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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 09-19-07, 06:17 PM   #1
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Cadence myths and my fastest ride.

I've read that some people still don't believe in cadence. Today was proof that it works for ME. As I've put on miles this summer I've worked on getting my cadence higher and higher. What used to be comfortable at 82 was comfortable at 87 then 92 now 95 plus. Last Sunday on my quest to run down tomdaniels, I found my groove, it's about 95 rpm's. In the past I usually stayed in the eighties. Today I put the theory to the test. It went out on my easy 16.6 mile MUP loop. My goal was to keeping my cadence between 90-100 the entire 16.6 miles and see if (a) I could sustain that for the entire time (b) my average mph would increase. My best average to date was middle 15's with Gregcavi pushing me the whole way. Today I demolished that record and set a new personal best at 17.1. I had to do with while stopping twice to move my seat back up because my cf post cracked and it's slipping down.(that's another thread). My next goal will be sustaining that pace on the 26 mile MUP loop, then take it on the roads.
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Old 09-19-07, 06:19 PM   #2
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Yep cadence makes all the difference. I started at a 70 cadence a was averaging 15-16 mph, now im at 95-100 sometimes higher. My average has gone up to 20+ on short rides and 18 on my longer rides.
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Old 09-19-07, 06:37 PM   #3
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HIGHER cadence doesn't always mean faster. In fact for me a LOWER cadence made me faster. I rode for years at a high cadence using the Sheldon Brown "let the bike do the work" theory. Then 4 years later i got cadence on one of my computers. I quickly learned that my "natural" cadence was around 95-98 or so. I now try and keep it around 90.

I was not applying all of the potential energy to the bike tire, like i should have been. So I learned to run in the big ring and guess what? My speeds picked up dramatically. In fact on the road bike, I gained approx. 1 mph on an "average" ride.

On my mountain bikes i made even more improvement. I have a very typical route that i have ridden for years. With the new cadence I am able to average almost 2 mph faster. I never average under 15 mph on my mtb's anymore and for years i never averaged more than 14 mph. I should note that i also swapped cassettes to one with a closer range but still cadence played the largest role.

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Old 09-19-07, 06:43 PM   #4
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HIGHER cadence doesn't always mean faster. In fact for me a LOWER cadence made me faster. I rode for years at a high cadence using the Sheldon Brown "let the bike do the work" theory. Then 4 years later i got cadence on one of my computers. I quickly learned that my "natural" cadence was around 95-98 or so.

I was not applying all of the potential energy to the bike tire, like i should have been. So I learned to run in the big ring and guess what? My speeds picked up dramatically. In fact on the road bike, I gained approx. 1 mph on an "average" ride.

On my mountain bikes i made even more improvement. I have a very typical route that i have ridden for years. With the new cadence I am able to average almost 2 mph faster. I never average under 15 mph on my mtb's anymore and for years i never averaged more than 14 mph. I should note that i also swapped cassettes to one with a closer range but still cadence played the largest role.
What were you spinning before? I can see how over spinning and not getting the power to the pedals wouldn't work. My problem was, I was loping at a lower cadence and while I was transferring power, I wasn't spinning the power fast enough.
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Old 09-19-07, 07:50 PM   #5
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What were you spinning before? I can see how over spinning and not getting the power to the pedals wouldn't work. My problem was, I was loping at a lower cadence and while I was transferring power, I wasn't spinning the power fast enough.
I now try and stay around 90 whereas i used to be in the upper 90's.
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Old 09-19-07, 08:02 PM   #6
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Great work, Brian!! Tomorrow we're doing 18 avg.

P.S. I will bring a spare seatpost just in case.

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Old 09-19-07, 08:04 PM   #7
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Great work, Brian!! Tomorrow we're doing 18 avg.

P.S. I will bring a spare seatpost just in case.

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Old 09-19-07, 08:05 PM   #8
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LOL. The PR2's are super smooth. I think I may see a slight difference.

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Old 09-19-07, 08:07 PM   #9
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LOL. The PR2's are super smooth. I think I may see a slight difference.

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Old 09-20-07, 04:16 AM   #10
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Great work Caincando.

