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Gears and Cadence

Old 07-19-19, 03:33 PM
  #76  
asgelle
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
Saying only racers and freaks can do high cadence is silly.
You know what else is silly, not to mention intellectually dishonest? Putting words in someone else's mouth.
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Old 07-19-19, 04:03 PM
  #77  
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I couldn't do anything at 200rpm-- forget moving pedals at that speed. The idea that speed and power are directly tied to cadence is fallacious at best. I was hitting a segment a couple of days ago and held ~600W for 30 seconds... at 70rpm.

I thought of this thread and decided to focus on cadence this morning, consciously trying to stay above 90rpm, which at least for me is spinning (median cadence ended up being 93rpm.) The problem arises in that I can't just merrily spin along, I'm acclimated to resistance on the pedals, so I averaged 243W for 85 minutes and did 1,100kJ worth of work. Will I attempt to maintain that kind of cadence again tomorrow? Seems unlikely. I don't think my power output or sustainable top speed is at all limited by the cadence I unconsciously choose every day. I'm just not very strong relative to how heavy I am. Oh, and I have to push a lot of air out of the way.
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Old 07-19-19, 05:07 PM
  #78  
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Gears and Cadence
Originally Posted by wobrien View Post
I have been riding for a while and not really "schooled" in riding techniques etc. I focus mostly on building distance but I do watch the progression of my speed, I just don't focus too much on maximizing it

I also look at my cadence but never really worked to change it until recently. It has gone from the low/mid 50s to about 60. For the most part my only change has been to go up hills in lower gears/faster cadence.

I have seen references that cadence should be in the 70s to 90s, some say even higher…So now I am going to work on riding in lower gears with higher cadence (hope it doesn't make me nuts)…

What should my expectations be for its impact on my speed and endurance? I expect that my endurance will go up and that I will be able to add miles and get over hills more confidently, which would be great.

I don't know what to think about the impact on my speed. I would expect my speed to go down with the lower gears but I hear it should go up. I am sure that physical condition is a factor…

Thanks for your comments.
Originally Posted by BCDrums View Post
Can't speak for others, but I have an old-school Cateye Astrale computer on my bar. I keep the main display on Cadence. Very informative- I can attach a real number to what I feel in my legs.

More than 105rpm and I bounce; under 90 and I bog down. Am most comfortable around 100. Data, not wishes.
Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Ride your own natural cadence. It'll vary over time and distance anyway.
Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
I find that I vary my cadence on hills based on a lot of factors, including how tired I am, the heat, and winds.

If I'm tired or getting overheated, I will spin a hill in a lower gear, but if I'm up for the attack, I am going to mash it.
The above quotes are reflective my own, seemingly unique system for cadence (primary) and gearing (secondary):
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Cadence

I’m a 40+ year cyclist and I ride mainly for fitness. My training tool is the Relative Perceived Exertion (RPE) Scale, and I use cadence to chose gears to maintain my desired exertion.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
This year though, I decided to go for speed (intensity), and I use the semi-quantitative, standardized, but personally relevant system of The Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion (link) with my own particular adaptation.

Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
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.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 07-19-19 at 06:51 PM.
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Old 07-19-19, 05:34 PM
  #79  
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What a diverse bunch of ideas... I think reading a little bit of the current thinking (based in research, folks) in sports physiology might be enlightening. I'm not trying to be snooty or condescending. I wrote a long post, that BF swallowed. That happens to me, and I get cranky. Rather than slam my hand down in frustration, I move on, realizing that I was probably going to be stepping on someone's toes anyway.

Regarding cadence from what I have read, it's a bit complex, there are competing physiological processes going on within the body, and then (as evidenced in this thread), there are also psychological beliefs that affect the results. This still holds true at the pro level, apparently...



Extrapolating from individual experience, done on a trial and error basis, means: You think it worked better (or didn't work better) for you... Roughly thats it, unless you were trained properly, in a controlled setting and tested in a validly designed and executed study. Then, if the results for a large enough group of people were taken in aggregate, anomalous factors accounted for properly, then those results would mean something more. In this thread...


I apologize in advance for the blasted auto-correct (when/why did it become so awful?) and inaccuracies or lack of clarity on my part, and will try to clarify and/or correct.

Cheers.


I also have anecdotal evidence I feel very strongly about.

Last edited by Last ride 76; 07-19-19 at 05:41 PM.
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Old 07-19-19, 06:13 PM
  #80  
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Originally Posted by Last ride 76 View Post
What a diverse bunch of ideas... I think reading a little bit of the current thinking (based in research, folks) in sports physiology might be enlightening.

I'm not trying to be snooty or condescending. I wrote a long post, that BF swallowed. That happens to me, and I get cranky. Rather than slam my hand down in frustration, I move on, realizing that I was probably going to be stepping on someone's toes anyway.

Regarding cadence from what I have read, it's a bit complex, there are competing physiological processes going on within the body, and then (as evidenced in this thread), there are also psychological beliefs that affect the results. This still holds true at the pro level, apparently...

Extrapolating from individual experience, done on a trial and error basis, means: You think it worked better (or didn't work better) for you...

Roughly thats it, unless you were trained properly, in a controlled setting and tested in a validly designed and executed study. Then, if the results for a large enough group of people were taken in aggregate, anomalous factors accounted for properly, then those results would mean something more. In this thread...

