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a question about cadence

Old 07-03-15, 08:11 PM
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Hosscooper
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a question about cadence

So I'm riding my mtb 4 miles a day 5 days a week, and am getting into some good rhythm. Going about 13mph average but have noticed that I have a hard time keeping my cadence. I adjust my gear in an effort to keep my cadence steady, but it seems to vary. How does all this sound? What can I do to help train myself to keep up a steady cadence?
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Old 07-03-15, 09:03 PM
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Why do you need a steady cadence? If the terrain changes, your cadence will change, until you shift to accommodate. No biggie.

If you're cruising along at 13 mph, do you find yourself surging to a higher speed and then relaxing to a slower speed or can you pretty much hold 13 the whole way?

Personally (on a road bike) my cadence varies from 70 up to 100 depending on what I'm doing, but if I'm on a flat section and the wind isn't changing I can keep it within a few rpm. Usually 80-85.
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Old 07-03-15, 09:03 PM
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I assume that you have a computer that gives you your cadence, so you can track it in real time? What cadence do you naturally run at (I mean if you're not trying)? Variance doesn't matter too much IMHO, steady cadence will come with practice. What is important is that you try to up your average cadence.
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Old 07-04-15, 07:53 AM
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This is one of those situations where I had a hard time explaining what I meant, but I do get the point y'all are making. That does give me a basic answer I was looking for. So let me ask the same question differently. When You ride should you maintain or at least strive to maintain the same cadence? I actually don't have a computer for cadence. I am not sure of my actual cadence but am attempting to keep a steady "quick" cadence. Thanks y'all.
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Old 07-04-15, 08:46 AM
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Cadence is a tool, not a goal. Spin the pedals quickly in a "light" gear and you'll put more stress on your cardiovascular system and less stress on your leg muscles. Spin slowly in a "hard" gear and you'll put more stress on your muscles and less stress on your cardiovascular system. You should pick a cadence that's appropriate for your current riding conditions. If your legs are screaming, switch to an easier gear and spin a little faster. If your lungs are burning, switch to a harder gear and spin a little slower. Mountain bikes tend to have big jumps from one gear to the next due to the wide-range cassettes (ex: 11-34), so maintaining identical cadence from one gear to the next might not be possible.
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Old 07-04-15, 09:01 AM
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I tend to spin at whatever is comfortable given the road surface, incline, etc. For me, it's all about finding the balance between cadence and effort, if that makes sense. If I'm spinning quickly, but don't feel enough tension in the legs to speed up/maintain speed, then I'll shift up a gear. Conversely, if I come up on an incline, and I know the effort is going to be high, I'll shift down a gear or two to spin up. On steeper climbs, I'll aim for a cadence of 85-90 (though sometimes my gears just don't go low enough for "those" types of hills, haha).

https://www.strava.com/activities/337267408/analysis

Here's one ride that I thought everything felt right, and you can see that my cadence tends to be in the 80s. Never truly constant, but within 5-10rpm or so.
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Old 07-04-15, 11:12 AM
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I ride at 90-105 rpm and shift accordingly. I do recall that in the past, when I was just getting back to serious riding, I had trouble holding 85 to 95 for extended periods, but now I can hold the new faster cadence for almost hour without an trouble. I take a break at that point, and then do it some more.

My guess is the op's cadence will improve with time.
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Old 07-05-15, 06:14 PM
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My bike computer does show cadence but before I had it I would count 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4 which is about 80 rpm. The slower the rpm, the more efficient I can pedal. At 80 rpm, my overall efficiency is the best. If I keep increasing the rpm, the pedal efficiency drops. At 100 rpm, I start bouncing in the saddle. So right now I’m trying to work on both. What seems to work for me is to concentrate on pedal efficiency one foot at a time while increasing my cadence. I can only guess that the cyclists that can maintain 90-100 rpm are really efficient pedalers as well.
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Old 07-05-15, 06:42 PM
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If the road isn't flat all the time, expect to shift a lot. I recently got a Ultegra Di2 system on my bike and it interfaces to my Garmin unit where I can see what gear I'm in. In a 15 mile segment, the computer is telling me that I shifted on the cassette through 315 gear changes. I pretty much keep a constant cadence of about 85-90 and the shifting is second nature, almost don't even know I'm doing it.

So the answer is to plan on shifting a lot. That's why you have the gears, to make it easy on the motor (you).

J.
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Old 07-07-15, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
Cadence is a tool, not a goal. Spin the pedals quickly in a "light" gear and you'll put more stress on your cardiovascular system and less stress on your leg muscles. Spin slowly in a "hard" gear and you'll put more stress on your muscles and less stress on your cardiovascular system.
...and also on the knees, which is a problem for some.
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Old 07-07-15, 09:06 AM
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I have a Garmin that shows me cadence, I spin 95-115...but my sweet spot is 100-105. If I do not want to bother shifting chain rings over a series of rollers I'll spin the 115 on the descent portion. I avoid grinding at slow cadence(below 95).
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Old 07-07-15, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Willbird View Post
I have a Garmin that shows me cadence, I spin 95-115...but my sweet spot is 100-105. If I do not want to bother shifting chain rings over a series of rollers I'll spin the 115 on the descent portion. I avoid grinding at slow cadence(below 95).
95 RPM "grinding"
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Old 07-07-15, 09:35 AM
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A couple years ago I kind of got into the cadence "thing".
After a summer of that, I decided I'm NOT a machine and decided to enjoy my self instead.
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Old 07-07-15, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
...and also on the knees, which is a problem for some.
Usually, spinning is a problem on knees when the leg is sort of flailing around. That means that the pedal fit is not good and needs attention including seat height adjustments. This usually easily corrected.

