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Cadence or MPH

Old 09-06-16, 07:53 AM
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Cadence or MPH

I started cycling this past spring. I have increased my monthly mileage from 92 in April to 200 in August. In an effort to get fitter & hopefully a little faster is it better to monitor my MPH or Cadence? I found that when I concentrated on keeping my cadence in the mid to high 80s it took a little more effort & felt like a more consistent effort also. I should add that my bike is a Giant Cypress Dx so I realize speed is secondary. Thank you for any input. This 55+ forum is very informative
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Old 09-06-16, 07:58 AM
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Ride what Feels good to you.

I just ride for more miles.

The elevation and winds effect MPH.

60,000 miles with No Cadence tracking. Just Pedal what Feels Good.
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Old 09-06-16, 08:22 AM
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I'd suggest that you get comfortable maintaing 85-95 cadence full time. Keep your legs loaded with occasional intervals of hard effort. Ride flats, ride hills, ride long, ride short. Have fun. Speed will take care of itself.
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Old 09-06-16, 08:25 AM
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Cadence is a peculiar subject because there are so many different right answers. Pushing the cadence beyond your normal range is more tiring and less efficient, but consistent training at a given cadence ameliorates that and the higher cadence becomes desirable for other reasons.

Personally I do as 10 Wheels suggested, just ride at the natural cadence. Until I want to train at a higher cadence for some reason, which does happen. Sorry if that's more vague than you wanted, but it's my best take on the question.
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Old 09-06-16, 08:49 AM
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Cadence, but everybody's rate is different; I generally stay between 75-80.
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Old 09-06-16, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by justtrying
… In an effortto get fitter & hopefully a little faster is it better to monitor my MPH or Cadence? Yes it took a little more effort & felt like a more consistent effort also
Originally Posted by blacknbluebikes
I'd suggest that you get comfortable maintaining 85-95 cadence full time. Keep your legs loaded with occasional intervals of hard effort. Ride flats, ride hills, ride long, ride short. Have fun. Speedwill take care of itself.
Originally Posted by wphamilton
Cadence is a peculiar subjectbecause there are so many different right answers. Pushing the cadence beyond your normal range is more tiring and less efficient, but consistent training at a given cadence ameliorates that and the higher cadence becomes desirable for other reasons.

Personally I do as 10 Wheels suggested, just ride at the natural cadence. Until I want to train at a higher cadence for some reason, which does happen. Sorry if that's more vague than you wanted,but it's my best take on the question.
FWIW, I use cadence in my personal training program based on Relative Perceived Exertion.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston
I’m a 40+ year cyclist and I ride mainly for fitness. During nearly all of my 40 cycling years, my training has been by mileage. This year though, I decided to go for speed (intensity), and I use the semi-quantitative, standardized, but personally relevant system of (Borg’s) Relative Perceived Exertion (RPE), with my own particular adaptation…. I use cadence to chose gears to maintain my desired exertion.

Originally Posted by Jim from Boston
The RPE scale ranges from 6 to 17, with descriptions of the intensity. Multiply the RPE by 10 is the approximate heart rate. Jim's scale is the equivalent on a 0 to 100 scale, easier to thinkabout:

RPE = 6, resting... Jim's scale = 10 to 20

RPE = 7, very, very light... Jim's scale = 20 to 30

RPE = 9, very light... Jim's scale = 30 to 40

11, fairly light...50 (my usual happy-go-lucky pace without thinking about it)

13, somewhat hard...60 (I have to focus to maintain)

15, hard...70 (I start breathing hard at about 30 seconds)

17, very hard (lactate threshold; breakpoint between hard but steady
breathing and labored with gasping)...80 (my predicted max HR)

19, very, very hard...90 to 100.
My basic training is to ride at my RPE of 50% for six miles to warm up, then cruise at an RPE of 60%, and do intervals (on hills) at 70%. I try to change gears to maintain a cadence of about 85-90 rpm on flats and rolling hills, and about 60 to 80 rpm on harder hills, to maintain my RPE. Shift up to higher gears as the cadence rises,and shift down as the RPE increases.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 09-07-16 at 06:33 AM.
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Old 09-06-16, 09:17 AM
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There is no right cadence. Peter Sagan wins green jerseys at 74rpm. Chris Froome wins yellow jerseys at 97rpm. I'm never going to win any jerseys, so I don't think about cadence too much.
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Old 09-06-16, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by memebag
There is no right cadence. Peter Sagan wins green jerseys at 74rpm. Chris Froome wins yellow jerseys at 97rpm. I'm never going to win any jerseys, so I don't think about cadence too much.
To be fair, there is a right cadence, you just need to find the right one for you.
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Old 09-06-16, 10:22 AM
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For me the appropriate measure is 'saddle time'.
Sometimes I ride hard, sometimes I'm looking at scenery, sometimes I'm mulling life idiosyncrazies...
Butt it's important to hit my saddle time goals.
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Old 09-06-16, 10:27 AM
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If the goal is to get "fitter and faster" as the OP stated then it is best to monitor heart rate. Cadence goes with that.