I apologize in advance for the blasted auto-correct (when/why did it become so awful?) and inaccuracies or lack of clarity on my part, and will try to clarify and/or correct.

Cheers.

I also have anecdotal evidence I feel very strongly about.
Hold on OP, @wobrien, et al. In a few years after a rigorous, exhaustive, well-funded study with enough rigorous follow-up confirmatory studies, we may hear of the correct way to pedal our bikes.

Meanwhile perhaps @Last ride 76 could provide us with an abstract of the current literature. (My suggestion above cited the Harvard School of Public Health, FWIW.):
Originally Posted by bikingshearer View Post
"I'm tired of BF's garbage platform; I've had enough"

Once again, for the umpty-umpth time, BF has timed me out and sent a post I spent some time crafting off into the ether, never to be seen again.

The number of times this has happened is well into double digits. I have reported this to the BF poobahs and have received no response. Nothing. Crickets.

There is supposed to be an auto-save function: it doesn't work for sh*t. Hasn't for years

The search function has never worked for sh*t, at least not since the founder sold BF to whatever company it was…
Originally Posted by Rollfast View Post
Maybe you're just too slow. Maybe you also forgot to click on Remember Me when you signed in OR...

maybe if you changed your browser settings to save cookies...

Them cookies are not bad for you.
Originally Posted by BookFinder View Post
I've never, not once had that problem with the BF software. The problem is in your browser, or in your internet service provider.

Or, it can be in your computer; insufficient RAM memory, malware, OS updates downloading in the background, virus software hogging resources, and other things can cause your browser to run slow and time out on the forum, at the bank, or wherever you happen to be logged on.

So instead of storming off in a snit, why don't you compose your post in Word and save it to your computer, then copy and paste to the forum?

This is of course assuming what you have to say is worth saving...
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
I have experience with only one other, slightly active, and diminishing professional Forum, but as others have posted…

As you see, I post intricately formatted nested quotes, and I copy to, and compose in Word, then paste in the BF website. It would be agonizing to lose one of my own.
In the meantime I guess, experienced, majority opinion will have to hold sway.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 07-19-19 at 09:03 PM. Reason: added last comment
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Old 07-19-19, 06:24 PM
  #81  
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My untrained cadence was high 90s. Even on climbs I'm a spinner, sometimes spinning even higher past 100 rpm if I have sufficiently low gearing. I bought a power meter and started noticing that I put out more power when I over geared and dropped to a cadence in the mid-80s..That would be a great discovery, except I feel like I'm mashing and dislike dropping below 90 rpm.

So my natural cadence might actually be too high, but it still feels more comfortable and sustainable. I wonder if it's worth training at lower cadences. I've done some torque-y training sessions, but I'm not sure there's evidence that those are beneficial.
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Old 07-19-19, 07:14 PM
  #82  
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I have no power meter, So I don't know what my most efficient cadence is. But when I am pedaling in what I perceive as the most effective gear, One that feels natural, I jump up one gear. My cadence might slow 10 rpm. This seems unnatural and feels like I'm going slower so the tendency is to apply more power. When I back my effort off to a comfortable level, I glanced at my speedometer and find I'm actually going faster with less effort in what I once perceived as being too high a gear.

On the other end of the cadence range, I once thought 90+ rpm was way faster then I would ever peddle. My normal recreational cadence is likely in the 60 - 75 rpm range. Yet on some occasions when I'm feeling athletic, I found I was at a 93 rpm cadence for a few minutes with no ill effects.

So I wouldn't suggest committing to a fixed number for cadence until you experiment a while. And even then, Be open minded. Racing is when it is important to get the best balance we can between a high enough cadence so our legs don't give out before the end of the race, Yet low enough to not run out of cardio too soon. IMO it is best to over spin slightly then to mash and overload our leg muscles. Our cardio will recover quicker. Wear you legs out too soon and you might as well call it a day.
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Old 07-19-19, 07:39 PM
  #83  
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Adding some Wahoo sensors recently only confirmed what I already knew about my riding style, from heart rate to cadence. No revelations. Glad I didn't spend too much.

For a few years I'd already been checking my heart rate and cadence manually, so there were no surprises. I video most rides for safety, and later check my cadence via my own shadow where it's visible. I don't consciously think about cadence while riding, and seldom even look at my bike computers. Recently I took the computer off one bike to wash it thoroughly and didn't bother to put it back on. Don't really miss it either. I need the space for lights and stuff since I ride at night a lot, especially in Texas summers.

Last week I got one of the 2012 era Wahoo Fitness bike packs for iPhone 3-4 for my 4s. Unsold new/old stock Wahoo doodads cost around $10-$15, and are worth about that for using an old phone for indoor trainer sessions, or short outdoor sessions. Don't count on that old iPhone 3/4 battery lasting more than an hour, even with the display turned off. It lasted until mile 37 of a 53 mile ride Thursday evening. Enough to collect some sorta-useful data -- mostly confirming what I already knew.

But it would have been disappointing at the original full $150 MSRP. The USB port pulled out on the third usage, trying to charge the phone through the USB-to-iPhone dock connector. Same problem with my otherwise good new/old stock Mophie Juice Pack Air battery extender/protective case. Good doodad, lousy USB ports.

