This is not meant to come across ignorantly or demeaning to other people I've cycled past.

When I come across other cyclists in long or short rides, I feel like I'm holding back to save hurting their feelings. It doesn't matter if they are commuters or group riders with rapha jerseys and bikes I can't afford. I have a used Bianchi that I got for £500 from a colleague at work. So it's nothing to write home about and is a very basic gear setup. It's a hybrid bike.

For example, there was a solo rider on my way to work and he looked to be putting in an effort on a climb. I didn’t get too much of a look at the bike, but it looked like a giant TCR. And he wore the normal cycling bib and jersey. I was wearing baggy joggers and somewhat loose jacket. I don’t know how long he's been riding nor the amount of time he has been riding for this specific ride. I got past him in no time and never saw him again after that.

Before I got my bike I walked everywhere. At the gym I could easily lift a massive weight with my legs. My legs have always been "big" and it wasn't due to my weight.

Sorry, I'm kind of stressing myself out about this. Do I have above average cycling legs unintentionally or did I just happen to condition my legs to be this way? Is it genetically a thing? None of my family have ever cycled, but yet I can go past everyone I meet in the streets that are cycling.

Before anyone says anything, I am not putting effort in to go past anyone; I'm going at my normal pace.

  • 1
    Is there a test for "Increased hepatic gluconeogenesis: " ? pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
    – Mazura
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 0:32
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    Some people have put in 300-700km at pace in the 6days prior to you overtaking them. If slower, just assume they're on thier 160th km for the day 🤷🏻‍♂️ Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 1:58
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    Sign up for Strava, find some local segments and try for the KOM. You answer will come fairly quickly.
    – mattnz
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 5:54
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    Politely, this is the most impressive Humblebrag I've seen lately. Keep working to better yourself and surpass your own times. When you feel ready, try entering a local bike race that suits you and your preferred riding. Most races have some way to account for new riders to make the sport more accessible. Put yourself out there and give it a go.
    – Criggie
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 12:28
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    @Criggie I just read this again, and honestly it comes across as simple "cat 6 cyclist" bragging. Until you get a license, pin on a number, actually race, and get dropped like every first-time racer not on his way to being a pro, you don't know what fast is. The cyclists who he's "holding back to save hurting their feelings" probably don't care how fast this (person) is riding. Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 21:03

7 Answers 7


If you really want to find out, look for a local time trial route and see what people can do on that.

There's also an advantage coming up behind someone - not so much the aero advantage as you have to get close for that, but the knowledge that there's someone to catch up with - your head goes into race mode, even just a little, but theirs doesn't.

Some riders have all the gear but no fitness. Others are having off days. I've seen the effects you note from both sides. Within the last few days I've blasted past 2 roadies uphill while on my shopping bike with a big backpack, and struggled to make much headway at all on my faster but still heavy bike after wearing myself out earlier in the ride (140km with some rough gravel). Flat out on the TT course near me I might average 21mph for half an hour, commuting on the same bike little more than half that unless I'm rushing to get somewhere. But my fast pace would be almost last looking at events on that course; winners are 50% faster than me.


Daniel, what is your actual question? Us strangers on the internet cannot tell you if you are genetically gifted, you must test your biology yourself.

I guess the best you can expect from this community is to suggest such tests to you:

  • VO2 max
  • red blood cell count
  • levels of hepatic gluconeogenesis
  • hematocrit level

Community members, please add to and edit this list of genetic tests.

Any of these tests could tell you whether you have genetic strengths regarding cycling.

But, the fact you came to the internet to rant about all your "stress" from overtaking commuters, suggests that you may be more interested in the competitive man versus man aspect of cycling, rather than just knowing whether you have some certain set of genetics.

So you should get a speedometer or an app which can serve as such, Strava being the best choice because it is built with cyclists in mind and will let you directly compare times and review rides.

Once you are able to track your speeds and your distances, then you will know where you lie in the world of cycling.


Get a power meter or borrow a bike with one.

Bicycling is all about power in relation to your body weight and aerodynamics. Measuring your watts per kg will answer your question. Don’t just measure your maximum power (sprint) but measure at least a 20 minute effort.

