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cadence

Old 12-27-15, 01:24 AM
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cadence

so someone explain cadence for me. i skate alot and that is usually my exercise, if you have skated a bowl you will know. im new to the road bike scene and ride a bike to work, it was usually my transport. but my local skate park is under demo/construction and ive been putting on the lbs. what is a good cadence for solid exercise, and more specifically what exactly is cadence. my initial thought is rpm?
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Old 12-27-15, 01:29 AM
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Yes, cadence = RPMs. 90 is a good goal for fitness.
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Old 12-27-15, 10:52 AM
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Different people prefer different cadences. The general rule is 80-100 rpm for optimum efficiency. Beginners tend to be on the lower end and even into the 70's. I've always been a spinner. I ride at 95-105 most of the time. My wife who has been riding for quite a while is comfortable in the mid 80's. Find your cadence and shift gears to maintain that cadence for whatever speed you are going.
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Old 12-27-15, 11:03 AM
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IME there's no "right" cadence. Everyone is different, and some are naturally faster while other stronger. The beauty of bicycles is that gearing allows you to optimize the bike to suit your natural style.

The key is to discover what cadence you can maintain comfortable, and focus on staying in that band as much as possible. So forget the numbers, but seek that cadence that gets you the most blend of speed and endurance. Most people will find that higher cadence yields best long term power, and keeps the legs fresher, saving strength for the hills.
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Old 12-27-15, 11:22 AM
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Also, the longer you ride the higher your cadence will be. Your legs get used to the motion. I started in the high 60s, low 70s and now I am routinely 80-90+ and shift down and spin at 95-100 up hills.
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Old 12-27-15, 11:25 AM
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If you haven't ridden a lot or have fallen out of cycling shape, you may have to work up from cadences of 70 or 75 into the 80s. It really just takes riding to do this, combined with good setting of saddle height. If my saddle is too low I tend to cause pain by slamming my feet down against pedal bottom dead center, and it it's too high I tend to stretch my leg out too far at bottom, rocking my hips. Rocking your hips is bad, because it can cause abrasion on the parts of your body that are supporting your weight - painful, for several days!
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Old 12-27-15, 11:56 AM
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IMO unless you race, dont worry about cadence. Ride at what cadence feels comfortable at the time. I know "real cyclist" will have a problem with this, but I really dont care.

BTW my cadence will vary from near 50 down hill with the wind, to over 100 up hill into the wind.
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Old 12-27-15, 02:16 PM
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One of the questions was what is cadence. It is how many times your feet go round a complete circle in a minute. Also used in music to describe the pace of the tempo. Could also describe walking or running depending on stride length and speed.

Beginners shouldn't worry about cadence too much. Eventually you will find a cadence that does not leave you gasping for air while you legs feel chipper, or your thighs burning while you are breathing through your nose.

You may want to do some core workouts, because that is one thing you get on a board that will suffer on the bike.
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Old 12-27-15, 03:25 PM
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Cadence is going to vary from person-2-person, so don't put to much emphasis on it. Instead, try finding a pace, at a comfortable cadence, where you are starting to experience labored breathing but can still carry on a conversation - that's about where you want to be when riding longer distances and where you'll start experiencing some basic conditioning. Faster riding over shorter distances (such as interval workouts) would be another way to achieve conditioning, but use longer distance riding as a basic first step.
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Old 12-27-15, 03:41 PM
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I don't know how much having long legs and big feet comes into play but 90-100 is just too fast for me. I've settled in to trying to stay between 75 and 85 and it seems to feel the most natural.
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Old 12-28-15, 09:08 AM
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I'll tell you, there's so much mumbo-jumbo surrounding pedaling speed (cadence), it's hard to separate the wheat from the chaff.

The basic thing to understand is, that for any given gear, pedal faster and you'll go faster.

Now, if going faster doesn't matter to you, cadence doesn't really matter; stop thinking about it. The OP asked about "solid exercise," but that's not really a cadence issue. One can work out in a variety of ways, so what's "solid" depends on plan and goal, not pedaling speed.

If going faster does matter, there's one goal (to turn a bigger gear faster) and one question overarching all others: how hard can I afford to work before I'm exhausted.

Within that framework, you adjust your gearing and pedaling speed to accommodate fitness, terrain, and duration of cycling, so that you can get the most speed out of your available effort level.

A power meter is the easiest way to understand all this, as one quantifies your effort into a visible number. So, through experience riding with a power meter, you might learn, let's say, you can sustain 200 watts easily, all day. Knowing that, you pick the gears for the terrain that allows you to maintain that effort level.

Of course in reality, most don't really ride like that, and instead we surge with power, pull back and recover, and do it repeatedly. It's in this case where cadence takes on added dimension, as with experience you also learn how it impacts heart rate, and you'll find choosing a particular cadence range can speed your recovery (lowering heart rate).

