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smoothness and power

Old 10-05-10, 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by mollusk
Questioner: "Mr. Merckx, is it better to spin a small gear or to mash a big gear?"

Eddy: "It is better to spin a big gear."

/thread
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Old 10-05-10, 10:40 PM
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Originally Posted by dbikingman
I assume everyone else experiences less power as they increase their candence or it is just me?
Higher cadence requires less torque for a given wattage output. Because pedaling faster feels easier I think the problem that occurs is people back off the torque too much which drops the power.
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Old 10-05-10, 11:07 PM
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Cadence is an individual thing. All people have an optimal range seated, and an optimal range standing. You can train to a higher or lower cadence to some degree, but you might go backwards.

A quick look at the hour record makes it very clear what optimal cadence is: whatever works.

Ferrari disagrees with this though.

Twice.

Last edited by Racer Ex; 10-05-10 at 11:11 PM.
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Old 10-06-10, 01:40 AM
  #29  
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I agree. Absolute cadence numbers are individual. Sort of like how much one can bench press or squat.

BUT, "slow", "medium", and "fast" can be applied to a person's cadences like "easy", "medium", and "heavy" can be applied to weight being lifted. This is why some weightlifting programs are written in percentages of the athlete's 1 rep maximum or percentages of the target working weight of the day. For example, if your goal is to squat "X" lbs that day, you might do warmup sets of 40%, 60%, and 80% of X.

Aerobic Threshold and HR are referred-to in percentages, why not cadences?

Last edited by carleton; 10-06-10 at 01:47 AM.
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Old 10-07-10, 08:50 PM
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Cadence may be a red herring, but there is a reason that every hour record set in the last 30 or so years has been done between 98 and 101 for a cadence.

Here is the thing, for the OP, you have no numbers. I am surprised when someone says, "I spun really fast" and then find out that instead of their usual 70rpm, they pumped their cadence up to a "spin" of 80rpm. What numbers are we talking about?
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Old 10-07-10, 09:19 PM
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Originally Posted by DrWJODonnell
Cadence may be a red herring, but there is a reason that every hour record set in the last 30 or so years has been done between 98 and 101 for a cadence.
1. What reason is that?
2. Not only has not every hour record set in the last 30 or so years been done between 98 and 101 for a cadence, almost no hour record set in the last 30 or so years has been done between 98 and 101 for a cadence.
3. Cadence is a red herring.
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Old 10-07-10, 09:47 PM
  #32  
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Grumpy, your post made me hungry for pickled herring (no wine or sauce though). That is on my ok-to-eat list.
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Old 10-07-10, 09:47 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by Racer Ex
Unless the guys FTP is 450W I would put that data set in the low cadence camp.
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Old 10-07-10, 10:18 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by RChung
1. What reason is that?
2. Not only has not every hour record set in the last 30 or so years been done between 98 and 101 for a cadence, almost no hour record set in the last 30 or so years has been done between 98 and 101 for a cadence.
3. Cadence is a red herring.
Sorry, you are right. I am happy to admit being wrong, but outside of obree, I believe every hour record since 1937 has been set with a relatively high cadence. My mistake.



What reason? Good question. I believe that exercise physiologists (the smart guys) say that physiologically the best cadence is somewhere in the 60-70 range if I remember right from an old study. However, while that seems the case for the parameters they measure, TTists tend to use higher cadences and find a balance between muscular fatigue which typically happens at lower cadences, and cardiac fatigue which happens at higher cadences. Seems to me that this happens in the upper 90's and lower 100's.

Last edited by DrWJODonnell; 10-07-10 at 10:21 PM.
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Old 10-07-10, 10:35 PM
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This one:

https://53x12.com/do/show?page=article&id=27

is interesting. I guess (from a layman's view at least) that the maximum pedal force you would want to lay down during a non-sprint would be a function of rider weight - the heavier you are the more power you are used to laying down just with moving your carcass around.

