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  1. #1
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Has your cadence slowed?

    I used to maintain a cadence in the 90's and would occasionally spin up to the 120s... my low was in the mid 80s. (This drove some therapists nuts once after knee surgery in the mid '80's... they insisted I should ride their stationary bike at 60RPM which was ridiculous)

    This was checked with the old cateye cyclocomputers... these days I typically ride in the mid 80s, and I cannot seem to "spin up" at all anymore... in spite of better shoes, and better pedals.

    I am on heart regulation drugs... and feel that may be part of it... but I am just wondering... do we lose that "spin edge" as we get older?

    Has this happened to others out there?

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    My cadence hasn't changed, but my speed is down because I'm riding lower gears. I'm 61 (and also on cardio drugs, digoxin to control my atrial fib). Five years ago I cruised at 21mph or so on flat ground at a cadence of about 100. I can still maintain the cadence, but I can't push the same gears. I'm down to 16-17.5mph now. Easy on the knees, still burns calories, keeps the blood flowing. I try not to look back at my old training logs.
    FWIW, I rode the standard 53-39 crankset and usually 12-26 cassette for years. When I built my new bike, I swapped to a 46-36-26 triple and 13-28 cogs. It's much better suited to the kind of riding I do..

  3. #3
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    I am on heart regulation drugs... and feel that may be part of it... but I am just wondering... do we lose that "spin edge" as we get older?
    Sure, reflexes slow, but not in any way that would effect bicycling. You don't say what type of drugs you are on, but if they control or affect heart rate, there could be a side effect of changing perceived exertion during certain high speed, low resistance exercise. (spinning) But again, this kind of thing only affect fairly high intensity exercise.

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    I've never had high cadence. I believe it is because of my size (height, not weight). Just as my (shorter) wife must take one-and-a-half to two steps to each of mine, I believe that taller folks just have naturally slower cadence. As always, this theory may be off in the weeds... What say you gals & guys?

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    First of all - hi everybody. I am new here
    I think it is a matter of personal preference. I am 6'4" and 235 and I also do not like high cadence. I like to push really hard with slow/er cadence and that means not over 80.
    I have trained a lot, several sports (wrestling, judo, power lifting...) and that was and still is my way to do things, high power with lower frequency.

  6. #6
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    genec-I've noticed that my cadence has dropped as well but probably because of different reasons. For several years I rode in the 90-100 rpm range. As I lost weight, my legs got stronger and overall conditioning improved, I found myself pushing a little harder gear. While I'm not spinning as fast, I'm probably going a little faster with the slightly harder gear. I've particularly noticed the change in cadence while doing Time Trials on very flat terrain. My optimum cadence used to be around 90-95. Now it's probably around 85. That's the cadence where I can go fastest for longer periods of time.

    On hills my cadence is whatever it takes to get up the darn hill in the easiest gear I can find!!

  7. #7
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velo Dog
    FWIW, I rode the standard 53-39 crankset and usually 12-26 cassette for years. When I built my new bike, I swapped to a 46-36-26 triple and 13-28 cogs. It's much better suited to the kind of riding I do..
    When did 53-39 become the standard crankset... I have been riding the same bikes since the early '80's and back then it was 52/42 and 13 was your smallest cog. Both my bikes reflect this... and frankly I am looking for a 50/40/30 for my touring/commuter.

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    OM boy cyclezen's Avatar
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    my cadence hasn't altered much over the years, but gear size has dropped. back 10-15 yrs ago (early to mid-40s) spinning a 88 to 90 inch gear at between 90 & 100 was sorta the 'steady load' back then. Now I find doin the same thing with a low 80s gear to be almost harder. If anything, I spin much more than I ever have
    Overall, even though I am 'slower' than when young, it feels as though my climbing has improved. Better able to hold rpms up on long steady climbs. I'm sure I'm also slower on climbs, but the relative reduction seems less, so I feel stronger on climbs these days. Muscle mass in the legs is also lower now, so I expect that contributes greatly to reduced mashing power. My sprinting suffered/suffers the most.
    Putting in more miles than ever, but at reduced gears that I can spin - which means more lose of muscle and power - a vicious cycle.
    I think the only way to stave this off is either weight training (which I loathe and will only do in the winter, on really nasty days) or dreaded Big Gear Intervals.
    A good poke in the eye might just be more fun.
    not much choice though, if ridin with the younger guyz is desired. It really does stink when all they do is rise outta the saddle, add a few strokes, and there's a 3 bike length gap between you and them.
    ... I was just thinking (saturday's group training ride) that cadence seems something you can keep and continue to develop as you age... but to do that means layerin on some extra miles. Not an unappetitzing prospect.

