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Old 07-19-11, 07:46 AM   #1
Roustabout
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Cadence/Gear Eureka Moment

I am a relative newbie and had read on this forum and other places how important cadence is to keeping one most efficient in cycling without completely fatiguing the leg muscles. My eureka moment came yesterday. I have been cycling seriously for approximately 2 months with shorter rides leading to long rides of 2 hours/30 miles distance. After those rides, my quads felt like someone had beat them with a rubber mallet. Yesterday I decided to intentionally try to slow down somewhat by riding at a higher cadence and a lower gear. I was truly amazed that after a 1 hr. ride of approximately 14 miles, my legs felt great. Did a similar ride today and legs feel fresh. What surprised me was that I sacrificed little if any speed by changing my cadence/gear input. Overall what I did was ride in one lower gear from what I felt like I naturally needed to ride in according to conditions, hills, long flat stretches, etc. I also noticed that my heart rate stayed more stable with little huffing and puffing. I have a Garmin Forerunner 305 with a heart monitor. Thanks to all for their knowledge and input that I gain from the forum. Sometimes I just need to listen!

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Old 07-19-11, 09:14 AM   #2
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Bravo! What took you only 2 months to learn some cyclists never learn despite decades of riding.
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Old 07-19-11, 09:20 AM   #3
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As it was explained to me the "energy" you use up spinning can be replenished by food/drink while riding but the energy you use when powering can only be replenished by rest. Once the latter is depleted you are done. More technical than that but I've tried to simplify my understanding of it.
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Old 07-19-11, 11:12 AM   #4
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'Staying on top of the gear' , not necessarily spinning real high race cadence ..
but not so slow as to be mashing at low RPM.
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Old 07-19-11, 12:17 PM   #5
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One Eureka moment down, 1000 to go.... the absolute great thing about cycling is that they just keep coming.
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Old 07-19-11, 12:40 PM   #6
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I knew better-but was riding the other day and was pushing a pretty hard gear around 80 rpm and thinking it was as fast as I could go. I dropped down a gear, intentionally picked up the cadence about 10% and saw the speed increase. Sometimes you just need to get in a gear you can push faster. And I've been riding a little longer than 2 months!! A higher cadence is definitely a learned trait.
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Old 07-19-11, 12:51 PM   #7
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Yo Roustabout...
It would be interesting to know what cadence you have discovered. I take it you don't have a cadence counter on your Garmin though. You can count pedal strokes for 15 seconds an multiply by 4 for an estimate. Try using your new technique for the full two hour ride and report in. That would be a better test, eh?
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Old 07-19-11, 12:57 PM   #8
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Mountain biking and we never bothered about cadence. Uphill it was just get up it any way you can and as you were in the lowest gear possible- cadence didn't come into it. However when I started doing the longer enduros- Speed on the flat was what mattered. Not a great deal of flat but low cadence and you were going to struggle by the end of the ride. Keep cadence to around 85 and less strain on the legs.

Road riding and I quickly learnt to find a cadence I like. For me that is around 85 to 95. Much more and breathing gets hard and lower and the legs take too much strain.

Now all you have to do is get the saddle 4" above the bars and you can start the next stage of your riding career.
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Old 07-19-11, 01:26 PM   #9
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Mountain biking and we never bothered about cadence. Uphill it was just get up it any way you can and as you were in the lowest gear possible- cadence didn't come into it. However when I started doing the longer enduros- Speed on the flat was what mattered. Not a great deal of flat but low cadence and you were going to struggle by the end of the ride. Keep cadence to around 85 and less strain on the legs.

Road riding and I quickly learnt to find a cadence I like. For me that is around 85 to 95. Much more and breathing gets hard and lower and the legs take too much strain.

