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Old 05-06-10, 11:59 AM   #1
bobthib
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Does cadence drop with age?

I started riding last March. For a non athletic 62 y/o, I'm pretty happy with my performance. I'm a "B+" rider. I can run with the A group for about 15 - 20 mi, but then I have to back off.

I try to do some 90% HR intervals each week (warm up, ride to 90 - 95 % for 6 min, rest for 2 min, repeat 6 times.) It has been very helpful in improving my speed and endurance.

In all my rides since I got my 305 edge for Christmas, I find that my cadence averages about 80. I try to get it up, but at the end of the day, I'm back in the 80 +/- range. Today I tried to say on the small ring all day, but I always seem to end up on the big ring.

Since I'm new to the sport, I don't know what cadence I might have been at 30 years ago. Has anyone out there who has been a long time rider seen their cadence drop over time? Should I work on some cadence pyramids to try to ramp it up a bit? Any other ideas on how to improve performance for an old fart?

At my age I'm at the end of the age/performance curve, and I suspect that curve has a rather sharp downward curve to it as the years progress. I just want to try to get as good as I can.
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Old 05-06-10, 12:53 PM   #2
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Good for you, keeping up the intensity. A decline in exercise intensity as we age is probably a lot of the decline in VO2 max with age. For various reasons, older people tend toward more endurance training, and moderate intensities. This obviously doesn't preserve your ability to go very hard all that much.

As for cadence: you're new, and newer riders tend toward lower cadences. It will probably come up a bit with practice. Spinning smoothly and quickly is a skill, after all. You would expect maximal cadence to fall with age, and I wouldn't be surprised if it extended to freely chosen cadence, too.

That being said, we have no way of knowing what type of rider you are. 80 really isn't excessively low, and it's possible that's just the way you're wired. Keep working at it, if only to preserve your motor skills as you age, but don't worry too much if your cadence at tempo is 80.
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Old 05-06-10, 03:43 PM   #3
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My cadence has improved over the past 60 years. I usually average around 88 on a long hard ride. My best cadence for power intervals is about 96, 78 to mid 80s for LT intervals.

Try this: Once a week, get on your bike and spin as fast as possible without working really hard. Try for 115-120 cadence. You might need to use the granny ring. So what. Use just enough gear that your legs don't just flop around and you keep a tight chain the whole time. Every week, add 5 minutes to this interval until you get up to around 1/2 hour. Do this most of the year. Keeps you flexible. It's easier on rollers than on the road because of stop signs, hills, etc.

Relax your toes, keep your feet flat, don't "ankle," try to keep a layer of air between your foot and the sole of your shoe. You might do better holding the bar tops. Keep your back straight and head up.
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Old 05-06-10, 04:07 PM   #4
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it is possible that a cadence in the 80s is the best balance between your leg muscles and your cardio capability
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Old 05-06-10, 06:19 PM   #5
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We were just discussing this on a group ride today. One guy, who is in his late 70's, prefers to have a high gear and slow (im talking 50 or even lower on climbs) cadence. If I try that with a tight chain, I'll be a cripple in short order as that would absolutely destroy my knees. I am 32, but I prefer a higher cadence simply because my knees don't hurt when I keep a higher cadence. It is a limiting factor on climbing right now, although that will improve somewhat, I don't think I'll be spinning in anything but my lowest gears any time soon (absolute lowest is 30-32, for reference).
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Old 05-07-10, 06:59 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
My cadence has improved over the past 60 years. I usually average around 88 on a long hard ride. My best cadence for power intervals is about 96, 78 to mid 80s for LT intervals.

Try this: Once a week, get on your bike and spin as fast as possible without working really hard. Try for 115-120 cadence. You might need to use the granny ring. So what. Use just enough gear that your legs don't just flop around and you keep a tight chain the whole time. Every week, add 5 minutes to this interval until you get up to around 1/2 hour. Do this most of the year. Keeps you flexible. It's easier on rollers than on the road because of stop signs, hills, etc.

Relax your toes, keep your feet flat, don't "ankle," try to keep a layer of air between your foot and the sole of your shoe. You might do better holding the bar tops. Keep your back straight and head up.
I'll give this a try. "don't got no granny" but the 34/25 will have to do. "Don't got no rollers" but we do have a nice 4.3 mi loop with only one light. It's even fot a hill! That's were I got for the my HR intervals. I've found that HR (heart rate) intervals have helped a lot.