Anyway, my pedaling style is a little different from other guys and gals my age whom I ride with a few times a month. I'm more of a spinner, right at 90 rpm when I'm warmed up and in the groove. I find it easier to accelerate without needing to shift gears to close a gap while drafting. I don't cook my mighty guads so guickly on climbs and sprints (my legs are toothpicks, bird legs). I learned from getting dropped a few times that I don't have the physique for seated mashing up climbs, or standing to climb for more than 30 seconds at a time. But I can spin like an eggbeater alongside the mashers. It's a little more aerobically challenging, but recovery is quicker than mashing -- for me.

The guys (and gals) who mash bigger gears in seated climbs are usually built like Merckx and Indurain -- massive muscles in their broad lower backs, hips and thighs. A lot of power comes from the lower back/hips for folks gifted with that kind of physique. That, I ain't got.

On solo rides I'll peak around 130 rpm on fast downhills if I'm wanting to beat my PR rather than coast. Usually I coast in group rides since everyone else does and it's bad juju to pass other folks at 20+ mph downhill on casual rides where some folks aren't experienced with racing, pacelines or merely riding safely close together. I don't like being crowded on roads with lots of trippy stuff -- potholes, seams running parallel to direction of travel, etc. -- so I leave other folks plenty of room too. I witnessed and video'd a pretty horrific crash a few weeks ago on just such a downhill. The guy will be okay, eventually, but besides a shoulder injury he'll be dealing with a pretty bad concussion, which can have long term consequences, especially as we get older -- our meat computers shrink and rattle around more loosely inside our brainpans.

Problem with this older Wahoo cadence sensor is it's inaccurate at faster rpms (I might need to shim the magnet to be a bit closer to the sensor), so I wouldn't really know from the sensor what my cadence is. I just know from checking my cadence manually. I video most rides for safety, and later review the ride and estimate cadence from my own shadow. I typically do 90 rpm on flats, 70-90 on climbs, and top out at 130 rpm on fast downhills. Usually I coast when I reach 120 rpm. I'd need an 11T smallest cog on the rear for enough resistance to accomplish anything from pedaling. I'm betting my higher cadence efforts would improve if I got some rollers and a fixed gear bike just for indoor training (I ain't riding a fixie outdoors, thanks).

I'd continue with a 90 rpm cadence on all climbs if my gearing was suitable. But with only 7-speed freewheels on my older road bikes I'm limited to freewheels in the 13-24 to 13-28 range. I may switch the 52/42 double on my Trek 5900 to 52/38, although it's light enough that I don't really struggle on climbs as-is. My Ironman with 50/39 double and 13-26 freewheel is about right for our roller coaster routes with lots of short, steep, punchy hillettes, but no real climbs.
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Old 07-19-19, 10:34 PM
  #84  
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Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Hold on OP, @wobrien, et al. In a few years after a rigorous, exhaustive, well-funded study with enough rigorous follow-up confirmatory studies, we may hear of the correct way to pedal our bikes.


What do you gain by being facetious? It seems rather self-evident that understanding correlations between cadence, power, efficiency, speed, and muscle recovery times is not equivalent to your hearing "the correct way to pedal our bikes."





Meanwhile perhaps @Last ride 76 could provide us with an abstract of the current literature.
No, not my job. I have read this bike specific layman's article https://www.cyclingweekly.com/fitnes...-froome-191779 and have looked over a couple of more scholarly articles (enough to know that there's a lot to learn). Not hard to find the articles yourself...

[QUOTE](My suggestion above cited the Harvard School of Public Health, FWIW.)
Yeah BFD... mom was on the faculty. So, Answer : Not worth much. Why? Neither she nor the folks in your citation were doing bike/cadence specific research regarding the relationships i mentioned. The factors that actually matter to serious cyclists.



In the meantime Iguess, experienced, majority opinion will have to hold sway.
This is not meant as an attack, I'm curious to understand what makes you feel qualified to judge my statements re cadence and personal opinions based on personal experiences? That you have the right to your opinion, absolutely. To think it has the same value as better referenced ideas...
Ummm yeah, if you had a valid way to measure experience. But you don't have any objective way of assessing a poster's experience or ability, so... No personal slights intended, a thousand cat 3 riders telling meabout how cadence relates to:


One day road races, (or hard group fitness rides, if you prefer) vs.


Riding a stage race, (or lets use long distance touring, where how you feel after a week in the saddle will be important) vs.


Riding Time Trials, (or just beating a personal best, if you prefer.)


Hill climbing? Headwinds?


doesn't carry much weight. Studying a thousand cat 3 riders probably does tell us something.... at least about cat 3 level riders.


No, the above examples are not true equivalents but within a given ability level of riders, cadence still affects performance and recovery in ways that I, and I'll hazard to guess, you don't yet understand. Is there value in understanding how cadence affects cyclists generally, at different ability levels rather than various randomly "qualified" opinions. I say for me the answer is yes.


IDK if I will respond to your ad hominem attack regarding my sometimes losing posts.

