How much faster could I go when racing with a 21.7mph avg speed solo

So I just rode solo on local roads for 20 miles with ~500ft of climbing and averaged 21.7mph. It hurt and I would say that was 95% of everything I had. I did this solo and their was some tail/head wind but nothing crazy. If I were to race in a Crit or short road race (Cat 5) do you think with effective drafting I could be able to average 23/24mph?

Fyi I am a really small rider. I am 5’4" and weigh 112lbs. My bike (Allez Sprint with carbon wheels (50mil) and Aero handlebar is 18lbs)

Yes definitely and pretty easily if you stay off the front. When the group gets into the upper 20’s is where you might really begin to notice how hard it is. But to your question adding a few MPH would be easy and yes you would be able to hang. Crits are more about acceleration out of corners though, at least that is when I see most people pop. Rarely on the straights but it does happen.

Short answer: yes

Longer answer: it depends. It should be pretty easy for most people to gain that kind of speed through drafting, but ultimately it will depend on the race course, field size, and your ability to be efficient riding in a group

1 Like

With a draft, 23/24 would be easier than 21.7 solo. It could even be quite a lot easier.

20 miles solo averaging 21.7 is pretty fast. You’ll be just fine in a race.

But, looking ahead don’t get too focused on average race speed. That crit that averages 23/24 can have wild variations in speed and will often be a be made up of 20 mph stretches (or even less) and 27-28+ mph stretches to that average. Its possible there might not be much if any 23/24mph steady cruising.

The main trick to not getting dropped is have the ability to match the acceleration of the pack when they jump from 20 to 28. Miss one of those even by a second or two and you’re chasing to get back on and eventually if that happens too many times you’ll break contact. People often think of getting dropped as being completely exhausted and flying out the back super slow but in races, often a dropped rider can still nearly match the pace of the pack once the attack is over but there’s a gap and the rider can’t close it.

So, a good solo test is how fast can you go for 1 minute in the middle of that 21.7mph solo ride and how often can you repeat that hard 1 minute effort.

My last Cat 4/5 crit averaged almost 27mph, and my average power wasn’t all that high. I think you’ll be surprised how fast you can go while in the pack.

So I literally had the same ride the Monday as far as distance elevation and speed, except I’m 5’9" and 180lbs. Tuesday (next day) day I participated in a local amateur crit type ride and averaged 23.5mph

You’ll be good to go!

I think it is pretty clear from prior comments that achieving your target speed will “be a piece of cake” and for that matter, the speed of any Cat 5 crit you enter. I think one of the key questions you may want to think about, is how low of an intensity level can you do it at - do you need to have an IF of 0.80 or higher, or can you get into the low 70s. The benefit of the low IF, of course, is 2 fold: having a full tank (technically, your FRC) available for the sprint, and 2) preparedness when you move up categories and the speeds get faster.

I am not a crit racer, just a lowly Cat 5 road racer, and not fast on the flats solo, but achieved IFs in the low 70s at the Early Bird crits back in February (early season) at an average speed of 25mph. From my limited experience, I achieved this in 2 ways:

  1. Training- specifically, fatigue resistance (progressive time in zone at sweet spot, threshold, and over/unders)
  2. Bike handling skills