There are a lot of reasons why seemingly fit riders might ride slow: Easy training ride, casual group ride, injury, long&slow training ride etc. Don’t assume that everyone you meet is in race mode ;)

The same applies the other way around: Somebody doing two minute interval training can pass you at twice your speed going up a hill. But they are only doing that for two minutes.


Daniel I can understand what you are trying to say.

I have an entry level road bike (2019 Trek Domane SL5, No aero wheels/bars), usually ride in basketball shorts, and a cheap T-shirt while being able to hit 25 MPH or more.

Here is me with my basketball shorts on a normal ride not trying to do anything different for the camera (Full disclosure I have the camera to capture road incidents as I primarily ride on the roads. Sometimes the footage is interesting enough to share):

With that said there are circuit racers that will ride 35 MPH+ on flats and can hit above 40 MPH on flats. That blows my mind.

Here is also an olympic cyclist powering a toaster to also provide some context.

So back to you, without knowing stats like what FTP you are putting out, avg. speed, age, how far you can ride, goals, etc. it is hard to say if you are above average.

You could use an app like Strava to ride a route that others have ridden and see if you can ride it faster. I personally like to try to focus on beating my own PRs vs. trying to ride someone else's ride, but to each is their own. This may be a way for you to compare your fitness with others short of doing a race.

You could also get a power meter, see the power you are putting out over a set amount of time, and then compare that to the pros along with using it to help train.

Bigger picture, I would suggest this for you:

  • There are riders who are faster and better climbers than you and me. So think about what they are thinking when they pass or do not pass us. Also, think about age differences too. I know some riders 1.5 times my age that probably are faster than me for various reasons, but some may also be slower. Also, you many not know how far the other riders have ridden when you are passing them. My ride speed for a 50-75 mile ride is slower than for a 25 mile short ride, and I am probably not going to go race someone in the middle of the ride just to prove a point at the risk of not being able to hit my distance goal. So some of those people in full kit may just be pacing themselves.
  • I would not concern yourself with other riders who are not in your riding group. Pass them if you want, wave to them, make friends, whatever.
  • If you do ride in a group and you happen to be the fastest person, don't leave someone behind. Part of riding in a group is working together and staying as a group for the whole ride vs. leaving someone miles behind. Honestly, I get good training riding with slow riders too and the slower riders benefit by being pushed by faster riders. I usually can either work on base miles or I push a much harder gear at low cadence to do strength work when riding in a slower group. Now if riding that slow bothers you, then you should find another group that is faster to ride with or ride alone. However, don't be that guy or gal that is like I am going to try to ditch another rider just to show off.

Hopefully that gives you some perspective on things.

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    The Olympic video was made as a statement for reducing electricity and petrol usage. If you're not trying to power a specific toaster, you can set a newspaper on fire in about 15 seconds with a bicycle and some toaster wire connected via a DC motor. I have distilled half a litre of water with a homemade BSO contraption. (I feel like I sweated more than half a litre in the process, though.) And I'm nowhere near as fit as you. Commented Dec 30, 2020 at 15:52
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    Remember that the person you are about to pass may already be 100 km into their ride, or is doing intervals.
    – Eric S
    Commented Dec 30, 2020 at 18:25
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    @TudeProductions I once passed the same person four times within a couple of miles. Of course the other cyclist was doing intervals and passed me four times too.
    – Eric S
    Commented Dec 30, 2020 at 21:42
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    You sailed right through that stop sign at 0:51.
    – msh210
    Commented Dec 30, 2020 at 23:06
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    being able to hit 25 MPH or more Umm, we can see the grade on your video. ;-) Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 7:12

Yes, it's your DNA

Case in point, a housemate of mine cycled everywhere - he had a good bike and we lived in a hilly area. His friend who was not a regular cyclist came to visit and borrowed an average bike. They decide to go on a tour of the area. I happened to watch as they set off. By the end of the street, the visitor was way ahead without even appearing to try whilst my housemate was standing in his saddle trying to keep up.

Usain Bolt with zero training would run faster than 99% of the world's population.