Last edited by Last ride 76; 07-19-19 at 10:44 PM.
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Old 07-19-19, 11:39 PM
  #85  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
I ride 140 miles in 90 degree heat last Saturday, and by the end of that I wasn't attacking anything but food.
Were you riding in the STP? My brother was and completed his 18th. He rides 140 miles on the first day too.
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Old 07-20-19, 05:13 AM
  #86  
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Originally Posted by wobrien View Post
I have been riding for a while and not really "schooled" in riding techniques etc. I focus mostly on building distance but I do watch the progression of my speed, I just don't focus too much on maximizing it. I am generally in the 15 +/- mph range. I also look at my cadence but never really worked to change it until recently. It has gone from the low/mid 50s to about 60. For the most part my only change has been to go up hills in lower gears/faster cadence. I have seen references that cadence should be in the 70s to 90s, some say even higher. - I say "holy smokes" that will be a big move for me. So now I am going to work on riding in lower gears with higher cadence (hope it doesn't make me nuts), I am sure that it will take a few weeks to get used to it. What should my expectations be for its impact on my speed and endurance? I expect that my endurance will go up and that I will be able to add miles and get over hills more confidently, which would be great. I don't know what to think about the impact on my speed. I would expect my speed to go down with the lower gears but I hear it should go up. I am sure that physical condition is a factor. I am in my mid 50's, 6' 0' and about 230#s. I ride a Cannondale CAAD 8 - 2 rings in the front and 8 cogs in the rear. Thanks for your comments.
I've never quantified my cadence until I broke my knee and atrophied my right leg and had to relearn how to walk and run and ride a bike. At first I couldn't turn one crank over. After two weeks of trying, I finally made one crank revolution - backwards. The next day I was pedaling forward and the day after I was able to hit 110rpm.

Over the next months I hit the gym and used the indoor cycles for the first time and was able to measure cadence. It turns out anything lower than 100 feels crazy slow to me. Normal sustainable for me is 110 and I can hit 140 quite easily. I've been riding since 1990 seriously.

Now with my newly weak (and older) knees, I am lowering all my gears by banishing 11t cogs and capping at 46t chainrings.
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Old 08-07-19, 09:46 AM
  #87  
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Here is an update from my experience: Riding at the higher cadence definitely makes for a different workout. I have done several rides now at what I consider high cadence for me, which is 80rpm +/- about 2. Mental and physical adjustments have been made but I am still getting used to it. I am getting the feel for the higher cadence so while I still watch the cadence monitor on the Garmin I don't have to watch it nearly as much, I am getting a more natural feel for how fast to pedal. My speed has hardly changed. Some rides have been faster and some slower but not by much. This variability is typical for me for this time of year and riding conditions so the cadence change has not really changed the speed unfortunately. There are points where I know that I am trading off speed for the higher cadence but the opposite is true too. My heart rate range (average to max) has narrowed by about half. There is about a 10 - 12 beat difference between the two. As I said it is a very different workout for me and feels like I get little rest during the ride. I also find the need to stretch out my outer thigh fairly often. As those muscles adjust that should go down. I had a couple of injuries which kept me off of the bike for about 10 days so my progress is a little behind. Summary: I am sticking with it although I am not seeing much difference in my speed. It is hard to determine if my endurance has been improved. I still like my old cadence more but it is too early to give up on the faster cadence. Like I said it just feels like a different workout, not necessarily better or worse. I will keep the faith that making the change will have benefits that I am not yet seeing.
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Old 08-07-19, 10:15 AM
  #88  
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
If doing 15mph at 60rpm that would mean a gear ratio of approx 50x16. If I tried to start a ride in a gear that large it would feel like lifting weights. It would feel like pushing against a wall. Ride would be over and I'd be tired very quick.

I went to school fifty years ago and was incredibly fortunate to have great teachers. Guys who had done their best racing from 1910 to 1940. When cycling was the top money sport. When cycling paid way better than boxing and sports with balls were largely amateur. When everyone who wanted to make money in sport was riding a bike my teachers won races. We warmed up at 18-20mph. Try again. We always warmed up. Rides always started easy and no one dreamed of attacking or picking up pace first ten miles of any ride. Warmup was done on the flat and was mostly on 42x17 or 42x18. When warmup was over gears went up, cadence never went down. 100rpm was normal. Some of us would gear even lower and warm up at 110 or 120rpm.

Racing in 1960s mostly meant track. Standard track gear was 46x14 fixed. Very few geared any differently. Most common reason to gear higher would simply be that the rider in question was a big guy. And then it would be 47x14. If you couldn't do 40mph in a gear of 46x14 you weren't racing. In other words if you didn't have 150rpm on tap there was no reason to line up at the start.

There is no 'should be'. There is only what is. Basically no one rides or trains as described above any longer. Very few go to school in any significant way. Gears are much higher and cadence is much lower. And there are no rules or standards at all.
+1 I raced later than you. Road. '76-78 but learned (indirectly) from a master. John Allis. Winters were ridden fixed in a 42-17, 18 or lower. Inside ring on the flat all summer unless it was a race or you were doing high speed work.

One concept that was drummed into us; if we could stay with another rider spinning a lower gear, we could beat him. No, not in that lower gear, but when crunch time came, we would have the reserves to accelerate a big gear and the guy who had been pushing it all day would not.

Another reason to learn to spin lower gears that could help the OP someday - the ability to spin a low gear and go the desired speed means that you can ride with knees that are not happy, minor muscle injuries and a lot of other conditions that riding high gears either caused or will aggravate. But spinning a low gear is a skill that has to be learned and practiced. Much better done before that injury.

