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Home » Cycling » Cycling and Pace-itis.  It’s Real… And How to NOT Obsess on Your Average Every Ride.

Cycling and Pace-itis.  It’s Real… And How to NOT Obsess on Your Average Every Ride.


October 2017

I just read two posts, one from a really good friend and one written by a friend of his – both about what we can call Average Pace-itis.  The basic gist is simple;  Cycling enthusiasts place too much importance on Average Pace, choosing routes with prevailing tailwinds, that are devoid of hills, simply so one can pad their stats.  As Average Pace-itis progresses, the cycling enthusiast chooses increasingly easier routes to pad their STRAVA (MMR/Endomondo/RWGPS) stats….  All of a sudden, said enthusiast realizes they haven’t seen a hill in a month because it takes their average pace from 20 mph down to 18-1/2.

I have the very simple remedy.  Unfortunately this remedy comes with more side-affects than a new drug to market.  Fortunately, they’re all good side-affects:  Increased confidence, laughter, increased smiling, a decrease in obsessing over average pace…  Basically, it’s winning, but without all of the bat-$#!+ crazy Charlie Sheen stuff.

See, interestingly, I don’t exhibit any symptoms of Average Pace-itis.  I don’t, because I already practice the answer….

The key is to take one day a week, mine is Tuesday evening, to hammer out an easy route (ours is 29 miles and some change with a total of maybe a couple hundred feet of climbing – 47 km, 65 meters of up), preferably in a group.  The group I ride with was around 20 strong this season and, depending on wind direction and intensity, we could complete that route in 1:23:×× to our best, just a few weeks ago, of 1:18:23 or 22.1 mph for an average (or 35.5 km/h).  Pull out all of the stops, too.  The race bike, easy route, whatever works.  Our route is a loop, and this is the only rule:  You can’t do a Point A to Point B, taking advantage of a tailwind, and call it an average pace.  Doing so, without clarification, makes you a “poseur”, a fake.

Do this, and the rest of the week simply becomes training for the fast night.  Add a lot of climbing, triple the distance and drop the group size down to five or six on a Saturday?  The average pace drops to 18-19 mph (29-30.5 km/h) but hills make one faster on the flat and who cares about a Saturday anyway?  The pace day is Tuesday.

No more Average Pace-itis for said enthusiast.

This has been a public service post for all of humanity, care of Fit Recovery.


  1. heavyman927 says:

    What seems to work best for me is to….get addicted to another stat. 🙂

  2. LoL. Already starting to wonder if runners/joggers do the same thing.

  3. theandyclark says:

    This definitely wanders into my thinking. In my case its more about the calorie burn than the average pace. Really need a better calorie calculator – I have no doubt that hills burn more calories, but if your calculator is all about pace…

  4. Bill Chance says:

    I am the world’s slowest cyclist. But I ride everywhere, especially in the city. It’s what works for me and I have a blast.

    Thanks for sharing.

  5. Brent says:

    Exactly: the only average speed that counts is your improvement over time on a consistent loop ride, where wind effects are minimal.

    The gods laughed at my one blatant effort to pad my Strava stats. One time, we were spending a long weekend staying with friends at the New Jersey Shore (though we were in a far nicer area than the one inhabited by those people on that horrid reality show). Long Beach Island is 19 miles top to bottom and dead flat. I mean absolutely positively dead flat. And the one main road on the island is straighter than any on the Kansas prairies.

    I figured I could average 2-3 mph faster than my normal speed and bring up the average number for the season a little bit. I did the first 3 miles at 20 mph, way faster than my average. Turned around at the north end of the island and started heading south. Hit a 15 mph headwind that kept at me for 18 long straight miles to the south end of the island. I was so beat that I stopped for some (sober) liquid refreshment at the south end. When I got back on the bike, the wind had shifted and I had a quartering wind that was not quite as bad as the headwind I was facing but it certainly didn’t make life any better.

    Net result: 38 miles, 20 feet of total elevation gain on the whole trip, average speed 0.8 mph slower than my running average, all of which was racked up on hilly New England roads with an average elevation gain of 60+ feet per mile. Definitely a humbling experience.

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