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Pros using relatively low cadence?

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Pros using relatively low cadence?

Old 04-16-20, 09:57 AM
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mastre
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Pros using relatively low cadence?

I was watching the live stream of Geraint Thomas who's doing a 3-consecutive-day 12 hours/day Zwift fundraiser for the NHS (rode with him yesterday for a couple of hours, along with thousands of others) and I noticed that his RPM was pretty much exactly 66 RPM most of the time. I've been out of road cycling for about 6 years and now getting back into it, back "in those days" the general thought was that high cadence (~90 RPM) is desirable for the reasonably fit, and from what I've gathered even recently the "new thing" is that maybe high cadence is not great for amateurs (because it gets HR up more than it needs to) but still a thing for pros (where the legs moving faster is not a concern to HR).

Is this just a personal thing? I actually tend to prefer ~90 RPM because I also run and want to keep stress off the knees. I was just surprised to see G run at 66 RPM. I'm wondering if it's because of the length of time, 12 hours is way more than even a TdF day. Would like to hear your thoughts. You can watch today's first 8 hours here(link is on Fb so it won't post -- search for him on Fb and it'll be one of the top posts for today, a "was live" entry).

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Old 04-16-20, 10:12 AM
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How fast was he going? It sounds like he was soft peddling.
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Old 04-16-20, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by colnago62 View Post
How fast was he going? It sounds like he was soft peddling.
In a BBC interview, he said he would be pedaling at about 200 W. Not soft pedaling, but pretty easy for him to do at a low cadence.
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Old 04-16-20, 10:38 AM
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I think cadence is a result of trial and error to what suits you best. I do better in a lower cadence.
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Old 04-16-20, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
In a BBC interview, he said he would be pedaling at about 200 W. Not soft pedaling, but pretty easy for him to do at a low cadence.
exactly.. for us mere mortals, try going on a trainer and eg. output 70 watts with a 95 cadence. for whatever reason, it's really uncomfortable. But when at 200 watts, the 95 cadence is much better feeling than a lower cadence (sub 85).
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Old 04-16-20, 10:43 AM
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200W is recovery wattage. Props to that guy, because 12 hours of recovery wattage on the trainer would absolutely destroy my gooch. Something about riding slow indoors is just awful. Maybe the slower cadence helps?
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Old 04-16-20, 10:48 AM
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Endurance cadence.
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Old 04-16-20, 10:53 AM
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I think a low cadence is more energy efficient with moderate loads, Certainly for light loads. Think of a cars engine, To get the best mileage we try to keep the engine in the low rpm range. But like the car engine, We don't generate our best power at low rpm's. Best long term power on a bike for athletic riders might be in the 80 - 90 rpm range. While best touring efficiency if time is not a factor might come at much lower rpms. Many variables at play here.

As a 63 year old recreation cyclist (2 - 4 hrs/ week) I seem to get best power short term at about 80 rpm. But I typically cruise at 60 - 70.
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Old 04-16-20, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
In a BBC interview, he said he would be pedaling at about 200 W. Not soft pedaling, but pretty easy for him to do at a low cadence.
For him, 200w is soft pedaling.
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Old 04-16-20, 12:13 PM
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Cadence is personal. It doesn't matter what anybody else's is, no matter their job title.
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Old 04-16-20, 12:14 PM
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The point of using lower gears or higher cadences is to reduce the amount of force you need to push with. If you're Geraint Thomas, 200W is soft-pedaling, so you're not needing to drive the cadence up very high to keep the required pedaling force at a comfortable level.
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Old 04-16-20, 12:22 PM
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Using a 12-hour indoor trainer session to judge anything about a pro cyclist's optimum pedaling cadence is misguided.
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Old 04-16-20, 12:45 PM
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Thanks for the replies guys. My hunch was that, unless he's known as a particularly low cadence guy, it's probably because of the 12 hour shift (the car engine analogy was great btw). The parts I was looking at he was actually pedaling at 125-150W, and I skimmed quite a bit thru the ~8 hr clip and both cadence and power seemed steady -- cadence in particular was almost "stuck" at 66 RPM, to the point that I was appreciating his ability to keep it so steady -- even standing on the pedals he would only vary it by 2-3 RPM. The clip was from today, day 2, and before today's ride he said he was pretty tired from yesterday. So I think he's trying to manage it, 12 hours/day for 3 days in a row is still no joke even for the likes of G.
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Old 04-16-20, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Cypress View Post
200W is recovery wattage. Props to that guy, because 12 hours of recovery wattage on the trainer would absolutely destroy my gooch. Something about riding slow indoors is just awful. Maybe the slower cadence helps?
Not a bad thought. Lower cadence would mean more pressure on the pedals and possibly less on sensitive bits.

And not that I'm massively strong, but this is one of the more challenging things about long rides with friends that are new and/or not very strong - my ass hurts considerably more when I'm just lightly spinning. I just might try a lower cadence next time.
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Old 04-16-20, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
exactly.. for us mere mortals, try going on a trainer and eg. output 70 watts with a 95 cadence. for whatever reason, it's really uncomfortable. But when at 200 watts, the 95 cadence is much better feeling than a lower cadence (sub 85).
I used to be all about spinning at higher power, but this year it's been flipping and I get better power (and sustained power) at lower cadence. "Lower" here meaning as low as low 70s. Of course, I'm not thumping out sprinter power, but much above 200w for efforts.
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Old 04-16-20, 04:53 PM
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Modern road racers all ride at a highish cadence, 90-110 in the peloton when the pelo ton is going at a high speed. Back in the day, mashing was the rule. Look at Merckx in the 70's, even Ullrich in the 90's, they mashed,. Their average cadence was probably around 80. But a spinner is a winner.
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Old 04-16-20, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by San Rensho View Post
Back in the day, mashing was the rule. Look at Merckx in the 70's
Merckx wasn't a masher. By necessity everyone trained for low-cadence efforts because racers were using absurdly narrow drivetrains even on mountain stages, but they didn't necessarily use low cadences all the time.

