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Old 03-08-08, 01:23 PM   #1
Erin158
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Cadence on Computrainer vs. Real life

Heres my back ground info. I'm 30yrs old, weight 180, MHR 200-205, I've been riding for about 1.5yrs. I just came back from a TT on the computrainer at local bike shop. The TT was three laps around central park NYC. I averaged 287w and the 18.3 mile couse took me 48:13. My average HR was 186. There were several steep hills on the course 4 to 8% grades. Not sure if this is true in real life. Any way when I hit the hills I find I'm most comfortable and keep my heart rate lower if I ride at a low RPM maybe 60. I don't have a rpm meter but I know I'm pedaling very slow. I usually don't gear down much and my watts increase to 300-330 range. I feel pretty comfortable doing this and my legs don't cramp up. I've had people tell me I should be climbing hills at a high candence 90RPM like lance. But I seem to be more comfortable doing it like Jan Ullrich 60 RPM big gear. When I spin a smaller gear I feel like I'm over my anerobic threshold. I start to breathe harder. I do notice I seem to be pedaling squares especially on 9% or higher grades. My question should Is should I keep doing what feels comfortable when I start riding outside? Is there a way to train to ride at higher cadence? I've been doing Friels Bible. So mostly LSD rides 1-3 hrs 10 hrs a week or so. I just started doing intervals and more tempo rides. Is this something I might develop over time? I mostly race mountain bike, so I know it would be better for me to spin a lighter gear so I can not spin going up hills. Oh and I try to stay seated the whol time I'm climbing a hill.
Hope you guys can read this mess. Thanks.
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Old 03-08-08, 04:47 PM   #2
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To ride at a higher cadence, ride at a higher cadence.

In general though, self selected cadence is best. For climbing, if you're able to put out power and climb faster standing, then by all means do whatever gets you over the hill best.

I climb faster seated, but stand on long climbs to give the legs a break and hit different muscles.
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Old 03-08-08, 10:05 PM   #3
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Studies have shown that a cyclist puts out the most wattage at a particular heart rate at 50-55 cadence. As you find, if you hold the same wattage and increase cadence, heart rate rises. Here's the first interesting part. It's an unusual trained cyclist that can get their heart rate over lactate threshold at such low cadences. It's possible that you can pedal with Jan's style. Here's the second interesting part. It takes very efficient leg muscles to pedal very hard at low cadences because powerful contractions tend to burn a lot of glycogen and create a lot of lactate.

So most folks pedal at a higher cadence to spare the glycogen and create less lactate, if they keep the HR under lactate threshold, that is. Your legs will last a lot longer if you pedal fast. Even so, most folks climb at a slower cadence than they use on the flat, again to keep that HR down when the legs are loaded.

It's been the style ever since Lance won his first Tour to advocate high cadence pedaling. However, it's good to keep in mind that Lance was able to pedal those high cadences because he could ride for long periods at very high heart rates.

So everyone has their own favorite and most efficient climbing cadence, depending on their physiology. Only experimentation can show you what yours is. On the other hand, "most efficient" cadence is trainable. You can teach your legs to operate at both higher and lower cadences than seem natural. So that makes it a lot more complicated. What to do? Train at higher cadences, or train the cadence that seems natural? We each had to experiment to answer that question. When Jan quit, he was still experimenting.
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Old 03-08-08, 10:44 PM   #4
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It's been the style ever since Lance won his first Tour to advocate high cadence pedaling. However, it's good to keep in mind that Lance was able to pedal those high cadences because he could ride for long periods at very high heart rates.
I've read from several other sources that Lance really popularized "high cadence" cycling, especially climbing. I've always wondered if it worked well for him because of his abnormally large heart.

Just curious...
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Old 03-09-08, 07:19 AM   #5
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I've found that riding fixed gear in the local very hilly area has acclimated my body to work efficiently at different cadences. It allows a lot of flexibility in riding style to be able to work the most efficient system, and keep both systems as efficient as possible.

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Old 03-09-08, 10:20 AM   #6
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Thank you very much for your answers. I think your right cycling is a total learning experience. Can you tell me a web site that shows those studies showing cadence vs. wattage? I'll just have to experiment this spring. If it ever stops snowing.
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Old 03-10-08, 02:09 PM   #7
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Thank you very much for your answers. I think your right cycling is a total learning experience. Can you tell me a web site that shows those studies showing cadence vs. wattage? I'll just have to experiment this spring. If it ever stops snowing.
Chew on this for a bit:
http://www.triathletemag.com/Departm...ng_cadence.htm

and then google "cycling efficiency cadence 50" for more of the same.

You can experiment right now if you have a trainer. Try holding a 60 cadence at 80-90% of MRH for a hour. Or just see how long until your legs explode in pain. Then try the same speed and resistance at a 90 cadence.
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