Cycling is a sport that people of all ages can enjoy. However, age can play a significant role in determining average cycling speeds. Understanding how age affects cycling speed can help cyclists set realistic goals and track their fitness progress.
An Overview of Average Cycling Speeds
Before diving into the specifics of age, it’s helpful to have a general sense of average cycling speeds. Here’s a quick overview:
- Casual cyclists often average between 10-15 mph on flat ground. This group includes occasional riders and those cycling for leisure or transportation.
- Regular cyclists can expect to average between 15-20 mph on flat roads. This includes cyclists riding several times per week.
- Competitive amateur cyclists average between 20-28 mph on flat roads depending on fitness level.
- Elite professional cyclists exceed 28 mph averages during races and time trials.
These ranges provide a baseline, but age can shift gears when it comes to your personal average speeds.
Average Cycling Speed by Age Group
|Age Group||Average Speed Range||Key Factors Affecting Speed|
|Children Under 12||5-15 mph||– Rapidly improving with growth spurts- Lack long distance strength|
|Teenagers (13-19)||10-20 mph||– Increased aerobic capacity- Improving leg strength- Well-suited for 20-30 mile rides|
|Young Adults (20-39)||15-25 mph||– Peak cardiovascular performance around 30- Ideal for speed training and long distances|
|Middle-Aged Adults (40-64)||12-22 mph||– Gradually declining aerobic capacity and leg strength- Flexibility may decrease around 50|
|Seniors (65+)||8-20 mph||– More rapid declines in aerobic capacity and leg strength- Balance reactions start to slow<br>- Better suited for 20-50 mile rides|
Your average cycling speed tends to change across the lifespan due to variations in aerobic capacity, muscle strength, and flexibility. Here’s how age impacts averages:
Children Under 12
- Average speeds: 5-15 mph
- Capabilities are rapidly improving during growth spurts.
- Lack strength for high speeds over long distances.
- Better suited for short rides under 10 miles.
- Average speeds: 10-20 mph
- Increased aerobic capacity compared to younger kids.
- Leg strength continues to improve.
- Stamina increases during teen years.
- Well-suited for 20-30 mile rides.
See also: How Long Does It Take to Bike 3 Miles?
Young Adults (20-39)
- Average speeds: 15-25 mph
- Peak cardiovascular performance occurs around age 30.
- Leg strength plateaus around age 25.
- Ideal for speed training and distance cycling.
- 40-100 mile rides are achievable for fit young adults.
Middle-Aged Adults (40-64)
- Average speeds: 12-22 mph
- Aerobic capacity and leg strength gradually decline.
- Flexibility may also decrease around age 50.
- Still able to ride long distances but may need more recovery time.
- 50-80 mile rides are realistic goals.
- Average speeds: 8-20 mph
- Aerobic capacity and leg strength decrease more rapidly.
- Flexibility continues to decline.
- Balance reactions may start to slow as well.
- Better suited for 20-50 mile distances.
As shown above, average cycling speed does tend to decline with age, particularly after age 40. However, staying active can help you maintain fitness and enjoy cycling at any age.
Factors Impacting Cycling Speed by Age
While age-related physical changes do impact average cycling speed over time, several other factors come into play:
- Fitness level – Active seniors can outpace casual teen and adult riders. Regular training maintains fitness.
- Bike weight – Heavier bikes slow children and seniors down on climbs. Lightweight bikes improve speed.
- Terrain – Hills and headwinds require more strength, impacting kids and older riders more.
- Health conditions – Chronic illness, injuries and pain affect cycling performance.
- Nutrition – Proper hydration and diet provides energy for better speed.
- Bike maintenance – Mechanical issues like flat tires slow any rider down.
Maximizing fitness, minimizing bike weight, smart route choices, healthy habits, and bike care can help compensate for some age-related declines in speed.
Optimizing Your Cycling Speed at Any Age
While age impacts average cycling speed, riders of all ages can take steps to bike at speeds that challenge yet suit them:
- Do regular cardio – At least 3 days a week of swimming, running, or cycling builds cardiovascular fitness to boost speed and endurance.
- Include strength training – 2 days a week of lifting weights, plyometrics, or bodyweight exercises keeps leg muscles strong.
- Stretch regularly – Yoga, Pilates or daily stretching maintains flexibility and balance needed for cycling.
- Use proper gearing – Having appropriate gears for your fitness and terrain makes it easier to sustain faster speeds.
- Fuel properly – Eating carbohydrates and protein before and during long rides provides energy for maintaining speed.
- Stay hydrated – Drinking fluids regularly prevents dehydration and fatigue that can slow you down.
- Check bike fit – Ensure your seat height, handlebar position and bike frame size are optimized for your body.
- Analyze your progress – Use a cycling computer or fitness tracker to monitor your average speeds and progress over time.
No matter your age, setting realistic yet challenging speed goals and training diligently can help you become a stronger, faster cyclist. Just be patient and listen to your body as you improve.
What is considered a good average speed for a 50 year old cyclist?
For a recreational yet dedicated 50 year old cyclist, a good average speed goal is 15-20 mph on flat roads. Fitter middle-aged cyclists may aim for 18-22 mph averages during training rides and small group rides.
Do you go faster on a road bike than a mountain bike?
Yes, average speeds are faster on road bikes compared to mountain bikes when riding on paved surfaces. Road bikes have narrower tires with less tread, lighter frames, and more aerodynamic positioning to minimize wind resistance.
Is a higher or lower gear better for speed?
Higher gears allow you to reach faster speeds but require more energy and leg strength to pedal. Lower gears are easier to pedal but limit top speeds. Use your bike’s full gear range to find the right balance of speed versus effort for your fitness and terrain.
Do electric bikes make you go faster?
Yes, electric assist bikes provide motor power that helps cyclists reach and sustain higher average speeds with less effort. But unassisted pedaling speed depends on the rider’s fitness.
How can a 60 year old cyclist ride faster?
A 60 year old cyclist can improve speed by doing cardio and strength training, optimizing bike fit, using proper gearing, fueling well for rides, tracking speed, and gradually increasing distance or intensity. Getting a lighter e-bike also helps compensate for age-related losses in power.
What is considered a fast average speed for a casual adult cyclist?
For a casual adult cyclist riding 1-3 days per week, an average speed of 15-18 mph over flat terrain is considered relatively fast. Sustaining over 20 mph average speeds typically requires high fitness with dedicated training.
How do I increase my average cycle speed?
To increase average cycling speed, do high intensity interval training, increase hill riding, participate in group rides, use aerodynamic equipment, maintain proper bike fit, focus on pedaling efficiency, lose excess weight, and optimize nutrition and hydration.
Maintaining a Love of Cycling Across the Lifespan
While aging does impact cycling speed, people can continue cycling and making gains at any age. Not every ride needs to be fast. Focus on the joy of riding, appreciate improvements to your fitness, and set reasonable goals. With the right preparation and training, cyclists can enjoy riding prepared for their average speed at any stage of life.
In the end, average cycling speed is correlated with age due to the changes in aerobic capacity, muscular strength and flexibility that naturally occur across the lifespan. However, understanding these age-related shifts can help you set goals tailored to your current fitness and abilities. With smart training, an optimized bike, and a passion for riding, cyclists of all ages will get satisfaction out of being active on two wheels.