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  1. #1
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    Making Routine Daily Rides Harder

    I thought I'd mention a little thing I've been doing.

    During my daily riding (commute, errands) I ride the biggest gear I can push. I mean, at some sort of low but still reasonable cadence. For around town, this usually means 53 x 17 or 15. When the road turns up, I go up the cogs, but stay in the big chainring. I'm trying to not use my 42 at all, except when there is no choice. Whenever I get into an easy rhythm, I drop a cog until it is hard. I don't let myself stand, unless I have to get out of a car's way or something.

    The goal is to use routine rides to get stronger. Most of us ride enough that around-town riding isn't that much exercise. But if we deliberately make it hard on ourselves, we can get more out of those otherwise short and unchallenging rides.

    (A couple years ago, I decided my standing pedaling was weak. By making myself pedal for long-ish periods standing, I improved a fair bit.)

    One thing I've noticed is there seem to be two ways to pedal when you're pushing a too-big gear. Either I slide forward to the rivet, or I push myself to the rear of the saddle. I think the latter works better because there is more glute involved, and the extra leg extension allows a simultaneous push and pull by opposite legs. The rivet position seems to exhaust my quads.

    Do you intentionally make routine rides harder, or otherwise find a way to get more exercise value from them?
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  2. #2
    www.ocrebels.com Rick@OCRR's Avatar
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    On my bike with lots of gear choices I mix it up a bit, working on getting my cadence higher sometimes, working on increasing "power" in a too-high gear other times. Lots of opportnity for the latter when climbing with a slower rider, but wanting to stay with them.

    On the fixed gear bike, the slow cadence power-push is demanded on the climbs while the high cadence practice is demaned by the descents. So fixed is good since it really doesn't give you any choice but to practice both.

    Rick / OCRR

  3. #3
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    I've pushed big gears in the past. My method was like intervals - push the big gear until I started losing speed, then drop back and spin.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Yankeetowner's Avatar
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    No expert, but since I just started back cycling about 4 months ago, my routine has been to put as many miles as I can on the bikes. I have been averaging 170-200+ miles a week for the past 6 weeks. My normal riding gears now, just a few months ago would have been too hard for me to pedal, even for a short distance. I try to pick spots, either long straightaways or "hills" and shift to a harder gear and push as hard as I can for 3-5 minutes. I try to go until the tops of my thighs are burning hard and I am nearly out of breath, and then I cut it back to catch my breath and ease the burning in the thighs. I then repeat the process on my next spot. I don't know if this is technically what I should be doing, but I am definitely getting stronger, and while I wasn't overweight to begin with, I have been slowly losing weight and adding muscle.
    ECCLESIASTES 10:2

  5. #5
    Northern Rider nondes's Avatar
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    My usual exercise loop includes a trail down a river valley. The roads in and out of the valley are short, steep hills and I incorporate them into my ride.

  6. #6
    The Left Coast, USA FrenchFit's Avatar
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    Riding with my spouse I need a strategy to slow me down and still get a workout. For me, it's all about adding weight, I take my heaviest touring bike with big tires, bags, and load up. Last time coming back from a farmers' market I had a watermelon, crenshaw, bags of apples-peaches-tomatoes, and a tub of salsa. Otherwise I carry all our spare clothes and repair stuff for two bikes, camera, lotion, full pump - I stuff it in. I'm a mule. So now when I go out on my CF or steel racer bike alone I feel like I'm riding a rocketship.

  7. #7
    Seat Sniffer Biker395's Avatar
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    Yea, I do that. As a matter or fact, I'm doing it now to train for an upcoming event.

    I'm lucky enough to have a commute that lets me ride time-trial style for a good 10 miles. No stoplights, stop signs, and little traffic.

    I don't push higher gears than a 80~90 cadence will allow though.
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  8. #8
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    County Sheriff Deputies made my return trip home more difficult, late memorial day weekend Sunday,
    but charges were dropped by the DA.








    for jyl,
    how about captive air foam tires?, rolling resistance jumps up significantly .

