Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => General Discussion => Topic started by: jwrushman on October 11, 2020, 09:29:34 pm

 
Title: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: jwrushman on October 11, 2020, 09:29:34 pm
canalligators wrote in a post "...One of my keenest memories of my Northern Tier was coming down passes in the Cascades at 40+ mi/hr..."

Not touring this year, I've got lots of time on my hands.  I started looking at last year's New Jersey to Northern Tier ride.

Fastest speed 40.0 mph - heading west from Diablo Lake viewpoint to Colonial Creek Campground in North Cascades.

Day with the slowest average speed - 6.8 mph from Medora to Beach ND.  Was planning to ride 65 miles to Glendive but gave up after 25 miles!  But it worked out okay.  The next morning, shortly after leaving Beach, I met up with two other cyclists heading my way, Parke from Denver and Doug from Virginia.

I don't think I'm obsessive.  I'm guessing others track many more stats. 
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: John Nettles on October 11, 2020, 10:26:25 pm
In 40+ years my fastest touring speeds was 49.9mph.  Ticked that I could not get it to 50mph.  I think it was in Idaho but not positive as it was back in the 90s.  My slowest average RIDING speed was less than 5 but I only rode a couple miles in traffic in the Washington DC area from a hotel to a hostel so that may not count.
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: Patco on October 11, 2020, 10:38:46 pm
My fastest speed was 53.9 mph descending Cape Sebastian on the Oregon Coast. I was in a severe tuck (ass hanging behind the seat with my chest on the handlebars) and I had to pull out of the tuck when the buffeting from the wind off the ocean became concerning. While I was in the tuck, taking the center of the traffic lane, I was thinking...this is soooooo stupid. Have not even come close to that speed since because it was sooooo stupid.
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: BikePacker on October 12, 2020, 08:17:46 am
Slowest - Many, many times at 3 mph while climbing on the Skyline Drive / Blue Ridge Parkway.
Fastest - Don't know, but do recall being surprised coming down east out of the Rockies how much wind resistance the panniers caused. 
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: BikeliciousBabe on October 12, 2020, 09:43:22 am
My computer read 1 mph near the top of Brandon Gap in VT. Had to swing around a head back down a bit to regain momentum before doing another 180 and reaching the top.

Fastest ever was on the entire NT . Close to 49 mph heading east into Ticonderoga, NY.

These days I try to keep it in the low to mid-30s, but four years ago I let myself get up to near 43 descending towards Ennis, MT.
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: John Nelson on October 13, 2020, 12:53:40 am
I’m a data head, so I track lots of data. My fastest touring speed was descending  Chief Joseph Pass towards Lolo. I passed a truck and two cars. Slowest touring day was eastbound into a fierce headwind all day in eastern Montana on a 99° day. I started at 6:10 am and ended at 9:50 pm with almost no breaks.
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: BikeliciousBabe on October 13, 2020, 02:31:53 pm
I’m a data head, so I track lots of data. My fastest touring speed was descending  Chief Joseph Pass towards Lolo. I passed a truck and two cars. Slowest touring day was eastbound into a fierce headwind all day in eastern Montana on a 99° day. I started at 6:10 am and ended at 9:50 pm with almost no breaks.

Heh. A cattle truck driver waved me around while I was descending the west slope of Monarch Pass. I declined because the shoulder was in bad shape. Staying behind him allowed me to take the lane.

Heading east in eastern Montana I managed to maintain 32.5 mph over flat ground for several miles during a 20 mile stretch to Malta. The wind was that strong. Finally got too far into the red and had to dial it back to 28.
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: John Nelson on October 13, 2020, 02:49:23 pm
A cattle truck driver waved me around while I was descending the west slope of Monarch Pass. I declined because the shoulder was in bad shape. Staying behind him allowed me to take the lane.
I would never pass on the shoulder. If I'm going to pass a vehicle, I always go around on their left. That's the same way a car would pass.