  9. #9
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Over the years my cadence has changed a lot. Early days and my cadence rarely rose above 70. This was probably due to the gearing of the bike and my inexperience but gradually my cadence rose a bit. Then I started to do some of the more serious rides and found that If I want to finish a long ride- then I have to protect my legs a bit. Low cadence and hills meant that the quad muscles were really going through it. By raising the cadence a bit and lower gears- I found that I could do longer rides with less leg trouble. This was proved when we got the Tandem. Initially the gearing on this was too high for offroad hills so new sprockets on the front and a change to 9 speed to get a 32 on the back and we were comfortable. Cadence still did not worry us but that lower gearing did make it so we could do the longer rides easier. Then this year we got a cadence meter. We knew what we were comfortable with so just checked on the meter and found on the road, around 90 was comfortable. 90 would give us a top speed of 27mph and at 100 we were doing 30mph. Surprising thing was it was not speed that dictated our rides- it was cadence. Pointless doing 30mph if the spin rate was too high for you. Then out with others and they would be in 52/12 and doing 25mph. We were comfortable at 48/13 because our speed matched theirs but our cadence was correct to us.

    If anything- I have found that my cadence has increased with experience. Legs are a lot stronger- but unfortunately those hills are getting steeper and longer too, so the lower gears are getting used more than they used to. Just to keep the cadence up.
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  10. #10
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Has anyone else injured your piriformis, gluteus medius and/or tensor fascia lata by mashing with an incorrect angle as I did last Saturday (9 days ago)?

    Personally, I will pay more attention to a higher cadence and keeping my knees correctly aligned with the pedal.. It really hurts! And mashing is something I hardly ever do!
    Last edited by DnvrFox; 08-07-06 at 04:32 PM.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

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    I don't keep a log, but have always leaned toward longer gearing - it just suits me better. I've read a lot over the last six months or so on this board about how spinning faster is the better way to ride. I try it some, but, generally move back into my old habits. My long gear is 63/11 and, on flat terrain, I can turn it all day long to maintain 20-25 mph for as far as I want to go. You all can do the math to determine my cadence. All I know is that I can ride like that comfortably for a couple of hours without stopping, slowing, running out of breath or steam. So, on flat ground, that's what I do. If the terrain turns uphill for any length of time, I generally will either rise out of the saddle for a break or drop a cog or two to maintain an easy cadence. If I'm feeling really lazy, I'll drop my cadence back and ride at 17-22 instead of 20-25. Going up hill depends upon how steep and how long the climb is. If it's both steep and long, I generally come out of the saddle, select some medium gear and adjust up or down slightly to get a steady rhythm that takes me up an over. If I find myself picking up cadence, I'll shift to a longer gear to maintain a steady cadence over the hill (picking up some speed in the process). My shortest gear is only 52/34, so you won’t find me popping any wheelies, but I’ve yet to encounter a hill in a road that I cannot climb and still be alive at the top. Off road is another matter, as my gearing and bike geometry can conspire to leave me spinning my back tire because I can’t gear down enough to stay in the saddle and still keep forward motion. Y’all might have some suggestions for me on that – I’m always open to ideas.

    Now, going downhill, well, I just select 63/11 and pedal away - I've had her up to 50 and can still exert plenty of positive force through the pedals. Usually, some impediment forces me to slow down before I have a chance to get going as fast as I think I might otherwise (dreaded stop signs, 'T' intersections, curves, metal decked bridges (hate those), etc.). I don't know what my cadence is at those speeds - I'm too busy making sure I don't crash and smash to be checking my watch and counting strokes - but I never feel as though I'm pedaling feverishly on the down hills, either.

    I don't think my cadence has changed that much over the years - but, that is purely anecdotal analysis because I don't really keep a log nor do I pay that much attention to my cadence. My cyclometer is very basic - top speed, average speed, two trip distances, and, of course, current speed.