Ben
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Old 08-07-19, 10:58 AM
  #89  
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A spinner is a winner. If you want to go fast you have to use high cadence. The fastest cyclists, track racers doing the flying 200m, go over 50 mph and spin around 160. Thats a sprint, in the hour record on the track, the fast guys spin around 100.
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Old 08-08-19, 07:02 AM
  #90  
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
+1 I raced later than you. Road. '76-78 but learned (indirectly) from a master. John Allis. Winters were ridden fixed in a 42-17, 18 or lower. Inside ring on the flat all summer unless it was a race or you were doing high speed work.

One concept that was drummed into us; if we could stay with another rider spinning a lower gear, we could beat him. No, not in that lower gear, but when crunch time came, we would have the reserves to accelerate a big gear and the guy who had been pushing it all day would not.

Another reason to learn to spin lower gears that could help the OP someday - the ability to spin a low gear and go the desired speed means that you can ride with knees that are not happy, minor muscle injuries and a lot of other conditions that riding high gears either caused or will aggravate. But spinning a low gear is a skill that has to be learned and practiced. Much better done before that injury.

Ben
I remember John Allis from when the CRC of A squad would stay at Rudy Seno's place when traveling through Chicago. I am still busy keeping that old house intact as Rudy's widow is still alive and still living there.

Allis went to school with ACBB in Paris. So far as I know there is nothing like that left anywhere. Perhaps in Colombia where Cochise and Lucho are coaching still. I sure do remember how riders from Brussels and Belgrade and Buenos Aires would come through Chicago and we were all exactly on the same page. Riding was riding and was the same everywhere. "Theories" about strange notions as "natural cadence" just did not exist.

I thought of another way to explain why spinning works. Let me say here that I did race, but was never much good. I was pack filler and only ever had a place by sheer persistence and entering events with small fields. There is a wide range of talent contributing to this forum. Some are fast and faster than me, but there is a very large and audible faction thumping along at 60rpm and 15mph and wishing they could go faster. They would like to be able to do 20mph. To accelerate from 15 to 20 at low rpm in monster gears is going to mean huge effort and multiple shifts. By the time 20mph is hopefully achieved the gear will be 50x12. Most are not going to succeed at that. It is just a really hard way to get the job done.

If I am just riding along at 15mph the gear on today's bike is probably 50x21. So well under 100rpm but it's low effort so no problem. Tell me to accelerate to 20 mph and it's a simple matter to spin up that little gear. Since I am old and lazy it could happen the gear is slipped into 50x19 at some point but that is not necessary. I will pass and gap the rider doing the same thing on big gears really fast. That rider will look at me and say "Oh, he's a racer. And he's really strong. I'll never be like that. I don't even aspire to that." Well, it's been twenty-five years since I raced at all, I am 67 and fat and not that strong. But 20mph remains easy. Real easy. Anyone with normal good health can do 20mph easy. Attempting 20mph while riding ridiculous gears that just don't work is hard. Still, the riders doing it the hard way are completely resistant to change and would rather spout about natural cadence and be stuck going slow than ever admit that the racing fraternity knows or ever knew anything.

For many years my bikes had a top gear of 53x13. Never once used that 13. Rare to use the 14 and mostly when the 14 was used it was an accident and a mistake. Fastest I can remember riding while pedaling and applying power (gravity-assisted and draft assisted but pedaling) was about 45mph. That was done toggling between the 14 and the 15. When I read about 'running out of gear' and the top gear in question is 50x11 or maybe 53x11 I just scratch my head.
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Old 08-08-19, 07:11 AM
  #91  
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Throughout my rides (Commute) I change throughout the ride. I am not in it for the fitness, but the utility aspect of bike riding. Some parts are high cadence, other are normal cadence for me. It just allows me to adapt to my riding conditions and fatigue. High cadence is easier on the knees. Good luck.
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Old 08-08-19, 10:14 AM
  #92  
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
I remember John Allis from when the CRC of A squad would stay at Rudy Seno's place when traveling through Chicago. I am still busy keeping that old house intact as Rudy's widow is still alive and still living there.

Allis went to school with ACBB in Paris. So far as I know there is nothing like that left anywhere. Perhaps in Colombia where Cochise and Lucho are coaching still. I sure do remember how riders from Brussels and Belgrade and Buenos Aires would come through Chicago and we were all exactly on the same page. Riding was riding and was the same everywhere. "Theories" about strange notions as "natural cadence" just did not exist.

I thought of another way to explain why spinning works. Let me say here that I did race, but was never much good. I was pack filler and only ever had a place by sheer persistence and entering events with small fields. There is a wide range of talent contributing to this forum. Some are fast and faster than me, but there is a very large and audible faction thumping along at 60rpm and 15mph and wishing they could go faster. They would like to be able to do 20mph. To accelerate from 15 to 20 at low rpm in monster gears is going to mean huge effort and multiple shifts. By the time 20mph is hopefully achieved the gear will be 50x12. Most are not going to succeed at that. It is just a really hard way to get the job done.