Heading east in eastern Montana I managed to maintain 32.5 mph over flat ground for several miles during a 20 mile stretch to Malta. The wind was that strong.
Yes, I had one of those days in Montana too. In my case, it was between Cut Bank and Havre, just a bit west of your day. I had originally intended to stop in Hingham that day, but I just couldn't give up that tailwind so I kept going. I call it my 129-mile rest day. Those Montana winds can be amazing, both for and against you.
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: BikeliciousBabe on October 13, 2020, 03:06:51 pm
A cattle truck driver waved me around while I was descending the west slope of Monarch Pass. I declined because the shoulder was in bad shape. Staying behind him allowed me to take the lane.
I would never pass on the shoulder. If I'm going to pass a vehicle, I always go around on their left. That's the same way a car would pass.
He waved me around to the left, but that would have left me with the banged up shoulder again once the road became straight enough for him to increase his speed. I was content where I was. Interesting tidbit: Monarch Pass in CO, at over 11,300’, was once home to the world’s highest Subway restaurant. I think it’s now gone.
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: John Nelson on October 13, 2020, 03:59:39 pm
Interesting tidbit: Monarch Pass in CO, at over 11,300’, was once home to the world’s highest Subway restaurant. I think it’s now gone.
I've been over Monarch Pass many times, as recently as last year. Although there is a well-stocked general store on top (Monarch Crest), there is no Subway, and hasn't been in my memory.
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: jamawani on October 13, 2020, 04:06:08 pm
Crossing Nevada - U.S. 6 is way emptier than U.S. 50.
So, there is almost zero traffic for hours.
And the downhills can be airport runway straight for miles.

One time I passed a semi.
He was throttled down, but I was probably going over 50.
I was flattened on the handlebars, crotch on the top tube.
Not to mention all the way over in the left lane.
But I did get a glimpse of the driver laughing.

Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: canalligators on October 13, 2020, 10:55:52 pm
My best tailwind story was riding from Hope to Page ND.  14 miles in 28 minutes.  That's a 30 mi/hr average.  We were basically at the speed of the wind.  Here's the catch: we then had to turn 90 degrees, so that became a crosswind.  My riding companions were visibly leaning over, perhaps 30 degrees, to maintain balance.  It was hard to get started after a break.
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: RetroGrouch on October 14, 2020, 11:42:14 am
Slowest - Many, many times at 3 mph while climbing on the Skyline Drive / Blue Ridge Parkway.
Fastest - Don't know, but do recall being surprised coming down east out of the Rockies how much wind resistance the panniers caused.

My slowest is also Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway. 
My first good ride after a long winter was climbing up from Front Royal VA.  I was fagged and making only less then 5 MPH.  After I reached to top I discovered my rear tire was rubbing the whole way!!!  (Hard lesson learned.)
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: BikePacker on October 15, 2020, 07:37:54 am
My slowest is also Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway. 
My first good ride after a long winter was climbing up from Front Royal VA.  I was fagged and making only less then 5 MPH.  After I reached to top I discovered my rear tire was rubbing the whole way!!!  (Hard lesson learned.)
The slower the go
the more beautiful the sho
ridin' it too fast just makes me wanna say ho.
- The above brought to you by gaw-RATE recollections + mebbe a little too much caffeine this morning : ).
P.S. When I see you out there Retro we can race to see who can ride it the slowest?
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: jamawani on October 15, 2020, 09:05:20 am
I do notice that in my journals -
And in most other folks'  journals over at Crazyguy -
There are a lot more photos going uphill than down.
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: John Nettles on October 15, 2020, 11:43:37 am
There are a lot more photos going uphill than down.
Totally agree.  Who wants to stop on a great downhill.  About the only place I have done that with any significance is on the western side of Going to the Sun Highway.
Tailwinds, John
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: Pat Lamb on October 15, 2020, 11:58:33 am
Well of course there's more pictures going uphill:
 - you have more time to look at scenery going uphill
 - it's work to stop a loaded bike going 20-40 mph downhill
 - no work to stop going uphill, just stop pedaling
 - you need to take a break while climbing anyway, why not get out the camera?
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: Westinghouse on October 16, 2020, 08:53:51 am
A couple on a Santana tandem on the northern tier in 1987 told me they hit 59 mph going downhill. I think I got up to around 37-40 mph downhill. In France I did 6 mph down hill against a devil of a wind. In 1994 in Italy I averaged about 17 mph on flat roads carrying 60 pounds of gear.
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: TCS on October 17, 2020, 12:25:07 am
Quote
Who wants to stop on a great downhill?

None other than Greg Siple was spotted walking down hill on a long ago TOSRV Texas.  When asked if he was having trouble, he replied, "No, it's just real pretty here and I didn't want to rush past it."   ;)
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: zzzz on October 18, 2020, 06:36:18 pm
This is very interesting to me. I’ve ridden my whole life but only started touring in my mid-50’s and I immediately noticed that I could not descend faster then 38-39 w panniers, seemingly no matter how steep the grade. I routinely hit mid 40’s going down the steeper stuff around my home where I’m riding w/o panniers. I always assumed it was the extra aero drag but if other people here are hitting 50 something else is impacting this.
I’m pretty light and I pack pretty light, I’m wondering if a bigger rider who’s carrying more weight develops more momentum that overcomes the additional drag. Anybody on this thread who knows enough about physics to explain this?

