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  1. #1
    I'm a Cyclist! Missbumble's Avatar
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    Cadence and Going Faster for us newbies

    I got inspired by Midgets post regarding MTB vs Roadies. I ride a road bike - pink and white - a beauty, of course! Anyhoo as some of you know, I am trying to go faster...and I hear spinning is the answer. So I just wanted to get some tips. Has anyone felt like they chug along at a clams pace, think the Slowskys! (I love them) In my Winter Base Mileage Group Rides I am the almost slowest. The slowest ends up turning back - and I end up finishing. We were at about 13 MPH on the first 501 miler...then 14.X the next ride (56.5) miles. So how do I do it???

    Here's what I did - rode up with the front group as much as possible. For a while I was in my Big ring... and then 2 of the guys whom are excellent riders came by and coached me to take it easy - and always ride in the second ring on these rides - and just spin a ton. I ask you guys HOW!!! It's not easy.

    It's a ton of work so I am looking for inspiration!!

    I run as well to lose weight - and yesterday hit the treadmill for a 5mile run. I usually go at 10.5 to 11 mph...slow again. Today I will lift weights and first run a faster mile at maybe 9mph.maybe that's the way to get better at the long distances - but increasing speed on shorter rides? Problem is in the winter I only have the Saturday LONG ride and maybe a Sunday ride- though lately not so much.

    OK Your thoughts....
    A. Miss B you are one lazy rider
    B. Who Cares?
    C. Ah miss B it's cadence...it is hard...just pedal and pedal - keep your feet flat at all times... maximize efficiency...eat more...
    D. Interesting
    E. All of the Above
    F. None of the Above

    And More Info:
    I am about 40 pounds over weight to be in top top form..... riding since June...can run 5 miles...and ride at a slow pace 100.

    Info on the bike: Specialized Dolce Elite - Not compact gearing....triple..

    Crankset: Shimano Tiagra, 30/39/50 teeth
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    Rear Cogs 9-speed, 11 -28 teeth

    THanks Guys - look forward to reading your ideas to ake Miss B HTFU!
    Last edited by Missbumble; 01-14-09 at 05:27 AM.

  2. #2
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    How do you hold up on steep hills?
    I had my Small Front Ring 30T, changed to a 24T for hills and it is great.
    Last edited by 10 Wheels; 01-14-09 at 05:53 AM.
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  3. #3
    me ride bike good
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    Acouple things that I have done: every time I ride a stationary, I stay between 90-100rpm, even if I have to adjust resistance a bit, as it is a good opportunity to give you a feel for the cadence. Then, on the road, I experimented with gears to find what gears to use at what points in my ride. An advantage is that I commute, so I ride the same route every day, and can compare different pairings and how they worked out. Another thing I committed to is spinning up hills as opposed to standing. In my opinion, this has helped as well. I am by no means a speed demon, but I do know that spinning faster in lower gears resulted in faster speeds with less fatigue, as it is more aerobic.

  4. #4
    Tilting with windmills txvintage's Avatar
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    The first thing to do is find the comfortable cadence that you can already do in a comfortable gearing pair, then ditch it and make it just a bit harder. Either try and increase your RPM or use the next taller gear.

    I have no choice other than to spin. My kees blow out like something that would happen to Wylie Coyote if I try and mash for too long or too hard.

  5. #5
    Triathlon in my future??? flip18436572's Avatar
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    I don't know my ring numbers and I really don't seem to care. I ride at 85-110 cadence, but I try to keep it in the 90+ range most of the time. I am rarely on my small ring and with the hills I ride, I will maybe get on the small ring once for about a minute of climbing time and then I am back to the big ring.
    2007 Jamis Ventura Comp
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  6. #6
    I'm a Cyclist! Missbumble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 77midget View Post
    Acouple things that I have done: every time I ride a stationary, I stay between 90-100rpm, even if I have to adjust resistance a bit, as it is a good opportunity to give you a feel for the cadence. Then, on the road, I experimented with gears to find what gears to use at what points in my ride. An advantage is that I commute, so I ride the same route every day, and can compare different pairings and how they worked out. Another thing I committed to is spinning up hills as opposed to standing. In my opinion, this has helped as well. I am by no means a speed demon, but I do know that spinning faster in lower gears resulted in faster speeds with less fatigue, as it is more aerobic.
    Thanks Midget - I tried the statonary bike just now - wow that's dast pedalling. How long do you last on it? I just did it for 10 minutes as a warm up for my weight lifting stuff....but since I can run 5 miles - I bet I coudl do that as well...any suggetsions on how often/how long. It's not a spinning bike but it's upright and may help me on the road.

