I almost spit out my milk, through my nose:
“I can only ride 20 mph do I need a tri bike”
The easy answer is, “Of course you do”! But is an extra mile and a half an hour worth
$6,000 $3,000-4,000? “Of course” would be the answer if I were: A) a bike store owner B) a Manufacturer of Tri bikes or C) a triathlete training to race in an Ironman (the full 140.6, not the half) a triathlon.
Because I am none of those, the answer is: “Nope, you need to pedal harder”.
Now, smart Alec responses out of the way, I can feel your pain. Getting above that 20 mile mark solo is not easy – especially considering you already ride faster than most cyclists out there. First of all, remember, you’re talking about overall speed here and unless you’re riding on closed roads your speed will be adversely affected by as much as 1 to 2 mph. Now, if you really cannot pedal your bike faster than 20 mph, start with your cadence – you can go faster pedaling faster on an easier gear, that’s first. I can increase my speed from a tough 20 to an easy 21.5 just by shifting down one gear and picking up the cadence. Next, if you haven’t had your bike fitted, you should have had that done before you bought your bike. Take it to the shop, pay for the fitting, buy the new stem that you’ll probably need, and let them set your bike up the way that will get you the most power. Finally, if those two are already in the bag, slam the stem and get used to riding like the kids half your age. That’s easily worth 1 mph, it’s just not that easy.
Beyond that, there is no amount of Long Steady Distance that will raise your speed. You’ll have to increase your ability to push a harder gear comfortably. The only two ways I know to do this is climb mountains on your bike and do intervals. I would also join a club that averages between 21 & 22 mph over 30 miles or so and try to hang on. I would love to give an easier, softer way, but that is the easiest, softest way.
Whoever you are, good luck and thanks for the laugh.
UPDATE: Elisariva pointed out, and I begrudgingly conceded, that a tri-bike setup does not cost $6,000. LOL. However, she also took exception to the rest of my tongue in cheek commentary about whether they’re necessary to break 20 mph and narrowed that to do I need a triathlon bike to do a triathlon… While I’ll roll over on the cost, and have changed it, the subject matter remains the same: Do you need a Tri Bike to break 20 mph? Nope, I can any time I want to – as long as it doesn’t interfere with recovery rides – gotta have the steady one’s too.