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Old 03-27-08, 11:01 AM   #26
Catweazle
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Great discussion.
Great forum, IMO. Whilst I can't offer opinion on the other sections of this board, because I haven't spent enough time in them, I'm happy to say that this particular forum section ranks amongst the most enjoyable, friendly, welcoming, well-mannered and helpful places I've ever visited.

And this discussion, so far, has provided me with the most enjoyable and productive evening I've spent since taking up cycling recently.


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Old 03-27-08, 11:09 AM   #27
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I've only skimmed the responses but if no one else has said it: the thing that has helped me make (modest) progress on hill climbing at a reasonable cadence is to shift down to the easier gear or to the smaller ring BEFORE you feel any strain!

And like they said: cadence is an individual thing and very much what you feel comfortable with. As you ride more you might find your cadence getting faster. Comes with experience & strength & for a lot of people it "just happens".

And fixed gears have some advantages in at least moderate climbing, no matter what JohnE says. Honestly, I didn't believe it till I tried it. But that's another thread.

(Seems I'm often giving him grief about this! All in fun John. )
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Old 03-27-08, 11:56 AM   #28
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I seriously thought that all bikes which use digits on the gear change were like that. Do you mean to say that they're not? Every bike I've taken the time to look at has used the same approach, if it has any 'numbers' there at all!

My wife has a Wal-Mart type bike. She rolls a grip ring forward or backward to shift. There is one on the lefthand bar and one on the right. Next to each is a window with numbers and a needle.

But, one bike I ride has no windows and no numbers. I call the shift controls a trigger and a hammer, like a revolver. If I want to let the chain fall down to a smaller diameter cog, I pull the trigger with my finger. If I want to move the chain up to a larger diameter cog, I push the hammer with my thumb. On the left side of the handlebar pulling the trigger gives me more hill climbing power, but pushing the hammer gives me more speed (front derailleur). On the right side it is just the opposite (rear derailleur). One of the other bikes I ride has shifters in the brake levers ("brifters"--no numbers or windows). Another bike has friction shift levers on the downtube of the frame (no numbers or windows). Switching between bikes can be a little confusing.
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Old 03-27-08, 12:22 PM   #29
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Cadence Simplified

I broke myself of a mashing habit with some simple changes. None of these is anything original, but combined they seem pretty effective.
  • Think circles or think bushing mud on a mat.
  • Spin as rapidly you comfortably can.
  • If you want to go a bit faster, spin a bit faster.
  • Shift up only when you want to go faster than you can spin.
  • Shift down early in a hill unless it is very short
  • Spin faster than usual uphill.
  • Shift down for headwinds rather than pushing harder.
  • Make friends with all two or three front rings.
  • Adjust gearing to you rather than the other way round.

Most days under most conditions my unconscious natural cadence is 76 to 80. Last spring I had to think about keeping it over 60.
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Old 03-27-08, 12:29 PM   #30
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I call the shift controls a trigger and a hammer, like a revolver. If I want to let the chain fall down to a smaller diameter cog, I pull the trigger with my finger. If I want to move the chain up to a larger diameter cog, I push the hammer with my thumb. On the left side of the handlebar pulling the trigger gives me more hill climbing power, but pushing the hammer gives me more speed (front derailleur). On the right side it is just the opposite (rear derailleur). .
That describes what I have, although mine has 'windows and numbers'. It a Shimano EF-50 'V-brake' shifter as depicted in this parts document:

http://techdocs.shimano.com/media/te...9830609276.pdf

The cogs are numbered left to right, just as the dial indicator is. That means using the thumb shift with the left hand moves the crankset to cog '3', which is the highest geared (largest) front cog, whilst using the thumb shift with the right hand moves the rear derailleur in the opposite direction, changing it toward cog '1' which is the lowest geared (largest) rear cog.

As I intimated earlier, it's kinda arse about face, to my perspective. Doesn't adhere to a consistent principle for either denoting or operating the thing, when changing to higher and lower gearing.
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Old 03-27-08, 12:42 PM   #31
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Sometimes it helps to think about circles as you pedal.
This is more important than you think. A smooth pedal stroke thru 360 degrees is what you want to develop. May sound stupid, but try pedaling the bike with only one leg. Of course this is better on an indoor trainer but on some fine empty road is also good.

On high cadence: the entire high cadence/Lance Armstrong thing came from watching Kenyan distance runners and how could they be winning so much? They developed, or were born with, a short running stride and fast leg turnover. The method was applied to endurance cycling. My thought is this 100 rpm is not for every cyclist.

