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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 05-22-13, 02:52 PM   #1
ClydesMoose
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Bouncing.

Started the TrainerRoad intermediate base workout plan last night, and during the 8 minute test, there was a segment in there that had me trying to push 120RPM or so.

When I got above 105 or so, I was bouncing pretty hard in the saddle.

Any advice on how to make that more smooth? Is it more resistance, less resistance, or just work on pedaling more smoothly. My natural cadence is usually around 70ish, I don't think I've ever really tried to go above 100 like... ever.
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Old 05-22-13, 02:56 PM   #2
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It is all about neuromuscular adaptation - in other words, you need to work at it to get better.

http://www.trainingbible.com/joesblo...ng-drills.html
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Old 05-22-13, 03:04 PM   #3
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OP, if you get your normal cadence up to 95 or so, 120 won't be such a problem. The higher normal cadence will help preserve your knees, facilitate climbing and also broaden your range to accommodate the occasional need for high spin rate. Before the advent of 11 and even 12 tooth cogs, the ability to spin at 120 to reach higher speeds was more common.
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Old 05-22-13, 03:05 PM   #4
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A few tricks: pull yourself down with your arms and shoulders to steady yourself; moderately high resistance; pedal by pressing down to about 5 o'clock, then use your foot/ankle to complete the cycle; pull up on your clipless pedals.

...and practice!
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Old 05-22-13, 03:10 PM   #5
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OP, if you get your normal cadence up to 95 or so, 120 won't be such a problem. The higher normal cadence will help preserve your knees, facilitate climbing and also broaden your range to accommodate the occasional need for high spin rate. Before the advent of 11 and even 12 tooth cogs, the ability to spin at 120 to reach higher speeds was more common.
I've been working on trying to raise my cadence. It *was* 60-65 a little while ago. My problem is I have pretty strong legs, but my CV system sucks wind.
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Old 05-22-13, 03:12 PM   #6
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Assuming your saddle isn't too high, then it is most likely your technique.
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Old 05-22-13, 03:13 PM   #7
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Well, I will venture a guess here..."In physics, resonance is the tendency of a system to oscillate with greater amplitude at some frequencies than at others. Frequencies at which the response amplitude is a relative maximum are known as the system's resonant frequencies, or resonance frequencies. At these frequencies, even small periodic driving forces can produce large amplitude oscillations, because the system stores vibrational energy."

For a spring-mass system, the resonant frequency will depend on the mass (your weight) and the springiness (the flexibility of the bicycle).

Translation: Some skinny guy may be able to pedal at a higher cadence than you without bouncing, and it's not necessarily because you're doing anything wrong.

(I am assuming from the "Clyde" part of your name, that perhaps you aren't a skinny guy- if you are, then...never mind!)
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Old 05-22-13, 03:23 PM   #8
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I've been working on trying to raise my cadence. It *was* 60-65 a little while ago. My problem is I have pretty strong legs, but my CV system sucks wind.
Yeah, but what does CV have to do with cadence? We are not talking about going faster down the road, just pedaling faster in an easier gear. You shouldn 't feel it in your breathing or HR at all. Downshift.
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Old 05-22-13, 03:29 PM   #9
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It gets easier. If you're on TR, I'd recommend sticking to the workout plan - most of the rides on (at least on the two base-building plans) have in-ride suggestions and they help quite a bit. One thing that contributed to my bounce was that my pedaling was too one-dimensional - mashing from about 2 o'clock to 6 o'clock, and not much elsewhere. In any event, stay the course.
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Old 05-22-13, 03:31 PM   #10
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Assuming your saddle isn't too high, then it is most likely your technique.
Yup, this.

Think about your pedal stroke; Concentrate on moving your legs from your hips, and making sure you're pulling up as well as pushing down.....fully utilizing a circular motion.
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Old 05-22-13, 03:34 PM   #11
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I would work on that, for sure. I clocked myself roughly -- very roughly -- at about 180 rpm going down a hill riding a fixed gear. When I spin fast, I try to make it smooth. Maybe you'd enjoy a little training on a fixie, too.

And as fa63 hinted, your seat might be too high. The faster you spin, the lower you'll want it. Well, within limits.
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Old 05-22-13, 03:34 PM   #12
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Yeah, but what does CV have to do with cadence? We are not talking about going faster down the road, just pedaling faster in an easier gear. You shouldn 't feel it in your breathing or HR at all. Downshift.
Huh? I don't think that's how it works. It take oxygen to ... oh nevermind, I don't care that much.

OP - One thing I noticed in doing similar drills was that some resistance was helpful in steadying me out. Not much or you are going to miss the point of the drill, but some.