MPH is a result of, secondary to and dependent upon these.


-Tim-
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Old 09-06-16, 10:57 AM
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My natural cadence is 80-90 rpm. Always has been, even after 30 years away from cycling. When riding for transportation or casually I only concern myself with staying within my natural rhythm, and expended energy for a given terrain or wind conditions, within that natural cadence. The only time I alter that pattern is about once a week for a harder workout on a hilly rural route, where I'll alternate between spinning and mashing, and pushing myself beyond my comfort zone. I don't do that when I'm riding in traffic or on casual rides -- I don't like to get winded or gassed in city streets.

But I've ridden with guys my age and older whose cadence is slower and they're much stronger and faster riders. Works for them.
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Old 09-06-16, 11:10 AM
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Learning how to spin a high cadence smoothly is a useful skill - even if you settle into a naturally slower cadence, it helps to be able to do it when you need or want to.
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Old 09-06-16, 11:32 AM
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Thank you for the thoughtful replies. More time in the saddle is important, & as fall comes around it will be harder to find. Finding the cadence which is right for "you" is as some of you pointed out is very individualistic. The mid to high 80s feel pretty good to me. TimothyH, I was using an old pulsar HR but my sons who also bought me the bike for Fathers Day gave me an Garmin vivoactiveHR my birthday. While I like it and it's features I find the HR is somewhat in accurate when I am on the bike. (20-30beats to high). If anyone else has one what did u do to correct the issue. Once again thank you to all of you
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Old 09-06-16, 11:33 AM
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I second the heart rate over cadence method. The correct cadence is what is most comfortable for you. I'm not a high cadence person and I can still keep up with the 20-22 mph riders. Today's ride was a 39 mile ride with a max speed of 22.99 (riding with a group) and my average cadence was 61. Amanda Coker, who is breaking the woman's world record for most number of miles in a year, rides 230+ miles a day and averages 20+ mph and her cadence is less than mine. I know because I have ridden with her on several occasions.

I also have serious doubts about slow cadence causing knee issues. Since getting back into riding, six years ago, I have always had a slow cadence and have put in over 41,000 miles with max cadences not much higher than 80 rpm. At 70 years of age, my knees are doing just fine. Amanda is on day 117 of her quest and already has over 26,000 miles and her knees are doing just fine.

Learn to use the momentum of the bike along with your gears and spin at what is comfortable for you. You'll do just fine. A sign written over the counter of a bike shop I once visited, read, "The more you ride the better you get and the better you get, the more you ride." Follow it and trust me! It works. Just try different combinations of gearing and cadence until you find the one that works best for you and stick with it.
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Old 09-06-16, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by justtrying
Thank you for the thoughtful replies. More time in the saddle is important, & as fall comes around it will be harder to find. Finding the cadence which is right for "you" is as some of you pointed out is very individualistic. The mid to high 80s feel pretty good to me. TimothyH, I was using an old pulsar HR but my sons who also bought me the bike for Fathers Day gave me an Garmin vivoactiveHR my birthday. While I like it and it's features I find the HR is somewhat in accurate when I am on the bike. (20-30beats to high). If anyone else has one what did u do to correct the issue. Once again thank you to all of you

That's what I tell myself too. This thing can't be accurate, it reads too high!!! Ha ha ha....

Seriously, are you basing your decision that the Vivoactive is inaccurate on the formula 220-age or some other generic formula?

These generic formulas can themselves be wildly inaccurate. One person's max can be 190 while another at the same age and weight can be 170. I would not use any of these formulas if that his what you are doing.


-Tim-
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Old 09-06-16, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH
That's what I tell myself too. This thing can't be accurate, it reads too high!!! Ha ha ha....

Seriously, are you basing your decision that the Vivoactive is inaccurate on the formula 220-age or some other generic formula?

These generic formulas can themselves be wildly inaccurate. One person's max can be 190 while another at the same age and weight can be 170. I would not use any of these formulas if that his what you are doing.