If I am just riding along at 15mph the gear on today's bike is probably 50x21. So well under 100rpm but it's low effort so no problem. Tell me to accelerate to 20 mph and it's a simple matter to spin up that little gear. Since I am old and lazy it could happen the gear is slipped into 50x19 at some point but that is not necessary. I will pass and gap the rider doing the same thing on big gears really fast. That rider will look at me and say "Oh, he's a racer. And he's really strong. I'll never be like that. I don't even aspire to that." Well, it's been twenty-five years since I raced at all, I am 67 and fat and not that strong. But 20mph remains easy. Real easy. Anyone with normal good health can do 20mph easy. Attempting 20mph while riding ridiculous gears that just don't work is hard. Still, the riders doing it the hard way are completely resistant to change and would rather spout about natural cadence and be stuck going slow than ever admit that the racing fraternity knows or ever knew anything.

For many years my bikes had a top gear of 53x13. Never once used that 13. Rare to use the 14 and mostly when the 14 was used it was an accident and a mistake. Fastest I can remember riding while pedaling and applying power (gravity-assisted and draft assisted but pedaling) was about 45mph. That was done toggling between the 14 and the 15. When I read about 'running out of gear' and the top gear in question is 50x11 or maybe 53x11 I just scratch my head.
I am sure that I lost a crit because I was in too high of a gear coming out of the final corner. It was a short sprint, maybe 150 to the line from the final corner. I hit the final corner in 3d position, exactly where I wanted to be, except that I was in the 53x12. Bogged down coming out of the corner and by the time I got on top of the gear I was at the line. I was still accelerating and I would have won if the line had been 10m farther. The guy who won came off my wheel from 4th position. Learned my lesson then.
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Old 08-08-19, 12:30 PM
  #93  
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
I am sure that I lost a crit because I was in too high of a gear coming out of the final corner. It was a short sprint, maybe 150 to the line from the final corner. I hit the final corner in 3d position, exactly where I wanted to be, except that I was in the 53x12. Bogged down coming out of the corner and by the time I got on top of the gear I was at the line. I was still accelerating and I would have won if the line had been 10m farther. The guy who won came off my wheel from 4th position. Learned my lesson then.
That is precisely how Steve Bauer lost Olympic gold to Alexi Grewal. So don't feel too bad about the mistake.

Bauer would normally have beat Grewal in 99 of 100 sprints. At least. It was a slight downhill sprint, just the two of them. Bauer had his then brand new 12 tooth cog. Grewal had a 13. Bauer led it out, motoring to line. Grewal sitting on his draft, expecting to lose the sprint. When Grewal saw Bauer was committed to the 12 he could scarcely believe his luck. Downshifted to the 14 and walked around Bauer at the line. Bauer of course went on to a quite good pro career and Alexi never did much. Still would have been nice to have the gold in his pocket.

Nowadays every Cat 6 needs, absolutely needs, an 11. OK.
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Old 08-08-19, 12:50 PM
  #94  
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
I remember John Allis from when the CRC of A squad would stay at Rudy Seno's place when traveling through Chicago. I am still busy keeping that old house intact as Rudy's widow is still alive and still living there.

Allis went to school with ACBB in Paris. So far as I know there is nothing like that left anywhere. Perhaps in Colombia where Cochise and Lucho are coaching still. I sure do remember how riders from Brussels and Belgrade and Buenos Aires would come through Chicago and we were all exactly on the same page. Riding was riding and was the same everywhere. "Theories" about strange notions as "natural cadence" just did not exist.

I thought of another way to explain why spinning works. Let me say here that I did race, but was never much good. I was pack filler and only ever had a place by sheer persistence and entering events with small fields. There is a wide range of talent contributing to this forum. Some are fast and faster than me, but there is a very large and audible faction thumping along at 60rpm and 15mph and wishing they could go faster. They would like to be able to do 20mph. To accelerate from 15 to 20 at low rpm in monster gears is going to mean huge effort and multiple shifts. By the time 20mph is hopefully achieved the gear will be 50x12. Most are not going to succeed at that. It is just a really hard way to get the job done.

If I am just riding along at 15mph the gear on today's bike is probably 50x21. So well under 100rpm but it's low effort so no problem. Tell me to accelerate to 20 mph and it's a simple matter to spin up that little gear. Since I am old and lazy it could happen the gear is slipped into 50x19 at some point but that is not necessary. I will pass and gap the rider doing the same thing on big gears really fast. That rider will look at me and say "Oh, he's a racer. And he's really strong. I'll never be like that. I don't even aspire to that." Well, it's been twenty-five years since I raced at all, I am 67 and fat and not that strong. But 20mph remains easy. Real easy. Anyone with normal good health can do 20mph easy. Attempting 20mph while riding ridiculous gears that just don't work is hard. Still, the riders doing it the hard way are completely resistant to change and would rather spout about natural cadence and be stuck going slow than ever admit that the racing fraternity knows or ever knew anything.

For many years my bikes had a top gear of 53x13. Never once used that 13. Rare to use the 14 and mostly when the 14 was used it was an accident and a mistake. Fastest I can remember riding while pedaling and applying power (gravity-assisted and draft assisted but pedaling) was about 45mph. That was done toggling between the 14 and the 15. When I read about 'running out of gear' and the top gear in question is 50x11 or maybe 53x11 I just scratch my head.
My fastest was also about 45, but I was in a big big group and I was in a circular paceline with about 10 guys at the front. It was flat and I lasted one rotation, went to the front, I pulled off didn't didn't let any gaps open up but when I got to the back of the rotation I was done.

that was fun, and I was in my middle fifties at the time

oh and yes this post is about Cadence and I was in a 53 16 or 15
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Old 08-08-19, 01:39 PM
  #95  
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I guess that I'm simply old fashioned. I learned to ride in the early 1970s. The conventional wisdom was that good riders spun. I learned to spin at about 90 rpms. It became natural, and maybe there was a genetic component to my ability to learn this. I was athletic, slim and very young.