Quote:
for most people i believe optimal cadence is around the 85-90 mark
OP - This may or may not be true, but ignore it. What is optimal for most people has no bearing on you. Follow the training plan and you will start to see where you are most efficient and comfortable.... and it will change.
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Old 05-22-13, 03:35 PM   #13
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Try to focus on pushing the pedal around in a circle rather than just pushing down in the downstroke like whyfi said. Lots of practice.
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Old 05-22-13, 03:36 PM   #14
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Practice pedaling with one leg or pedal downhill in a really low gear (so that your cadence can go way up with almost no resistance).

Either way, you'll find real fast where the dead spots in your pedal stroke is. I find fast cadences are more about relaxing than they are about "doing".
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Old 05-22-13, 03:48 PM   #15
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Thanks for all the helpful advice I'm going to keep at it definitely. Mostly I wanted to see what I should be working on to get better.

I don't want to groove in a particularly bad stroke and find out 6 months from now that I should have been doing Y when I was doing X all along. Practice makes permanent
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Old 05-22-13, 03:49 PM   #16
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Improve your stroke and higher cadence like 120 should be easy.

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Old 05-22-13, 03:54 PM   #17
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Practice makes permanent
I don't think that it's going to take long. I think that I was about 2-3 weeks in to TR when I found that threshold efforts were more comfortable at 10-15 RPM higher than when I'd started.
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Old 05-22-13, 04:00 PM   #18
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I'm actually really looking forward to the TR stuff. I was intimidated by the perceived difficulty, but I got through the 8 min test thing in pretty good shape. I actually could have gone harder I think.

Especially now that I realize that I need to keep the *yellow* line at the top of the blue, and not the red.
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Old 05-22-13, 04:05 PM   #19
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Well, I will venture a guess here..."In physics, resonance is the tendency of a system to oscillate with greater amplitude at some frequencies than at others. Frequencies at which the response amplitude is a relative maximum are known as the system's resonant frequencies, or resonance frequencies. At these frequencies, even small periodic driving forces can produce large amplitude oscillations, because the system stores vibrational energy."

For a spring-mass system, the resonant frequency will depend on the mass (your weight) and the springiness (the flexibility of the bicycle).

Translation: Some skinny guy may be able to pedal at a higher cadence than you without bouncing, and it's not necessarily because you're doing anything wrong.

(I am assuming from the "Clyde" part of your name, that perhaps you aren't a skinny guy- if you are, then...never mind!)
Yes, if there is a bit of flab around the torso, that is going to start going up and down in time with the pedal strokes. Harmonics have been mentioned before in this context, but some out there just don't get that part of it.

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Yeah, but what does CV have to do with cadence? We are not talking about going faster down the road, just pedaling faster in an easier gear. You shouldn 't feel it in your breathing or HR at all. Downshift.
CV is a significant part of this. Go to the Training and Nutrition forum where the real experts post.

--------------

Riding a fixed gear certainly encourages a rider to concentrate on technique at high RPMs.

I have found that if I really work at keeping my pelvis level, high cadence has a less dramatic effect.

It does require some strength in the core muscles (abs in particular) to stablise the pelvis.

High cadence can also find out if your fit is not up to scratch -- if, for example, your seat is too high, your hips/pelvis will rock badly. You should also be relaxed with your grip on the handlebars -- again, it's a core muscle thing.

It is a technique worth refining.
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Old 05-22-13, 04:14 PM   #20
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It is a technique worth refining.
Unfortunately technique is not on most peoples radar of things to improve.
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Old 05-22-13, 04:21 PM   #21
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Yes, if there is a bit of flab around the torso, that is going to start going up and down in time with the pedal strokes. Harmonics have been mentioned before in this context, but some out there just don't get that part of it.



CV is a significant part of this. Go to the Training and Nutrition forum where the real experts post.

--------------

Riding a fixed gear certainly encourages a rider to concentrate on technique at high RPMs.

I have found that if I really work at keeping my pelvis level, high cadence has a less dramatic effect.

It does require some strength in the core muscles (abs in particular) to stablise the pelvis.

High cadence can also find out if your fit is not up to scratch -- if, for example, your seat is too high, your hips/pelvis will rock badly. You should also be relaxed with your grip on the handlebars -- again, it's a core muscle thing.

It is a technique worth refining.
So yeah, I have the flab, a weakish core, and tend to deathgrip. However, I'm not rocking left/right like I'm stretching for the bottom of the pedal stroke. I'm thinking its the core flab resonance combined with poor technique.

I'm working on both of those
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Old 05-22-13, 05:42 PM   #22
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Bouncing can happen at any fitness level. Not working on it only reinforces it so the OP is taking a good approach in trying to fix it now instead of in 10 or 20 years.