Pete
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: John Nettles on October 18, 2020, 07:12:33 pm
I don't much about physics but I tour with a heavier guy who carries a $hitload of stuff. He carries 4 panniers, HB bag, & a rack pack for just an overnighter. On some mutliweek trips, he has been known to take that plus a trailer with gear on it.

Anyway, on decent downhills, he can out coast me fairly easily regardless how tight I tuck. 

The time I almost made 50mph, I was young, very strong, skinny, had only 2 rear panniers (about the same as front panniers now so somewhat narrow), with my foam mattress on the rack and a HB.  It was a massive downhill and I had a pretty strong tailwind.

That said, my "usual" top downhill speeds over the past 5 years or so are between 35 to 40mph, rarely over 40 but it does happen about once per week on average.  I am a bit reckless on downhill corners due to my really old racing days and can tuck pretty narrow and low which helps quite a bit. I typically tuck my knees together under the top tube and bend my elbows in as much as possible while keeping a flat back. 

All you need is a steep downhill, smooth road, fast tires (I use Marathon Supreme usually),  a tailwind, and be too stupid to have a fear of corners since it always seems the fastest downhills have lots of curves.

Tailwinds, John
P.S. My fastest ever speed was when I was young and racing.  We would go out occasionally into the countryside and draft behind one of the other racers who had a van.  He rigged it so the rear doors would stay open and mounted a piece of plywood as a cover or top over the rear doors so it created a 3-sided "cave" which created one heck of a "vacuum".  It would suck you right along with little effort (for a young racer) until about 40mph.  We would switch the chainring and freewheel (old Regina) to a 58/13 combo and spin like crazy.  That is one good thing about riding on true rollers is that you get very good at doing a smooth cadence.  Anyway, my top speed then was 54mph which was fairly foolish considering I was probably about 3"-6" from his rear bumper.  Some of the older racers (I was a teen) could top 60mph but they were truly nuts as they looked like a gerbil on a wheel they were spinning so fast.  One thing is you got super hot as there is barely any wind and you are working pretty hard.  However it is fun to just cruise along at 40mph. 
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: zzzz on October 18, 2020, 07:57:34 pm
It would certainly seem that we have a shared history. I started racing when I was 15 in 1973 so I am familiar w all the touchstones you listed (freewheels and rollers and doing speed work by drafting behind a van) and I have done some pretty aggressivly reckless (re: stupid) stuff on the bike over the years especially when I was younger. I continued to race until I was 40.

My first tour was when I  was 55 &  I took the WE to Pueblo then across on the Trans Am. When I got to the top of Carson Pass,it was freshly paved and I let the bike go and I really had to push it to hit 40. So something was different because on a unladen bike I would have been bumping up against 50 on that descent w the fresh pavement.
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: John Nelson on October 19, 2020, 02:12:39 am
This is very interesting to me. I’ve ridden my whole life but only started touring in my mid-50’s and I immediately noticed that I could not descend faster then 38-39 w panniers, seemingly no matter how steep the grade. I routinely hit mid 40’s going down the steeper stuff around my home where I’m riding w/o panniers. I always assumed it was the extra aero drag but if other people here are hitting 50 something else is impacting this.

To hit speeds above 50 MPH, it takes more than a steep hill. It takes a long, long, steep hill, preferably steep for well over a mile. It takes time to build up speed. And of course to be safe, the pavement needs to be smooth, no cross roads, no strong winds and relatively straight. And I prefer a long, straight flat area at the bottom of the hill to slow down on. Come ride in the Rocky Mountains. We have lots of such roads.

