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Old 11-10-02, 08:28 PM   #1
Falchoon
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Cadence

I've just got myself a new bike computer with the cadence feature and I'm just wondering what speed I should be spinning at. So far I seem to spend most of the time in the mid to high 70s. I ride a road bike and probably tend to push a higher gear than is neccessary most of the time.
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Old 11-10-02, 08:54 PM   #2
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I know very little about road biking, but find myself trying to stay high 90's. This has really helped my hill climbing. Lance is known as a high cadence rider, so it at least works well for him.
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Old 11-10-02, 09:09 PM   #3
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On my first 'real' road bike I installed a computer with a cadence feature. (best thing I ever did!) I also spin in the high 90's and and avoid spinning at a lower RPM at all costs if possible... (Just the thought of it, and my knees begin to ache!)
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Old 11-10-02, 11:08 PM   #4
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Yep, keep your cadence no lower than 90. Any lower and my knees begin to ache too! hahaha
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Old 11-11-02, 01:51 AM   #5
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All depends on how you ride and how you are comfortable. You should experiment and find the cadence and gear ratios that give you the best performnce and comfort.
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Old 11-11-02, 06:21 AM   #6
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Alot if not all depends on your build and strengths. As a big'un with strong legs I'm better off in the low to mid 80s with a bigger gear than I am trying to kep my legs spinning at 90+ rpm. Since you say you're turning a larger gear now I'd ask how your knees feel and make any adjustments based on the answer.

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Old 11-11-02, 07:10 AM   #7
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i think that the trick is to keep your cadence high (85-95 rpm) and eventually train yourself so you can accomplish this in a larger gear than at present. if you can maintain this 85-95 rpm cadence in a larger gear then you increase your avg cruising speed.
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Old 11-11-02, 08:08 AM   #8
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The point of a high cadence is NOT to go faster, but to ride at your current speed and power output, but using less force and more speed on the pedals. You dont expect to spin at the same gear you grind. This would take more power, and when you are riding your fastest, you dont have any more power.
You should start by training your legs to spin fast at a lower speed. When you can move your legs fast, you can then gear up a bit and ride with max power. At this point, you should be riding in a lower gear than you would currently choose.

Spinning may make a marginal improvement to your speed, a bigger improvement to your endurance, and a significant lengthening of your useful knee lifespan.
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Old 11-11-02, 09:36 AM   #9
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New cyclists tend to ride at a low cadence.

It is a good thing to be able to spin. I seem to be able to generate more power with less fatigue by spinning. It also puts less strain on knees, muscles, feet etc.

Some people do not spin but seem to thrive on "pushing big gears". Gregg Lemond was this way, if I recall. I think he tended to ride at 80 rpm. During Lemond's career people talked about pushing "big gears". Lance Armstrong is a spinner and I think he runs slightly over 100 rpm. Of course, now people talk about spinning.

Well it seems to me that if Lemond won 3 tours with a relatively low cadence, then it certainly worked for him.

I would suggest that you at least try to develop a spin and see how it works.
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Old 11-11-02, 10:51 AM   #10
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When I started out riding I used to push gears that were way way to big, not keeping a high cadence as a result. I though this was the best way because of my build. When I started doing rides over long distances with 20 or so mile hills, I found it so much easier to spin at 90-100 r.p.m.'s especially on hills. But once again this is a personal preference, I know people that spin at all different rates, the fad now is to spin, but like I said before just find what works for you. You aren't getting graded on your technique, you only grade yourself on your enjoyment.
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Old 11-11-02, 11:47 AM   #11
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It depends on your goals for both the specific workout of the day and long term.

I have charted Cadence vs. Average speed. vs, Average heartrate for nearly every ride during the last year in an attempt to understand the most efficient use of my energy for attaining speed as well as endurance.

This real data along with notes documenting the physical effects has been quite enlightening.
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Old 11-11-02, 07:51 PM   #12
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Thanks for the comments people. I tried riding to work today (about 18km) at a higher cadence. I was having trouble trying to keep in the 90s, my legs tended to go like thrashing machines! I was more comfortable in the high 80s.

On longer randonneur type rides I spin more (faster) and I find I don't tire as easy. On the weekend I did a ride of about 110km and tended to push the bigger gears (staying mostly in the 70s) and found I was quite stuffed after I finished. It was reasonably warm day too (about 27deg C) as it is just coming on Summer over here so that could of had a bearing on it as well. The other week I did a 150km ride, partly over the same route as this weekend's ride, but with more hills (steeper and longer too) and wasn't as tired when I finished.
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Old 11-12-02, 03:53 AM   #13
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A higher cadence works for me, even though now I'm still young and don't experience any pain in my joints whatsoever. It helps me as I really don't mash those gears, I rather spin effectively and efficiently and get more miles out of it. If I do go lower, I probably won't do as well.
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Old 11-13-02, 10:45 AM   #14
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Pushing a big gear slowly requires your leg muscles to do all the work. They will tire quickly. Spinning a lower gear faster allows your cardiovascular system to share the load.

Don't try to jump from the 70s to the 90s immediately. Shift down and try to keep it at 80. After a couple of weeks go to 85, then 90. It takes a while to train your legs to go faster. Like you I was probably pedalling in the 70s when I added the cadence kit to my computer. I tried keeping it between 80-85 and was gasping after a half mile. The next day it was a lot easier.

Now I can maintain 100-110 for miles on group rides, occasionally shifting up and doing 95-100 to take a breather while still maintaining the same speed. Another thing about training yourself to spin faster, if you need a sudden acceleration, it is much easier and faster to accelerate quickly by spinning a smaller gear even faster than by trying to slog a big gear faster.
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