Fast forward a few years and I meet my future wife in college. We ride together in the summers on occasion. I teach her to spin. She had never been exposed to the concept. We marry, move to California, and ride more together.

We move to VA, raise kids, empty the nest and begin riding regularly together. Know what? She still spins. In fact, at 60 years old, her form and technique are really quite good. Drafting behind her is never a worry. She's confident, consistent and efficient.

So, are we genetic freaks? No, we simply didn't debate the issue and learned how. It wasn't hard. I couldn't imagine riding at 70 rpms on the flat, not unless I was suffering from a gunshot wound and was riding myself to the hospital, then I could see the wisdom...

EDIT: I ride fixed, too. There, you've got to deal with a wide range of cadences, from grindingly slow to Cuisinart fast. Up to 135 rpms is okay, generally. Beyond that, it takes real concentration to "weight" the saddle and lighten the pedals. I don't have the coordination for much faster. But I'm old.

Last edited by Phil_gretz; 08-08-19 at 01:44 PM. Reason: fixed
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Old 08-08-19, 02:41 PM
  #96  
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
I guess that I'm simply old fashioned. I learned to ride in the early 1970s. The conventional wisdom was that good riders spun. I learned to spin at about 90 rpms. It became natural, and maybe there was a genetic component to my ability to learn this. I was athletic, slim and very young.

Fast forward a few years and I meet my future wife in college. We ride together in the summers on occasion. I teach her to spin. She had never been exposed to the concept. We marry, move to California, and ride more together.

We move to VA, raise kids, empty the nest and begin riding regularly together. Know what? She still spins. In fact, at 60 years old, her form and technique are really quite good. Drafting behind her is never a worry. She's confident, consistent and efficient.

So, are we genetic freaks? No, we simply didn't debate the issue and learned how. It wasn't hard. I couldn't imagine riding at 70 rpms on the flat, not unless I was suffering from a gunshot wound and was riding myself to the hospital, then I could see the wisdom...

EDIT: I ride fixed, too. There, you've got to deal with a wide range of cadences, from grindingly slow to Cuisinart fast. Up to 135 rpms is okay, generally. Beyond that, it takes real concentration to "weight" the saddle and lighten the pedals. I don't have the coordination for much faster. But I'm old.
Weird, because when I was a kid in the same era, it was just common wisdom that you went highest gear possible all the time. The idea of cadence as something people thought about really didn't make a mark on me until the '90s, and even then, there were plenty of big gear/slower cadence racers.

I'm not objecting to the idea that spinning works really well for a lot, and maybe most people, I'm pushing back against the idea that it's for everyone, and the "genetic freaks" comment was addressed at the umpteenth claim that the dominance of spinning at the TDF "proves" that spinning is universally faster or more efficient for all riders.
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Old 08-09-19, 07:18 AM
  #97  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
I ride many miles on the mid-20s mph in very high gear in the flat. I am most definitely not soft pedaling it andI am flying past people pedaling a lot faster than I am.
Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
Mid 20's is fast. Like advanced group ride while drafting fast. Are you doing this in a group, or solo? What is your gear (inches or teeth) and cadence while flying in the mid 20's?
Since you said "I" am flying past people, it sounds like you are doing your mid 20's while riding solo. That's really impressive! Especially since while waiting for your reply to my question about what gear(s) / cadence you use on your mid 20 runs I found this:

Originally Posted by Bicycling Magazine
the average Tour de France rider maintains an average speed of 25 to 28 mph on flats


Apparently lugging a high gear really does work well for you!
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Old 08-10-19, 04:00 PM
  #98  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
Weird, because when I was a kid in the same era, it was just common wisdom that you went highest gear possible all the time. The idea of cadence as something people thought about really didn't make a mark on me until the '90s, and even then, there were plenty of big gear/slower cadence racers.

I'm not objecting to the idea that spinning works really well for a lot, and maybe most people, I'm pushing back against the idea that it's for everyone, and the "genetic freaks" comment was addressed at the umpteenth claim that the dominance of spinning at the TDF "proves" that spinning is universally faster or more efficient for all riders.
Just common wisdom can be real different in different places. In USA lots of parts of the country were and are completely cut off from history and culture of cycling and the wheel has to be re-invented constantly. There are not and never have been 'lots' of slow cadence racers for the simple reason that slow cadence means you run out of gear well below sprint speeds. In 90s the small rear sprocket was a 12 and use of a chainwheel larger than 53 was extremely scarce, getting a gear as big as what seems normal now was impractical. In 1970s pedal technique was all we talked about and not everyone even bothered with a 13.

