I feel the need — for speed

I’m not a fast cyclist. That’s why I ride with the B riders in my club — we just can’t maintain the 18+ mph pace the A riders typically set on our Sunday morning rides. I enjoy going fast, but the descents that let me do that don’t come along all that often. Besides, right now, I’m training for endurance, not speed.

But this evening was different. I hit the Veloway for my usual Tuesday night ride. (Unrelated aside: Road Rash, a blog on the Austin American-Statesman site, did a piece on the Veloway recently. Here’s the link.) My plan for the ride was to hammer the uphills, which are gentle, but still make you work. I would back off on the downhills and flats.

I got through the first mile, which includes one of those uphill stretches, and then hit a fast downhill. I was moving at a good clip, so I decided not to ease off to ride the descent easily. Instead, I kept up the power, and pedaled hard for the first lap (3.1 miles). I finished the lap in just about 10 minutes, 20 or 30 seconds faster than my usual time around the course.

I slowed to an easy spin to get out my water bottle and take a drink. Two cyclists flew past me, one after the other. I put the bottle back in its cage. What the hey — the chase was on!

I figured I’d try to match their pace, which seemed faster than mine on the lap I’d just completed. It looked like they were going to match each other’s pace, without racing. I became third in line. The guy in the Slipstream jersey passed the guy in the Airborne jersey, and I followed. Airborne shot me a look of disdain. We went up the one steep hill on the Veloway, then hit a fast flat section. Our speed was 24 mph. I usually ride 20-21 through here.

Then, my least favorite part of the loop — a curvy incline that scrubs off your speed quickly. I tried to match the pedal strokes of Slipstream, and kept it in the 15 mph range. Usually I slip to 12 here.

On the last section of the course, I passed Slipstream. The ess curve, then the end. I slowed to take another drink. Slipstream went by — his pace hadn’t slowed a bit. Then Airborne passed, looking straight ahead. What the hey — here we go again!

There’s no point in relating a turn-by-turn account of the next lap — or the one after. I never passed those two guys again, but I did stay close. I finished four laps around the Veloway, and figured I’d try to maintain my speed on the three-mile ride home.

Total distance: 17.76 miles. Avg. speed: 17.65 mph (Yes, it took me 22 seconds longer than an hour to complete the ride). Fastest average speed ever for a ride of an hour or longer. Pretty wimpy for the A riders out there, but by keeping up a decent pace through the entire ride — without tiring — I was breaking new ground for me. I’m looking forward to trying this kind of ride again — sometime.


  1. says

    Sounds like a fun ride! “Racing” is always fun! I haven’t been out the the Veloway in a LONG time…and I’ve never ridden my bike out there…just rollerbladed once. I need to get out there and give it a go.

  2. says

    That does sound like fun. I’ve really got to do some group riding so I can have some of this fun. Maintaining new higher speeds is awesome. Yesterday I was able to average 15 for my morning route which is a new high for me. I know it’s not much but you gotta start somewhere.

  3. says

    What you were doing was similar to intervals. This type of workout a couple of times a week will increase your endurance and faster average speed for longer rides.

    Two or three years ago I could do a century with an average speed close to 20 mph. I did one over 20. That sure ain’t the case now by a long shot. :( Was it turning 50 made the difference?

    But this morning I set a new personal best on my commute. I made it in 45 minutes. Average speed was 17.2. Not great but good for my commute. Given that my commuter bike weights 30 plus pounds, I am carrying several lbs of food, cothing etc. It is dark and part of it is on a trail and part through the city.

    My ride normally takes around 50 minutes. But a couple of times a week I try to go all out.

  4. says

    Nothing like a carrot out in front of you to chase down. It’s amazing when I try to match or catch someone in front of me. I look down at the computer to see an average speed I didn’t think I was capable of.

  5. says

    Congrats on the speed – sounds like you had a lot of fun! I’m still new enough at this myself to remember the first time I was in a similar situation. It’s quite a rush – thanks for the reminder!

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