One of the greatest differences I noticed between spinning and mashing was how much more adaptable you are at a higher cadence. I live in an area with plenty of undulating terrain and found it much easier to ride with a cadence in the 90s. It allows me to power through the smaller hills without breaking stride or shifting too much, which keeps my speed up.
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Old 09-21-07, 07:17 AM   #11
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Guys,

I find this thread very interesting as I have been experimenting with the same stuff. Is the goal to keep 90 RPM even up hills? I find myself running around 90 - 100 on the flats, but shift to a smaller rear cog up the hills dropping my cadence between 60 - 70 RPM. I do this because I find it wasteful from an energy perspective to spin a high cadence out of the saddle. THe other thing I notice is that my heart rate remains very low when spinning faster. For example I can spin 90 -100 and my BPM are 125 - 130. When mashing the pedals at a lower cadence my rate is 150 - 170 depending on how steep the hill is. What does this all mean? Is lower Heart rate better? A higher heart rate burns more calories so I am tempted to stay in the higher heart rate as I have not yet lost the weight I need to lose. I know this message covers alot of area. Anyone got any ideas?

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Old 09-21-07, 07:33 AM   #12
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The spinning with the lower HR is because you aren't stressing the body as much. If you work harder, then the HR goes up. This is because you are burning O2 out of the blood faster and the blood needs to circulate faster to keep the muscles from going anaerobic. As to your question: Depends on your goal......

If you are touring and riding all day, for example, you need to keep that HR down so you can finish out the century or whatever. If you are doing a short hammerfest, then by all means, jack the HR to your hearts desire! (as long as you don't have an underlying undiagnosed heart condition )
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Guys,

I find this thread very interesting as I have been experimenting with the same stuff. Is the goal to keep 90 RPM even up hills? I find myself running around 90 - 100 on the flats, but shift to a smaller rear cog up the hills dropping my cadence between 60 - 70 RPM. I do this because I find it wasteful from an energy perspective to spin a high cadence out of the saddle. THe other thing I notice is that my heart rate remains very low when spinning faster. For example I can spin 90 -100 and my BPM are 125 - 130. When mashing the pedals at a lower cadence my rate is 150 - 170 depending on how steep the hill is. What does this all mean? Is lower Heart rate better? A higher heart rate burns more calories so I am tempted to stay in the higher heart rate as I have not yet lost the weight I need to lose. I know this message covers alot of area. Anyone got any ideas?

chevy57
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Old 09-21-07, 07:56 AM   #13
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Tom is right, it depends on your goal.

I wish I could spin 90+ when climbing, but I don't have the gears or the strength to do it. I spin until my cadence drops into the 70's. Once I start to drop below that, I change gears and stand until I can't stand anymore then I drop back to the saddle and drop gears.

When I am holding a high cadence I will shift up when I hit upper 90's-low 100's. I'll continue to up shift until I absolutely can't hold it, then drop the highest gear that I can hold at 90+. I have no problem keeping my heart rate up doing this. If my HR drops then I know I need to buck up and grab another gear.

Then again, my fitness level isn't anywhere near the level of some of you, so just about everything I do makes my heart rate go up.
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Old 09-21-07, 09:12 AM   #14
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I try to keep my cadence as high as possible on the hills, but it really depends upon the grade and length of the hill. Some are not that steep, but are very long. On those I try to keep my cadence above 75 while on the seat the entire time. For the steeper hills, I try to hit them in a low gear (5th as an example) and keep my cadence as high as possible, but shift gears often enough to keep the cadence high . I will drop below 60 on my cadence, but it depends upon the hill and my exhaustion level at the time. I am 43, so I try to keep my heart rate below 160 as a general rule. There is a hill in Missouri (Lake of the Ozarks area) that I hit three times in one day on the bike and my heart rate hits 170 each time and I use every gear possible and my cadence gets below 50. I don't know the distance or rise, but it is not a fun one for me.

If you are doing interval training of any type these hills are a great work out. It is still a good thing to keep the cadence up as high as possible, but it is not a definite thing. Do what works for you.
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Old 09-21-07, 10:47 AM   #15
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Tom is right, it depends on your goal.

I wish I could spin 90+ when climbing, but I don't have the gears or the strength to do it. I spin until my cadence drops into the 70's. Once I start to drop below that, I change gears and stand until I can't stand anymore then I drop back to the saddle and drop gears.

When I am holding a high cadence I will shift up when I hit upper 90's-low 100's. I'll continue to up shift until I absolutely can't hold it, then drop the highest gear that I can hold at 90+. I have no problem keeping my heart rate up doing this. If my HR drops then I know I need to buck up and grab another gear.