To illustrate this, I myself know that pedaling between 85rpm and 95rpm is about the same in terms of my heart rate response, but whereas I can easily kick up my cadence into the 130rpm range (and beyond), it causes my heartrate to skyrocket; add in pedal load (i.e. power output) and I'm not going to last long at those levels. So even if I am in a low power recovery mode, I'm not going to crank faster than 100rpm because my HR just won't drop (or alt least not for awhile). Instead, I'll roll back to 80rpm and my "all day" power level, optimizing speed and recovery both.

You will probably find that, at times such as hill climbing, you won't have the gearing to stay in your ideal power range/cadence combo, and you'll have to pedal slower and let your HR rise in order to keep going. It it what is, but it's the good cyclist who can work effectively across a wide range of cadences with abroad power band, max out the efforts, and have the fitness and savvy to recover and do it again.

So pedaling speed is really about goals, but also knowing how to manage your body and your efforts. I'm repeating myself here, but this is so important: a good cyclist can pedal effectively across a wide cadence range because they have the power and conditioning to do it.
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Old 12-28-15, 09:49 AM
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Earlier this month was a thread on the General Cycling Forum, also entitled ”Cadence” (vs “cadence”). My post seems to be similar to [mention=138487]chaadster’s[/mention] on the current one, though I use a different training tool.

(PS to chaadster: I got started in my cycling lifestyle in Ann Arbor, MI in the 1970’s.)

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 relavant 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 think about:

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.
Originally Posted by chaadster
...The basic thing to understand is, that for any given gear, pedal faster and you'll go faster...

A power meter is the easiest way to understand all this, as one quantifies your effort into a visible number. So, through experience riding with a power meter, you might learn, let's say, you can sustain 200 watts easily, all day. Knowing that, you pick the gears for the terrain that allows you to maintain that effort level.

Of course in reality, most don't really ride like that, and instead we surge with power, pull back and recover, and do it repeatedly. It's in this case where cadence takes on added dimension, as with experience you also learn how it impacts heart rate, and you'll find choosing a particular cadence range can speed your recovery (lowering heart rate).

To illustrate this, I myself know that pedaling between 85rpm and 95rpm is about the same in terms of my heart rate response, but whereas I can easily kick up my cadence into the 130rpm range (and beyond), it causes my heartrate to skyrocket; add in pedal load (i.e. power output) and I'm not going to last long at those levels....

You will probably find that, at times such as hill climbing, you won't have the gearing to stay in your ideal power range/cadence combo, and you'll have to pedal slower and let your HR rise in order to keep going. It it what is, but it's the good cyclist who can work effectively across a wide range of cadences with abroad power band, max out the efforts, and have the fitness and savvy to recover and do it again.

So pedaling speed is really about goals, but also knowing how to manage your body and your efforts....

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 12-28-15 at 10:46 AM.
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Old 12-28-15, 12:18 PM
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Yes, Jim, good points; you make clear that cadence is simply nothing divorced of effort level.
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Old 12-28-15, 12:24 PM
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Your diet is the main thing. You can only burn so many cals so I'd tweak that, too. On the biking part, I choose hilly routes, keep up a good cadence on hills and you'll definitely get into shape.
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Old 12-28-15, 12:35 PM
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Good advice above. As a skater, the cadence that feels natural to you will probably be pretty low. Maybe 70-80 RPM. (If you do not have a bike computer but do have a watch, count your pedal RPMs for 6 seconds and multiply by 10.) There are good reasons to try to adopt to a higher cadence. Easier on your knees. Easier on your muscles so late in a ride you have more reserve left for that last hill or hour of riding. This will not happen comfortably overnight if you are like most of us. Higher cadences often feel very forced and unnatural at first. Seats are often less comfortable at higher cadences. (Meaning you may have to look for one that fits you better or fine tune the one you've got; a plus in the long run.)

Welcome to cycling! Hang in there, it's a great life.

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Old 12-28-15, 12:39 PM
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A cadence around 90 rpm seems to make sense for efficient pedaling, since riding for fitness uses muscles that evolved for running and since the pace at which most people run seems to vary very little from a range of about 90 to 95 strides per minute.

Maybe very tall runners can maintain a somewhat lower pace, but it's unlikely to go much below 85 per minute or so, at a guess.
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Old 12-28-15, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Steiner74
so someone explain cadence for me. i skate alot and that is usually my exercise, if you have skated a bowl you will know. im new to the road bike scene and ride a bike to work, it was usually my transport. but my local skate park is under demo/construction and ive been putting on the lbs. what is a good cadence for solid exercise, and more specifically what exactly is cadence. my initial thought is rpm?
Not sure what you may have heard but cadence or pedal rpms are not a factor at all in any type of cycling.
From what I have been reading lately most manufacturers of cycling computers are going to stop including the ability to track cadence on their units.
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Old 12-29-15, 12:36 AM
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Spin to win!

Do whatever you want, but generally, it's easier to push more watts longer at a higher cadence than a lower cadence.
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