The average speeds of professional road cyclists are incredible.
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Ever wonder how your cycling speed and skill set would stack up against those who earn their living riding bikes? You may lead the pack during group rides or fearlessly corner trails on your mountain bike, but before you get too big for your britches, consider the average speeds that bikers in different disciplines must crank out to be competitive. Unless you're a pro, these numbers will probably deliver a healthy dose of shock and humility.
Standing roadside at a cycling race or tour event as the peloton's blurred rainbow of spandex-clad cyclists whizzes past you is a sight to behold. Still, it's hard to really gauge the speed or energy output that pro roadies kick out. According to "Bicycling Magazine," the average Tour de France rider maintains an average speed of 25 to 28 mph on flats, or a 2:24 to 2:08 minute mile. On mountainous terrain, pros make climbing look effortless as they ascend at about 21 to 25 mph, or 2:51 to 2:24 minutes per mile.
Fat Tire Riders
Estimating average speeds for mountain bikers is a bit trickier than determining those figures for roadies because there are so many terrain variations that can come onto play. Variations may include the softness of the ground, number of turns, steepness of climbs, obstacles and overall course distance. An impressive pace for a pro mountain biker, on average, could be around 15 mph, or a 4-minute mile.
Downhill riding is arguably the most dangerous type of bike racing, but the speeds that these professional racers hit is mind-blowing. The goal of downhill mountain bike racing is to get to the bottom of a descent as quickly as possible. In 2011, Markus Stockl flew down Nicaragua's Cerro Negro volcano at a staggering 102.4 mph -- that's a 35-second mile, or about four times the speed of an average professional road cyclist.
Keep in Mind
If reading about the speeds that professional cyclists produce has shattered your rider ego, keep a few things in mind before you go out to the garage and kick your bike. Professional riders often have no other job than riding -- they are paid to be good on the bike. They also have the best coaches, nutrition, bikes and gear that are available, which is probably unfeasible and way out of budget for you and your buddies. Sure, they're good and have awesome genetics on their side, but pro riders have an added edge that the average recreational cyclist can't compete with.