I was descending “Microwave Tower Hill.”
(Aptly named because of the microwave tower. Granted there were three mobile homes on top of it as well. But then there are three mobile homes at the top of every hill around here. So we denote this hill by the huge microwave tower.)
I always enjoy this hill. The visibility is incredible, and no side roads are coming into the road lessen the odds of some dumb-butt pulling their farm truck out in front of you.
There are a couple of small rollers before it, so if you time it right, you can crest the hill doing right at 30 miles per hour. Then, it is “grab and go” as you max out your gears as rapidly as possible.
When you start freewheeling, you grab the handlebars right next to the stem, tuck your elbows in and rocket to the bottom like a spaceman with a deathwish.
I never check my speedometer as I descend, but the highest max speed I’ve ever recorded was 52 miles per hour.
I’ve done 50 Miles Per Hour on a bicycle.
Not many folks can say that.
John Howard, Local CelebrityJohn Howard is one of our local heroes. He set the record of 152.2 miles per hour back in 1985.
That record stood for ten years.
I don’t know if his methodology was smart or crazy. Using the popular methodology of motor pacing, he had a vehicle set the pace in front of him to break the wind.
This enables him to focus all of his energy on speed, and not on fighting the wind.
Of course, if something went wrong, he’d become a 100+ mile per hour skid mark (or pancake, if he ran into the back of the motor pacing vehicle).
To achieve this goal, they used special gearing. The bike, the equipment… it’s not what you will see your typical cyclist ride.
How Fast Does A Professional Cyclist Ride?
The fastest Tour De France stage was a time trial run by Rohan Dennis in 2013 at 34.5 Miles per hour (55.446 km/h). Rik Verbrugghe reached 36.58 MPH (58.874 km/h) during a 2001 Giro D’Italia stage. Peter Sagan clocked 31 MPH (60 km/h) during a finishing sprint.
Even among professional cyclists, there is an enormous amount of variation in speed and power. Hill specialists are traditionally faster at mountain climbing than sprinters, but sprinters can reach a higher peak speed on the flats.
I enjoy following many of our top local amateur athletes in the area on Strava. It seems as though most of their rides come in around 20-21 mile per hour mark, but a ride in the 18 mph range is not uncommon.
Speed is only half of the equation. Being able to also possess the stamina to maintain that speed for a duration long enough to be competitive is key.
High-speed workouts (pain sessions) are essential for building your lactic acid threshold.
Ways to Make Your Road Bike Faster
Now that you’re aware of how fast road bikes can travel, it’s time to reveal some tips and tricks to increase your bike’s speed. We suggest beginning with checking (and if applicable, adjusting) your tire pressure. This trick is one of the simplest ways to maximize your bike’s potential. On average, road types require 80-130 psi. If you increase the pressure to the maximum, you’ll notice a significant difference that will help you travel faster – and with ease.
Next, it’s time to look at your bike’s frame. Reducing its weight is a popular technique for professional bikers, though this can be a costly task. When purchasing a new road bike, you’ll see a variety of prices, and the frame’s material is generally the price’s deciding factor. Opt for a lightweight carbon frame, so you don’t have additional weight to carry throughout your journey. It’s much cheaper to take your current bike to a professional to switch the frame than purchase an entirely new bike altogether.
Wheels are one of the most essential components on a bike, and they have a significant impact on weight and performance. Purchase a set of aerodynamic wheels as these generally contain a low spoke count with narrow rims to help you travel through wind easily. We also recommend changing your wheels regularly for safety reasons – especially if you regularly ride your bike.
Another great way to increase your bike’s speed is by lowering the handlebars. When you watch professional bike riders, you’ll notice that they ride low with their elbows tucked in. This position helps you to move quickly through the air with minimal resistance. However, ensure you maintain a correct posture to avoid any back pain.
Finally, remove as much weight from your bike as possible. The more accessories you have on your bike, the more weight you’re carrying. Remove mudguards, water bottles, holds, lights, and pumps if you don’t need them. Your health is the most important factor, so only remove these essentials for short journeys.
Ride faster to get faster!
Talk Back: What’s your fastest moment on a bicycle?