High average MPH on a mountain bike?

I hear my mountain bike friends bragging about having maintained an average speed on their rides of 20+ mph.  I’ve never approached that.  If I break 10mph average on a singletrack ride, I consider that a success.  I attributed it to the hilly terrain around me.

So decided to see exactly what I could pull off, speed wise.

I only had about a half hour to an hour for a ride, so for “fun” I decided to stick to the mostly level roads in South Park on Corrigan Drive, and see exactly what I could pull off.  I kept it primarily on the highest chain rings, and went as hard as I could muster for a half hour solid.  I stopped only at a single intersection, and accelerated back up to speed as quickly as I could.

Best I could do?  Overall average of 15 MPH.  Moving average was slightly higher, 15.7.  So how do people maintain an average MPH over 20 on a mountain bike?  I cannot believe that there is that much variance in how mountain bikes are geared to make a difference of 10 MPH on average.

Not that I care, I do this for fun and to me fun is a heavy climb followed by bombing hard through the woods on a slick backwoods trail.  Not monitoring my BPM up and down Corrigan.  I do it primarily for the fun factor.

Also interesting to note, based upon the heart rate monitor, this method was an extremely inefficient workout compared to my typical hilly rides.  I never even approached my max heart rate (~190bpm), and I felt like I could have done another 10 or miles of this pretty easily.  I wonder exactly how efficient my steep 10 mile loop is compared to say an average flat 5k run..  I bet it’s harder core.

8.75 miles, 900 calories, 0 OTB, 0 fun had


GPSies - 08/11/2010 South Park Road WorkClick to see the whole boring track


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South Park Full Loop

One of my first attempts to string all of the known trails that circle Corrigan Drive into a single ride. I’ve always known that this was possible, but could never fathom the best way to do it. The issue is the monstrous “Lost Springs” climb, which toward the end of a ride seems terribly daunting. So the answer is to do it backwards! Come up the back side of the kill, that I would normally descend. And do it early in the ride, this time, I did it first. Worked out pretty well!

Left to try is to add in the grueling trail that connects the Fair Grounds to the Montour Trail section, and make it all one fluid ride from my house to the South Park loops.  Also, need to figure out a way to the BMX track via back trails.  I haven’t found that yet.

2700 Calories burned, 10.5 miles, 1 OTB (yea baby!), 1 hellacious leg cramp (I got better)

GPSies - 08/08/2010 South Park Full LoopClick to see the full track

Also, since there are no accompanying pictures. Here are some macro shots I took at the zoo recently.

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Quick After Work Ride in South Park. 8/3/2010

Just a quick ride, so just a quick post.  Kept a very good pace, but my average MPH didn’t seem to go up…  Oh well.

Also, I noticed that my GPS tracks have been collectively viewed about 4000 times, and downloaded dozens of times.  Which is a surprise, I was pretty sure no one cared about them but me.  Hopefully people find good use for them!

1800 calories, about 9 miles, 0 otb


GPSies - South Park Ride 08/03/2010Click here to download the whole GPS track

And here’s the evidence that MUD was encountered.  Not too bad, eh?

Ride 8_3_2010

Yeah baby


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Hillman State Park in Bavington — August 1, 2010

Hillman State Park is a terrifyingly remote little dirt water backwoods area in Bavington today, deep in the center of Warshington county.  While Washington PA isn’t typically known for its inbred psychopaths bent on sexual violence, ride around alone out here for a while and hearing a round of “Dueling Banjos” doesn’t seem completely out of the question.  Take a friend.  Or a weapon.  Or a friend with a weapon.  Luckily the day I was out there it had pretty good mountain bike traffic.  Also, everyone I met had all their teeth intact, so I felt good it.

It’s a little unique to the area in that the place is primarily evergreen,  ground cover is pine needles, which is great at absorbing and wicking away moisture.  Also that surface is much better then, say concrete with protruding rebar, at cushioning your torso when you fly over the handlebars.  In another stroke of luck on the day, this didn’t happen.  Not to say my body wasn’t aching to take that short trip downward in a steep vertical arc…

There were no particularly difficult climbs, or particularly technical obstacles.  The whole thing had a very nice flow.  Up, down and around.  Nice transition from deep woods single track to grassy glade open air riding. No turns particular sharp turns.  It all made for a very enjoyable ride.  My only regret is that I couldn’t get more distance, I’ll remedy that next time.  Some days you have it, some days you don’t.  Today, I didn’t.

Something about this place also had the effect on body of making me more tired and thirsty then normal.  An hour in and I had finished my water bottle and was aching for more fluids.  On the way home, I stopped at REI to pick up a second bottle cage so I’ll have a water reserve.  Also, I was wearing a hydration day pack, with no bladder in it.  You got a problem with that?

Also, if you’ve read this far, and take only 1 thing away from this post, let it be this: TAKE BUG SPRAY.

6.5 wimpy miles, 1600 wimpy calories, 0 OTB, 0 “Deliverance” experiences (thank god)

GPSies - Hillman State Park in Bavington 08/01/2010 (Duration: 01:28:30)Click here to see the whole scarifying GPS track

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Trail Map

Hillman State Park Trail Map

And finally for those interested, here is a trail map of Hillman State Park.  I’ll slowly be converting these into GPS tracks.

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