Eg. a 100kg rider at 60rpm on 175mm cranks just letting their body weight fall down on the pedals would generate:

m x g x h x f = 100 x 10 x 0.35 x 1 = 350W

a 50kg rider then in the same situation of course would generate 175W in the same scenario.

So, it would then make sense that if ideal pedal force/cadence is linearly static per rider, the calculation for that would also be linearly static based upon weight.
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Old 10-07-10, 10:39 PM
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I think what you're saying implies that pedal force is only do the the force of your body weigh moving the pedals, but you are ignoring the force your muscles generate on the pedals.
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Old 10-07-10, 11:02 PM
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DR WJ I didn't put my rpms down because I don't think it is relevant to what I am trying to learn. I'm not asking how much power you generate at a certain candence. Or what you feel is a fast candence. Or what cadence I should be at. I'm trying to improve my cadence and in the process I'm trying to figure out how much force to apply. When I concentrate on candence and pedaling in circles I tend to lose focus on the force I apply. As I get better I expect my cadence to go up hopefully with more power applied.

What I have taken away from this is I need to work on my pedal stroke and if I improve my candence the power will increase even with less force appled.
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Old 10-07-10, 11:10 PM
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rchung If I understand your point of view from another thread. A person shoud not concentrate on a certain candence, because if they go beyond what is "normal" for them they will tire more quickly. With practice their cadence will improve and they will generate more power. Do you have any suggestions on amount of force being applied.

My simple definitons are: power is what a power meter would read having to do with cadence, gearing, force applied, etc.
force is simply the effort applied to the pedal from the leg muscles. If that helps at all.
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Old 10-07-10, 11:11 PM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by DrWJODonnell
but outside of obree, I believe every hour record since 1937 has been set with a relatively high cadence.
Not excluding Obree and not excluding the period before 1937, every hour record has been set with a relatively high torque. So what?

What reason? Good question. I believe that exercise physiologists (the smart guys) say that physiologically the best cadence is somewhere in the 60-70 range if I remember right from an old study.
You remember incorrectly. Some exercise physiologists have claimed that the most efficient cadence is somewhere in the 60-70 rpm range but "most efficient" isn't the same as "best."
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Old 10-07-10, 11:35 PM
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Originally Posted by mike868y
I think what you're saying implies that pedal force is only do the the force of your body weigh moving the pedals, but you are ignoring the force your muscles generate on the pedals.
No - the argument for the article for high cadence is about lowering the kg of force that your body needs to put through the pedals - to increase blood flow and to promote less stress to your system (tendons, ligaments etc).

What I am trying to say (but obviously not getting across! ) is that if you have more mass your body will be used to supporting that mass and therefore exerting 100kg force for a 100kg person is vastly different to a 50kg person exerting 100kg of force.

So for a 100kg person, putting through approx 600W is not a massive effort at 60rpm (ie big gearing a short climb) as this would require the 350W (out of the saddle) they get from putting their weight down - they still need to lift their weight but they are used to it. 250W in this situation is the "extra" effort they are laying down purely by muscle exertion.

A 50kg person will need to put in a lot more pure muscle effort as they only get 175W for "free" (ie. at a level of general use of their weight) at 60rpm and would require an additional 425W from pure muscle exertion to reach 600W.
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Old 10-07-10, 11:48 PM
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Originally Posted by dbikingman
DR WJ I didn't put my rpms down because I don't think it is relevant to what I am trying to learn. I'm not asking how much power you generate at a certain candence. Or what you feel is a fast candence. Or what cadence I should be at. I'm trying to improve my cadence and in the process I'm trying to figure out how much force to apply. When I concentrate on candence and pedaling in circles I tend to lose focus on the force I apply. As I get better I expect my cadence to go up hopefully with more power applied.

