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  1. #1
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    Raising Stoker Cadence

    Went on a lunch time ride today and one of my twin sons tagged along (34 year-old, working two jobs, finished school, living at home, looking for a job, .....). Wife and I are clearly older than 34, new to tandeming, but very competitive and I would really have liked to have dropped him! The reality is that he's young, strong and has picked up his bicycling over the last two months, but you would think on a tandem ti would be close.

    OK, so the ancient ones have got to get stronger, but in addition our efficient cadences don't have much of an overlap to as I approach 90 rpm I've got to upshift and may actually slow us down due to my loss of efficiency. We've got a 12-27 cassette and I don't want to go with anything with a narrower range.

    I'm sure this is very common when a team is starting up. Did you find that the stoker was able to up his/her natural cadence on the tandem or would work on a single (road or trainer) be more beneficial? I should add that this is one area in which our daVinci is probably at a disadvantage to a conventional drive train. My wife is getting a new single and our LBS has spinning classes over the winter so I'm hopeful of being in sync by next spring.
    Rick T
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  2. #2
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Fast pedal drills. 120 rpms in an easy gear. Start with 3 intervals of 5 minutes. Work up to 5x10. When you can comfortably spin 120 rpms without bouncing, 90 will feel slow.
    You could fall off a cliff and die.
    You could get lost and die.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    Understand the fast pedal drills, but I'm assuming this is best done solo (single on a road or trainer)?
    Rick T
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    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    On the tandem . . .

  5. #5
    TWilkins
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    Can't speak to a DaVinci, which I think would be a totally different dynamic. From my experience on a "standard" tandem it's just a matter of practice. Actually, as captain, you can help her learn to spin faster.

    When we started riding together, Pam couldn't comfortably spin at anything above 90 RPM. I figured out pretty quickly that at around 92, she would call for a shift, and plotted my strategy around that. What I would do would be to run up the cadence to the 90-92 rmp range and try to hold it a while. If she didn't call for the shift, I would inch it up a little higher for just a moment, then shift. Over time, I figured out that I could hold the higher RPM's for longer periods of time, and eventually was able to push my shift point higher and higher.

    After a few years of riding now, we comfortably spin along at 110-115. Anything over 115, and I'm ready to shift!
    Tracy Wilkins
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  6. #6
    Senior Member WebsterBikeMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rdtompki View Post
    Went on a lunch time ride today and one of my twin sons tagged along (34 year-old, working two jobs, finished school, living at home, looking for a job, .....). Wife and I are clearly older than 34, new to tandeming, but very competitive and I would really have liked to have dropped him! The reality is that he's young, strong and has picked up his bicycling over the last two months, but you would think on a tandem ti would be close.

    OK, so the ancient ones have got to get stronger, but in addition our efficient cadences don't have much of an overlap to as I approach 90 rpm I've got to upshift and may actually slow us down due to my loss of efficiency. We've got a 12-27 cassette and I don't want to go with anything with a narrower range.

    I'm sure this is very common when a team is starting up. Did you find that the stoker was able to up his/her natural cadence on the tandem or would work on a single (road or trainer) be more beneficial? I should add that this is one area in which our daVinci is probably at a disadvantage to a conventional drive train. My wife is getting a new single and our LBS has spinning classes over the winter so I'm hopeful of being in sync by next spring.
    Yeah, well, my son keeps up with us too, although he's only 22, so we're still closer to our prime than you, but he may be closer to his prime than your son (but not that much). He drafts us. And then tells us later that it was an easier ride than he's used to...

    As far as cadence, there are the other suggestions above, but if that doesn't work, you can also get longer crank arms (if they are DaVinci, they'll be lovely, but not cheap), and that will reduce your preferred cadence (feet are moving faster at a given cadence).

    As far as whether it is different for a DaVinci, I doubt it. Reason being that as long as you are both contributing your cadence is the same. If your cadence goes beyond what she can manage, she can coast, but then she's not contributing so your cadence is likely to drop as you need to pick up more of the load.

    And yes, the normal method of increasing cadence is to practice very high, low load cadence just at the limit of bouncing. This is good not only for increasing cadence, but also for increasing efficiency, since it trains you to have a smoother stroke and put less energy into anything that is not propelling the bike forward. If you're going to do intervals, you need to talk about it first, especially since in the DaVinci she can opt out.
    Last edited by WebsterBikeMan; 07-09-09 at 09:29 AM. Reason: changed "below

  7. #7
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    Yes, if the two partners on a tandem have quite different preferred cadences it is helpful to adjust the crank arm lengths to compensate. Using shorter cranks for the stoker (or whichever rider likes a slower cadence) will naturally lead to being able to comfortably turn at a faster cadence since their feet will be going around in smaller circles. Conversely, a longer crank for the rider who likes a high cadence will naturally slow it down some.

