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Old 10-18-06, 09:42 AM   #1
Mentor58
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Going Slower More Tiring???

Hey Gang,

I've noticed a strange thing while riding, and need your sage observations on it. Lets say my average speed on flat ground, with no wind, yada yada is X MPH. If I'm riding with someone that is going considerably slower (say X-5 mph) then you would think that I would be able to hold that speed forever.

In practice what I notice is that I'm in such a low gear that my legs get almost burned out from spinning, despite the fact that my cadence stays in the same general range (95 -105 RPM). I'm almost thinking that the fact that I'm getting almost 0 resistance from the pedals on the downstroke my legs don't know what to do. If I gear down so that my cadence drops and I'm getting some feedback on the downstroke then I can ride at the slower speed, but my knees aren't really happy about it.

I guess my question is, why would my legs feel like they are working harder with virtually O resistance than when I've got what I consider my 'Normal' level of feedback while pedaling? )For 10 bonus points, solve for X.)

TIA,

Steve W
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Old 10-18-06, 09:58 AM   #2
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Hmm...I occasionally ride with someone substantially slower than me and typically what I do is spin at a lower cadence around 60-70. Spinning at my normal 90-100 at such slow speeds feels really weird so I go with the slower cadence. I think what may be happening is that the lack of resistance is causing you to brace your legs on both the down stroke and upstroke which is actually exerting more effort. At least that is the feeling I get when I do the high cadence with virtually no resistance.
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Old 10-18-06, 10:07 AM   #3
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Even at slow speeds you can have resistance at the pedals--just shift. If it's a leisurely ride, then likely you don't have time constraints, so why worry about cadence. Just be comfortable, "smell the roses", and have fun with it.

Physiologically speaking, your legs are use to spinning with resistance, not without. So, it's different and it sounds like you're not trained to spin like that. Without resistance, you've lost the "flywheel" effect, imho, and therefore your body is trying to point out that it's not efficient to move like that (but training has an effect on that perception.)

Last edited by NoRacer; 10-18-06 at 10:30 AM.
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Old 10-18-06, 12:29 PM   #4
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Thats a really interesting question Mentor. I noticed this the other day when I got on an excercise bike at the gym (only because it was rainy and balls cold for days). The programmed routine started up with so little resistance I felt like a total tool.... I also felt really wobbly, like I could almost topple the thing over. This caused me to turn the resistance up to '10' which then kicked my ass as I reached the end of the routine.
My answer to your question would be that in these situations, to keep your feet rotating while keeping your center of balance and counteracting centrifugal forces that are normally kept in check by resistance from the pedals, you have to use different muscles than you normally use when cycling.
(That sounded like scientific gobbeldygook but it made sense to me...)
But if I'm going slower to let someone keep up, I usually use a higher gear than normal and pedal slower.
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Old 10-18-06, 12:37 PM   #5
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i can just hear it now...

"i'm sorry i have to drop you...going slow makes my legs too tired!"
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Old 10-18-06, 12:38 PM   #6
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I rarely have the opportunity to ride with someone slower than me. Most people are much, much faster than me!!

I will say though that I have had a number of people ride with me, and then complain that slowing down so much to ride my pace is painful and a lot of work ... so I suppose that it's possible going slowly can be a difficult for some. For me, however, it seems to come quite naturally!!
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Old 10-18-06, 12:53 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mentor58
In practice what I notice is that I'm in such a low gear that my legs get almost burned out from spinning, despite the fact that my cadence stays in the same general range (95 -105 RPM). I'm almost thinking that the fact that I'm getting almost 0 resistance from the pedals on the downstroke my legs don't know what to do. If I gear down so that my cadence drops and I'm getting some feedback on the downstroke then I can ride at the slower speed, but my knees aren't really happy about it.
It could be also from how smooth your pedal-stroke is. Having resistance smooths out the range between maximum & minimum force at the pedals. With little resistance, you may be getting sloppy. Practice max-RPMs spins going down a hill where you don't upshift, just spin an easy gear at 160-170rpms to develop smoother rounder strokes.

Also customize your gear-selection to the needed power-output and speeds. There is no fixed "best" RPM for all conditions. At low-speeds and low power-neededs, I'll spin 70-80rpms and have a casual talk with people.

At 18-20mph, I'll use 90-100rpms.
From 20-25mph, I may be in the 95-105rpm range.
At 25-30mph, I'll be using 100-115rpms.
35-40mph in sprint? I'll be aiming for 130rpms crossing the line.
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Old 10-18-06, 12:57 PM   #8
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There's also the "hill factor". Some very slow riders approach hills slowly, and have to do a lot more climbing work. My wife is this way. I always tell her, that she should take advantage of the momentum. But then, I tell her a lot of things, and it's probably a good thing that she doesn't listen to many of them.
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Old 10-18-06, 12:57 PM   #9
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Ok, what I'm hearing seems to confirm what I thougth, that by not having any resistance against the downward push the legs get out of synch so to speak. (sort of like how if a boxer throws a punch and misses it takes even more energy to recover than if it had connected).

Understand that my usual speed isn't Fast by any means, I'm the kind of rider that makes it possible for people to finish ahead of somebody else. I wonder if forcing myself to ride with almost no resistance would work to smooth up my spin? Something to play around with.

Steve W.
Who could hang off a drag chute to get more resistance going slow.
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Old 10-18-06, 01:03 PM   #10
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Riding slower = more time on the bike, and there is a certain fatigue, just from sitting on the bike, and the time spent outside.

riding substantially slower than your normal pace for a prolonged period also can be mental drudgery
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Old 10-18-06, 01:58 PM   #11
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When I ride with slower riders I just spend a lot more time coasting so I actually feel no fatigue at all. I pedal here and there so that I maintain speed but that's it. For hills I pedal continuously but softer and slower and it feels less tiring than if I were going at my own pace.
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Old 10-18-06, 02:43 PM   #12
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Old 10-18-06, 03:21 PM   #13
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I did a 65 miler with a slower rider and we had an agreement. I would stay with him except on the hills. I had to take them at my pace and I got a good workout on them.

Took around an extra 90 minutes to do the ride and to be honest- I could have done the ride again- I had so much energy. Only thing that got me was mental. It was hard to keep to such a slow pace- but this was the other riders first long ride.

I do know one thing- He enjoyed the ride so much that we are looking for another ride for him before too long. Only thing is that it will be done on the Tandem so he can keep up with me.
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