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Fit Recovery on Cycling: How Fast is Fast Enough on a Bicycle?


February 2017

How fast is fast enough on a bicycle?

There are too many variables to even begin to answer that question in a blog post.  The easy way out, and certainly the funny way out, is to answer simply, “If you have to ask, you’re not there yet.  Pedal harder and/or faster.”

What are your goals for cycling?  Is it just to shed a few unwanted pounds?  How about a lot of unwanted pounds?

Perfect, the correct answer is faster than you want to go.  If your idea of a good ride is 10 miles in an hour, a lot faster than you want to go.

How about if you want to hang with the next group up at the club ride?  How fast is fast enough?

The answer is, “Fast enough to keep up.”


Here’s the ugly truth, all BS aside:  Until you get to the Cat 3 racers (some would argue Cat 2, and I’d probably grudgingly concede that), the main thing getting in the way of getting faster is “want to” and too much butt.  It’s not a magic bike or a magic cadence, or [insert anything that isn’t “pedal harder” here].  It’s effort.

I’d love to pump you up and give you hope of a magical pedal stroke that’ll make you fast as Sagan but the bitch is, if I want to be as fast as Sagan I have to work harder than he does, it’s as simple as that – and that’s where my “want to” hits a big frickin’ wall.  See, if you look at it from an obtuse point of view, you could be under the mistaken impression that one simply has to be willing to hurt equally as bad as the next group up, but that’s not the case at all.  I also have to make up the little bit I’m short too – in other words, I’ve gotta hurt worse than everyone I want to keep up with.  They’re already used to that effort.

I am not immune to the Idontwanna bug either.  I haven’t gotten to the point where I can’t get any faster but I’m beginning to know my limits and I’m quite okay with them.

The truth is, I’m closer to 50 than I am 40 and nobody gives points (or cash for that matter) for being the fastest 45-49 year-old in Genesee County.  I have a great group of guys I ride with who are good people, non-drinkers who happen to be especially fun to ride with.   All I have to do is keep up with them.

What doesn’t matter is some societal figment of my imagination in which I have some mistaken assumption that others look down on me because I’m not a little faster (who would want to live like that is beyond me).

What matters is a smile, because life is hard enough.  I don’t need to make my playtime a job too.  I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t try our best.  By all means we should push our limits, right up until it isn’t fun anymore.  Then back off a hair and call it good.  Happy, fit and healthy will beat fast every day of the week.  And twice on Sunday:


  1. Quan says:

    Love your last paragraph & super true for me. I can *easily* obsess and my playtime a chore… so my current goal is to ride that fine line, like you!

  2. Great post. Keeping things in perspective. I’m happy to be a fast club rider because 15 years ago, I didn’t even own a bike.

  3. Brittany says:

    When I first started running I was so obsessed with my pace, convinced this is what would make me a “good runner.” Fast forward five years and pace is now the last thing I think about. As for cycling, I keep that mainly indoors and do get excited when I max out my spin bike. HA.

  4. […] via Fit Recovery on Cycling: How Fast is Fast Enough on a Bicycle? — Fit Recovery […]

  5. I have no idea! I’ll just keep pushing and (hopefully) get faster and stronger. There are people out there who I will never be as fast as, even if I trained full time, but in the same vein there are others who will never hold my wheel up a hill. Genetics plays a big role at the pointy end (Cat 2+) but “want to” plus hard graft gets us mortals faster!

    I’ll never be “fast enough” but as long as I’m smiling, it’s all good.

  6. OmniRunner says:

    When I race, I always push it. For 5ks I tell people that unless you feel like you are going to die, you’re not running hard enough.
    Once you understand that you’re not going to die, running as hard as you can isn’t a problem.
    The point at which you feel like you are going to die depends on the course and your training.

  7. Rifat_Ho says:

    I love ride on bicycle. Its important to moving a good fit to fast on bicycle. Also we try to Exercise Bike while we have no change to ride a bicycle.

  8. heavyman927 says:

    I think you need to be fast enough to work for someone. You work the front group and if/when you get dropped you work for the next group and on down the line. There will always be someone who thanks you for your work.

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