Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Scream if you want to go faster

Posted by Lee | February 5, 2009 | 5 comments so far

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’.



About the author

As Baz Luhrmann said in his Sunscreen song: look after your knees, you'll miss them when they're gone. Well, until they do finally give up the will to live and screech to a halt like a knackered bottom bracket, I'm just going to keep riding because that's what I love.

Whilst I'm more full time parent and part-time biker these days, I still make the best of the time family life affords me, even if the fitness yo-yos massively.

I ride a Cotic Soul, which is currently single-speeded, and also a 2010 Trek EX-8 for drier times.

We are a pretty lucky bunch to live in such close proximity to the Surrey Hills, which gives us an embarrassing amount of trail choice. Some of my all time local favourites have sadly now been 'decommissioned', but with the likes of BKB, Summer Lightening and China Pig, there's still plenty to smile about whichever way you turn.

There are 5 comments on ‘Scream if you want to go faster’

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  1. Dave says:

    On the face of it a 6.4% increase ought to be easy to muster but I suppose one aspect to consider is how close are we to terminal velocity!! Hell I know I can’t keep up with Matt “I’ve lost my mojo” when he’s having a good week.

    So that means you can’t increase the maximum speed much. Therefore in my equally crude way of looking at the stats does that really mean that we have to increase our slowest speed by 12.8% to make up?

    Thinking about that, I reckon it’s a tough call especially if we’ve been through in a few “tricky” bits where we need to stand around, scratch some body part or another and make an “educated” decision as to the relative sense of a particular line.

    However, the rower and eliptical trainer in the garage are there for a reason…

  2. Matt says:

    In my experience average speeds are the hardest things to influence substantially.

    You’d think it would be easy but in actual fact it depends on so many variables. Length of ride, time of ride, ground conditions, weather, your fitness etc. In practice, I reckon 9mph average is not bad, my best over a 26 mile solo round trip was 10.5mph and I was properly wibbly after that.

    So I’d say 9.5mph average is good going and means your January average is not bad. Of course, maintaining that over many miles is a challenge in itself.

    If we actually did that then our Sunday rides would be over in around 2 and a half hours which means that our average 4 hour ride involves an awful lot of standing around talking! Less of that is the quickest way to gain speed but where’s the fun in that?!

  3. Muddymoles says:

    Ride report: Sunday 8 February – Bookham to Reigate Hill

    With 13 inches of snow earlier in the week, only the committed were out for a Sunday ride from Bookham to Reigate Hill.

  4. mike61 says:

    Forget it… just have a good time on your bike and treat it as relaxation.

    Some days I feel like a trail god and some days I’m really struggling, but whats important is laughter therapy resulting from a social time with a like minded mates.

    All this training and speed malarky passes me by. But if its your bag then good luck…with every passing year age is against you.


  5. Related: Ride report: Sunday 8 February - Bookham to Reigate Hill | Rides | Muddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

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