    I tend to concentrate more on distance and steady progress over my route than I do cadence. Probably the wrong approach from a pure cycling point of view, but I get in some great miles, see a lot of wonderful country/city-side, avoid my share of scrapes, get caught in my share as well.

    I definitely do not spin regularly at the high cadence that are reported here and elsewhere as the norm (80-100).

    Great thread - I'll be watching this one.

    Caruso
    Last edited by Carusoswi; 08-07-06 at 04:20 PM.

  12. #12
    OM boy cyclezen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox
    Has anyone else injured your piriformis, gluteas medius and/or tensor fascia lata by mashing with an incorrect angle as I did last Staurday (9 days ago)?

    Personally, I will pay more attention to a higher cadence and keeping my knees correctly aligned with the pedal.. It really hurts! And mashing is something I hardly ever do!
    yes (piriformis synd) not cycling though..., but you should really start another thread, rather than hijac this one...

  13. #13
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclezen
    yes (piriformis synd) not cycling though..., but you should really start another thread, rather than hijac this one...
    Gee -- thanks for the advice, And I thought the thread was about a slowing of cadence, which would be equivalent to mashing, and the reasons for and effect of.

    Goodness!

    Somehow, the 50+ forum has gotten very much less friendly lately! Hey, and I'm the one who started this silly forum!

    Shame on me.

    Oh, and have you been appointed the Grand Mullah?
    Last edited by DnvrFox; 08-07-06 at 04:35 PM.
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  14. #14
    OM boy cyclezen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox
    Gee -- thanks for the advice, And I thougfht the thread was about a slowing of cadence, which would be equivalent to mashing, and the reasons for and effect of.

    Goodness!

    Somehow, the 50+ forum has gotten very much less friendly lately! Hey, and I'm the one who started this silly forum!

    Shame on me.

    Oh, and have you been appointed the Grand Mullah?
    sorry if this rubbed the wrong way, not intended, nor unfriendly 'tude' - seems like a worthy topic of another thread
    tryin to keep my lengthy novellas down to 'UCI' limits...
    everything in cycling relates to cadence, so we might as well have one thread...
    next time I'll make sure to throw in the requisite smileys, winks, gang signs
    later...

  15. #15
    train safe buelito's Avatar
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    want to work on cadence??? get a FIXIE! I ride mine 3-4 times a week (mostly commuting), and have a 48x18 combination on it that gives me great spinning on the flats, a bit slower on the hills (but I have learned to keep the cadence up), and I fly going downhill (that's where the brake comes in)

    train safe-

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    I totally agree with Buelito...fixed gear will improve cadence and stroke more than anything you can do on a geared bike. Building one up out of an old 10 speed is time well spent in my book...plus they get alot of comments with the younger crowd.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Baggsy
    I totally agree with Buelito...fixed gear will improve cadence and stroke more than anything you can do on a geared bike. Building one up out of an old 10 speed is time well spent in my book...plus they get alot of comments with the younger crowd.
    Pardon my ignorance, but I was under the impression that the purpose of watching cadence was to keep modifying the bike's gear ratio to maintain a constant cadence! It seems to me that this is the opposite of what happened on my fixed-gear. I was constantly accelerating and decelerating, thus varying my cadence continously.

    Maybe I just don't understand - how does a fixed-gear improve my cadence?

    PS: This is not a tounge-in-cheek, smart-alec post - I really want to know.

  18. #18
    Cycling Anarchist Trsnrtr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox
    Gee -- thanks for the advice, And I thought the thread was about a slowing of cadence, which would be equivalent to mashing, and the reasons for and effect of.
    And fom now on, please don't end a sentence with a preposition. If you start making spelling mistakes, too, then you're done here.

    Seriously, all kidding aside and back to the OP question. I've always had a naturally high cadence and attribute it to many years of racing and fixed gear riding in my youth (30s, that is). My cadence may have slowed down some in recent years (I'm 55) but not much. I still ride around 98-102 and anything below 95 feels like drudgery. My tandem cadence drops down to about 92-95 but most tandem riders tell me they lose a few turns on their tandem also.