Saddle position does affect max rpm but shouldn't affect smooth pedal stroke, not at the normal cadence ranges of 100-120 rpm. A lot of set back, too high of a position, or even slightly too low, these will increase the chances of bouncing. Higher speed pedaling will reveal pedaling form weaknesses so try doing extremely high rpm drills to work on form.

Focus on "spinning faster" instead of "pedaling harder". I tell people not to think about scraping mud off your shoe - that's fine at lower rpms but at higher ones it's too much. Just move your ankles in circles really fast and let your foot just follow along. You can stiffen up your ankle if you want, keeping your foot at a somewhat standard angle, or you can let your ankle flex and therefore your foot to tilt at the different parts of the pedal stroke. I do both at different time - for max rpm (highest cadence) it's more a stiff ankle but for my best sprints (highest speed) it's always been more of a flexy ankle.

Try going to very extreme pedal speeds (for me I do it on a trainer or on a spin bike, the latter with the seat lower than I have it on my bike). The idea is if you can pedal at 240 rpm then 120 rpm should feel pretty manageable. In fact if you spin up a few times you'll find yourself lowballing your cadence by a good 10-20 rpm, meaning you do a couple 200+ rpm bursts and then "recover" at 100 rpm only to see that you're doing 120 or higher. On my road bike I have a hard time breaking 220 rpm at my regular saddle height, but that height is optimized for a lot of stuff, not just max cadence.

Do whatever you need to do to smooth yourself out, even if it's a temporary thing/tactic. For example when I started riding a lot I bounced too. I found that holding my upper body totally rigid really helped. It wasn't practical in terms of riding efficiency but it forced me to figure out how to move my legs without moving my upper body. Many years later a rider commented on my "still" upper body - it comes from those drills at the beginning (and for those that ride/race with me I'll admit that I exaggerate my upper body movement to try and broadcast what I want to broadcast, so it may not be a reflection of my true pedal form).

You can even (temporarily or permanently) lower your saddle a bit. A tip - if you've tilted your saddle down more than a couple mm back to front (so the nose is a couple mm lower) then your saddle is definitely too high. Level or almost-level your saddle, drop it, and work on your form. My saddle runs a couple mm lower up front, and based on the hoopla that happened when the UCI started checking TT bike saddle "levelness" apparently most of the pros do too.

Another thing I did was to go out and do "rpm rides". Back then I could average 95-100 rpm for a ride (using the average cadence function). I set out to do 120 rpm for at least an hour. That translates to a lot of 125-130 rpm riding because the average really gets affected by the brief periods of lower rpms (just like your car's computed avg speed of, say, 65 mph, is usually 10 mph below your actual driving speeds because to average 65, even on a highway trip, you need to hold 75 for much of it). I only managed this a few times over the years but simply trying to hit it and failing after doing 120 rpm for 30 minutes, that's better than not doing 120 rpm for 30 minutes. A tip - if I was riding outside I found that I was in my lowest gears for most of the ride and I had to avoid hills else my average would drop dramatically.

Rollers are great for those avg rpm rides, ditto a mag trainer. Exponential resistance trainers (fluid, wind) tend to force you to use low gears which in turn give you low wheel momentum so the ride is much more choppy (and unrealistic). Your wheel slows down quickly during the top/bottom of the stroke so you end up with more peaky type pedaling. It's sort of like spinning up a hill vs spinning on a flat road.

The most important thing is to fix your bounce now. Don't let it go, thinking you'll fix it in the off season. I have a good friend who did that and he rues it to this day, over 25 years later - he cannot get rid of a significant bounce in his pedaling form.

As far as optimal rpm it of course depends on the rider. Longer cranks drop it, shorter ones raise it. On 175s I'm a 95 rpm kind of guy. On 170s it's more like 110 rpm (meaning what I spin at when I'm feeling comfortable and fresh). My actual averages are about 10-15 rpm lower than that so my avg cadence on 175s is usually in the 80-85 rpm range, 170s is 95-100.

My spin bike drills (at the beginning). On the track (170s) I don't think I exceeded 125 rpm since I only went about 32 mph in a 50x15. On the spin bike I could hit 244 rpm (and that was on 175s). On 170s on the same kind of machine my max rpm was over 280 rpm.
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Old 05-22-13, 05:47 PM   #23
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CDR has gone into some great detail about it. It's worth bookmarking the thread just to reference that.
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Old 05-22-13, 06:11 PM   #24
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Woah. Pretty much sums it up. I've caught myself bouncing at around 125, and have done the downhill low gear test, and it does show exactly what you need to work on.
Cdr is a ninja/Jedi. Nice post.
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Old 05-22-13, 06:11 PM   #25
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Holy crap. Thanks for the in depth info CDR. I really appreciate that.
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