  8. #8
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    The crank arm is an interesting thought if my wife's cadence doesn't increase over the next 6 months or so. I've ridden quite a bit more since we started riding last August, but now that we have the tandem our mileage is climbing in sync. Once we starting riding the tandem my wife pretty quickly got comfortable near 90 so it's so a higher cadence should be achievable. We're both pretty long-legged for our height (6' and 5'6") with 175 and 170 mm crank arms, respectively. Sometimes I will wait for my wife to call a shift or I'll shift if I can feel her bouncing (or I'll tell her an upslope is coming and to hang on).

    BTW, this doesn't have anything to do with the enjoyment we're getting out of the tandem; just comes up occassionally as we keep working at getting better.
    Rick T
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  9. #9
    Live Everyday
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    """""Went on a lunch time ride today and one of my twin sons tagged along (34 year-old, working two jobs, finished school, living at home, looking for a job, .....). Wife and I are clearly older than 34, new to tandeming, but very competitive and I would really have liked to have dropped him! The reality is that he's young, strong and has picked up his bicycling over the last two months, but you would think on a tandem ti would be close.
    OK, so the ancient ones have got to get stronger""""",


    rdtompki... ' suspect I have a few more miles on me than you so I guess I can break the bad news here... while we can certainly all improve with more hard work and proper training, when all is said and done...'young healthy bodies will always beat-up on old healthy bodies'....sorry!
    I really hate those laws of nature things.
    However, that doesn't mean we can't have fun tryng to out fox'em or ganging up on those young bucks of course....

    Bill J.

  10. #10
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    ^ I don't think that has to be true. I'm faster at 50 than I was at 30, mostly because I train smarter now.

    Also, I race Masters 45, and Cat4. By definition the Masters are 45 and over. Most of the Cat 4's are between 18 and 35. Masters 45 is much harder and faster than the Cat 4's.

    Age obviously brings with it a decrease in our maximum potential performance. However, most of us are so far below our potential that even as we age, there is still the potential to be faster and stronger than you've ever been simply by realizing a greater percentage of the potential you have left.
    You could fall off a cliff and die.
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    OR YOU COULD STAY HOME AND FALL OFF THE COUCH AND DIE.

  11. #11
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    Truth is somewhere in between. I'm sure we're nowhere near our potential for our age since we haven't don't much aerobic training for decades so it's all about improving and getting the most out of what's left. We're experienced with hard work: I ran marathons into my early 40's and my wife played field hockey to about the same age. I was hoping to catch my #1 son before he had too much base, but I guess I missed my window. His twin is training for triathlons and would be out of reach. This is the most fun I've had "exercising" in 20 years. Our goal is to be fit enough to enjoy 100K - 100mi rides without too much suffering.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member WebsterBikeMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
    ^ I don't think that has to be true. I'm faster at 50 than I was at 30, mostly because I train smarter now.
    Nah, it's those new wheels you just put on

  13. #13
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    Get the stoker a cadence meter and explain the target range. My wife is now happy she can spin up to 110 with me on the tandem and we can certainly tell the difference when we are not over torqued.

  14. #14
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    andrOid,
    Our cadence is picked off the stoker's crank and we both have a readout so there's no fibbing about cadence. Of course, I can tell if she's coasting, but that's never the case.
    Rick T
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  15. #15
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    One thing is to be able to spin at 100 to 120 rpm without bouncing and another is to be able to produce power while doing it.

  16. #16
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    If your stoker will stand for this, good on you both! Quickest way to more leg speed is a single on a set of rollers. Staying in zone 2 and using a low gear or very low gear, try to spin at 115 or better continuously for as long as possible. If she can't spin that fast, then as fast as her zone 2 limit allows. Start with 15 minutes once a week, and add to that until she's doing 45 minutes continuously at 115-120. I think continuous works better than intervals, because that's what one does on the bike. YMMV. I wouldn't be too concerned about the zone 2 limit to start with. But as the interval gets longer, she'll fall apart if her effort is too high, and form is everything.

    For the power end of things, as long as you bought her rollers, have her do one-legged pedaling on them, again once a week. With one foot propped in the triangle, pedal 2 minute intervals, some at 50-55 cadence, some at 80-85 cadence. Or as many seconds as she can manage, working up to 2 minutes, and keeping a taut chain the whole time. 2 minute legs-together zone 2 "rest" periods between pairs of intervals. I like to do one set slow, one set fast for between 15 and 45 minutes. The slow set is to make the mechanics of it more obvious. Use the same gear for legs-together and the slow set. Use a low gear for the fast set. Or use a gear that makes her grit her teeth for the last 15 seconds.

    Doing both these on the rollers is great because the low inertia of one's rims makes it very obvious when one is not pedaling circles. Applying power all around the circle is the secret to not bouncing.

    You can keep getting faster. These exercises will make a major difference. Plus you both can amaze your friends! Downside: even though this is the fastest way to more leg speed, imprinting this kind of neuromuscular coordination into one's ganglia takes time.

    Of course warm up and cool down, too. At least to start with, always put the rollers in a doorway, the narrower the better. Or mock up a doorway in the garage. Put a 24" box fan in front of the rollers.

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