Pace designations in NYCC ride listings

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Anonymous's picture

I have noticed that pace designations in NYCC ride listings rarely correspond to the actual 'average' or 'cruising' speed of the group - it's usually a couple of mph slower than indicated. Hence the question: does the number refer to the rider level based on the 4 Central Park laps test (as described in NYCC Rides section) rather than the actual cruising speed of the ride, which is likely to be slower given the greater mileage covered?

Anonymous's picture
Fred (not verified)
Here's what I've found.

The pace designation is supposed to refer to the pace on the flats.

I have found that often on B rides, the pace is often slower than I would expect. Sometimes much slower.

On A rides, the pace is sometimes faster than I would expect, and sometimes the pace up the hills is really impressive.

This is an inexact science, and there is great variation from ride to ride. Still, it is much better than the system at the 5BBC, where they give only the most cursory of pace indications.

I've learned to go with the flow.

Anonymous's picture
Ivy (not verified)
Please, no.

I want to correct what you said about B rides. I lead B18 rides and my rides go 18 mph on the flats. To imply that B rides are slower than the advertised pace is a disservice to B ride leaders and riders. I want people to show up on my rides expecting to go 18 mph (not 15).

Anonymous's picture
Fred (not verified)
Thanks for being a ride leader

Sorry Ivy. I didn't mean to say that all B rides are slower than advertised.

I don't think I've ever been on a ride that you led, but I am looking forward to the experience. (Under a pseudonym)

Thank you for being a ride leader and thanks to all ride leaders.

Anonymous's picture
Vitaly (not verified)


Anonymous's picture
Donald (not verified)
Seems people think they're faster than they are

especially early in the season. My experience is that people think they can ride just as fast as they ended up last season or really just want to be that fast when they're really not. The biggest offenders seem to be the A20 rides. I have yet to be on one where we were moving 20mph on the flats. Usually it's more like 18.

Whether avg speed or cruising speed is the best method, I don't know. But according to the NYCC literature, the cruising speed is listed and avg speed should be about 3 mph slower. Obviously hillier rides will be slower and flats faster, but at least there's some baseline. One of the wonderful A-SIG-Classic leaders opined that this avg speed claim is silly and maybe it should be revisited and reconsidered.

Leaders and followers need to take a closer look at the rides, the amount of climbing, the distance, and their actual fitness, instead of desired fitness. Everyone will be happier if the A20 ride goes 20mph on the flats, as advertised. Otherwise it's VERY frustrating to those expecting a certain pace.

On a side note, it'd be nice to mention how much stopping is planned. Rich Rosenthal does a good job of mentioning it and it's nice to know going in.

Anonymous's picture
Sebastian (not verified)

i dont know why the sppeds cant just be average speeds. anyone who has a speedometer on their bike knows what averages they ride on typical ny area ride. and anyone who leads a ride should be able to stick to that. i do find it annoying when a ride i thought would be comfortable turns into a race and when a ride i thought moves along nicely is stop and go. i've worked as a guide in sicily and majorca and i know its doable.

Anonymous's picture
Heath (not verified)
Average speeds.

Average speeds depend on a lot more factors than the pace on the flats.

If I ride 50 miles with 3000 ft of climbing, my average pace is going to be alot different than 50 miles with 100 ft of climbing. But my pace on the flats on both rides is going to be around 19 mph on both rides. On the first example, my average would be 14mph or less, whereas on the second example, my pace would be 16mph or so.

I think what Fred says it partly true. I do not like going fast on the flats. I like to climb. I would rather do a really hilly B17 than a flat A19. The B17 feels slower because I am waiting at the top of the climbs or I want to go harder on the false flats, whereas I cannot maintain an A19 on the flats for a long time. And then when I do hit a hill on the A19, I am too tired to really enjoy it.

I did not do a group ride with Ivy, but did ride with her to piermont one day. She definately does a B18 pace.

The key is to find a group you like to ride with. Or a leader that you like to follow. I have been downloading routes from the ride library each weekend and just following them.

Anonymous's picture
April (not verified)
second that

"In addition, given the traffic lights within the city limit, it puts a significant distortion to the ""average speed"" too.

So I think our designation reflects the ""sustainable flat cruising speed"". People know enough (or found out pretty quickly) that rides to Westchester could be much harder than it appears on paper, or the same ""advertized speed"" going to Brooklyn will ended up with a much lower ""average speed""."

Anonymous's picture
Sebastian (not verified)
none the less

you guys know what average speeds you ride. you ride every week, no? and it's not like there are 20 mile long climbs in new york, no? so in this area your average speeds will tend to be pretty much the same. i also dont get what red light stops have to do with it. when i stop, so does my speedometer. and as far as i know thats true for any sppedometer on the market. i know what averages i ride and i could promise an average for a ride and stick to it, no problem. while pace in the flats is NEVER adehered too. At least I haven't experienced it. I've been on A 23 rides that were way slower than an A17 ride. And that doesnt make sense.

Anonymous's picture
April (not verified)
Average speed = distance / time.

"""you guys know what average speeds you ride. you ride every week, no?""

Exactly! That's how I found out not all the routes are created equal regarding speed.

I'm not the only one who found a 50 mile ride in Nassau county and a 50 mile ride winding through Brooklyn and Queens ended up taking quite different time. The ride in urban area takes significantly longer, i.e. significantly lower ""average speed"".

Or maybe A rides can maintain the same average speed by bolting like lightening out of the green light. But all the B/C rides I've been to would soft-pedle or stop to wait for the whole group to catch-up. OK, I'm begining to understand why some people try to squeeze to the front of the pack at the light now. They don't want to get stuck at the back and have to work really hard to catch up to the group...