Now all you have to do is get the saddle 4" above the bars and you can start the next stage of your riding career.
+1on 85 to 95,anything less makes my knees hurt....
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Old 07-19-11, 01:47 PM   #10
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What I find interesting is that a lot triathletes will spin at around the low 80's instead of the high 80's low 90's that I feel more comfortable with. Anybody have any idea why ?
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Old 07-19-11, 02:00 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the replies and kudos. Planning on eventually getting a cadence sensor to go with my Garmin 305 to help me with my cadence. Next month I am hoping to order a Trek 520 so my wife and I can in the future do some credit-card touring after my endurance builds up some more. At the present I am only riding about 80 miles/wk. Hope to get up to an hour/day (each day) plus increasingly longer rides on weekend until I get so I can ride for a few hours at a time. Of course, I will need to throw in some rest days occasionally. I live in East Texas so the hills are relatively mild. I am not sure at present what my cadence is precisely, but I believe around 70-75. Hope to eventually get it up to around 80. My breathing is fine so far along with my heartrate. BTW, I am 59 and trying to get into cycling. Running was killing my iliotibial band, and cycling is much easier on it.

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Old 07-19-11, 02:13 PM   #12
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I am not sure at present what my cadence is precisely, but I believe around 70-75. Hope to eventually get it up to around 80.
Aim higher.
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Old 07-19-11, 02:26 PM   #13
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Aim higher.
BD is right- a bit higher will be better---But on the cadence sensor/meter--Usefull for the first 5 rides you have it and possibly twice a year after that to check. I have a Garmin 305 and the cadence meter was a must. Cost enough so it must be good. Just the sensor cost more than the complete computer we used on the Tandem with Cadence.
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Old 07-19-11, 02:43 PM   #14
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BD is right- a bit higher will be better---But on the cadence sensor/meter--Usefull for the first 5 rides you have it and possibly twice a year after that to check. I have a Garmin 305 and the cadence meter was a must. Cost enough so it must be good. Just the sensor cost more than the complete computer we used on the Tandem with Cadence.
Shoot for something like high 80's.

I already had a Sigma with cadence so when I got the 305 I didn't bother with the Garmin cadence sensor. I got a second sensor kit for the Sigma. It was cheaper than the Garmin cadence sensor and I wasn't all that interested in recording my cadence anyway. The Sigma gives me the my current and average cadence which is good enough. I use the Garmin for the rest of the data I want to look at.
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Old 07-19-11, 03:14 PM   #15
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Quote:
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Aim higher.
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Shoot for something like high 80's. . . .
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BD is right- a bit higher will be better . . .
Depending, of course, on the individual rider.

My take is that it's well worth learning to spin at least in the low 90's but then going on to find the rate best for you and your riding. My own sweet spots seem to be about 80 or even 78 for loafing along with a low powered neighborhood group and about 88 for good exercise and hills -- my approximation of full long-term power.
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Old 07-19-11, 05:57 PM   #16
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Depending, of course, on the individual rider.

My take is that it's well worth learning to spin at least in the low 90's but then going on to find the rate best for you and your riding. My own sweet spots seem to be about 80 or even 78 for loafing along with a low powered neighborhood group and about 88 for good exercise and hills -- my approximation of full long-term power.
Agreed. I would suggest trying to get to being able to spin 100 rpm or more smoothly and then settle in to whatever cadence works best. It is always good to have some headroom, the ability to spin up beyond your normal range for brief periods in certain situations. I usually spin around 90, but I'll drop down to 70 at times and I have hit 120 a few times when accelerating or when approaching a short hill.
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Old 07-19-11, 07:00 PM   #17
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Having trained myself to be a spinner, I tend to use lower gears and a higher cadence (90-100, sometimes a bit more) on level ground. When I climb a hill, my cadence will necessarily drop, because my lowest normal gear is a 49-incher (42/23), and my bailout granny is a 44-incher (42/26).
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Old 07-19-11, 11:54 PM   #18
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And what's really cool is when you find a good comfortable cadence and over time you end up holding that cadence in the gear you're now shifting down from.
Your cadence gets higher and you get stronger. What I'm comfortably doing now was unimaginable a year or two ago.
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Old 07-20-11, 09:23 AM   #19
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Of course a cycling computer that shows cadence and that will report the average cadence over a ride is helpful. Stressing your system with intervals increases rate of improvement. Downshift to a very easy gear and spin as fast as you possible can for a minute, then slow your pedaling to a fast but comfortable cadence for several minutes, then do it again. Repeat for a total of 5 times.
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