    Dennis
    Last edited by Trsnrtr; 08-07-06 at 08:18 PM.
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  19. #19
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trsnrtr
    And fom now on, please don't end a sentence with a preposition. If you start making spelling mistakes, too, then you're done here.
    This is something up with which I shall not put!

    Spelling mistakes? Who makes spelling mistakes?

    fom
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarHorizon
    Pardon my ignorance, but I was under the impression that the purpose of watching cadence was to keep modifying the bike's gear ratio to maintain a constant cadence! It seems to me that this is the opposite of what happened on my fixed-gear. I was constantly accelerating and decelerating, thus varying my cadence continously.

    Maybe I just don't understand - how does a fixed-gear improve my cadence?

    PS: This is not a tounge-in-cheek, smart-alec post - I really want to know.
    For me at least, I view cadence as not only spinning at a given rpm, but being able to speed it up without rocking the hips as well as having more power applied throughout the stroke. Geared bikes allow you to stop spinning at any speed, anywhere. Fixed will show you how often you 'try' to coast. I have my best ride geared to 42/17, enough gear-inches to get up those hills with decent cadence.

    It's coming down the hill that improves my cadence score...on the flats I can power up to cruising speed, and about the time I would let up to recover the fixed makes me keep it up...and makes me maintain that rpm even though I'm not applying any force to the pedals. You're in touch with the drive train thru the entire revolution, no dead spots. That helps you maintain a high cadence on a geared bike as it improves strength. You have to concentrate on applying pressure throughout the entire stroke, it will force you to be smooth at all cadences, high or low, and make you maintain them. Your form gets better as the body adapts to the constant pressure without you having to concentrate on it. You forget about speed totally as your body focuses on the cadence only. Leg suppleness improves, power throughout the stroke improves, and balance at high rpm improves...

  21. #21
    train safe buelito's Avatar
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    Baggsy-- I couldn't have said it better myself... I would only add that those who ride geared bikes should consciously look and see how often they coast... As you crest a hill, you have a 'pause'...that's coasting, as you go down hill, as you reach for your bottle and on and on. You are probably coasting about 20% of the time, and you don't realize it. A friend of mine noticed when she was riding to work with me-- I on my fixie, she on a geared bike. She was amazed at how much she coasted, and didn't even realize it. All that coasting affects your cadence. On the fixie, you are always pedaling, and you are constantly working to maintain a given speed or effort.
    Next time you ride, check out how often you stop pedaling-- you will be surprised.

    train safe--

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    True, so very true! I was amazed at the times I 'tryed' to coast over potholes, cracks, railroad tracks, sticks, around corners, so much more than a person thinks about when riding geared. Learning to post up while spinning is something you just don't do without a fixed. Stretching on a long ride is another thing I never thought about until I tryed it the first time. I rank it as about twice the workout over the same distance/time spent on the bike. Fixed isn't for everybody, kinda like a brooks saddle, but it gets in your blood if you're training seriously, and in the winter on snow/slick roads it's the only thing I feel safe on anymore. It's been worth every minute in my book...

  23. #23
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baggsy
    True, so very true! I was amazed at the times I 'tryed' to coast over potholes, cracks, railroad tracks, sticks, around corners, so much more than a person thinks about when riding geared.
    So coasting is BAD?

    Hey, its the best part of the ride.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  24. #24
    OnTheRoad or AtTheBeach stonecrd's Avatar
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    I think that with the Lance revolution everyone started thinking that high cadence was key to performance and maybe it is at the TdF level (or testerone, EPO etc). I tend to think you need to go with what works best for you. I very rarley get over 100, I tend to spin in the 90s (if that is spinning) when I am pulling, when I am in the pack I prefer a heavier gear and my cadence may go down to 80. If I am with the group trying to hang onto a sprint I get into heavy gears and high cadence but that is the only time. For me the change up between spinning when I am pulling (pushing HR) and mashing when I am in the pack (pushing muscles) seems to work best. I never tracked cadence before this year so i can't comment on whether mine has dropped or not.
    The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard and the shallow end is much too large

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    Thank all of you for the feedback on the fixed-gear cadence question. I noticed the same when I had my fixed gear - I was always trying to coast! I eventually got over it, but it took awhile.

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