Then again, my fitness level isn't anywhere near the level of some of you, so just about everything I do makes my heart rate go up.
I think it also depends a lot on the rider, the wiry little 70 year old who has been riding since he was 15, and puts more miles on his bike in a year then most people drive, many of those miles in hills, can probably ride in any gear he wants, up a friggin' mountain. However most of us, who quit riding for a number of years, and are slaves to our cars, need to be a little more careful if we don't want to over stress body components like the pump that can't take too much over stress.

Now sometimes we become slaves to our technology, rather then making technology our slave. I don't have a Heart rate monitor and I don't have a cadence meter, I try to listen to the old bod though, if I feel like I am mashing, I probably am, so I choose a lighter gear, if I feel like I am spinning too fast for no gain then I probably am and will shift up a gear. If I have to constantly watch an HRM, or my cadence, then that takes all the fun out of it, and it becomes another chore..... If you have an HRM then when it's in the aerobic range, what does that feel like, as you go into the anerobic range, how does that feel different? If you have a cadence meter, be in tune to what the body feels like at 90RPM, if your cadence drops to say 75 what does that feel like, what about 90 or 105, once you get in tune with what the right heart rate and cadence feel like, you can leave the HRM at home when the batteries die, or forget to fix the cadence meter when it quits working.
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Old 09-21-07, 11:07 AM   #16
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Kadence is King.

85-100 is my comfortable range. 95 - 97 is my sweet spot. If I can't hold at least 70 on a climb, I'm standing.
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Old 09-21-07, 11:19 AM   #17
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I think it also depends a lot on the rider, the wiry little 70 year old who has been riding since he was 15, and puts more miles on his bike in a year then most people drive, many of those miles in hills, can probably ride in any gear he wants, up a friggin' mountain. However most of us, who quit riding for a number of years, and are slaves to our cars, need to be a little more careful if we don't want to over stress body components like the pump that can't take too much over stress.

Now sometimes we become slaves to our technology, rather then making technology our slave. I don't have a Heart rate monitor and I don't have a cadence meter, I try to listen to the old bod though, if I feel like I am mashing, I probably am, so I choose a lighter gear, if I feel like I am spinning too fast for no gain then I probably am and will shift up a gear. If I have to constantly watch an HRM, or my cadence, then that takes all the fun out of it, and it becomes another chore..... If you have an HRM then when it's in the aerobic range, what does that feel like, as you go into the anerobic range, how does that feel different? If you have a cadence meter, be in tune to what the body feels like at 90RPM, if your cadence drops to say 75 what does that feel like, what about 90 or 105, once you get in tune with what the right heart rate and cadence feel like, you can leave the HRM at home when the batteries die, or forget to fix the cadence meter when it quits working.
All very true. I'm more in tune to my body than I am with my bike. I've only been riding this road bike for 3 months and I haven't dialed in the "feel" yet. Therefore I rely on the cadence computer. I'm sure, as you stated, that eventually I won't even need one. I will be able to feel when I'm in the sweet spot.

Everyone defines "fun" differently. If I'm out for a sight seeing stroll, I really never even glance at the computer. If I'm out to ride as fast as I can for as long as I can. Then as SPIKE stated, kadence is king. I get joy out or riding my bikes is more than one way. I don't enjoy hauling the mail every day. But man is it fun to kick it up an tear out a fast ride a couple times a week.
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Old 09-21-07, 11:50 AM   #18
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When I group ride I find that I actually get more 'rest' at lower cadence. So my MO is to ride say in a 52/19 if I am on the front at 100 rpm then to shift to a 52/17 if I am drafting. This allows my HR to catch up a bit as I don't have to spin as much, I am using more leg muscle but due to the effects of drafting the resistance is much less so overall I am doing less work to keep the same speed. My sweet spot though is 85-90rpm.

