Back to 70 RPM for 10 minutes. Repeat the cycle until you complete 90 minutes. Keep HR below 75%. Use lower gears if needed.

Day three:

Stretch

Day four:

Easy. A 60-minute ride on smooth, level pavement. Cadence is 70 RPM. Keep HR at 70%.

Note:

It may now start getting more challenging to keep your HR at 70%. This is a good thing! You are increasing your fitness level. It is okay at this point to experiment with the higher chain ring.

Day five:

Rest

Day six:

LSD training. 2 hours continuous 70 RPM cadence. HR below 75%

Day seven:

Rest

Week Five

Day one:

Easy. A 60-minute ride on smooth, level pavement. Cadence is 80 RPM. Keep HR at 70%. If HR creeps above 70%, use a lower gear.

Day two:

Rolling Hills. Choose a course with gentle, rolling hills (1-3% grade). Practice shifting gears smoothly as you transition from uphill to downhill. Use a cadence between 70 and 80 RPM. Keep HR below 75%.

Day three:

Stretch

Day four:

Easy. A 70-minute ride on smooth, level pavement. Cadence is 80 RPM. Keep HR at 70%.

Day five:

Rest

Day six:

LSD training. 2 hours continuous 80 RPM cadence. HR below 75%

Day seven:

Stretch

Phase III: Conditioning

Objectives:
Expand aerobic capacity
Increase aerobic endurance
Introduce anaerobic strength endurance training

Week Six

Day one:

Easy. A 70-minute ride on smooth, level pavement. Cadence is 80 RPM. Keep HR at 70%. If HR creeps above 70%, use a lower gear.

Day two:

Cruise intervals, 90 minutes. Start with 80 RPM cadence for 10 minutes. Increase to 90 RPM for five minutes. Back to 70 RPM for 10 minutes. Repeat the cycle until you complete 90 minutes. Keep HR below 75%. Use lower gears if needed.

Day three:

Stretch

Day four:

Easy. A 70-minute ride on smooth, level pavement. Cadence is 80 RPM. Keep HR at 70%.

Day five:

Rest

Day six:

LSD training. 2.5 hours continuous 80 RPM cadence. HR below 75%

Day seven:

Stretch

Week Seven

Day one:

Easy. A 70-minute ride on smooth, level pavement. Cadence is 80 RPM. Keep HR at 70%. If HR creeps above 70%, use a lower gear.

Day two:

Introduction to anaerobic strength endurance. Select a 1/2 mile, moderate hill for this workout (2-5% grade).

Warm-up for 10 minutes at 60-65% HR, then take the hill at about 80 RPM.
Try and keep HR below 85%. Coast back down the hill for recovery. Do between 3-5 repetitions.

You can perform this workout safely every 15 days. As you progress as a cyclist, the hills will get steeper. For now, try not to overdo it.

Day three:

Stretch

Day four:

Recovery. Choose a level surface with no wind for 60-80 minutes. HR is below 65%.

Day five:

Rest

Day six:

LSD workout, 2.5- 3 hours. This is an enjoyable, moderate ride through the countryside. Have fun, and keep your HR reasonable (70-75%).

Day seven:

Stretch

Week Eight

Day one:

An easy 60-70 minute workout at 65% HR, which will get you prepared for the next day’s ride.

Day two:

Race pace. Now it is time to see what you’ve got! It is important to work up gradually to about 85% HR.

Start with 70 RPM for five minutes. Then increase to 80RPM and settle in for another five minutes. As you increase cadence to 90RPM, there will be an increased need for more resistance. At this point, it is okay to work into the higher gears.

Continue into higher cadences while maintaining stability. Try not to let yourself get out of control.

Sustain the 85% HR mark for as long as you can without feeling dizzy or nauseous. Be sure to cool down for a few miles at 60-65% HR to recover.

You can perform this type of workout safely every 21 days.

Day three:

Stretch

Day four:

Recovery workout. Choose a level surface with no wind for 60-80 minutes. HR is below 65%.

Day five:

Rest

Day six:

LSD for up to four hours. Try riding with a group. Keep monitoring your heart rate. Ideally, HR should remain below 70% for most of the trip. Above all, have fun!

Related Questions

How long should a beginner cyclist ride daily?

On a moderate cycling speed, we recommend beginners to ride for at least 30 minutes daily and gradually increase the speed to 45 minutes. This helps riders to build stamina slowly but steadily. For more: HOW LONG SHOULD A BEGINNER CYCLIST RIDE

What is the recommended distance for beginners?

We have mentioned above that the average speed for beginner cyclists is between 10 and 14 mph. On your first week, you may cover a distance of up to two weeks. By the end of the 8th week, you should be able to cover a distance of 10 miles comfortably.

Related Article: Is It Possible To Build Muscles By Cycling?

Ken

Cycling is my source of liberation. The love affair started more than a decade ago when I started cycling for fitness and soon it turned into a passion. The adrenalin rush you feel when you grab the handlebars, put on the helmet, and feel the speed in your nerves is unique in itself.

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