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Speed & Cadence

Welcome to the ADAM COPLEY: PERSONAL TRAINING blog. Each week we will be discussing topics within cycling fitness and nutrition. Giving you all the tools, you need to become fitter, faster and stronger on the bike. I love covering these topics and am always open to your suggestions so if you have anything you want to ask, get in touch (details at the bottom) and ask your questions.

With that being said, lets get into it!

This week I want to talk about that ever important average pace: If your anything like me, the first thing you look at after you have logged your ride is your average pace (well, after calories so I can see how much I can eat). Average pace is something that has many talking points, Personally I love to see my average pace increase so, with that in mind what can you work on that will develop your average pace?


Yes, cadence. Riding at the proper cadence will up the speed on the bike. This is something I have had to coach into myself especially when transitioning from road to mountain. The weather hasn’t been great in the UK of late and I’ve spent a lot less time on my road bike than I would like. Meaning when I do get on it, I have to remember how to ride it for a few minutes.

Getting caught into the trap that feeling the cogs resistance is faster is a tough one and you do want to have a good level of cadence to up your efficiency on the bike.

People use power meters to determine this and if you have one, great. Start paying attention to it.

But if you don’t have this can use your Garmin and its speedometer just as well. When riding I regularly glance down at my speed and see how I am travelling, can I drop the gears and maintain that speed, do I need to up the gears to get more speed. The key to upping your average pace is by learning cycling efficiency and not going all out on flat sections or downhill sections. Maintaining the momentum, you have is key here.

So, the next time you are out use your speedo and gauge your current pace with how your legs are moving, talk to yourself. “maintain this” “up your cadence” are all things I can be heard saying when on the road or mountain bike.

It does take some time to get used to but after you have learned how your body moves, and the speed’s you can maintain with cadence you will soon be on your way to upping your average pace.


Varying the terrain you ride is a great way to up your average pace. Where I live it is very easy to access big hills, people often assume this is key to being faster but not necessarily. I also have some more flat riding in the other direction and those rides are just as tough, sometimes harder than the hilly rides.

Varying the terrain you ride will help you increase your average pace as you will have to adapt to different situations, meet riders who are conditioned to that style of riding and will learn new ways to ride the bike. Getting out of the saddle for power, sitting down and spinning. Two ways you can ride up hills and these are both advantageous and disadvantageous.

Standing up on a hill that’s too big can drain your legs, whereas sitting down when you don’t really need to can sap your pace.

I’m not a fast climber, I’m used to mountain biking so spin to win is my usual hill strategy. I get to the top and make the time back when I get momentum again, however.

Likewise, if you ride hills a lot you won’t be used to the nature of cadence and maintaining speed over long distances. A flat 60 miler seems nice when you usually ride hills but when you get back, your legs will be absolutely battered.

It should be worth saying that I race alongside people who live near flatter terrain in XC and man they are quick, they often finish in the top 10 of XC events so riding hills isn’t necessarily the only way to improve your speed.

So, vary your terrain and reap the rewards.


Pick wisely here. You want to be riding with people who have a slightly higher average pace than you, but not too fast that they just vanish. Riding with faster riders can give you motivation to up your pace without realising. It can also help you get that extra 1mph that you are striving for. You can learn from them to with things like the cadence we spoke of. But remember, do not ride with your local pro. They will just disappear and trying to keep up with them will lead to burnout and fatigue.

Stick on their front wheel riding next to them, get in their slipstream and maintain the pace (you can also do this with cars but be careful). Two ways you can use faster people to help you out. So, pick Wiseley!

There you go. Three ways to improve your average speed. I hope you found this blog useful and as always. Feel free to comment and get in touch with content ideas and questions you want answered.

Ride well,


Instagram: @acopleypt

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