What I have taken away from this is I need to work on my pedal stroke and if I improve my candence the power will increase even with less force appled.
That's the point though - you concentrate on spinning faster rather than pushing faster. If you make the pedals go around faster in the same gear you WILL go quicker on the road. A good drill to get you used to pedaling faster is on a group ride change down to a gear just under where you are comfortable with at the speed, and keep up with the group.
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Old 10-08-10, 12:26 AM
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Originally Posted by RChung
Not excluding Obree and not excluding the period before 1937, every hour record has been set with a relatively high torque. So what?
So it would appear that for one hour efforts by trained elite athletes the overwhelming majority find their greatest efficiency above 101 RPM. Like any part of cycling success, it should be looked at as a possible way to improve, considered, and possibly attempted if a rider thinks there may be benefit.

Unfortunately in this sport people tend to jump on whatever bandwagon rolls by (High cadence! Weight lifting is useless!) without considering that humans are incredibly variable machines and that even the most well designed studies in the most controlled environments produce a fairly wide range of results with some pretty noteworthy outliers. And don't get me started on bad studies.

Cookie cutter approaches are embraced where they should be an anathema.

For the OP, I'd ask what, specifically, you're trying to achieve. More power? Less fatigue? A more aesthetically pleasing pedal stroke? You should have an underlying goal and weigh working on cadence against other training or even equipment strategies that might be a better path.

Originally Posted by RChung
3. Cadence is a red herring.
Depends on the context. As an absolute metric, absolutely. In the context of the OP wishing to "improve" cadence vs. "increasing" cadence, yes.

As an individual metric and tool, not at all.
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Old 10-08-10, 12:44 AM
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My favorite "cadence" argument was Ulrich vs. Armstrong. There was a host of people who said Ulrich's cadence was too low, that's why Armstrong beat him. It was so low that Ulrich won the TDF, the Olympics, the Vuelta, the World TT (twice), and a few other small races. You'd think with that record people would be working on pedaling slower.

Ulrich's problem wasn't his cadence. Ulrich's problem was that he liked to party and would show up weighing 200 pounds 2 months before the Tour.
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Old 10-08-10, 01:58 AM
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Originally Posted by carleton
I've never used PowerTap hubs (just the speed + cadence system). How does it calculate power? I know it gets torque via the hub. Is the cadence sensor required?
This series of comments made me laugh, but I also saw it wasn't answered...

It measures the torque on the wheel, so to find the power applied to the wheel it needs to also measure the cadence (rate of rotation) of the wheel. That can be done through the hub as well, it doesn't need an external cadence sensor. It doesn't even need an external cadence sensor to measure cadence, because the sampling rate and sensitivity of the device are high enough to pick up on the asymmetries in your pedal stroke through the torque on the wheel.

SRMs measure the torque on the cranks, so to calculate power they need to know the rate of rotation (cadence) of the cranks.

An SRM measures the power applied to the cranks, a powertap measures the power applied to the wheel, the difference is the power lost to the drivetrain, which we all hope is small (but I remember someone on bikeforums tested this once and it was a noticeable amount).

Power = Torque * Angular Velocity.
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Old 10-08-10, 06:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Racer Ex
So it would appear that for one hour efforts by trained elite athletes the overwhelming majority find their greatest efficiency above 101 RPM.
It might appear that way but
1. those one hour efforts are on a fixed gear bike in a velodrome.
2. those one hour efforts are not done at greatest efficiency. They don't give a rat's ass how few calories they have to burn -- they only care about how many kms they can cover in an hour.
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Old 10-08-10, 06:45 AM
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you guys are going to burn out on base discussions by early january if you start them now.
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Old 10-08-10, 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by MDcatV
you guys are going to burn out on base discussions by early january if you start them now.
Maybe we need some discussion base before we do discussion intervals?
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Old 10-08-10, 08:36 AM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by MDcatV
you guys are going to burn out on base discussions by early january if you start them now.
Pacing is key.
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Old 10-08-10, 08:36 AM
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i agree.

we should start with "is this SST?" and build to more advanced topics. the cadence is a red herring discussion should come after a solid foundation of discussing minimum training hours, zone 2, weight lifting, single legged pedaling, riding fixie, and big gear have been established. to go awry this early in the training season is a recipe for burnout or peaking way too soon.
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Old 10-08-10, 08:57 AM
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lulz
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