Fast cadence really comes into play when you need to hit speeds >28mph, you have to spin up 100rpm or more as you get low into your cluster to get to the speeds. I think in a big group ride the best I've managed is pedaling at 110rpm in my 52/13 and hitting 33mph. Can't do that for long but its fun while it lasts.
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Old 09-21-07, 12:03 PM   #19
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I've read that some people still don't believe in cadence. Today was proof that it works for ME. As I've put on miles this summer I've worked on getting my cadence higher and higher. What used to be comfortable at 82 was comfortable at 87 then 92 now 95 plus. Last Sunday on my quest to run down tomdaniels, I found my groove, it's about 95 rpm's. In the past I usually stayed in the eighties. Today I put the theory to the test. It went out on my easy 16.6 mile MUP loop. My goal was to keeping my cadence between 90-100 the entire 16.6 miles and see if (a) I could sustain that for the entire time (b) my average mph would increase. My best average to date was middle 15's with Gregcavi pushing me the whole way. Today I demolished that record and set a new personal best at 17.1. I had to do with while stopping twice to move my seat back up because my cf post cracked and it's slipping down.(that's another thread). My next goal will be sustaining that pace on the 26 mile MUP loop, then take it on the roads.
Wow..you are already faster than me. I'm hoping that a proper fit will help though, once I'm going again.
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Old 09-21-07, 02:07 PM   #20
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Wow..you are already faster than me. I'm hoping that a proper fit will help though, once I'm going again.

Aero is your friend. I have to drop down to the drop and tuck as much as I can any time I have enough distance to run 20mph+. I can feel the decrease in resistance via my legs not having to work as hard. Sometimes I've even start to over peddle my gear and I'll have to shift up on in the drops. As soon as I pop back up, I'm back to plowing air. Going fast has a whole new set of challenges to learn.

BTW I'm only relatively fast in the flats. I'm a slug on the road with hills.
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Old 09-21-07, 09:57 PM   #21
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Now sometimes we become slaves to our technology, rather then making technology our slave. I don't have a Heart rate monitor and I don't have a cadence meter, I try to listen to the old bod though, if I feel like I am mashing, I probably am, so I choose a lighter gear, if I feel like I am spinning too fast for no gain then I probably am and will shift up a gear. If I have to constantly watch an HRM, or my cadence, then that takes all the fun out of it, and it becomes another chore..... If you have an HRM then when it's in the aerobic range, what does that feel like, as you go into the anerobic range, how does that feel different? If you have a cadence meter, be in tune to what the body feels like at 90RPM, if your cadence drops to say 75 what does that feel like, what about 90 or 105, once you get in tune with what the right heart rate and cadence feel like, you can leave the HRM at home when the batteries die, or forget to fix the cadence meter when it quits working.
That is true to a point. But, my heart rate can actually stay low when my body feels like it can't do anymore than it is currently putting out, but my HR is not increasing. I don't watch my cadence as much anymore, because I know what 85 - 95 feels like and when I need to up or down shift, but having the cadence on my road bike was a definite plus for me and made me a better rider because of it for the fitness that I wanted out of a road bike. My other bike is not for going fast, but for riding with my wife at her pace. No, my HR will not climb at her pace, but that is not what I am riding that bike for. I like the technology, but I also ride without it. If I am doing a workout to increase my heart rate and work on some interval training to hopefully improve my fitness and my heart health, then I will be using a HRM. I didn't spend much money on one and it has helped my lose about 60 more pounds as I pay attention to my heart rate while running, jogging, walking, biking, elliptical, weight lifting, basketball, tennis, etc.....

You can do what you want or how you want. The HRM has helped me tremendously.
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Old 09-22-07, 08:05 AM   #22
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out of curiosity i did a test to see what i average at and counting for 10 secs(timed that on my comp) i spin 15 every 10 secs, which works out at 90 rpm and i try to maintain that up, down or on the flats, quite surprised at that thought i'd have been lower, tho i did make a conscious effort a few months ago to spin faster...it's no really just about cadence tho is it? it the ability to spin higher gears at faster RPM so surely power has a large part to play here? i mean you cn sit and spin 90 RPM on lower gears all day and you'll be slow as a slug, you need the power to be able to push up the gears and maintain that cadence? just thinking out loud here i'm no expert on this...
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Old 09-22-07, 08:19 AM   #23
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Cadence is about efficiency in the center of your power band. If you have the strength to push at 90 or whatever your max efficient cadence is withing the 75-115 range that we seem to fall in as a group, in the top gear, you'll be faster than if you do it in a lower gear.

90, on average, is the most efficient cadence as it's at more or less the center of our power band where torque and brake horsepower are balanced and we can quickly up the cadence if we need to without having to generate a grossly larger amount of torque to accelerate.
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