The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.
The difference between "Bold" and "Stupid"
is often measured by the severity of your injuries.
63 yr old MTB newbie and his lovely bride
His: '08 Roubaix S-Works, ''11 Stumpjumper FSR Comp, '11 TriCross Comp, '11 Globe SS with Brooks B-17W saddle
Hers:'08 Ruby Pro, '11 Safire FSR Comp, '11 TriCross Comp, '11 Skinny Benny SS with Brooks B-17 saddle
Theirs: '10 Breezer 3-speed commuter
What works for me is to do what feels right and everything else will sort itself out.
I have a Cateye Strada /w cadence cyclocomputer and I usually keep it on speed and cadence for a quick look at what I think I'm doing. Concentrate on a smooth circle. Start out slow, real slow, the type of slow that makes you feel guilty or you're not accomplishing anything.
Establish a good feel for the pedaling circle. I had to move my saddle forward a bit, tilt the nose down a bit and raise it to get my pedaling to feel easy and to not be so hard on my back and sit bones.
Once you are comfortable your cadence will increase naturally. The thing is it takes time, a lot more time than us noobs are prepared for, to improve. The body is a self regulating mechanism and like with all things to change what it is used to required muscle memory and to train that requires time and practice. The self regulation will increase as your muscle memory improves.
Most of all have fun at it first.
BTW I'm going to buy a hydro trainer for our winter months and concentrate on my core exercises through he winter.
I think if you're under 15 mph on the flat you should just find the biggest cliff in Minnesota and drive over it ! Of course that would be all of a 6 foot drop !
In the classes I go to in the winter time, a lot of folks do exactly what they want. One guy grinds in max resistance the whole 50 minutes. Others are standing almost the whole time. Some sit a lot, as I do.
You adjust the tension to whatever YOU want. If you feel self-conscious, you can just pretend to turn the knob up when the instructor says to increase resistance, and then smile as if it is easy. Yes, I've done that.
Be prepared for a lot of very "in condition" - that is "in-condition for spinning classes" ladies in their 50's - 60's - 70's who will wipe you out if you try to keep up with them.
However, a whole lot of them don't even own a bike, and have never seen a trail.
Overall, it is a lot better for me than grinding away in the basement, even though I have a nice basement.
Spinning classes- sounds like a great idea. I teach at the university and there all kinds of spinning classes at the Rec Center- I just looked it up. Then again, they're filled with 20 year olds. Not exactly my crowd.
The classes sound like just what I need and they're a 3 minute walk from my office. I'll go for it.
Any kind of road or trail biking offers lots of distractions.
That is why a trainer or spinning class is good. You can strap on your HRM, go 90 RPM at HR 120 for 1 hour. No BS and no excuses.
The result will be distance traveled in that hour or calories burned.
I just did such a session on a recumbent trainer. I burned 750 calories in that hour and my knees hurt.
That translates to over 20 MPH on my Trek Madone on flat ground and no wind. I have done that also.
I started at your age 7 years ago. Recently I was told building cycling legs is a 2 year process. I agree. Just ride, watch others and learn. I started riding alone and chased average speed, then chased distance. When I started riding with a group I thought I was ready, ready to be dropped like a bad habit.
Enjoy riding, work on cadence as you do, spinning easy gears gets you to the same place with less effort and it will help build your cardio. 6 or 8 months down the road, start working intervals into your riding (search threads for that topic) Also, find some hills and climb them. Then do it again and again and again. You will be much stronger for it.
Cadence is personal. 100 for Lance and Lance wannabe's, 75-80 for those that follow Jan Ullrich's type of riding. Jan Ullrich was only the second best rider in the world for 4-5 years. Your physiology will determine what works for you.
You have gotten a lot of good advice about pedaling in circles, not mashing like two pistons. I spent 2 years increasing my cadence, allways over 90-95 on the trainer, avg. 90 on the road. I specifically sped up my feet during training and on all the roads. I got slower and slower as I lost power spinning with these two big legs. Most neophytes do pedal too slowly, but everyone must respond to their bodies. This year, I have switched back to a cadence of 80-85 and sometimes in a big gear I run all the way down to around 75. My heart rate stays lower and I can push a pretty strong gear. It took my buddy running 400-500 watts to keep up with me on a hill and I outweigh him by 30 lbs. The moral of the story is that we are all different. Ride, Ride some more, and ride even more. There is only one way to get better, "time in the saddle". Be Patient, build muscle and technique by travelling down the road on your bike and enjoying the time with your friends.
I think it's been stated before that spinning uses the cardio a bit more than mashing does, but is easier on the knees. Just find a comfortable rpm to pedal at and try to maintain that at a pace that's moderate for YOU. Just ride a lot, and someday you'll realize that you're going faster in a different gear for the same effort.
Go ahead and sign up for the spin classes with the younger folk. Stay at the back of the class, but tell your wife/girlfriend that you're in the front.
Silver Eagle Pilot
Very true. I try to stay away from the idea of a prescribed cadence being the answer for everyone. When I first started riding a lot as an adult, I bought a cadence reading computer to see how I was doing compared to the advice I read in magazines to spin 80 to 90 rpm. I was shocked to see that I was usually mashing along at 50 to 60. Gradually I progressed to being able to spin at 90 rpm comfortably, but most of the time I felt better around 80. But at times I found it helpful to speed up to 90 or 100 rpm. I tend to stay somewhere between 70 and 90 rpm now.
What I came to focus more on was making sure I was in a gear I could "stay on top of". This meant that I should never let my rpm get so low that I could not accelerate. This was especially important on hills, but even on flats, I found that I was most effective if I was able to increase my speed if I tried. I find that to be a better way to gauge my pedaling than knowing my cadence number.
The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.
I'd like to add a few feasible pedaling techniques that help to make good circles - at teh bottom of each pedal stroke, pull your foot back gently, like you're scraping mud off your sole. It helps to remember to change stroke direction, but don't pull your foot out of the clip - that's too severe a pull. Then lift your knee toward the handlebar on teh upstroke, then lead your toe forward over the top.
You've found that pulling up with power is not a sustainable operation. I've found the same thing, and I think it's telling that Bernard Hinault in his book Road Racing, does not advocate this. I do think the gentle elements of pedaling in circles are sustainable, and you can practice these techniques as you pedal your 80 rpm. Do it when there's nothing more important to think about, such as traffic.