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Old 03-08-14, 05:14 PM   #1
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REALLY REALLY stupid question. I apologize in advance...

Ok, here it is. I have always been a "mash the pedals" type of rider. I had this mindset that if I wasn't mashing a heavy gear and feeling my legs burn, than I wasn't working that hard. After doing spin classes the past 2 off-seasons and finally getting a trainer for my living room, I am trying to work on my technique and be more efficient. With that being said, I just did a 35 mile ride this afternoon, quite a few hills here and there, average speed was only about 14.2 mph. When I was in heavier gears, my bike computer showed that I was actually going faster, and as soon as I shifted to an easier gear, my mph decreased but I felt my cadence was the same. Looking at my training logs from last Summer, my avg. speed was anywhere from 15 - 20 mph on my commute. Going the same distance in a lighter gear is a lower avg. mph. Why does this happen?
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Old 03-08-14, 05:20 PM   #2
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You need to increase your RPM to maintain the same speed in an easier gear. This takes a while especially if you are a 'masher'.

Do you have cadence on your bike computer? If not you might consider getting one with cadence. I have my Garmin Edge 705 set to beep at 70 rpm or slower.
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Old 03-08-14, 05:34 PM   #3
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You need to increase your RPM to maintain the same speed in an easier gear. This takes a while especially if you are a 'masher'.

Do you have cadence on your bike computer? If not you might consider getting one with cadence. I have my Garmin Edge 705 set to beep at 70 rpm or slower.
Thanks! No, I don't have a cadence on my bike computer, but I am thinking of investing in one for this season. Does a higher RMP equate to a faster speed?
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Old 03-08-14, 05:46 PM   #4
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Thanks! No, I don't have a cadence on my bike computer, but I am thinking of investing in one for this season. Does a higher RMP equate to a faster speed?
More power will give you more speed. Power is equal to the torque (twisting force) multiplied by your cadence. When you are 'mashing' you're applying a high torque at a low cadence to produce your power. Ideally, you would keep the power the same but increase your cadence. This will lower the torque or force you apply to the pedals and be a little easier on your muscles and joints.

Without a power meter the easiest way to ride at the same power is to maintain your speed on a hill. If you used to going up a particular hill at 10mph, for example, while mashing, try going up the same hill in an easier gear and maintain the same 10mph. It's likely your HR and breathing will be a little higher at the higher cadence but you should be able to maintain it for a longer duration.

If you want to get that 'burning' feeling in your legs you'll just have to go a little faster. Unfortunately, high cadence, won't really allow you to put out any extra power but it should be easier on your legs.
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Old 03-08-14, 08:01 PM   #5
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More power will give you more speed. Power is equal to the torque (twisting force) multiplied by your cadence. When you are 'mashing' you're applying a high torque at a low cadence to produce your power. Ideally, you would keep the power the same but increase your cadence. This will lower the torque or force you apply to the pedals and be a little easier on your muscles and joints.

Without a power meter the easiest way to ride at the same power is to maintain your speed on a hill. If you used to going up a particular hill at 10mph, for example, while mashing, try going up the same hill in an easier gear and maintain the same 10mph. It's likely your HR and breathing will be a little higher at the higher cadence but you should be able to maintain it for a longer duration.