    chance of flat tires drops to zero.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 09-11-13 at 12:10 PM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    I'm not a fan of the big chain ring for building strength. I think there are better more efficient ways to build leg strength (squats being just one example). When I'm riding I seldom want the distraction of feeling that I'm pushing too big a gear. I'd much sooner spin. I will, however, work on cardio while riding. Simple way for me to do that is shift to an easier gear and maintain or increase speed. When commuting or doing errands on the bike I'm prone to taking the long way when I feel the need for more exercise. Most times, truth be told, I'm interested in getting to work or home or getting the errands finished as quickly as possible. It's the recreational rides that are the ones where I don't mind taking hours and hours. I no longer think about doing "training" rides, because I'm not training for any event. Even century rides don't warrant "training" in my book. I see it more as asking myself if I've been riding enough recently to complete the century in question. I guess, in some ways, I'm burned out on competition.
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  10. #10
    Trek 500 Kid Zinger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    County Sheriff Deputies made my return trip home more difficult, late memorial day weekend Sunday,
    but charges were dropped by the DA.
    Whaa lol

    You didn't go off on some poor motorist that buzzed you did ya.
    "I never lost a race because my bike was too heavy".......George Mount

  11. #11
    Senior Member Terex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jyl View Post
    Do you intentionally make routine rides harder, or otherwise find a way to get more exercise value from them?
    Yes. I'm not one to just go out and toodle around. If I'm going toodling, I'll drive my convertible.

    I've pretty much done what you've done - over gear and work on standing. If I need to keep up with stronger riders though I'll spin my butt off, as appropriate.
    "It could be anything. Scrap booking, high-stakes poker, or the Santa Fe lifestyle. Just pick a dead-end and chill out 'till you die."

  12. #12
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    Hi,

    I find just making short sections of routine rides "hard" works well.
    Typically going up hills in the bigger gears. Rest of the time I'm
    pushing a little, often spinning, as my routine rides are on my
    folder, and that needs spinning to go fast, 80 to 100 rpm.

    rgds, sreten.

  13. #13
    Trek 500 Kid Zinger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
    I don't push higher gears than a 80~90 cadence will allow though.
    I've always pretty stuck with this on flats. On shorter rides I'll move up in the gears and on medium distance or sometimes longer rides I'll go back and forth a bit like light duty intervals.
    "I never lost a race because my bike was too heavy".......George Mount

  14. #14
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    they were looking for anything on wheels that might have had a Pint
    and had nothing else to do.

    (I was under the minimum)

  15. #15
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    When my routine daily incorporates the local Greenway, there is one "hill" at the beginning just before the entrance. So I charge up the hill (only about 80 feet ) maxed out. I consider it my "interval" for my daily "interval training".

  16. #16
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    Keep on pushing those big gears. While you're at it, you can read up on some of the latest medical information you'll soon need: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00389

    You can get just as much, if not more, of a workout by working on your cadence. Stay between 90 and 100 with a few trips to 110 or 120. Cycling should be an aerobic activity, not a weight lifting session. Just my opinion -- your knees may have another opinion.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikepro View Post
    Keep on pushing those big gears. While you're at it, you can read up on some of the latest medical information you'll soon need: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00389

    You can get just as much, if not more, of a workout by working on your cadence. Stay between 90 and 100 with a few trips to 110 or 120. Cycling should be an aerobic activity, not a weight lifting session. Just my opinion -- your knees may have another opinion.
    Hi,

    Your cadences are way out for the 50+ forum. 60 to 80 rpm is normal. 90 to 100 rpm
    pushing hard and 110 to 120 rpm pretty much an all out push to go really fast.

    rgds, sreten.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by sreten View Post
    Hi,

    Your cadences are way out for the 50+ forum. 60 to 80 rpm is normal. 90 to 100 rpm
    pushing hard and 110 to 120 rpm pretty much an all out push to go really fast.

    rgds, sreten.
    At 67, I must be too young for this group. I normally spin between 90 and 100. Anyway, the real point is to not push the big gears -- this is especially important for older knees. Spinning 100+ is for a lower gear and is only an aerobic exercise. Spin up to 100 then back off. UP to 105 then back off, etc. Hold longer if you can then back to what ever.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikepro View Post
    At 67, I must be too young for this group. I normally spin between 90 and 100. Anyway, the real point is to not push the big gears -- this is especially important for older knees. Spinning 100+ is for a lower gear and is only an aerobic exercise. Spin up to 100 then back off. UP to 105 then back off, etc. Hold longer if you can then back to what ever.

    Hi,

    Whatever suits you is fine, but the young can mash gears at low cadence,
    there nothing about spinning high cadences that implies you are young.

    Efficient pedaling is about a gear and cadence that suits you, and for
    hardly any people of any age is that cadence a lot above about 80 rpm,
    and that cadence drops the older you get down to about 70 rpm.
    (Depending on the cyclists fitness of course.)

