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Thread: Cadence work

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    Cadence work

    I went riding with my friend Chris on Friday and he said "your cadence is slow". Fits the bill, I am slow!

    So I would like to work on cadence. He explained to me that a low cadence will require muscle work and high cadence requires stamina. Makes since to me (perhaps the reason why my quads feel like mush today after our 37 mile ride Saturday).

    So my questions:

    1) how do you prevent bouncing?
    2) I feel like its tougher to gain speed when increasing cadence. I have been pedaling until I feel a little resistance which makes me gain speed. How does increasing my cadence work with gaining speed?

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    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    1) Practice. Beyond that, what helps me is to concentrate on form - making circles with my feet, rather than the up/down of the pedals. That's much, much easier to do if you're attached to your pedals, IMO.
    2) You gain speed while spinning the same way you gain speed while mashing. You push yourself to go faster until you reach whatever top speed that you can comfortably maintain in that pedaling style. I would guess that in your current style you find your speed limited by muscular exhaustion in your quads, probably before you're going very fast. If you were spinning, you'd be more likely to find your limiting factor is your lungs and heart rate. If you find yourself spinning out at really high RPMs (like in excess of 100) before that point, you shift to your next higher gear and continue the search for your limits.
    Craig in Indy

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    Senior Member mkadam68's Avatar
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    Craig's right.

    Practice, practice, practice. Do some high-cadence intervals, a minute here or there. If you're aiming for a cadence of say, 100rpm's, then practice at 110-120rpm's, even if you're bouncing. Then, when you come down to 100, you won't hardly bounce at all.

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    My bike (700c) has a 28 tooth front gear and a 32 tooth back gear if I am riding 5 mph what is my cadence? I tried to find a calculator for this but came up short. Also with Bio pace front gears and keeping a constant speed pedaling circle, I can feel the bike surge forward on each pedal stroke. I am thinking that a round gear ring and a biopace gear ring may need to be pedaled differently.

    I find that it is easier for me to spin if I have a little resistance to my forward motion. I suggest to increase your spinning speed that you find a slight upgrade and put the bike in a gear that is very low and see how fast you can go up the hill. If you start bouncing you will have to slow down and then try again. Another thing that helps me when I am trying to spin up hill is to make sure that I concentrate on pulling up on the back side of the stroke. Sometimes I try to practice by pulling up as much as possible and pushing down as little as possible. Using these different muscles also lets my quads rest a little on some hills. I have heard some refer to a good pedal stroke as trying to scrape mud off the bottom of your shoe when your pedal stroke reaches the bottom.

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    Senior Member mkadam68's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim p View Post
    I am thinking that a round gear ring and a biopace gear ring may need to be pedaled differently.
    No. That is the "secret" of biopace chainrings. They take advantage of the pedalling stroke. Pedal as normal, or you'll really screw them up. Saying that, studies have consistently show biopace rings do nothing for optimization. It's a marketing gimmick.

    Quote Originally Posted by jim p View Post
    I can feel the bike surge forward on each pedal stroke
    That's because with a 28x32, that's an incredibly small gear. Try riding a slightly bigger gear, but try to maintain a good cadence.

    Quote Originally Posted by jim p View Post
    If you start bouncing you will have to slow down and then try again.
    Bouncing means you're under-geared (too easy). Don't slow down. Just shift up to the next bigger gear and keep spinning.

    Quote Originally Posted by jim p View Post
    Another thing that helps me when I am trying to spin up hill is to make sure that I concentrate on pulling up on the back side of the stroke. Sometimes I try to practice by pulling up as much as possible and pushing down as little as possible. Using these different muscles also lets my quads rest a little on some hills. I have heard some refer to a good pedal stroke as trying to scrape mud off the bottom of your shoe when your pedal stroke reaches the bottom.
    Good advice.

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    I've been working on my cadence for a few weeks now and I'm seeing a big improvement in my climbing ability. I'm now accelerating on hills I used to be losing speed on. It seems to me to be awfully slow progress for weeks then jumps in results. I used to work pretty hard to maintain 85-90rpms and now I'm routinely in the low 100's and I'm feeling stronger at the end of the ride
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    best way to work on cadence, get a cadence sensor and make it a point to go out and ride and pedal constantly and never let it go below 90. Thats how I did it. in lieu of a cadence sensor, periodically count how many times you push the pedal in 10 secnods and multiply by 6 (assuming you put your bike computer on a screen that shows the time). i don't really know how to describe working on cadence other than it can be annoying to work on starting out. I've been pleasantly surprised by how high my cadence is even when I climb hills in low gears I still spin it around 80 while I probably easily can do 100-110 on normal terrain.

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    chefisaac, don't expect to be able to raise your cadence quickly. It takes lots of time and practice. IMHO, the best thing you can do to help increase cadence is to get a bike computer with cadence. Figure out what cadence you're at now and try to bump it up just an RPM or two. Over the course of a couple months you'll be more comfortable at the higher RPM (both better form which causes less bouncing and less heavy breathing due to better conditioning) and you can increase it again slightly. Over the course of a year of so you should be able to average mid-80s for RPM.

