How to Increase Your Average Speed on the Bike

Two days, the same route, similar conditions, and two very different results. Here are the numbers from my Thursday ride:

Type: All Around Ride — Climbing, Descents, and Flats

Distance: 29.0 miles
Time: 1:35:30
Average Watts: 173 watts
Normative Power: 206 watts
Total Work: 978 kJ
Average Speed: 18.4 mph

And here are the results from my Friday ride. Again, same course and conditions:

Type: All Around Ride — Climbing, Descents, and Flats
Distance: 29.0 miles
Time: 1:28:28
Average Watts: 197 watts
Normative Power: 222 watts
Total Work: 1,045 kJ
Average Speed: 19.7 mph

So let’s do a simple comparison. My average power output was 24 watts higher, and the normative power was about 16 watts higher. The average speed on the ride was 1.3 mph faster and consequently, the time it took us to ride this course was about 7 minutes less. Over 30 miles I will take 7 minutes any day.

The conditions were real similar. There was very little wind either day. I doubt I had improved my fitness levels over a 24 hour period, so let’s take that out of the equation. What happened from Thursday to Friday? I think I know…

I just rode harder. I decided to put together a solid effort and ride the hills. I decided to ride them hard. The descents on this course are pretty solid, but there isn’t much time to be gained there. Where my buddy Shay and I really gained time was in riding the uphills. We climbed today like we were being chased by a dog. We but a real consistent effort in the whole way up each hill and once we crested, we didn’t slow down. We kept pedaling hard and accelerated through to the flats or downhill that was waiting for us.

Do you want to go faster in your next bike race or triathlon? You have to climb hills faster. Once you start to crest a hill, watch and you will see that most triathletes slow down to catch their breath. This is your chance to pass people and drop them. Put in an extra hard effort and ride hard into the downhill or the flats that are waiting for you. Just going hard on these sections is going to gain you some valuable time. In training, make sure you put some of these efforts into your workout schedule so your legs are accustomed to this level and type of effort.

Try this strategy in your next race. Harden up and go for it — it is a race after all. Get up that hill and pedal like  your race depends on it. 

About the Author

I have been participating in running and triathlons for 10 years and love the feeling that training provides. You may not agree with me, but you know you just can't look away...