  7. #7
    I'm a Cyclist! Missbumble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
    How do you hold up on steep hills?
    I had my Small Front Ring 30T, changed to a 24T for hills and it is great.
    Intersting... I do fine.... They make fun of me on my rides casue I have a triple and lots of gears etc. Still I am sllloooow

  8. #8
    Genetics have failed me Scummer's Avatar
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    For higher cadence, just make sure that you watch your bike computer and adjust the gears so you're always between 80 and 100 rpm.

    The other thing you can do to improve cadence is to do spin ups. Ride in a nice and easy gear at 90rpm and spin up to the highest rpm you can manage every 15 min. or so. Try to keep the high cadence for maybe 30 secs. This maybe 120 in the beginning and might feel difficult, but eventually as the times go on and you are going to improve your leg speed, this might very well go up to 150 and higher.

    When I started out a year ago I thought 120 was killer, I can do now 185rpm on the rollers without loosing control over my bike.

    Thomas
    Gelato aficionado.

  9. #9
    Downtown Spanky Brown bautieri's Avatar
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    First, to go faster you must add the color red to the Dolce, a neat pinstripe or a rattle can job should be sufficent. It's a well know fact that red makes you go faster. Next, you need to add a flame sticker.

    Ok seriously though, it takes practice. Ride how you are comfortable and enjoy it! If you want to push teh big ring do it so long as you are not mashing, you want to spin do it. On my longer rides I tend to push the big ring more than I should. Am I going to change, probably not. I'll just downshift when I need to.

  10. #10
    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    IMO persons who are fast and experienced tend to recommend high cadence too much in the sense that they don't acknowledge that you have to work up to it over time. I don't think these sudden changes to high cadence are even possible for some of us. As Txintage said (I think it was he), just nudge it up a little at a time and you will improve... and IMO ou will also enjoy your rides without flogging yourself to death.

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  11. #11
    a big man
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    Cross training with weights for your legs and entire body will help. Strengthening all the leg muscles and your core muscles will improve your cycling.

  12. #12
    Senior Member deraltekluge's Avatar
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    If you're in a very low gear, you just spin and go slowly. If you're in a very high gear, the forces required are too great, and you go slowly. Somewhere in between, there's an optimum that maximizes your speed...and it's different for different people.

  13. #13
    HenryL HenryL's Avatar
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    Higher cadence comes from practice and better cardiac fittness. Work at it for about 6 weeks and you will find you will move into the 90 95 range over time. My sweet spot is this, if I am out of breath I'm spinning too fast, if the legs hurt, I'm spinning too slow and in too big a gear.

    Higher cadence preserves the knees and leave lots of power for climbs or sprints. If you are with a group, don't be shy about drafting for periods of rest. Then you can switch to a higher gear and closer cadence while sitting in. You only have so much in the tank for each ride, if used wisely you will be faster in the long run.

  14. #14
    me ride bike good
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    Quote Originally Posted by Missbumble View Post
    Thanks Midget - I tried the statonary bike just now - wow that's dast pedalling. How long do you last on it? I just did it for 10 minutes as a warm up for my weight lifting stuff....but since I can run 5 miles - I bet I coudl do that as well...any suggetsions on how often/how long. It's not a spinning bike but it's upright and may help me on the road.
    My routine, and this is just personal preference, is this: If biking is the primary cardio for the day, which for me is a 'cross training' day, I run a mile, then I bike for 45 minutes on random hill setting at level 8-12, depending on how I feel that day, and what my RPM is, which I try to keep between 90 and 100. Running is definitely a good primer for this. I only go below level 10 (out of 20) when the resistance is at it's highest, aka a strong hill-I treat the level setting like downshifting.

    I have been doing this 2x per week, but I want to move it to 3x. My knee was a bit sore after last night's 5k loop, so tonight is just a 1 mile and then some lifting, and tomorrow will be a bike day.

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    For me the biggest change in my cadence happened when I went from push push push to thinking about little circles...
    Do SIDI Dominator 6 leave a carbon foot print?

  16. #16
    triathlete? roadie? MTB? caelric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Missbumble View Post
    I run as well to lose weight - and yesterday hit the treadmill for a 5mile run. I usually go at 10.5 to 11 mph...slow again. Today I will lift weights and first run a faster mile at maybe 9mph.
    I think maybe you mean 10.5 to 11 minute miles and a faster one at 9 minute miles. Because 1.5 mph running is faster than a 6 minute mile, whihc whilke not world class, is pretty quick.