-Tim-
I based the HR on what the older pulsar read the previous 3 months with basically the same effort and I stopped and checked it with my watch while riding. I like the Garmin but it is sometimes very inaccurate.
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Old 09-06-16, 12:42 PM
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I avoid using any single measure. Moderation is the key. I have a range value for speed, distance, cadence and heart-rate. I use data from my Garmin computer, but more importantly, I trust my impression of my effort.

Use data, but don't be a slave to it.
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Old 09-06-16, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by justtrying
I based the HR on what the older pulsar read the previous 3 months with basically the same effort and I stopped and checked it with my watch while riding. I like the Garmin but it is sometimes very inaccurate.

Thanks for the info. I looked at the Vivoactive - it is wrist/optical. These can be inaccurate, especially the lower end or early ones. The newer ones are much more accurate.

Cadence is fine. So is speed - average, max or otherwise. Perceived effort is fine too.

If you want to get fit and fast without guessing and without wasting lots of time and money then get an accurate heart rate monitor. It doesn't have to be expensive. Training properly with heart rate is the most direct route to getting fitter and faster.

The best book is Precision Heart Rate Training by Dr. Edmund Burke. The book covers about a dozen sports. The section on Cycling is very straight forward and not long at all.

It is very simple to set up your heart rate zones and do some basic exercises to get fit and increase speed. You will likely surprise yourself.




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Last edited by TimothyH; 09-06-16 at 02:05 PM.
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Old 09-06-16, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH
If the goal is to get "fitter and faster" as the OP stated then it is best to monitor heart rate. Cadence goes with that.

MPH is a result of, secondary to and dependent upon these.


-Tim-
+1

I say go by HR. And incidentally, getting a HRM is a really good idea for us older riders. Not simply for training, but also for monitoring our health Assuming you have no cardiac issues now, if you ever do, it will be very helpful to have a baseline of what is "normal" for you.

For those who are really serious (not me ), the real answer is training with a power meter.
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Old 09-06-16, 04:56 PM
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I did away with the cadence counter and the heart rate monitor. I strive to keep my breathing where I could talk if I wanted to, but breathing is heavy. Of course if a sprint or hard climb is necessary I am sucking every bit of air I can get, but then get back to heavy breathing, but could carry on a conversation. Works a lot better than all that other stuff.
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Old 09-06-16, 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by MinnMan
+1



For those who are really serious (not me ), the real answer is training with a power meter.

Agreed

While I use a HR monitor I agree that training with power is the way to go. HR can fluctuate based on hydration, fatigue or any number of other reasons. If you are producing 160 watts, as an example, at a cadence of 75 and then increase your cadence to 90 watts to maintain the same wattage you can begin to find out where you feel more comfortable and get an idea of your ideal cadence.
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Old 09-07-16, 04:43 AM
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Cadence or MPH

Originally Posted by 10Wheels
Ride what Feels good to you.

I just ride for more miles...

The elevation and winds effect MPH.

60,000 miles with No Cadence tracking. Just Pedal what Feels Good.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston
FWIW, I use cadence in my personal training program based on Relative Perceived Exertion.
Originally Posted by TimothyH
…Cadence is fine. So is speed - average, max or otherwise. Perceived effort is fine too.

If you want to get fit and fast without guessing and without wasting lots of time and money then get an accurate heart rate monitor….Training properly with heart rate is the most direct route to getting fitter and faster
Originally Posted by MinnMan
...For those who are really serious (not me ), the real answer is training with a power meter.
Originally Posted by Barrettscv
I avoid using any single measure.Moderation is the key…Use data, but don't be a slave to it.
I recently replied to this thread on the Training and Nutrition Forum, “Doing more with less? (time-strapped cyclist),”
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston
… According to The Time-Crunched Cyclist,”
Originally Posted by ChrisCarmichael
……For a training program to work on fewer than 8 hours a week, you pretty much have to focus entirely on intensity. Make no mistake: The workouts in this program are hard. Very hard. You will be performing some efforts just below your lactate threshold power output and some right at it,but many efforts will be much you the fitness to fully enjoy weekend rides,biketours, and cycling camps.

However, there are limits to what you’re going to be able to accomplish on fewer than 8 hours of training per week. …

Placing your family and career ahead of your cycling goals is a wise choice for pretty much anyone who has either a real career or a family, and pretty muchthe only choice if you have both...If you’re willing to work hard with the limited time you have… then it’s time to get off your butt and retake your rightful place at the front of the pack.
...last year I developed for myself my" Time-restricted, Personally Ambitious, but Non-competitive Cyclist Training Routine.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston
About two weeks ago I described a new training routine for myself combining a well-established Ten Week CenturyTraining Scheduleof daily mileage goals with a personalized intensity scalebased on ”Relative Perceived Exertion (RPE).” My basic premise was that I wanted to get significantly fit, within a busy work/family time-crunched life, but not suffer so much that I would abandon the program.