My early mentors included Othon Ochsner, Sr. who was racing before World War One. And Jimmy Walthour, who was a sixday pro in the 1920s and 1930s. And had learned the sport from his family, who were there from the very beginning in 1890s. On this forum the notion of spinning is different from anything I ever learned. Othon won the 1919 Swiss pursuit championship on a skiptooth gear of 23x8, which was considered massively large back then. He went through Swiss Timing at 4,000 meters in 5:04. That was only a split, as pursuit was contested over 10,000 meters back then. The longer distance also meant it was not a kilo TT start, they just rolled off the line. And still Othon averaged over 130 rpm for that distance. No final time because he won by a knockout.

When riding big gears you are lopping off stretches of pavement with 7-league boots. Making fine course corrections in the bunch becomes very problematic. This is one of the main reasons for the increased number of crashes at TdF, and a huge cause for the ridiculous level of crashes in typical American clubrides or races. In large gears the gears ride you. And all in the bunch should be on same program. If everyone is operating the bike at different clockspeeds the program is never going to run smoothly.

Big gears means it is always resistance training whenever the bike is ridden. It is always a lot like weightlifting. Meaning big gear riders have big muscles and lots of bulk. Bulk that has to be lifted up the next hill. Bulk that always has to be pushed into the wind. Racers do not want bulk. Ordinary riders do not want bulk. Back in the day when pros raced 200 days a year or more adopting low gears meant survival. Now that they race 40 or 50 days a year they can get away with big gears but that also means a lot of crashes.

The notion that some are genetically disposed towards fast cadence or slow cadence is just silly. I have ridden with riders who had polio, rickets, multiple sclerosis, all sorts of real ailments, and they all learned to pedal at 100rpm. That healthy people just can't do it makes no sense at all. Cadence is in your mind.

If you ride alone riding a bike is always a lot like riding a time trial. In which case many are going to prefer to be geared up. Riding a time trial while attempting to ride in a group is just a mess. Most group rides are a big mess currently. When all are on the same program group riding or racing works much better. From 1890s to 1970s there was just one program. Very few now riding have ever even had the chance to join a group ride that was smooth.
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Old 08-10-19, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
The notion that some are genetically disposed towards fast cadence or slow cadence is just silly.
So you believe the existence of different muscle fiber types is a giant conspiracy? O.K.
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Old 08-10-19, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
Just common wisdom can be real different in different places. In USA lots of parts of the country were and are completely cut off from history and culture of cycling and the wheel has to be re-invented constantly. There are not and never have been 'lots' of slow cadence racers for the simple reason that slow cadence means you run out of gear well below sprint speeds. In 90s the small rear sprocket was a 12 and use of a chainwheel larger than 53 was extremely scarce, getting a gear as big as what seems normal now was impractical. In 1970s pedal technique was all we talked about and not everyone even bothered with a 13.

My early mentors included Othon Ochsner, Sr. who was racing before World War One. And Jimmy Walthour, who was a sixday pro in the 1920s and 1930s. And had learned the sport from his family, who were there from the very beginning in 1890s. On this forum the notion of spinning is different from anything I ever learned. Othon won the 1919 Swiss pursuit championship on a skiptooth gear of 23x8, which was considered massively large back then. He went through Swiss Timing at 4,000 meters in 5:04. That was only a split, as pursuit was contested over 10,000 meters back then. The longer distance also meant it was not a kilo TT start, they just rolled off the line. And still Othon averaged over 130 rpm for that distance. No final time because he won by a knockout.

When riding big gears you are lopping off stretches of pavement with 7-league boots. Making fine course corrections in the bunch becomes very problematic. This is one of the main reasons for the increased number of crashes at TdF, and a huge cause for the ridiculous level of crashes in typical American clubrides or races. In large gears the gears ride you. And all in the bunch should be on same program. If everyone is operating the bike at different clockspeeds the program is never going to run smoothly.

Big gears means it is always resistance training whenever the bike is ridden. It is always a lot like weightlifting. Meaning big gear riders have big muscles and lots of bulk. Bulk that has to be lifted up the next hill. Bulk that always has to be pushed into the wind. Racers do not want bulk. Ordinary riders do not want bulk. Back in the day when pros raced 200 days a year or more adopting low gears meant survival. Now that they race 40 or 50 days a year they can get away with big gears but that also means a lot of crashes.

The notion that some are genetically disposed towards fast cadence or slow cadence is just silly. I have ridden with riders who had polio, rickets, multiple sclerosis, all sorts of real ailments, and they all learned to pedal at 100rpm. That healthy people just can't do it makes no sense at all. Cadence is in your mind.

If you ride alone riding a bike is always a lot like riding a time trial. In which case many are going to prefer to be geared up. Riding a time trial while attempting to ride in a group is just a mess. Most group rides are a big mess currently. When all are on the same program group riding or racing works much better. From 1890s to 1970s there was just one program. Very few now riding have ever even had the chance to join a group ride that was smooth.
Sorry, but this is just dumb. I am, by genetics, a big-muscled bulky person. I have a large frame for my height and if I get too skinny, I neither look nor feel good. So are you saying I should somehow shed the large leg muscles that provide huge torque and make spinning a low gear inefficient for me? No thanks.

I just rode 140 solo miles today. Sorry if you think I'm doing it wrong because someone with rickets something something, but when I'm running in the flat doing 25 mph solo for several of those miles, frankly I don't care that it would mess up a group.


As for gear size in the early '70s, are you seriously going to pretend Eddy Merckx didn't, y'know, kind of dominate the sport?
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