    Anyways, a higher cadence is not necesarily a good thing. You have to find a cadence that suits you. For me, I use a high cadence, about 100. For you, your optimal cadence might be completely different. Either way, you need to find your optimal cadence.

    Oh, if you are running, and cycling, why not throw swimming into the ring, and do a triathlon. They are tons of fun!
    Go Fast By Any Means, my triathlon/motor sports blog

  17. #17
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    First off, I didn't read all the responses...

    Do you have trainer? As in one of those devices you attach your bike to that has a resistance unit for the back wheel. Or a stationary? Either of those will make this easier, but you can do it on your bike on flat ground...

    Practice one legged pedaling. 20 revolutions with right leg, 20 revolutions with left leg. Pay attention to what you are doing to keep the pedal moving with one foot not touching a pedal at all. Get used to the feeling of having to rotate the crank all the way around with only one foot. Then switch feet.

    When you think you have a handle on it, put both feet back on and try to coordinate the entire thing. That is spinning. If you find yourself bouncing on the seat, you aren't coordinating it right. Go back to the one legged drill.

    Here's the reason why. If you aren't actively unweighting the leg that's on the upstroke, the one pushing down has to propel the bike and push that leg up too. That leg that's being pushed up is also still pushing down, increasing the effort needed to push it up. By learning to unweight that leg using the one-legged drill, you are decreasing the amount of effort needed to keep the pedals going.

    I find it extremely helpful climbing, on flats, all the time actually. My preferred cadence is 105, but I can crank it up to 140 or more if needed. I do get down to the low 50's on steep climbs, but I try to keep my climbing cadence at 80 or 90.

    All that said, some folks physiology precludes spinning at a fast cadence. They just aren't built for it. But you can learn to ride faster.

    As I learned in another sport, to go fast, you have to practice going fast.
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    Some sort of pithy irrelevant one-liner should go here.

  18. #18
    Senior Member
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    Missbumble, you realize that riding with a higher cadence isn't automatically going to make you faster, right?

    Going faster is, ultimately, a matter of leg strength and cardiovascular fitness. If you want to ride faster, there are only a couple of choices, right? You can: 1) pedal faster in the same gear, or 2) you can switch to harder gear and pedal at the same rate, or 3) you can switch to an easier gear and pedal a lot faster. If you've got weak legs, that takes Option #2 off the table. And if you've got poor cardiovascular fitness or can't pedal at a high cadence, then Option #3 is off the table.

    For myself, I tend to think of cadence not as a means to go faster but as allowing me to make the trade-off between leg strength and cardiovascular strength. Sometimes, pedaling at a higher cadence in an easier gear is a better way to go fast than using my leg muscles to push a more difficult gear. My cadence is typically between 90 and 100rpm, with an absolute maximum of about 120rpm. I'm always in a gear that allows me to pedal at this same 90-100rpm cadence. For me, this is sort of the "sweet spot"; I feel like I could pedal all day at this cadence without getting tired. As a result, I'm able to save my leg strength for when I really need it: climbing hills, embarrassing my buddies in our informal sprints, etc.

    When I want to go faster, I work on leg strength and endurance not cadence! For me, this means forcing myself to ride in a more difficult gear than I normally might and to stay in that gear for as long as possible. You can also do weight lifting, hill repeats, intervals, or anything else what will help strengthen your muscles and increase power. Once you're stronger, you can then use cadence, gearing, etc. to decide when you want to use that power.

  19. #19
    Senior Member dbikingman's Avatar
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    Miss alot of good advice above. One additional recommendation would be do shorter rides, where you work on higher cadence and more speed. You might see this mentioned as a time trial pace or lactate thresold workout.

    I don't have a candence meter for my bike. While running I try to do 90 strides per minute. To accomplish this I made myself a clip track. Where the click is 90 bpm and I concentrate on striking my foot down on the beat. Once I get use to this feel, I can do away with the click track, I might try it on the bike.

  20. #20
    me ride bike good
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    sstorkel put it in a better fashion. Cadence on its own does not mean speed for me, but in combination with strength, and finding a sweet spot, speed is a byproduct of it, as is, in my case, endurance.
    Sorry if I misled.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Pinyon's Avatar
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    It takes a few seasons to be able to spin like that for most people. It also takes practice. At the same traveling speed, my heart rate is also a lot higher when I spin at 110 rpm, as opposed to 95 rpm. So for me, and more than half of the other clydes that I've ridden with, the benefit cut-off ends up being somewhere around 95-105 rpm (it is 110-120 rpm for many smaller riders). Like I said, it took a few seasons for me to get comfortable at that cadence. Before I started training for it, my cadence was usually in the 80-90 rpm range.

