Posted by: audaxing | February 25, 2011

Faster: the Feedback

The other day I posed the question “Why am I going faster on the bike?” I hadn’t done anything or changed anything but had seen a significant increase in speed

Various people have given me various answers as to the “why” these can be summarized:

1) You are trying harder. So in other words I am not any fitter but I am making more effort

2) Your bike actually is a bit faster. Some physical aspects of the bike make it roll faster for less effort

3) The riding you did last year has had some effect on your fitness

4) Although the routes you follow are “similar” they are not the same and so must be a bit easier

Trying Harder

As someone put it “The usual cause is pushing down harder on the pedals”. It might be that as I have a shiney new bike it is encouraging me to put a bit more effort in. It’s impossible to assess this. Someone asked for heart rate data on the rides but I don’t use a HRM for these sessions, maybe I should

Bike is Faster

The basics of the new bike and the old bike are very similar. But the Specialized Roubaix fanclub were quick to point out “Maybe the Roubaix effect is greater than you think”. Other people suggested “More efficient wheels?” or “Better position on bike?”
The new bike has a much better rear hub and bottom bracket. The old bike had continual problems with these. The position on the bike is different as the top tube is a little longer. Perhaps it is more aerodynamic.
Another thing is that the gear changing on the old bike was often difficult whereas the new one works great. So it is easier to be in the correct gear.
It is possible there are some tiny advantages for the Roubaix over the old bike.


“Rod” of wrote a good response to the blog article which you can read in the comments section attached to it. His basic point was that even regular base work like the commute would eventually raise my power output.

The regularity of the base work, riding at a low intensity for my commute seems to be important. Bodies do habituate slightly better when something is happening the same, every day.

The yearly total of distance/time for 2009, including commuting and all rides was 222 rides covering 14,318km in 699 hours
The total for 2010 was 263 rides covering 16,789km in 831 hours. My initial thoughts were that this was not a significant difference. But it is approximately 15% so that is starting to be significant.

The route

Although the routes I followed in 2009 and 2010 are similar they aren’t exactly the same. For example the way I went on the 100 mile ride on New Years Day was clockwise north then east, south, west and anti clockwise last year.

Having said that I do tend to use the same roads on winter rides as they are the better roads in poor conditions.

So while the amount of ascent is broadly the same it is a possible explanation that the ride routes I did this year are easier

Oddly Fast

I believe that all these factors had a small effect which taken together gave the baffling speed increase. No one on it’s own could explain it. But each point could be the cause of a few percent extra speed.



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