Are you trying to ride 100 + miles at 30 + mph? As a beginning cyclist you should concentrate on what feels good and gets the job done. When you are getting $2 million a year + $19 million in endorsements(Lance Armstrong) then worry about 100 rpms.
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Old 03-27-08, 01:33 PM   #32
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Couple of points- Get a few more miles under the tyres and you will settle into a cadence that is comfortable. Providing this is above 70- you will be ok. Try to check what you are now by the system DnVrFx suggested- No. of full turns in 10 seconds and multiply X 6.

Gear indicators- Eventually you will realise that they are no good. The Plastic will Blur over- The gearing will be out by one gear on the indicator- or they will break. The only time you will get worried is when you go to change down a gear because you are tired and the hill is getting steeper and the Buttons go solid. They go solid because you have run out of gears and have hit the stops. Easiest way of checking the gears- is a quick visual check on the cassette and chain rings. That normally confirms you have no gears left and the hill is about to get steeper.


And IF YOU EVER GET TO A HILL----- Get into the correct front ring before the hill- May be the middle- But a HILL- will probably need the small ring. Reason for this is that it is difficult to change the front rings under pedal pressure.

OK-correct front ring and approach the hill in a comfortable rear ring. Most change down to the lowest gear at the sight of a hill- but keep your speed up with a small gear on the cassette.---Then as you go up the hill and it starts getting hard- Change dowm- Harder still and change down again- and again and again and----When you run out of gears and it gets hard-Slow down.

Only thing to remember is that it does not matter how low a gear you have on a bike- on hills you will use it. SKT and I have found- You will struggle up some hills in a 30/28 gear on the bike. Then you change the bike and you struggle up the same hill in 34/27. Only difference is that you are faster.
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Old 03-27-08, 03:34 PM   #33
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If you are out of breath you are spinning too fast, if your legs hurt you are mashing too slow. Proper cadence is somewhere between your legs hurting and being out of breath.
Waddya call it when your legs are crying and the searing pain is engulfing you in waves of agony, and your lungs are ready to explode as you gulp more air than they can possibly hold?

A normal training ride.
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Old 03-27-08, 03:35 PM   #34
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The fact you are even thinking about cadence is 1/2 the battle!
Is your seat height correct? Too low and you bend the knee too much. Too high and you are "reaching". Either will slow you down!
Are your cranks too long? If you have 175MM cranks and you're under 6' tall (and 50+), you are probably exceeding the "comfortable" range of motion of your knees. See this link i posted about crank length and MY experience-
Are Your Cranks Too Long?
Gearing. I don't know what bike you have, but if you ride on the flats and you have a "mountain" cassette, that's going to reduce your "useful" gears. In order to have the 30+ tooth cogs, the smaller cogs have to be spaced further apart (gear wise). That means you have bigger "jumps" between gears, with one gear being too high, but the "other" gear being too low. That can be frustrating when trying to maintain a relatively steady cadence.
I ride flatland (mostly small city). I made up a custom cassette with 12-13-14-15-16-17-19-23 cogs. I have all those 1 tooth increments so I can make a slight change if the headwind changes slightly. That allows me to keep spinning in a rather narrow cadence range. That works GREAT for my bad knees!
I ride the middle ring (38T) around town and have 4 higher gears if I want to switch to the 48T ring for the road/ My 28/23 combo will more than handle any hills I might have.
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Old 03-27-08, 08:32 PM   #35
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Catweazle-It might be simplest at this stage to just forget trying to figure out the gears. Some things are just not logical! However, I can understand that if you have a technical background "letting it go" can be a pretty hard thing to do. You can always get a Compact Crank to reduce the complexity to just having two chainrings up front!!!

Working on your cadence is a good thing. On flats work towards getting it feeling normal for your cadence to be between 85-100 rpm on flats or rollers-again don't worry about the gear just that you can steadily maintain that cadence over time. Use the gears (whatever gear it needs to be to compensate for the wind or grade) to keep the cadence in that range. Ideally your using a cadence and gear that keeps your heart rate in a range you want to keep in as well so the two are really tied together. If you don't have a HR monitor just make sure your "ticker is pounding" at a comfortable rate-generally you're able to talk to someone while riding.

On hills, most likely your cadence will drop below 85-even when in much easier gears. I like being around 70-75 but sometimes I've seen my drop even below 60 on really steep stuff...which ain't too good on the knees.

I hate you can't pick up a cheap cyclometer with cadence. Over here you can get them for $25.
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Old 03-27-08, 09:01 PM   #36
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If you are out of breath you are spinning too fast, if your legs hurt you are mashing too slow. Proper cadence is somewhere between your legs hurting and being out of breath. As a general rule mashing is faster, spinning you can go longer. My cadence varries between 70-105 with 82 on the flats most common.
My legs hurt but I'm breathing too hard to complain.
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Old 03-27-08, 09:01 PM   #37
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To me cadence is everything. The cadence number fills the top half of my Garmin 305 screen. It is the one number I always want to know. That being said, there is no right, and no natural cadence. Cadence is a choice. What I was get at before was an old training trick. If you can breath but your legs get tired you are mashing too low. If your legs are fine but you're all out of breath, you're spinning too fast. If you're out of breath and out of legs you've just did one too many intervals.