    It also takes more energy to move bigger legs than it does smaller ones. So, you tend to see chunky-thigh people like me spin at lower rates than the pencil-leg crowd. Just how it is.

    Increasing your comfortable spin rate does make you faster, though. I work on it by doing fast-spin intervals, and one recovery/slow/flat ride where I try to keep my cadence above 110 for the entire ride. The idea is to spin faster than I ever would ride in a "real" or group ride. Speed and other technique goes out the window. It hurts, but it trains-up those fast-twitch muscles better than just about anything else that I've tried.

    Be careful spinning fast at first too. You can damage your knees if you spin so fast that you lose control of the movement. You don't want to hyper-extend or twist-up those knees.

    Take care.


    Last edited by Pinyon; 01-14-09 at 11:00 AM.
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  22. #22
    awaiting uci approval tombailey's Avatar
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    Efficiency is much more importnant than cadence. Has someone shown you/taught you how to pedal in circles?

  23. #23
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    :Crankset: Shimano Tiagra, 30/39/50 teeth"

    You're missing the most important detail- Crank LENGTH!

    IF your cranks are too long for your legs, your cadence will be limited.
    The length should be stamped inside one/both arms. Typically, something like 170MM.

    I have a bad knee, and simply going to 170's from the 175's that were on the bike increased my cadence by 22%.
    The 175's simply exceeded the range of motion in my knee, so I was literally "carrying the knee over the top" with the opposite down stroke.

    5MM doesn't sound like much, but keep in mind that you also raise the seat by 5MM. That's really a 10MM change in how much the "up knee" bends. (.4")

  24. #24
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    DOing intervals on a trainer was most effective in my case. I used to think one had to push big gears on the road to go fast. This only leads to fatigue. It is like trying to bench press 300 lbs. You can do it a few times then you're spent. SO you benched 300 lbs 5 times, you moved 1500 lbs. If you bench 150 lbs, you can lift it 20 times. That's 3000 lbs of force. With the 300 lbs, it's doubtful you'll be able to do another set. With the 150, you will easily be able to continue lifting.

    One season I actually trained to improve my cycling. I didn't count miles, how far behind I was left behind on group rides, what centuries I wanted to complete, it was all drills on the trainer and some long wekend rides.

    My trainer workouts were high cadence intervals mixed with hard effort intervals. My workouts were along these lines.

    10 minutes warm up
    1 minute hig revs. (100 + while trying to maintain a smooth spin) Maybe a 39/15 combo, no bouncing!
    3 minutes recoup pace
    1 minute biggest gear ( 50 x 11). You want to puke by the end of this interval.
    Then repeat the cycle.

    After a couple of weeks, you will improve and feel stronger. I might alter the plan at times. Maybe drop the big ring workout a couple of gears and push HARD for 3 minutes. Then do a high rep interval after a 3 minute rest. Folloing the clock with planned recoup intervals is a good tool as it forces you to GO even if you aren't prepared. It's like listening to a coach telling you to GO NOW, rather than lolligagging around till you feel like it!

    After a 45 minute session like this, you will be sweating like a dog but you wil know that you got a good workout. When I returned to theh road, I was shocked at how much my tech had changed. You will feel ike you want to do intervals and you have the ability.

    But like others say, it doesn't make you faster. My opinion is that it allows you to carry a higher speed more efficiently with less fatigue.

  25. #25
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    Missbumble,

    There have been losts of good suggestions so I won't add any more other than to encourage you to stick with it and follow some of the advise. Find what works for you. You WILL get stronger and you WILL get faster as you keep working on both your riding and your running. It all takes time. When I got back to riding/commuting on bike about 20 months ago I used to struggle to get much over 12 MPH for only 5 miles. Now I can easily do 13 to 14 on my heavy winter tires with a bit of wind, and about 16 to 17 with summer tires on the exact same bike... but that is for a short 5 mile route. Its easy to got fast on a short ride. I know you've been working hard, but I bet you could never ride 14 mph on average for 50 miles last year. If you only get the one longer ride in, then maybe hold off with some of the intervals till you are close to the end. That way you can work yourself hard, but know that you'll still be able to get to the end. You don't want to over do it early on and then completely run out of steam with a good distance to go till the end. Also note that hills will greatly lower your average speed... if you get a bunch of hills then you'll certainly be riding slower, but you will be working much harder.

    Hang in there and continue to work hard like you have been. I bet that next year you'll be able to ride at 15 to 16 mph over long runs.

    Happy riding,
    André

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