    Of course you can spin at high cadence to go fast, less efficiently,
    but I'm pretty sure my optimum cadence is about 80 rpm. YMMV.

    rgds, sreten.

    I max out at about 120 rpm for a short sharp very hard push.
    100 rpm is going fast and pushing quite hard on a section.
    80 rpm is around my normal riding speed, pushing a little.
    Climbing I drop at lot lower, as you do.
    Last edited by sreten; 09-10-13 at 07:41 PM.

  20. #20
    Free Velo Vol! Dudelsack's Avatar
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    Je voudrais la souplesse dans les jambes.

    Saying things in French gives it such an air of, well, je ne sais quoi.

    I think its better to spin, but what the hey. Grinding in high gears sounds like a recipe for sore knees.
    Last edited by Dudelsack; 09-10-13 at 07:44 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dudelsack View Post
    Grinding in high gears sounds like a recipe for sore knees.
    Hi,

    For some people 60 rpm is a piece of cake, for others it is knee trouble.
    Grinding is trying to do what you basically can't, not your rpm number.
    I thought we were talking about overspinning, not grinding ....

    rgds, sreten.
    Last edited by sreten; 09-10-13 at 07:53 PM.

  22. #22
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    Pushing big gears for hours is one thing. Pushing big gears for a few miles' grocery run or whatever - something else. But of course, we all have to respect our knees and the rest of our bodies. If I get the knees twinging, I back off.

    What I find is that it helps to have both sets of tools. So when your lungs are blown from too long at 120 rpm, you can switch to beating up your legs, and vice versa.
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  23. #23
    Senior Member Terex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dudelsack View Post
    Je voudrais la souplesse dans les jambes.

    Saying things in French gives it such an air of, well, je ne sais quoi.

    I think its better to spin, but what the hey. Grinding in high gears sounds like a recipe for sore knees.
    You know what? Stumbling across the word "souplesse", and seeing the embodiment of the word in just two people (one, an older woman who was a strictly recreational rider), put me on the road to pedaling enlightenment.
    Last edited by Terex; 09-10-13 at 08:29 PM.
    "It could be anything. Scrap booking, high-stakes poker, or the Santa Fe lifestyle. Just pick a dead-end and chill out 'till you die."

  24. #24
    Trek 500 Kid Zinger's Avatar
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    Actually I've never ridden with a cadence meter and am pretty much guessing. Judging by my watch now and then I know what 90 feels like (and I didn't used to ride with a watch). If I'm hitting what feels like 100 plus I'm probably going too slow and move up a gear. I probably don't go down to 70 except when I'm in the middle of an inhabited part of the mup or just checking scenery and that's not on a heavy gear.

    I've never been much of a low rpm masher on flats but the hills are affecting my knees nowadays. That's why I'm trying out the compact next season.
    "I never lost a race because my bike was too heavy".......George Mount

  25. #25
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sreten View Post
    Hi,

    Whatever suits you is fine, but the young can mash gears at low cadence,
    there nothing about spinning high cadences that implies you are young.

    Efficient pedaling is about a gear and cadence that suits you, and for
    hardly any people of any age is that cadence a lot above about 80 rpm,
    and that cadence drops the older you get down to about 70 rpm.
    (Depending on the cyclists fitness of course.)

    Of course you can spin at high cadence to go fast, less efficiently,
    but I'm pretty sure my optimum cadence is about 80 rpm. YMMV.

    rgds, sreten.

    I max out at about 120 rpm for a short sharp hard push.
    Cadence is a personal thing. However, the most efficient cadence for most people is between 80-100 RPM. I have been spinning at 90+ RPM for the last 50 years, and it works well for me. I'm a lot closer to 80 than I am 50 The idea is to push a bigger gear as you get stronger, and still maintain your optimum RPM. Most of the guys I ride with all use a high cadence. There is absolutely no direct correlation between age and ability to maintain a cadence. The cadence can stay the same, it is the gear you are in that may change. I'm not sure that is even true, at least when you are in your 50's.

    I'll guaranty you that most of the men and women at this event, ages from 35 to 80, were moving with at least a 90 RPM candence. The 80 year olds were moving those pedal around at a good clip! This was at the Masters Nationals criterium last weekend. I kow, this is not "your routine daily ride".


    Mashing a big gear at low rpm is a good way to get knee problems.
    Last edited by Doug64; 09-10-13 at 08:25 PM.

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