If you want to get that 'burning' feeling in your legs you'll just have to go a little faster. Unfortunately, high cadence, won't really allow you to put out any extra power but it should be easier on your legs.
Thank you so much for the helpful tips. I did try to maintain my speed going uphill a bit today, and the climbing was much easier on the good ol' joints and muscles. I did a few sprint intervals on the flats, too. I have never really paid that much attention to my pedaling before, but I'm tired of my back and body aching because I am mashing. I did feel a bit of burning on today's ride, but it was a good feeling - it wasn't painful
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Old 03-08-14, 09:48 PM   #6
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Spinning is an acquired taste, especially up hills.
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Old 03-09-14, 12:46 AM   #7
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Have you thought about using rollers to help build your cadence and form?
If your goal is to get a better form and higher cadence then rollers can definitely help.
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Old 03-09-14, 10:45 AM   #8
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Have you thought about using rollers to help build your cadence and form?
If your goal is to get a better form and higher cadence then rollers can definitely help.
Good suggestion. I have never thought of using rollers, but I read about them quite a bit on this forum.
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Old 03-09-14, 11:56 AM   #9
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Good suggestion. I have never thought of using rollers, but I read about them quite a bit on this forum.
If you buy rollers, please have your SO video your first ride, and post it on YouTube
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Old 03-09-14, 12:33 PM   #10
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If you buy rollers, please have your SO video your first ride, and post it on YouTube
Haha I saw the video I'm assuming you're referring to before I started riding rollers and man I was like this guy can't be serious lol. Rollers aren't even that hard to ride at all, just don't panic and you'll be fine. I ride in the aero position and its nothing to worry about. Just remember, if you fall just get back up and keep trying because it'll all pay off come race season.
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Old 03-09-14, 12:55 PM   #11
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Good suggestion. I have never thought of using rollers, but I read about them quite a bit on this forum.
When you go shopping for rollers, spend the extra money on a set with resistance. You'll appreciate it all out of proportion to the cost. I believe Performance and Sportcrafters have the least expensive sets.
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Old 03-17-14, 09:54 AM   #12
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Spinning is an acquired taste, especially up hills.
When I first started riding I mashed and my knee would be killing me at the 15 mile mark. It got to the point where I almost couldn't pedal. So one day I was doing a heater change out and I asked the customer about his bikes, And he told me about the catseye monitor to help with cadence for my knee pain. It was winter time so I got an indoor trainer and the cadence monitor. By the end of winter I found my zone to be in the 95 to 100 range for any length ride. Spinning up hills at 105 to 110 cadence seems a lot easier than mashing and once you catch your breath your legs are still good to go. Needless to say I no longer have knee pain and will never mash again.
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Old 06-03-14, 10:47 AM   #13
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Ok, here it is. I have always been a "mash the pedals" type of rider. I had this mindset that if I wasn't mashing a heavy gear and feeling my legs burn, than I wasn't working that hard. After doing spin classes the past 2 off-seasons and finally getting a trainer for my living room, I am trying to work on my technique and be more efficient. With that being said, I just did a 35 mile ride this afternoon, quite a few hills here and there, average speed was only about 14.2 mph. When I was in heavier gears, my bike computer showed that I was actually going faster, and as soon as I shifted to an easier gear, my mph decreased but I felt my cadence was the same. Looking at my training logs from last Summer, my avg. speed was anywhere from 15 - 20 mph on my commute. Going the same distance in a lighter gear is a lower avg. mph. Why does this happen?
So is your goal to work harder or to be more efficient or to be faster?
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Old 06-03-14, 11:50 AM   #14
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I'm just figuring out this spinning thing too, and it has cost me a little speed. In return I can ride much greater distances without any real discomfort, a more than fair trade to me. I'm still very much a beginner, and believe that as long as I'm enjoying my bike, getting a good work out, and building endurance, then the speed will come back as my body continues to toughen up. Guys who ride long distances at relatively high speed didn't get that skill ovenight, and neither will me or you!
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Old 06-08-14, 06:08 PM   #15
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So is your goal to work harder or to be more efficient or to be faster?

Both I would like my pedaling to be more efficient, but I also want to be faster, too.
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Old 06-08-14, 06:10 PM   #16
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I'm just figuring out this spinning thing too, and it has cost me a little speed. In return I can ride much greater distances without any real discomfort, a more than fair trade to me. I'm still very much a beginner, and believe that as long as I'm enjoying my bike, getting a good work out, and building endurance, then the speed will come back as my body continues to toughen up. Guys who ride long distances at relatively high speed didn't get that skill ovenight, and neither will me or you!
I guess practice makes perfect, huh? I sure am glad I am not the only one with this training hiccup. I'm going to try and take your lead and just enjoy the ride and wait for the speed to come back. Good luck to you!
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