The Bell curve of cylists - how fast are the average TR users?

I am not a racer. I joined a non competitive club, we sometimes send a group to local brevets but that’s all.
Some friends of people affiliated to the club actually race in an amateur team. They only ever get to regional competitions here in Madrid. These people are all about 4’5 to 5 w/kg,
One time, they invited me to come along one of their recovery day rides. They were chatting and they waited on top of climbs and we averaged 31 km/h. I was absolutely destroyed at the end. They took that as an easy spin.
These guys that are absolutely untouchable for me are nobodies in their current amateur rank. I can’t say what category they are in, but they don’t compete nationally or enter podiums.


Good example. Think about it in a running context too. An average male high school XC runner can do a 5k in 16:30-17:30.
They have no chance to run D1 in college where this would be a tempo run pace. However, they probably can win local 5k races or be in contention.
Most D1 5k runners also have no chance at running professionally after school ends let alone even competing in the event at D1 NCAA national championships.
However, they appear as legends to the recreational runner (and probably still do many years after serious training and competing ends for them).

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Love the running analogy. I was one of those high school 3K and 5K runners. State level in HS and absolutely destroyed in college meets. Good for fitness but no delusions of being fast.


I’m 50 years old now. Definitely average. Every year that goes by I care less and less about race results and focus more on the process of training. At this point, I just don’t have that competitive spirit where I get overly upset when I don’t perform well.


Newbie, age 51, started with a Gravel bike in Dec. 2020, added a powermeter in Aug. 2021, and got a real roadbike in Feb. 2022.
Pretty much no sport 2005–2012, significant injury then, physiotherapy plus required work (1/w in the gym and the pool, 5 km run) for the following four years, then started Badminton in a local team (1.5 x 2.5 h weekly avg) in 2016. With Corona that stopped, started some running – and bought the bike because of “hip uncomfort” in Dec…
Currently at 3.8 W/kg (80 kg).

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Are you implying rubbish genetics in = rubbish out

Or rubbish training in = rubbish out?

Neither - rubbish data in = rubbish conclusions out.
The problem with survey data is that the quality of the data that you get is generally very poor. But you have lots of it. When you then start a scientific fishing trip with vast datasets, you come out with what look like statistically very significant results, but actually a lot of it turns out to be spurious correlations (see Spurious Correlations)


Our prof in the uni used to say you can find what you are looking for in a big enough data set.
He loved to show proof of that in the class.
Like showing that lawyers make less money than retired women from the bus riding data of a transport department.
Yes, I took the class 3 times. He was funny and also a pita.


Don’t be sad. I’d love to get to 3.0 Currently stuck somewhere south of that.


3.8 W/kg @ 80kg are not really newbie numbers. It also means that you can ride solo at speeds of 38-40 km/h outside on flat terrain.


Totally resonates with me. I’m pretty sure I could do 4.25 w/kg for an hour, which is maybe useful for impressing folk who don’t ride much, but without a wicked sprint, it makes me a really average amateur.

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Yet the numbers of a newbie;-)
As I wrote, not a lot of sport for 15–20 years before, but probably some physiological memory of fairly high-level non-endurance sports activity in the early 1990s…

Sure – depending on bike and wind even 45 km/h – for some (not too long) time…

38-40 km/h is on a regular road bike with no wind on flat terrain, and sustained for say an hour. If that is the level that you are at with little to no training, then I would say keep it up and you can be going places!

Thanks, but, unfortunately, no – my aerodynamics are not (yet?) good enough for this:-o
Hope to demonstrate a >36 km/h solo round-trip for >1 h this year… let’s see if I find a day with good legs and little wind;-)

Same here. Seeing folks get to 3.8x+ within a year of starting to ride crushes my soul every time I read such a comment.


As my first season of racing (XC) I’m realising more than ever that FTP isn’t everything when it comes to race performance.

At 4.5+ wkg I’m likely one of the fittest in my local club league - the winners are about 4wkg but their skill and knowledge of the trail (most of them have done the league for the past 10 years) - makes it so I can’t even come close to them.

Whilst I have to ride around threshold to not kill myself before the descent so I can focus on the descent and not die… they can push themselves even further and recover on the descent.

This is obviously XC specific but I can imagine it applies to other forms of bike racing.

Sure we can crank out watts on the trainer but what about taking it outside? Or performing after a few hours at tempo. Our ability to recover whilst in a race situation is vital



You should NEVER compare yourself with others and question your ‘worth.’ NEVER.
Just be the best you, you can be, and hopefully that is better than yesterday.


Isn’t competition about nothing more than comparing oneself with others?

Or should the focus really be on “question your worth”? I mean, my worth is my worth, as a human being, but my “worth” as a cyclist isn’t measured by wins and podiums, or internet FTP discussions. Its measured by what I do to keep the LBS afloat and my advocacy for more and better bike lanes.


I made the mistake of introducing some friends to TR plus my winter zwift TTT team.

They’re all over 4.5 w/kg now and closing fast on my numbers. Going to have to step it up!!! (Although entering triathlon training focus now when I normally slide back a bit on power output).

Moral of the story, don’t invite anyone to join TR unless you can handle them getting a lot faster!


From the podcast this week:

Additional comments from Nate:
- Middle of the curve is about 3.25 w/kg for Men
- Middle of the curve is about 2.50 or 2.75 w/kg for Women
- The data just for Women is generally about 0.5 w/kg lower than the values for Men (corrected from review to override Nate’s comments that were lacking handy data).
- With respect to aging, the curve drops 0.25 w/kg on average for every 5 years of age after 30.