In general, higher pressure at lower RPMs to deliver the same power is almost always much harder on knees than spinning with the fit issue above resolved.

J.
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Old 07-07-15, 09:59 AM
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Yes, that's what I meant, low cadence is harder on knees.
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Old 07-07-15, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
Yes, that's what I meant, low cadence is harder on knees.
Agreed. It's a good think to work on getting cadence up and pedal pressure down. Reduces risk of injury for starters as well as increasing endurance.

I think the issue for those that are trying to get cadence up and are getting frustrated is that it is something that you work on over time. It's not going to be easy to go from an average cadence of <60rpm and then the next day try and go out and do 95rpm. It's the kind of thing where you set a goal to increase your average cadence by 5-10rpm over a season or so. Or where you concentrate on first doing it while climbing. You can't spin at 95rpm until you have the cardio fitness to do that either. It takes training to learn to spin smoothly at speed.

J.
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Old 07-07-15, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
In a 15 mile segment, the computer is telling me that I shifted on the cassette through 315 gear changes.
J.
IMO that is ridiculous.
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Old 07-07-15, 12:29 PM
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It's not going to be easy to go from an average cadence of <60rpm and then the next day try and go out and do 95rpm.
Yes, I read once that the root of the difficulty is that humans are trained since near birth in a most-efficient walking cadence of about 60, so that's what feels natural on a bike too, but they need to retrain their brains to aim to be in more like the efficient cadence zone for cycling which is around 90.
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Old 07-07-15, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by trailangel View Post
IMO that is ridiculous.
I ride where it's hilly. Doing a shift of two gears counts as two shifts. It's not ridiculous especially given you don't know where I'm riding. In fact, it's ridiculous to say it is.

J.
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Old 07-07-15, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by dr_lha View Post
95 RPM "grinding"
It is for me :-).......but every time I have been an adult cyclist I have read a few Bicycling magazines, this time around I even have a SUBSCRIPTION :-). They have always harped on "spin spin spin" so I guess I always sort of worked on that. Only within the last 6 months have I had a way to show cadence live, first with Cyclemeter, now with Garmin. I had done the manual "count pedal strokes for 15 seconds, multiply by 4" method and knew I my natural cadence was somewhere between 95 and 100.

The closest I have come to injuring myself was "grinding" at something like 80 rpm for a Trainer Road FTP test, there is no doubt I can make more power for a given HR at 80-85 rpm, but my right knee does not like that. The next day on an outdoor ride of 30 miles I thought I was gonna die, really bummed me out that I had maybe hurt myself in a way that would sideline me from riding, but it was gone the next day whatever it was and I am deeply grateful, no sense in hurting myself when all it takes usually is the flick of my right hand to find a lower gear ;-).

Bill

Last edited by Willbird; 07-07-15 at 02:59 PM.
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Old 07-07-15, 02:51 PM
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For the OP.

If you are a music fan you can find websites that will have a variety of songs that are at a particular tempo. You can pick out 2 or 3 songs that are at 80bpm and sing them to yourself to try and maintain your desired cadence. (Please do this using only the 'inside your head' voice--the rest of us don't want to hear all that!)

The problem you might face if you are as old as I am is finding the website that lists songs you would actually know. Most of the songs I want to sign to myself were recorded before time was invented.
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Old 07-07-15, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by DTSCDS View Post
For the OP.

If you are a music fan you can find websites that will have a variety of songs that are at a particular tempo. You can pick out 2 or 3 songs that are at 80bpm and sing them to yourself to try and maintain your desired cadence. (Please do this using only the 'inside your head' voice--the rest of us don't want to hear all that!)

The problem you might face if you are as old as I am is finding the website that lists songs you would actually know. Most of the songs I want to sign to myself were recorded before time was invented.
That may explain my sweet spot :-)......"Stayin Alive" by the Beegees is 103 :-). I was born in 1964 :-).

Bill
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Old 07-07-15, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Willbird View Post
That may explain my sweet spot :-)......"Stayin Alive" by the Beegees is 103 :-). I was born in 1964 :-).

Bill
One year older than you.
Incidentally, "Stayin Alive" is the song you are supposed to use for the right tempo if you ever have to do CPR. Kind of ironic yet useful at the same time.
This ends the PSA for today.
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Old 07-07-15, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Willbird View Post
That may explain my sweet spot :-)......"Stayin Alive" by the Beegees is 103 :-). I was born in 1964 :-).

Bill
I took a first aid course certification course once, and they taught us that the state of CA recommends "Stayin Alive" as a guide to the tempo you should be doing chest compressions in CPR.

Edit: DTSCDS beat me to it!
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Old 07-07-15, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
I took a first aid course certification course once, and they taught us that the state of CA recommends "Stayin Alive" as a guide to the tempo you should be doing chest compressions in CPR.

Edit: DTSCDS beat me to it!
Yep me too :-)........but I had to look up the exact beat to know for sure :-).

If you are as old as we are, you have heard "Ponch" sing on CHiP's ;-). I don't remember what he sung, but sing he did.
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