What with the snowy conditions recently, coupled with a nagging cold, I have missed the last two consecutive rides and put a small dent in my hopes of shifting my festive lard quickly and getting at least 150 miles on the clock each month (I think with our first baby due in April that was always going to be wildly optimistic!). What this small enforced layoff has enabled me to do, however, is take some time to look at some basic ride statistics for January.
The one thing that really struck me, above all else, was that whilst I’m close to averaging 10 mph, I couldn’t quite seem to crack the double-digit barrier last month. So how much more effort is really needed to hit the magic mark?
I suppose I should say that I don’t know whether an average of 10 mph is a magic barrier for mountain bikers, but personally, and socially amongst us Moles, I think we hold that figure as representing a fast and flowing ride. Some sniffing around other sites would suggest it is to the average recreational MTB’er, what high 90s averages and a goal a game are to Pro darts players and football strikers respectively. So what of the statistics then?
Well, I did a cat’s whisker over 130 miles in January with individual average ride speeds ranging from 8.7mph through to 9.4mph. It probably doesn’t come as much surprise to regular riders of the North Downs that my lowest ride average was through heavy gloop, whilst the frozen trails of a few weeks back can account for a reasonably zippy average of 9.4.
Armed with a level of evidence that would leave Quincy feeling uneasy down at the DAs office (yes, I’m a student of the 90s), I firmly expect to be pushing, even breaking dare I say, the 10 mph ride average on drier trails. But what do I have to do consistently to break it all year long? And yes, I know the answer is basically go faster.
It goes without saying that I need to improve my general fitness, which will ultimately be the one true factor involved. Ground conditions have been covered already and must play a part in the small differentials observed throughout January which gave the average Surrey biker a plethora of riding conditions – snow, heavy frost, rain and subsequently lots of mud.
Improving my average speed by as little as 0.6mph on an average Sunday ride would have given me that 10mph average, which sounds so minimal you kick yourself for missing it. However, in my totally non-mathematical, non science-led world, I have a nagging feeling that it’s a bigger leap than I think.
As you may have guessed by now, these are more ramblings from my desk, rather than a carefully considered argument or article on the merits of fitness, cadence and timings, but I hope in a way this can stimulate some interest among our regular readership. I wouldn’t be as vulgar as Mrs Merton to suggest we need a mass debate, but it would be interesting to know if anyone with an ounce of scientific and mathematic ability can provide some insight.
As the title of this article suggests, at the end of the day it probably just comes down to the old adage, ‘no pain, no gain’.