Eddy Merckx chose a 52-14 gear for his hour record. His average cadence was over 100rpm for that hour.
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Old 04-16-20, 05:15 PM
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If this guy is doing 66rpm at 200W it's because 200W is an easy ride for him. I'd probably be in the 80s for 200W, and would quickly be in the 90s if I were cruising at much higher than that output.

Spinning vs. mashing only applies for me when there is "enough" resistance, and I'm sure that's probably the same for everyone who spins. Without sufficient resistance, I find it very difficult to even attempt to spin, and without sufficient resistance there'd be no point to spinning anyway. What's "enough" resistance is probably different for everyone, but for me an obvious sign that it isn't enough is if I'm trying to spin and am bouncing around in the saddle.

My understanding of the premise of spinning vs. mashing is that the closer one gets to the max force output one's muscles are capable of, the quicker one burns out those muscles. Spinning reduces the force required for each stroke, thus bringing one further from the max muscle exertion and extending one's endurance. On an easy ride one is by definition already far enough away from one's max capable exertion that trying to reduce it further through spinning is pointless.
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Old 04-16-20, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
Merckx wasn't a masher. By necessity everyone trained for low-cadence efforts because racers were using absurdly narrow drivetrains even on mountain stages, but they didn't necessarily use low cadences all the time.

Eddy Merckx chose a 52-14 gear for his hour record. His average cadence was over 100rpm for that hour.
You are right, for the hour record everyone spins. I'm talking about road racing and in his era, cadence was much lower. Take a look at minute 11. Their cadence is in the 70s-80s. And excuse the cheesy film.

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Old 04-17-20, 05:47 AM
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Originally Posted by San Rensho View Post
You are right, for the hour record everyone spins. I'm talking about road racing and in his era, cadence was much lower. Take a look at minute 11. Their cadence is in the 70s-80s. And excuse the cheesy film.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hnLjiTzejo
I think that their cadence is low at minute 11 because that's about 500 meters before the finish line, so just maybe they've set themselves up to be ready for a fast sprint without having to waste time shifting?
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Old 04-17-20, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by San Rensho View Post
You are right, for the hour record everyone spins. I'm talking about road racing and in his era, cadence was much lower. Take a look at minute 11. Their cadence is in the 70s-80s. And excuse the cheesy film.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hnLjiTzejo
Cadence was lower on the climbs in those days, because the lowest gear anyone had was 42x23. But they spun on the flats because the highest they had was 52x13. Watch Sunday in Hell, they're all spinning their legs the whole time, because they're on the flat. Those guys would train on fixed gears in the winter for exactly that reason; so they could spin on the flats and downhills, but still power up the climbs.

The 90s were an <ahem> exceptional era, and riders found that they could climb in bigger gears than they ever had before. But make no mistake, they still pedalled at 90rpm on flat stages.

Ullrich was an exception even in his day. He would power up any climb, in the highest gear he could turn over, but then he was on the same team as Bjarne Riis, who would climb on the big ring pretty much all the time.

Even now, Nairo Quintana climbs at close to 60 rpm, while Froome climbs at 90ish. A lot of it is still down to personal preference.
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Old 04-17-20, 03:16 PM
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Here you go. You can see how it was done back in the day. And for those who think barcons were/are only for touring, see how many you can spot.

60 Cycles by Jean-Claude Labrecque - NFB

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Old 04-17-20, 03:39 PM
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Probably just a comfortable pace for him all things considered which speed alone is none of them. Pro's and those that ride ungodly amounts of miles a year have blood vessels in their legs that will supply a good amount of oxygen to their leg muscles and carry away the crap that results from converting stores to energy. So tooling around at a low cadence might have been all he needed.

Recently, Thomas De Gendt was dropped from a zwift event when he pulled over 550 watts in way the algorithms thought was unnatural.
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Old 04-17-20, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post

Recently, Thomas De Gendt was dropped from a zwift event when he pulled over 550 watts in way the algorithms thought was unnatural.
He was showing a teammate how Zwift works and was doing some race pace. It is kinda funny. They have him labeled as a pro. You would think there would some why to keep that from happening. Several other pros have reported similar experiences

https://www.cyclingnews.com/news/de-...oing-too-fast/
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Old 04-17-20, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by seypat View Post
Here you go you can see how it was done back in the day. And for those who think barcons were/are only for touring, see how many you can spot.

60 Cycles by Jean-Claude Labrecque - NFB
Stretched out bike setups. Short shorts. Soaking wet wool. Bottles on bars. High flange hubs. Leather saddles and seat posts set so low their knees are knocking their chests. Guys who look 10 years old than their real ages. Caps and hairnets, and concussions a'plenty. Surf music. Beemers that look like real motorcycles.

Cadence, schmadence. That's real racing. (Irony font.)

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