    I have a compact double (50/34) and can use the small chainring for everything at or below 21 MPH (but a long stretch at 20+ I do shift to the big chainring because I find that 10+ minutes at 95+ RPM does get my heart racing a little too much to maintain).

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    Keep in mind everyone has their own cadance. Yes I understand the high cadance practise but it's not for everyone. My average cadance is 84 and by average I mean everything including climbs and flats. Now saying that it takes awhile to find what works best for you. I spend majority of the time in my 53-21 to 53-17 and my buddies joke saying my climbing gear has become my 53-23 and I really have no fear of riding my 53-25 on short climbs, sure it goes against todays views but not long ago before Lance came along it was the norm! I'm not saying it's right for you but it works for me, on flat ground my cadance is well above 90 I just prefer the big ring if I lived in the mountains likely not but I don't.
    Best thing about cycling is when I'm at work I'm thinking of cycling, when I'm cycling I'm thinking about cycling.

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    You might want to check the height of your saddle too. You mention quads pretty often. Too low, quads hurt, too high, hamstrings or back of knees.

    Heck, if you raise the saddle a bit, might help your spin too.

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    thank you engstrom and youcoming! I appreciate it. I will just need to try it.

    Mr. Beanz: thank you. I am not sure if it is my seat height. Its pretty high as it is. I will keep it in mind when I ride. Perhaps it was bcause I pushed too much and mashed a little to much. And the fact is, the quads are carrying a lot of weight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
    thank you engstrom and youcoming! I appreciate it. I will just need to try it.

    Mr. Beanz: thank you. I am not sure if it is my seat height. Its pretty high as it is. I will keep it in mind when I ride. Perhaps it was bcause I pushed too much and mashed a little to much. And the fact is, the quads are carrying a lot of weight.
    Having seen you on your bike I don't think it's too low.

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    will: yes you were riding behind me. did you notice anyhting else when I was riding I need to work on? I noticed I coulnt hold a line. lol

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    To get a higher cadence without bouncing new riders should work on the upward part of the pedal stroke. This will help you do what is described as "pedaling circles vs pedaling squares". One way to do this is pretend your scraping crap off of your shoe on the curb at the bottom of your pedaling stroke or to concentrate on bringing your knees up and trying to hit your elbows with your knees.

    If you use clipless pedals you can unclip one foot and try pedaling. At first this will feel awkward and your pedal stroke will feel very choppy but if you do this in a stationary trainer or a quiet part of your ride with no traffic for a few minutes at a time a couple of times a week you will see and feel your pedal stroke smooth out which will allow you in turn to raise your cadence.

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    Gee I feel like an alien in this thread. You guys giving me a headache trying to figure out what your saying. Feel free to carry on but this lady will just get on her bike tomorrow and just pedal away.

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    concentrate on base strength. Cadence will come later. How long are your current rides? I tried to work on cadence too early and ended up over taining.

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    I ride anywhere between 5 to 37 miles. just depends on the day

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    Quote Originally Posted by sjvcycler View Post
    concentrate on base strength. Cadence will come later. How long are your current rides? I tried to work on cadence too early and ended up over taining.
    I don't agree with this. Develop good riding technique now and make it a habit. Then, you won't have to worry about altering a poor cadence because it's become habit instead.

    There's no reason you can't develop cadence & base at the same time.

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    this just occurred to me, mashing means more pressure on your feet which could be why they were getting numb.

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    Suggestion: If you live somewhere with winter, buy a trainer now. There are a few exercises that are great, and teach valuable lessons in just a few repetitions:

    1) one legged pedalling, to learn to make circles
    2) Super spinning - 1 min intervals in your lowest gear, shoot for 120 to 150 for a min, soft pedal a min, then repeat. You will bounce like mad, but will quickly see how pedal stroke and core strength control bounce. Then spinning 90 to 100 on the road will be smooth as silk.

    And figure out your own cadence, which is comfortable for you. Everyone talks about their 90 to 95, or 100+, but that takes a while to develop if you even want to. Once you hit 80 to 85 you are well balanced between leg strength and cardio / aerobic capacity.

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    roll. thanks for the advice. Would love to ride with you someday

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    Quote Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
    1) how do you prevent bouncing?
    2) I feel like its tougher to gain speed when increasing cadence. I have been pedaling until I feel a little resistance which makes me gain speed. How does increasing my cadence work with gaining speed?
    What kind of pedals are you using? Clipless, toe-clip, or power grips should help stabilize you at higher RPMs. It sure did help me. At the same force/torque and higher RPMs, your speed should increase. Perhaps it's all in your head that you're going slower? I personally feel slower when motorists are going faster even if my speed is increasing, because it's relative. In rural areas I feel faster even if I'm going slower. Without a speed sensor, I wouldn't jump to conclusions.

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    using clipless. I need a cadence comp to help me out so I can see what I am doing.

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    I believe when I first started spinning, I thought I was going slower... if I remembered right. At the time I had no way of measuring it. If you're pedaling too fast, then upshift. When I first got my computer, I quickly realized my cadence was a lot higher than I expected.

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