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Thread: Cadence

  1. #1
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Cadence

    I need some advice on cadence. I think I pedal a generally high cadence, usually between 110-120, sometimes peaking at 130. I feel most comfortable at about 115-118. Below 100-105 I feel like I'm pushing too hard and switch to an easier gear. I do lots of gear shifting out of stops, I just dont' like pushing hard and feel like I have more power at around 100+. This is all for my totally flat 9mi commute each way where I always focus on speed and pushing myself.

    But I wonder if I a missing out on strengthening? Should I focus some of my time (like intervals during my commute) on lower cadences where I push harder. This morning I kept the bike in slightly higher gears and rode 95-100. It was not so bad, but then I've read that 85 is a good cadence for more hilly terrain/off-road - I just can't image going that slow. I am going to get more into off-road riding and this makes me wonder if I should focus on strength at these lower cadences. I do wonder about my knees also though. The consideration is that I just feel more power and even acceration when I am around 100.

    Finally for what its worth, I've generally been more of a strength person vs. endurance (I am more competetive at running sprints up thru half mile, than 2mi plus races.)

    Al

  2. #2
    Mad Town Biker Murrays's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam
    I need some advice on cadence. I think I pedal a generally high cadence, usually between 110-120, sometimes peaking at 130. I feel most comfortable at about 115-118. Below 100-105
    Wow! I thought I was high at 105-115!

    I donít think your cadence can necessarily be too high as long as your bottom stays firmly on the seat.

    Just out of curiosity, what size frame do you ride and what length cranks do you have? Longer cranks will slow down your cadence since your feet travel a longer distance. This is compensated by more torque with the longer lever.


    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam
    But I wonder if I a missing out on strengthening? Should I focus some of my time (like intervals during my commute) on lower cadences where I push harder
    I wouldnít worry too much about it. Riding hills will slow down your cadence with resistance if thatís what you want.


    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam
    Finally for what its worth, I've generally been more of a strength person vs. endurance (I am more competetive at running sprints up thru half mile, than 2mi plus races.)
    Thatís interesting since a higher cadence should be better for longer distances.

    Other might have more info, but I wouldnít worry too much. Most people are trying to increase their cadence, not lower it!

    -murray
    "I feel more now like I did than when I first got here"

  3. #3
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Murrays,

    Thanks for your inputs. I do realize that folks work on higher cadence, but I worry I may not be developing strength for hills. Why this worry suddenly? Because I am working on getting a new bike (likely a Cyclocross) that I will use on off road & hilly terrain & I have very little hill experience to help me select what gearing I may want. So I wonder if I will want quite lower gears than on a typical CX bike or will I instead (need to) gain strength at lower cadence? Of course I can run up hills CX style.

    Cranks I use today are 175mm. I'm not sure about frame size, but my seat is as high as I can go without getting any side to side wobble. I am a relatively new again to cycling (I did quite a lot 15yrs ago, touring style on weekends with groups in 20-100mi range) but recently started cycling again thru commuting, I have done about 1100mi on this 9mi commute. The relatively high cadence comes very naturally to me.

    Al

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    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    if the only thing you have to work with is a flat road, try to go out on a windy day and ride into the headwind. that will help to build strength for when you do hit the hills.

  5. #5
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by timmhaan
    if the only thing you have to work with is a flat road, try to go out on a windy day and ride into the headwind. that will help to build strength for when you do hit the hills.
    I've done that, but not intentionally - one time so much wind that I had trouble keeping over 12mph. But then I switch to a lower gear and keep the cadence high. Of course I can stay in higher gears.

    But I know how to force lower cadences, I am more interested in the consideration of if I should spend some time training for them vs. the alternate of having a bike set up with lower gear ratios.

    Al

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    Mad Town Biker Murrays's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam
    I do realize that folks work on higher cadence, but I worry I may not be developing strength for hills.
    The only way to train for hills is to ride hills. The gearing will be relatively inexpensive to swap out if you need it on your cross bike.

    I'm still amazed that you can spin that high, especially with 175 cranks!

    -murray
    "I feel more now like I did than when I first got here"

  7. #7
    Photog Extraordinaire Crack'n'fail's Avatar
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    here's the thing, you can train some lower cadence harder gear work, but then you will sacrifice a little of your high cadence ability. Everything you gain, you have to give something. Ride how you are comfortable and what gets you to your goals. If you were going to be a competitive cyclist, I would suggest worrying about this, if you just ride for fun and joy, then play to your strengths and only moderately address other areas that are of a concern to you. When you start worrying about too much of this stuff it becomes work.

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    Photog Extraordinaire Crack'n'fail's Avatar
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    P.S. if you are worried about sacrificing strenght, then try a more rigorous weight program in the winter months, then when your legs get stronger and your cadence is still just as high, you'll go faster!

  9. #9
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    I don't see anything wrong with a high cadence pedaling style. Power output is determined by two factors, torque and rotational speed. Since you have such a high rotational speed when you pedal, you are predisposed to having a high power output. Considering that you're using relatively long pedals, you should also have relatively high torque without a lot of force application to the pedals, so you should be cranking out some crazy power even if you think your strength is suffering.

    From a weightlifting point of view, endurance in repetitions drops off fast as you increase weight. By lifting a weight 30% lower than a one max rep, you should be able to pull off about 10 repetitions. See the relationship here? This also suggests that cranking high repetitions in a lower gear will give you extended endurance, as opposed to cranking low repetitions in a high gear.

    It is my personal opinion that it is often better to think about the physics of a situation like this instead of just throwing effort and energy at it.

    From my personal experience, I cut back on my weight lifting, dropped a few pounds, and have noticed an increase in my climbing speed and endurance. But everybody has they're own personal experiences, and I guess thats one thing I can't argue against. What works for me might not work for others.

  10. #10
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Thanks for the thoughts.

    I have been practicing lower cadence by keepin in 1 or 2 higher gears and not switching to lower gears when I come to a stop. This gets me at around 95-100rpm and needing high force, slower rotation starts from a stop. I did notice more strain/burn on my legs. I also noticed that after a week I feel more comfortable at 100 than I did before and don't go up to 120 nearly as often.

    This week I will go back to 120 range - perhaps a mix will do me well. I do feel like I am in more speed control, ready to respond to a burst of speed in traffic, if I am at higher cadence - I noticed I would go up to 140 or so if I was needing high acceleration. When I am in higher gears it feels like my starts and ability for a burst of speed are more sluggish.

    I really don't think/worry about it much while riding, but when I am here at my computer I like to ponder these things. And yes, I am certainly not training for competetion, but like to 'do what is right'

    Al

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