And yes, extra weight helps, so panniers facilitate speed and more than compensate for the extra drag.
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: Patco on October 20, 2020, 02:51:37 pm
When you watch the Tour those riders will routinely do 50 on a downhill, and neither they nor their bike are heavy, but they are aerodynamic. When I reached my maximum it was a longish downhill, with a crosswind coming from the right (off the ocean). I had rear panniers, I weighed 175, and I was touring on a Miyata. And I did everything I could to be aerodynamic - nearly flat to the top tube with my butt hanging behind the saddle and my chest on the handlebar, knees in, elbows in, and feet even to each other with toes slightly down. I think I could have attained another one or two miles per hour with a little more time in the tuck but the crosswind, especially as it impacted my panniers, unnerved me, so I brought my chest off the handlebar and I immediately lost five mph. I believe it is all about being aero.
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: UncaBuddha on October 20, 2020, 08:38:53 pm
WAY back in 92 my wife and I hit 60 mph coming off the hill south of Jackson, MT. Long, straightish, 700x32 tires on 38 spoke wheels, loaded tandem, and another loaded tandem to draft off of. The lead tandem would slow to around 52 and when you hit his draft you would speed up like having a turbo and whip past at 60 mph. Probably stupid but there it is. I was a young fighter pilot and my wife trusted my skillz!
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: Westinghouse on November 01, 2020, 10:08:51 am
WAY back in 92 my wife and I hit 60 mph coming off the hill south of Jackson, MT. Long, straightish, 700x32 tires on 38 spoke wheels, loaded tandem, and another loaded tandem to draft off of. The lead tandem would slow to around 52 and when you hit his draft you would speed up like having a turbo and whip past at 60 mph. Probably stupid but there it is. I was a young fighter pilot and my wife trusted my skillz!


One of my brothers was a fighter pilot for the US Air Force. I have pedalled a fully loaded touring bicycle about 38,000 to 40,000 miles through 19 countries.
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: hikerjer on November 02, 2020, 01:19:23 pm
i think I hit about 52 mph coming down McDonald Pass in Montana once. Slowest:  3-4 miles an hour almost all day - until I just gave up and quit for the day - in dealing with sustained, very strong headwinds in western North Dakota.  That was a hellish day.
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: BikePacker on November 03, 2020, 06:59:43 am
until I just gave up and quit for the day - in dealing with sustained, very strong headwinds in western North Dakota.
One year in w. ND I had 3 days of 30+mph headwinds coming out of the east and I just quit for all 3 days, thus making for a "Minimum Speed" of zero mph..... had I tried to ride into the above 30 mph winds it might have blown me backwards reducing my "Minimum Speed" further? : ).
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: Westinghouse on November 06, 2020, 01:57:02 pm
until I just gave up and quit for the day - in dealing with sustained, very strong headwinds in western North Dakota.
One year in w. ND I had 3 days of 30+mph headwinds coming out of the east and I just quit for all 3 days, thus making for a "Minimum Speed" of zero mph..... had I tried to ride into the above 30 mph winds it might have blown me backwards reducing my "Minimum Speed" further? : ).

Yes. Some times strong headwinds do come up. In my extensive experience they are comparatively infrequent. When it comes to 30 mph it is time to stop and wait for it to end. I would be off the bike with a 30 mph side wind. I frequently encountered heavy weather that put me off the road, blew over large trucks and caused flash floods. Some weather was extremely dangerous and lethal. It is a miracle I survived it.

That is one thing about weather. It takes on a very different meaning on a long distance bicycling journey.
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: cyclist alan on November 06, 2020, 10:15:51 pm
I ride on my Schwinn discover -  https://bikesreviewed.com/hybrid/schwinn-discover-700c-review/ (https://bikesreviewed.com/hybrid/schwinn-discover-700c-review/) at the Fastest speed of 30.0 mph :D
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: John Nelson on November 06, 2020, 11:42:35 pm
When it comes to 30 mph it is time to stop and wait for it to end. I would be off the bike with a 30 mph side wind.
I encountered very strong crosswinds in Montana once. But I was in the middle of nowhere, 30 miles from any civilization. Those winds were going to continue for the rest of the day. I couldn’t just stand there until it got dark. Well, at least I didn’t want to. And I didn’t have time to walk anywhere either. I guess I could have hitchhiked.
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: BikePacker on November 07, 2020, 09:28:58 am
That is one thing about weather. It takes on a very different meaning on a long distance bicycling journey.
And what you have pointed out Westinghouse with your above comment is,
for me, one of the top 5 'things' I love about touring. ....
in fact, with another cup of coffee, you have maybe inspired me to do a new topic post ...
something like ~ "What are the top 5 things we like about touring?"
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: PNWRider92 on November 10, 2020, 01:52:50 pm
I hit 56mph coming down Satus Pass in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State and 52mph coming down Big Hole Pass in Montana. Both times I was trailing behind a vehicle, a truck on Satus and a motorhome on Big Hole. Without any assistance the highest speed I've reached was in the low 40's.

Slowest day? Probably would have been the stretch from Kamiah to the Lochsa Lodge along US-12 in Idaho. 96 miles and I averaged 7mph the entire day. I thought something was wrong with my bike. It's a very gradual uphill though that you don't notice until you look at the elevation map, which I hadn't until the next day.
Title: Re: Maximum/minimum speeds
Post by: jwrushman on November 10, 2020, 02:59:47 pm
Must have been an awfully day.