If you ride a fixie over rolling terrain there is no way to keep a constant cadence, you'll mash up hills, spin down the hills and cruise on the flats, and all that is ok. But most of us are not on fixie's, we ride gears. The gears are there so you can ride a constant cadence. Most of the time for me that's in the mid 80's, but not always. Sometiems I'll ride my road bike like a fixie and let the terrain dictate what RPM I spin.
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Old 03-27-08, 09:10 PM   #38
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Oh!

I've only really been referring to that as a curiousity, jppe, and as an exercise in being sociable. It's not really a ;problem' except in the sense that I've not yet had enough time on the bike for the operating of it to become a reflex action, and that's not really much of a problem at all.


The financial constraint is self-imposed. I'm kicking myself for not looking into things more closely before buying a cheap bike 'pooter, but six months will roll by soon enough. The cheap unit I grabbed was $AU 25, it makes little sense to upgrade unless I'm moving to better, and 'better' seems to be around the $AU65 mark. For now, I've already reached the budget I set myself, and I'm mindful that to get the bike I spent money which wasn't really there to spend just for the moment.




Quote:
Waddya call it when your legs are crying and the searing pain is engulfing you in waves of agony, and your lungs are ready to explode as you gulp more air than they can possibly hold?
Working.

That's what I'd call it, anyway
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Old 03-27-08, 10:06 PM   #39
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Use this gear calculator "backwards. Pick a speed and note what the # of teeth on the ring and cog are per certain speed. Plug in the numbers and see wht the cadence is. You can do the same thing if you are semi adept with spread sheets.
http://sheldonbrown.com/gears/
Don't be too concerned about absolute numbers. If some one expected me to do 90 RPM, I'd have to quit because it's not going to happen.
Just spin free and easily with a little resistance. Just keep working on it and it will both improve and become 2nd nature.
And lets be honest- We really only worry about cadence when we want to maximize speed & distance. A slow ride around the neighborhood is just that. It'd be pretty dumb to be cranling 100 RPM if you're doing 5 MPH! (8KPH)
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Old 03-28-08, 04:47 AM   #40
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IM in the same camp as you,Catweasle,but there is know doubt if i cadance ,100 revs a minute except when standing on the pedals im going to go faster ,farther and feel better at the end of the day.And know matter what I dont like it/Ken
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Old 03-28-08, 07:41 AM   #41
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I have a high cadence anyway, but I notice I can make it higher by trying to hit the handlebars with my knees. It also makes for making better circles.
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Old 03-28-08, 10:00 AM   #42
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Maybe one other consideration is body type. A lot of keen cyclists are skinny whippets, and skinny whippetys can spin. But, in the fast group here, there are a number of fast guys with calves like rugby balls and sturdy builds, rotating slowly in big gears and going like stink
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Old 03-28-08, 10:08 AM   #43
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...But, in the fast group here, there are a number of fast guys with calves like rugby balls and sturdy builds, rotating slowly in big gears and going like stink
I know a couple of women like that, too! One leads a ride I go on. Once the season is well underway she starts rides off at 18mph and it goes up from there. Late in the season when I'm stronger I hang with her. Sometimes, especially early in the season, I drop back with the slower group that more or less spontaneously develops.
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Old 03-28-08, 10:20 AM   #44
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I used to like a slower cadence. Then I experimented with choosing at least one gear lower than I felt was "right" and spinning faster. I noticed that my speed increased.

I don't worry about rpm. I can feel when I'm spinning too hard or pushing too high of a gear. I get tired faster. So I spin as fast as I can while not feeling like I'm tiring myself out unnecessarily through a too-high cadence.

One last qualifier: my focus while riding is not speed. It's riding long distances without unnecessary suffering. I try to keep a pace that I could maintain all day, then get up and ride the next day, and the day after, etc. (I'm a tourer.)
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Old 03-28-08, 10:28 AM   #45
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I have a high cadence anyway, but I notice I can make it higher by trying to hit the handlebars with my knees. It also makes for making better circles.
But, what about the bruises on your knees?
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Old 03-28-08, 11:33 AM   #46
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I used to like a slower cadence. Then I experimented with choosing at least one gear lower than I felt was "right" and spinning faster. I noticed that my speed increased.

I don't worry about rpm. I can feel when I'm spinning too hard or pushing too high of a gear. I get tired faster. So I spin as fast as I can while not feeling like I'm tiring myself out unnecessarily through a too-high cadence.

