So this is my bike (don't laugh). I've had it for about 20 years, still rolls. Lately I've been seeing on Strava or Garmin Connect that I'm just too damn slow vs. everyone else and I don't think the problem is with me, but I'd like to confirm this with you. My average long-term speed is about 15 km/h and 140 BPM heart rate, I hardly ever go on unpaved roads, although I go uphill a lot. Some of my ideas behind the slowness:
- 17 kg, I've changed its accessories but it's mostly the same thing still
- 26" wheels, I believe 1.75" wide (current tyres are a bit less rugged)
- 21-speed. I don't know much about ratios, but going down I miss the gears that would allow me to pedal above 30 km/h (unless I go very high cadence, it feels like my feet are free spinning).
- No lockout on that front suspension.
- Regular pedals and my shoes are skateboarding ones.
- Posture is more upright than not. But I moved the seat to a correct height as I grew. Perhaps the frame matters, as I'm no longer teenage-sized?
- My clothing while technical, looks nothing like road bike wear. It's more like skiing/hiking gear but not tight-fitting. So: wind resistance?
I think I'm a fit person (30-something guy with 13% BF, 20 BMI) - I'm moving every day for almost two years doing various exercises and like to do long distances (with this setup 50+ km is long). However, I think I'm missing something. On level ground, 20 km/h is easy, 25 is a bit unsustainably tiresome, 30 is considered sprint. Yet I see for some people average 30 including uphill. For them, on level ground 30 seems like a casual conversational tempo, even a minimum under which "you are no cyclist" while I'm busting my rear with 170 BPM and 60 cadence... Due to this speed my excursions are mostly just about fun and sightseeing and not what you'd call training.
Here are two of my fastest rides, both in the summer, nice weather, around lakes so relatively flat, low wind, evening or at night, no traffic, very few stops and show 22.1 km/h:
The picture is like 15 years old, but it's the same bike. I was smaller back then. Now the saddle sits pretty high, I can barely reach the ground with my feet. However, the cadence remains :) I have cadence sensor and the average is 56 over an 1500km period. I like to turn the pedals slowly "from muscle" and sail away.
Recently I tried higher cadence, 70-80 but I can only do that by easing up on the gear/ratio and I end up going slower, at a higher heart rate, and my legs don't become sore after rides like that. I guess high cadence is more cardio, while my approach is for muscles.