BTW, what are LT intervals?
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Old 05-07-10, 07:51 AM   #7
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I think that the ability to move fast in general does decrease with age. But at 62 you should still be capable of moving pretty well.

Your low cadence is due to being a relatively new cyclist. Pedalling isn't natural, it takes time to learn how to do it well.

Try some high cadence drills- use a lower gear than normal and pedal fast. Try to not bounce. If you can't keep from bouncing you're at too high an rpm (for you at the moment). Also try riding in a gear lower than normal, not trying to do the highest rpm you can, just higher than your current comfort zone. The benefit of that is that you can accellerate faster, when you're in a pack that is surging a lot.

LT is lactic threshold, which is one of the many names given to the level of effort where you "cross over" from mostly aerobic to mostly anaerobic metabolism. Most people find that a threshold interval of about 20 minutes is pretty tolerable, and effective at raising the threshold. There are a number of field tests that you can do to get an idea what your threshold is but if you do the intervals as hard as you can for 20 minutes but don't start out harder (i.e. a consistent effort) then you're pretty close to threshold.

BTW, if you are using 220-age to calculate your max hr, be aware that for many people it is off by quite a bit. And estimating your training zones from max hr is not very useful either, since they can move with training.
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Old 05-07-10, 08:16 AM   #8
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BTW, what are LT intervals?
http://www.jdssportcoaching.com/defa...old-intervals/

Lactate Threshold Intervals

I love intervals! Why? In a short focused, amount of training time, you can accomplish a great deal. Intervals are a training method whereby one works at a certain heart rate or power level for a given period of time, with a specific period of rest. Done properly, interval training can increase your anaerobic and aerobic capacity. Exercise physiologists and coaches rarely agree on much, but studies show that the body is its most efficient at putting out a steady state of power at the lactate threshold (LT).

Some basic guidelines for interval training are in order. Make sure you have a good understanding of your heart rate zones and are using your heart rate monitor while training. Take a lactate test. This will allow you to work with customized HR zones. If you are using a power meter, such as an SRM or PowerTap, you can further narrow the focus of the interval. Each interval should be done with maximal effort (on an intensity scale of 1-10, they should be at a level of 8-10). The phase of training you are in will determine which one you should perform.

So, what is a lactate threshold (LT) interval ? A perfect example is a time trial. A time trial (TT) is basically one long lactate threshold interval. Your goal for a TT (besides a specific time or placing) should be to pedal your bike the fastest you can right at or slightly below your lactate threshold. Pedaling at the pace where you have the strongest sustained power should net you your best results. I personally place time trials at a sustained intensity of 8-9, and one should do LT intervals at this effort level.

How about some LT interval technical specifics? After warming-up 15-20 minutes, find an uninterrupted stretch of road with either a slight rise (false flat), or a slight headwind. Accelerate to get your heart rate up to your LT, and keep that pace for 6 minutes. Keep the HR within a 5 beat zone below your LT. If you are using a power meter, stay within 10 watts of your power target. Rest 6 minutes, then do three more. You can do the same workout 48 hours later. The following week do three eight-minute work intervals, with four minutes of rest. If those go well, 48 hours later do three ten-minute work intervals. The following week, go to two 15 minute work intervals, and the week after that, two twenty minute work intervals. In a month, you’ve trained yourself to tackle a 20 K time trial, and will have increased endurance and strength for criterium and road races. If you’re a triathlete, you can tackle some VO2 max intervals next, then return to LT intervals.

NOTE: Before adding intervals to your routine, make sure you have an aerobic base. Generally speaking, this means two months of training in your aerobic zone (65-75% of your maximum heart rate) at least 5 hours per week.

Intervals need not be as daunting as they are made out to be. Yes, they can be hard, but once you complete a workout, you’ve accomplished very specific training in a relatively small amount of time.

Jonathan Siegel, Director of Coaching
JDS Sportcoaching, LLC

Jonathan Siegel, CSCS, is an RRCA-certified running coach and certified cycling coach. If you have training questions or comments or are interested in a lactate test, contact JDS Sportcoaching,LLC.
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Old 05-09-10, 12:20 PM   #9
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Jonathan, that is quite a dissertation! Very interesting, but at my age, with my goals, and my current "disposable" income I think it's a bit out of the question. Never the less, I now know what LT intervals are! Thanks!
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