Anonymous's picture
Craig Breed (not verified)
the tour de france goes 12 mph

sometimes on flat roads as it approaches a big climb. So how should it be rated?

Anonymous's picture
don montalvo (not verified)
fast! (url)
Anonymous's picture
Vitaly (not verified)
Is that a fair summary?

From the responses to my question I gather that pace designations are meant to indicate 'intended' cruising speed on flats, which may or may not be adhered to on the ride, and that if one is particular about such things, s/he should find and ride with leaders who stick to the listed pace. Is that a fair summary? Thanks to everyone for input.

Anonymous's picture
April (not verified)
more than just speed

"""s/he should find and ride with leaders who stick to the listed pace. ""

Not only there's different philosophy on speed. One leader will avoid the smallest incline by riding 10 additional miles while another will go 10 mile out of the way just to hit an unusually steep climb!!! So on and so forth...

You'll learn to find the leader that suits your style. And... lead your own ride! You get to go at YOUR pace!"

Anonymous's picture
Sebastian (not verified)
so the listed speeds really mean absolutely nothing?

thats, after everything, the only conclusion i can really draw ...

Anonymous's picture
Sebastian (not verified)
so the listed speed mean absolutely nothing ....

that's the only conclusion i can draw. announcing an average speed and sticking to it at leats would create some sort of accountability ...

Anonymous's picture
Sebastian (not verified)
grpup riding

one other thing - i come from europe and rode a lot there and it seemed like a group ride would adjust to the weakest rider in the group - the stronger people would lead and keep a steady pace that would allow everyone to move along comfortable. here that doesnt happen so much - is more competetive than supportive. which i find a lot less fun. plus always riding hard is not necessarily the best training

Anonymous's picture
Fred (not verified)
Misplaced competitiveness

I agree that sometimes the rides are too competitive.

I have been on a few rides where someone has been too free with unpleasent comments, criticisms and various other nonsense.

Many more times I have ridden on NYCC group rides where EVERYBODY worked to make the experience terrific. Through rain, mechanicals, getting lost, etc. The rider with the most uplifting attitude wins.

Of course, when racing that's a different story!

Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)
The NYCC has many members with different riding levels

There is a place for all sorts of riding. The fastest groups naturally expect riders to keep up with their pace. They certainly will support those who can keep up with mechanicals problems. But asking them to slow the pace for riders who have not been honest with themselves as to their ability is unreasonable.

Ride leaders have a responsibilty to keep the ride to the advertised pace. Hammerheads can always go off the front but they do so at their own risk.

I have found leaders tend to go out of their way to acommodate individuals who are having problems.

Anonymous's picture
John Z (not verified)
Very Wise (nm)
Anonymous's picture
Neile (not verified)
The advertised pace DOES mean something ...

As an example, I led a advertised B-16/65 this past Sunday.

Endeavored to keep to a 15-16 mph on the flats. Faster on downhills, and slower on the ups -- trying to maintain consistent effort and cadence. For a very nice and smooth section on the North County Trailway, pushed it to 17.

The group stayed together pretty well for the most part. Of the nine riders, three would have preferred faster, four were comfortable with the advertised pace and two were working to keep up. Since it's rare to find a rider who rides at EXACTLY one's own pace, that's a reasonable balance.

For the last 25 miles, I let the faster group push me at bit and we lost one of the slower riders at the first subway stop in the Bronx. For the full 67 miles, we wound up with a 14 mph AVERAGE (typically three mph slower than the pace on the flats), or a bit closer to a B17 (mea culpa).

Anonymous's picture
Pat Mullen (not verified)
Ride Level/Pace

"I lead rides with NYCC and several other clubs. All the other clubs use average speed. When the ride leader scouts the ride whatever average speed is shown on his cyclometer at the end of the ride,that figure is the listed speed.
Every ride has a different percentage of hills & flats.
To have a ride classification based on crusing speeds is very misleading because a, ""flat ride"", will have a higher percentage of cruising miles than a ,""hilly ride"".And a hilly ride may have few cruising miles.
Average speed takes into account all elevation variables
and is the best method for listing rides relative to pace.
Most moderately hilly NYCC B17 rides I have participated in have had average speeds,(cyclometer readings),showing 13/14 mph.
Utilizing average speed to list rides would be a much more accurate method of classification. Everyone has a cyclometer,so determining ability level should be easy.

Pat Mullen"

Anonymous's picture
April (not verified)
"""Everyone has a cyclometer"""

"Actually, that's not true for many C riders, especially some new club members.

I've jettison my cycle-computer for quite a while, too. Though I do know my 'average' speed because most people I ride with have computers.

Average or cruising, the only important thing is to match the Central Park test speed with the speed on the road so new members don't get into rides they can't keep up. That is, assuming the leader stick to their own ""advertised"" speed.

When I used to live in California, our club uses a table listing both flat speed AND climbing speed. And they stress the ""climbing speed"" is for SUSTAIN climbs over a mile long! In addition, they have a ""test route"" for self testing, it climbs for 4 miles straight up!!! (but if you divide the distance by time, the speed on the ""test route"" would be a lot slower than advertised. somehow, it worked in sorting out the right ride for the right riders!) Average speed in that kind of terrain, I seriously doubt will have much meaning at all."

Anonymous's picture
Sebastian (not verified)
it's the attitude not the numbers

if the goal of everyone in the group, especially the strong riders, is to keep the group as a whole moving along smoothly and comfortably, it will be a great ride for everyone. if the attitude is to show off how fast you can stomp up a ramp it will be chaotic, stressful and dangerous...

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