Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Cycling speed variations with time of year

I’ve always assumed summer is the time of year when I will cycle the fastest. My ride data seems to back this up, with my average summer riding speed higher than my winter speed, but there are so many variables it is difficult to be definitive about it. For instance, during the summer I’m more likely to head out of the city and ride on some roads without too much traffic and fewer red lights, so I manage to maintain a higher average speed (although another variable to throw in is I tend to go up bigger hills where I’m slower!). Also I ride more during the summer so my overall fitness is probably higher. So maybe the difference in speed is not weather or temperature related.

But I was still surprised to read someone suggesting they go faster in the winter. The only time this happens to me is when I’m out during a windy winter day and catch a nice tailwind.

But I thought I’d check the Strava data from my site. Which months have the most KOMs? Checking that removes at least one variable, different roads. First I had to update my site to store the KOM date for each segment then I had to grab some data. I chose segments in the UK, removing those that were less than 0.5km (too easily messed up with dubious GPS data) and removing segments with less than 100 riders (not competitive enough) and this is what I got.

image

This is a fairly small sample but it certainly suggests the summer months are the best time to grab a KOM, which also suggests the summer is the fastest time of the year for cycling. But then a thought crossed my mind, people tend to cycle more during the summer months, so perhaps it’s unsurprising that most KOMs are achieved then. So my conclusion is that I still have no idea and more research is required. And there are too many variables…

For my own recollection, this is the SQL I used to grab the data

SELECT MONTH(KOMDate), COUNT(*) FROM segments
WHERE Country='United Kingdom' AND
Distance>500 and
TriesCount>100 and
KOMDate IS NOT NULL
GROUP BY MONTH(KOMDate)
ORDER BY MONTH(KOMDate)

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