A good way to understand where you currently stand as a rider is to look at the numbers & see how a novice, average & pro cyclist performs when it comes to biking a mile.
So let’s take a look at how long it takes an average rider & a pro cyclist to bike a mile.
A novice cycler typically has average speed of 10-12 mph which equates to reaching a mile in 6 minutes. Whereas a professional cyclist maintains an average speed of 25-30 mph which averages 2 minutes per mile.
Let’s take a look at the math behind average cycling speed and how it affects how fast you can bike a mile:
Maintaining an average speed of 10 Mph = 1 mile in 6 minutes
Maintaining an average speed of 15 Mph = 1 mile in 4 minutes
Maintaining an average speed of 20 Mph = 1 mile in 3 minutes
Maintaining an average speed of 30 Mph = 1 mile in 2 minutes
Now that you understand the numbers behind how long it could take you to bike a mile let’s look at factors that affect your average speed as well as how to improve your overall average speed.
Fastest Mile On A Bike
Most professional bikers have left us in dust all over the world in regards to speed. In September 2018, Denise Mueller-Korenek (a 45 years old cyclist) broke the world record for the fastest biker time. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, she was able to reach a speed of about 184 mph riding on Utah’s salt flats. At that particular speed, she took nearly 20 seconds to bike one mile.
How Long It may Take An Experienced Cyclist To Bike A Mile
A professional and experienced cyclist might achieve riding about 20 miles in an hour. This means that they are able to ride a mile in less than 3 minutes. Professional cyclists are typically much faster than even the most experienced riders. For instance, the average speed of a professional cyclist in Tour de France time trial race was about 31 mph. This implies that a pro rider can travel a mile in about 2 minutes.
Factors That Affect Your Average Cycling Speed:
There are three types of resistance that affect cycling speed which are air resistance, gravitational resistance, rolling resistance. The first is air resistance, According to research 75% of air resistance is from the rider & 25% of the resistance occurs from the bike its self.
There are 2 factors that attribute to this, clothing & riding position. A wind tunnel test has been done by specialized bikes in order to determine the effects clothing has on drag. The results show that fit is the most crucial element to reduce drag & can increase your average cycling speed dramatically. So when trying to improve your average cycling speed avoid baggy clothes & go for something that’s more fitted in order to reduce drag.
Another way to reduce drag caused by you is riding position. Your riding position can have a massive impact on how aero you are. To optimize your riding position simply bend your elbows 90 degrees keeping your forearms horizontal & your elbows tucked in & slightly lower your head between your shoulder blades & keep your back flattened.
25% of air resistance is caused by the bike so spending on making your bike more aero can be well worth it.
Gravitation resistance refers to weight, both weight of the rider as well as the bike. Additional Weight has been shown to reduce cyclist’s average speed dramatically especially when climbing.
Rolling resistance accounts for around 11% of overall resistance experienced when cycling. Rolling resistance can be managed with the right tires, Tire pressure tire tread, tire diameter, tire width, & tire construction all play a major role in rolling resistance.
Your fitness level has a lot to do with your average cycling speed. There are 5 factors to your fitness level which correlate to your average cycling speed. These are your aerobic endurance, muscular speed, strength, muscle power, & muscle endurance.
Aerobic fitness involves maintaining a constant speed at a moderately low intensity but for an extended period.
Improving on your aerobic fitness will:
- Strengthen your heart which will produce more oxygen-rich blood per heartbeat.
- increased lung fitness
- Allow more oxygen to be transported to your muscles by increasing the number of red blood cells produced
- Allow you to breath more efficiently
Muscle speed refers to cadence, cadence is basically the rate in which you pedal. Cadence is measured in revolutions per minute, simply put the number of times you turn the cranks in a minute.
Strength refers to the amount of force you can produce against. Frequent riding on an inclined surface will result in more strength.
Muscle-power is a combination of strength and muscle speed. This is the amount of power you will be able to generate in a short time period around 15-20 seconds.
Muscle Endurance refers to the ability to maintain a certain pace without fatiguing easily.
How To Increase Your Average Cycling Speed:
As mentioned above there are 5 elements of fitness needed in cycling which are aerobic, muscle speed (cadence), strength, muscle power, & muscle endurance.
Intervals are very effective in helping you improve on all these 5 elements due to its intensity. There are different variations of Interval training, which are all effective & each one targeted to suit the rider’s current fitness level. Intervals involve sprinting as fast as you can for a short period of time & then resting for a short period of time before going again. For example, you can do a 2-minute sprint & rest for 2 minutes before going again & repeat this cycle 6-10 times.
Long low Intensity Cycling Sessions
If you want to reduce the time taken to ride a mile then there’s just no avoiding putting in the work. Long low/medium intensity cycling sessions should be the staple of your training sessions. Increasing your long cycling sessions will enhance your endurance which will help keep your average speed consistent without reducing your pace because of fatigue.
Lifting weights will allow you to get fitter by working on individual muscle groups which you cant work while cycling. Mainly your upper body, you’re primary focus while at the gym should be gaining strength which will improve the amount of force in which your muscles will be able to handle & improving how your body handles the intensity.
Optimize Your Aerodynamics
As mentioned above aerodynamics plays a massive role on your overall average speed so reducing drag will definitely help you bike a mile much quicker. To do so first ensure you wear well-fitted clothing, nothing baggy that can increase drag, secondly ensure your riding position is enhanced for maximum aero efficiency.
Improve Your Diet
An important factor that has an affect speed is weight as mentioned above gravitational resistance has a major impact on speed especially when going uphill. When cycling uphill power to weight ratio definitely matters, this refers to the number of watts generated per pound of bodyweight. Reducing your weight can instantly increase the number of watts you generate so make sure that you eat a healthy balanced diet.
Find The Right Bike
Finding the right bike can definitely have a positive impact on your speed. Especially on the resistance aspect. Air & gravitational resistance cause the most resistance when cycling. A good bike can be optimized to reduce air and gravitational dramatically. There are many bikes in the market that have been properly set up to be aerodynamic optimized. As well as lightweight reducing the gravitational resistance aspect.
Well, there you have it, how long it takes to bike a mile depends on your average speed. Your average speed is primarily determined by your fitness level which involves your aerobic fitness, muscle speed, strength, muscle power, & muscle endurance. Other factors that affect speed are air resistance, gravitational resistance, & rolling resistance. Air resistance has been proven to produce 75% of the total resistance from cycling & this can be easily reduced by simply being more aerodynamic.
This involves dressing in more fitted clothing, & improving your riding position. your bike accounts for around 25% of air resistance so making your bike slightly more aero can improve your overall speed. Another factor that affects speed is gravitational resistance which refers to weight. Reducing your body weight or the weight of the bike can make a substantial difference to your average speed. The good news is that you can instantly start improving your average speed by simply following some of the tips provided, there you have it, have fun & stay safe.