One last qualifier: my focus while riding is not speed. It's riding long distances without unnecessary suffering. I try to keep a pace that I could maintain all day, then get up and ride the next day, and the day after, etc. (I'm a tourer.)
+1
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Old 03-28-08, 12:00 PM   #47
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On that "Cheap" computer for the bike. After a while you notice that you don't look at it. You know when you are going fast enough- because you can't breath- You know you have done a lot of milage when the butt starts aching and you know that the average speed for a ride was up because the legs don't stop burning for the evening. You only look at the computer after a ride- or on the Cafe break after about 20 miles.

That is until you get a computer like the Garmin Edge series that is Wireless- as its a GPS- tells you your heart rate- cadence- how far you've climbed and a lot of other facts that you really ought to know about. And when you download the facts at the end of the ride- it can even put a map on Google to show you where you have been. Only problem is that you only look at it when the ride has finished and you can see your ride in all its glory on the screen.

Stay with the cheap computer- You don't need any more than that.





Unless you do get a Garmin- cos they are fantastic.
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Old 03-30-08, 09:20 AM   #48
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First, some terminology to help in future discussions-
The gears in front are typically called chainrings, or just rings for short. The whole set is called the crankset
The gears in back are called cogs, and the whole set is called the cassette (or freewheel on those type bikes).

Small ring and small cog or big ring and big cog is called crosschaining, and as mentioned can cause increased wear or poor shifitng performance (jumping back to the next cog, due to the chain being pulled off the cog at an angle). Depends on the length of the chainstays though- not as much of a problem on long bikes as it is on shorter bikes.
Small cogs (outside, high number) and big rings (outside, high number) are "higher" gears, small rings and big cogs are "lower" gears. On a 8 cog triple ring bike, 1-1 is the lowest gear, 3-8 is the highest gear.
A way to compare one bike to another is to use "gear inches" (GI for short) - the wheel diameter in inches multiplied the number of teeth on the chainring divided by the number of teeth on the cog. On a touring bike, a typical range would be around 20 GI lowest to 100 GI highest.

Sorry if the above is old news for any of you, but when I started out, it took a long time to put all the above together, and things got a lot easier to understand once I had all the terms down.

SHifting- not sure why someone would've said to pick a cog, and then use the front derailleur to shift about. That's completely opposite of everything I've heard or read. The rear derailleur is designed to shift under load, the front is designed to shift under no load conditions, so you should shift the front rings BEFORE you start the hill, and if you HAVE to change rings while on the hill, back off the force on the pedals while you do it- keep them moving, but let off on the force. Depending on the hill steepness, I'll typically drop into the middle ring, or the small ring if I know its a really steep hill, before getting to it and shift up to the smaller cogs to compensate. Once on the hill, I'll shift down through the cogs as needed.

Spinning vs mashing- I had lots of trouble when I started out with hills- books and web said to spin fast- and I was out of lung long before the hill was over (cadence around 80-85). Some said to slow down and pedal hard, and I was out of legs before I was over the hill (cadence around 60). I had to compromise, and get stronger/fitter. My cadence was around 80-85 on the flats, and I found that if I slowed to around 70-75 on the hills, I could go longer. I had to drop down to my lowest gears to do it, but I could climb most hills at the intermediate cadence. I worked on spinning faster on the flats, and got it to around 90 for cruising. I started climbing every hill I could, and I still tned to climb at around 75-80, but I no longer need to bottom out the gears to do it. I very rarely get out of the middle ring now, and very rarely use my largest cog. My bike has a 24/34/42 crankset, and an 11-30 cassette.

Using a lower gear and spinnign faster will usually allow you to conserve energy for later in the ride- and for me it proves true- if I mash gears on hills early in a ride, I'm wiped out later.

Find a moderate hill, rather longish, and go practice on it. Find a cadence that doesn't leave you out of breath, and a gear that doesn't leave your legs feeling like lead. Then ride it, over and over. Soon, you'll notice your cadence increasing, the fatigue decreasing, and the cog you use getting smaller.
As several others mentioned- toe clips, or clip[less pedals, or Power Grips will help immensly on hills, and for increasing cadence.
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Old 03-30-08, 03:10 PM   #49
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Originally Posted by Dellphinus View Post
Sorry if the above is old news for any of you, but when I started out, it took a long time to put all the above together, and things got a lot easier to understand once I had all the terms down.
All of the contributions in this thread are very much appreciated, and although I've become familiar with some of the terms used, seeing them used and discussed in such fashion helps put it all in perspective. I'd hope that other new riders, not just me, can gain benefit from this topic. It's an excellent body of advice people are putting together here, IMO.


I put quite a deal of the advice given so far into practice on a long group ride yesterday, and very much exceeded my expectations regarding where I'm "at" with my riding. I'll start a new topic about that ride, but for the purposes of this one suffice to say that Catweazle no longer spends all his time keeping the sagwagon company
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