I do have the advantages of a very nice minimum 14 mile one way commute that is easily extended; and a high end, very comfortable carbon fiber road bike thatencourages riding. FWIW, my resting heart rate is 48 bpm, sometimes lower.
So I think the common thread is how hard you want to push your self. IMO heart rate monitors and power meters, while providing an objective measure require striving, or falling short of the goal. For me, RPE encourages me to push myself to my satisfaction as I may feel on a given day…no disappointment. I monitor my progress by my sense of well-being, my resting heart rate. and average MPH and cadence over my usual routes. This is my second year (year-round) of compliance.


Originally Posted by Machka
Can you squeeze in any other exercise?.. And don't forget to include some upper body weights with those core exercises.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 09-07-16 at 06:30 AM.
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Old 09-07-16, 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Jim from Boston
Cadence or MPH


I recently replied to this thread on the Training and Nutrition Forum, “Doing more with less? (time-strapped cyclist),”
So I think the common thread is how hard you want to push your self. IMO heart rate monitors and power meters, while providing an objective measure require striving, or falling short of the goal. For me, RPE encourages me to push myself to my satisfaction as I may feel on a given day…no disappointment. I monitor my progress by my sense of well-being, my resting heart rate. and average MPH and cadence over my usual routes. This is my second year (year-round) of compliance.


There is no "disappointment" with a heart rate monitor.

A heart rate monitor is a tool to help measure the intensity of a workout. That's all.

Relative Perceived Exertion may work to your satisfaction but it will never be as accurate as a heart rate monitor to gauge theintensity of any given workout.

Having said that, resting heart rate is a very good indication of overall fitness and of recovery from any given exercise.


-Tim-
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Old 09-07-16, 09:42 AM
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I feel like such a freak whenever the talk is about cadence. I'm most comfortable between 60-70. Always have been. Only when I really concentrate on cadence can I get the average on a ride up to 75 or so. At age 65 and a lifetime of riding, no knee problems yet.
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Old 09-07-16, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Jim from Boston
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston
According to “The Time-Crunched Cyclist,”
Originally Posted by ChrisCarmichael
……For a training program to work on fewer than 8 hours a week, you pretty much have to focus entirely on intensity. Make no mistake: The workouts the in this program are hard. Very hard. You will be performing some efforts just below your lactate threshold power output and some right at it,…

Placing your family and career ahead of your cycling goals is a wise choice for pretty much anyone who has either a real career or a family, and pretty much the only choice if you have both...
...last year I developed for myself my" Time-restricted, Personally Ambitious,but Non-competitive Cyclist Training Routine.
Originally Posted by JimfromBoston
Originally Posted by Jimfrom Boston
… training routine for myself [combines]awell-established Ten Week Century Training Schedule of daily mileage goals witha personalized intensity scale based on ”Relative Perceived Exertion(RPE).”My basic premise was that I wanted to get significantly fit,within a busy work/family time-crunched life, but not suffer so much that I would abandon the program.

my resting heart rate is 48 bpm, sometimes lower.
So I think the common thread is how hard you want to push your self. IMO heart rate monitors and power meters,while providing an objective measure requires striving, or falling short of the goal. For me, RPE encourages me to push myself as I may feel on a given day…no disappointment. I monitor myprogress by my sense of well-being, my resting heart rate. and average MPH and cadence over my usual routes…
Originally Posted by TimothyH
There is no "disappointment" with a heartrate monitor.

A heart rate monitor is a tool to help measure the intensity of a workout.That's all.

Relative Perceived Exertion may work to your satisfaction but it will never be as accurate as a heart rate monitor to gauge the intensity of any given workout.

Having said that, resting heart rate is a very good indication of overall fitness and of recovery from any given exercise.

-Tim-
Thanks for the reply. My point was, for me training via RPE is doable, indeed pleasant. While I enjoy my other activities of daily living, work and family, my determination to train could be sapped to the point of abandonment. I feel I honestly, though subjectively, assess my intensity if I devote my (precious) time to training; and RPE is scaled as a semi-quantitative analogue to heart rate.

A colleague once commented to me, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.,” to which I replied, “The nuns used to say, ‘Good…better…best / Never let them rest / until your good is better, / and your better best.’ ”

My (non-Catholic) colleague replied, “Well, I never had any experience with nuns.” When it comes to cycle training, I agree with him (though at work I agree with the nuns, cutting into my cycle training )

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