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Fantastic Springtime Tip for Increasing Cycling Speed Average (If you don’t have a mountain in your back yard)


March 2014

I’ve gotten a few comments on my Noob’s Guide to a 23 mph average post that made an addendum a bit of a necessity and considering that I’ve already added to that post three times, I figured I’d just write a new one to cover the one thing that absolutely transformed my summer cycling performance and enjoyment – and is exceptionally simple.  Before we get going, I wrote simple, not easy, for a reason.  Easy, this is not.

Increasing your average speed, for anyone who has ever tried, isn’t easy – especially going from 18-19 mph to 20-21 mph (solo, relatively flat roads).  There are two aspects to doing so that are absolutely crucial; the ability to get used to being uncomfortable (or to work harder) and leg strength.

The best thing I’ve found for both that translates to big gains on the flats is climbing mountain roads.  If, however, you don’t have a mountain road that you can climb off of your driveway, I have developed a way to cheat that training on relatively flat roads.  We’ve got a couple of decent climbs in my neck of the woods (though I have to ride 20 miles to get there) but if I don’t have a few hours to get there, climb the hills a few times and ride back, there are steps I can take to get a fantastic workout in on my normal 20 mile daily ride that pays huge dividends within a few weeks.  Do this correctly and you will improve your overall speed (average), your ability to climb tougher hills and your overall fitness.

First, this assumes you are indeed already a cyclist – that you ride your bike frequently already so we don’t have to get into the whole “check with your doctor so you don’t croak” thing.  If this is not the case, if you’re not already in shape, consult with your doctor, your nurse, your nanny, local government official, Obamacare Death Panel Advisor™ or priest before attempting physical exertion that might cause you to croak – because this simple tip will challenge you…

Do this once or twice a week:  On an otherwise normal training ride, take a few minutes to warm up till you’re at your normal cruising speed, then every time you approach an incline, rather than downshift to an easier gear, up shift one or two gears, and attack that hill (out of the saddle) until you pass the crest of the hill.  Then soft-pedal (maintaining your speed) to catch your breath on the way down the back side.  If I don’t have a back side of the hill to go down, sad to say, you’re bummin’.  No rest for you, downshift to your cruising gear and maintain your speed (this is how I do it at least).  The idea is to attack every single incline on your normal training route – even if you have two in a row (I have several of these and they suck).  You want to pick up speed going up the hill rather than slow down.  Basically, it’s an interval on top of a climb.

This simple tip is so awesome, I’d be amazed if you didn’t see tangible results in as little as two or three weeks.

Happy cycling, and good luck.  This one isn’t for the weak-willed, this one hurts.

Oh, I almost forgot…  We’ll call them Hill Sprints.



  1. […] Fantastic Springtime Tip for Increasing Cycling Speed Average (If you don’t have a mountain in… […]

  2. meganjanicke says:

    Sounds brutal. I like it.

  3. Ryan says:

    This is a great tip. I’d been doing 5 minute standing sprint intervals on my trainer this spring in-between my busy work schedule (60-80hr) workweeks and ski touring. I questioned the effectiveness of this until now. Only about 21 rides in this season and I’m regularly pushing 20.5+ on 25 mile rides and 20+on the 40+. Theres one horse at work who used to push 25+ on a regular basis and I’m trying to shoot for that…just seems unattainable at this point. I read your other post about getting to 23. Any other tips? Luckily for me I enjoy the brutality of the pain cave.

    • bgddyjim says:

      I’ve got the same problem… It seems getting from where we are to 25 requires a level of suffering that I’m just not capable of attaining.

      I do have one other tip that I’ve been really big on lately: My easy rides are too hard and my hard rides are too easy… I’ve covered the hard rides and I just don’t know how to improve much beyond where I’m at there, but I slowed down my easy rides considerably – I used to be between 18 & 19 average on the easy days. I’ve since taken to riding with my wife so the easy days are down to 16-16.5 and it’s made a noticeable difference. I was in September form on June 1st and this spring was horrible for cycling. So, humorously enough, my tip is to make sure and slow it down a couple of times a week. If that’s solo, you should be riding slow enough (maintaining your 90 cadence) that you would be embarrassed if one of your cycling buds saw you riding that slow. It works.

  4. […] I’d lose a bit of my power over the cold months, but I could build it back come springtime.  Especially with hill sprints. […]

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