It's only when you compete against people who are equally gifted DNA-wise that you will see your shortcomings. That's when training is necessary.

Life isn't fair and some people are better at some things without trying. P.S. I speak as someone who is not athletically gifted. I used to come last in cross-country runs at school. I did however do well at weight lifting. Body proportions and muscle type are all important.


It's almost all down to training. Many people don't ride regularly, even when they own a top bike and racing gear, while other ride to work daily. An untrained rider probably does averages between 15km/h and 20km/h, daily commuters average at least 20km/h in the city, more when there are no traffic lights to stop at. As such, it's common for daily commuters to always be the ones who do the overtaking.

However, if you want to deflate your head, just take a look at professional races: These guys can average in the range of 40km/h on 200km courses because they trained hard for that (and maybe did something forbidden, too). That's not just twice as fast as a daily commuter, it's actually more than four times the power output. So, unless you are averaging more than 30km/h, you are nowhere near your physical limits.

(I was never able to average more than 26km/h, but I certainly have a lot of experience in overtaking other cyclists. Simply because I fall into the daily commuter category.)

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    You cannot claim anything about other people's physical limits. There is a lot in the genes too and neglected training during childhooed and development cannot be reversed. Besides, even my friends from the sport club, one of whom even started in the elite category of FIS Ski Classics and wins many amateur events, do NOT normally average 30 km/h. Perhaps your area is exceptionally flat? Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 9:15
  • I think it's not just training. From what I've read I've understood that you ride significantly more than I do, and I don't have any problems averaging 30 km/h for around 100 km solo on flattish route.
    – ojs
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 9:35
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    @ojs Well, yeah, commuting kilometers are generally crap for building speed. With only about 1km to go before you have to stop at the next red light, your body simply does not get into endurance speed mode. I've seen the effects of that when I switched to a longer route with only two stops over 9km: I got faster quite quickly, simply because of that longer uninterrupted stretch of exercise. Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 10:03
  • @VladimirF Yes, my area is almost as flat as a pancake, no elevation meters to be gained at all. And, of course, I assumed flat terrain in my numbers because hills can drop your average arbitrarily low. Only flat terrain average is comparable. Btw, neglected training during childhood is definitely not "in the genes". It's simply training you didn't have. Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 10:08
  • It is the training you didn't have but is no longer in your physical limits. No matter how hard you train, you cannot overcome that. Regarding the terrain, few people have the luxury to test what they would average an sn obsolute flat. I, in particular, have no idea what I would average. I rarely can go below 1% of average gain and can perhaps do 25-26 on short rides when pushing hard. Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 10:14

It might be, but it's not end all be all.

Why do I think so? I'm in a bit similar situation, in that I can hang on to group rides that average around 35 km/h and ride up hors categorie rated climbs with standard 39-53 crankset. It's not training in my childhood, because I was a bookish kid, dropped out of PE class as soon as I could and got the equivalent of grade C only because I beat everyone who was not in track & field team in 2K run. It might be genes, because my sister pulls off equally implausible results in a different sport, and there have been a few national level athletes in my father's family.

EDIT: Other answer reminded me of a classmate that I had in grade school. He was known to be fast, but nobody knew how fast since nobody could keep up with him. I had bought a bike computer, so he asked to borrow my bike, rode around the block and came back with top speed above 50 km/h. My other classmate said he could have cheated by shaking the magnet in front of sensor, so he did again so that we saw it. To reiterate, he was 12 years old on 3-speed bike. I used to think that I'm normal and that's what talented means.

How to confirm it? Find out the local time trial route and do a self-timed run. If there are open weekly time trials, try participating. Join group rides (but read up on group ride etiquette and pay attention to what others do). See how your results develop. Find out if there have been athletes in your family. The other answers have already covered why passing someone doesn't mean a thing, and they are right about it.

What to do about it? There's no shortcut to success. If think about serious competition, remember that you're up against people who have the same mutations and lifetime of training behind them. It's not impossible to start later in life, but manage your expectations, prepare to dedicate all of your free time to exercise and decide if it's worth it.

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