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What's the deal with a high cadence?

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What's the deal with a high cadence?

Old 07-08-06, 07:31 PM
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What's the deal with a high cadence?

I normally ride with a cadence between 80 and 85. Occasionally I'll jump up to 90 or 95 but it feels ackward having to pedal that fast. It doesn't feel normal. Should it feel normal? I keep seeing in various places that they recommend a faster cadence and how it helped Lance win his first tour. But for the everyday non pro rider does a high cadence help. I find that I have to work harder to maintain such a high cadence. My heart rate goes up. Any feedback would be great. Thanks.
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Old 07-08-06, 07:37 PM
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It takes time and practice for some of us to develope a smooth spin, but it's not for everybody.
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Old 07-08-06, 07:37 PM
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I takes a little while to get used to it. However, when your legs adjust your speed also tends to adjust upwards. I find my optimal cadence to be around 100. 90-95 when going slow.
I'd explain more but my 2 year old is being a pain. time to go
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Old 07-08-06, 07:38 PM
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I ride between 95-100, that is where I feel most comfortable. If I goe up a few gears and start slowing the cadence, I can feel the thighs start burning and I know I can only go like that for a few minutes. I believe it is all personal preference. My fixed gear bike is geared so I am closer to 85-90 but I take shorter high intensity rides.
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Old 07-08-06, 07:45 PM
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Dang, I need a cadence measurer.
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Old 07-08-06, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by InVisib0L
Dang, I need a cadence measurer.
Use your watch and count your crank revolutions.
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Old 07-08-06, 08:08 PM
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I always try to keep my average cadence in the high 80s to low 90s. I have a friend who is over 10 years younger than I who is a masher and he has trouble keeping up with me on long rides. He can usually beat me up the hills early on in our rides but towards the end of a good 30-40 mile ride I can usually out pace him easily.

Truthfully though, he runs, surfs and cycles...I keep telling him that he does too much and that he should spin faster instead of mashing but he doesn't listen to me. Another friend and riding buddy, who happens to be a Cat1 racer, told him the same thing recently (about his cadence)...nice to know that I'm not giving bad advice.

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Old 07-08-06, 08:13 PM
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I guess I'll just have to give it some more time. Thanks for the feedback. I like getting views in here cuz from magazines you don't know what you get.
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Old 07-08-06, 08:18 PM
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When I first started training seriously last spring, 90-95 felt very awkward and 105 made me feel like crap. My coach had me do intervals in this range, with the higher rpm for the shorter durations (~5 min) and the lower rpm for longer ones (10-15 min). Initially he just wanted me to do some endurance/tempo work to get used to pedaling fast instead of mashing big gears. It took a month or two before it didn't feel awkward, but when I got tired, I'd revert back to a slower cadence.

A year later (but actually only 9 months of training since I lost a couple months last year due to a crash)...95-100 is my normal cadence on the flat and 105 for longer intervals is very doable.

It just takes some time to train your nervous system to fire that rapidly. Higher cadence does put more load on your cardiovascular system, but it helps keep your legs fresh. Too low a cadence and your can get premature onset of lactic acid accumulation. Also, if you pedal at a higher cadence when racing it can help you respond faster to breaks and other things in the race.
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Old 07-08-06, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Snicklefritz
When I first started training seriously last spring, 90-95 felt very awkward and 105 made me feel like crap. My coach had me do intervals in this range, with the higher rpm for the shorter durations (~5 min) and the lower rpm for longer ones (10-15 min). Initially he just wanted me to do some endurance/tempo work to get used to pedaling fast instead of mashing big gears. It took a month or two before it didn't feel awkward, but when I got tired, I'd revert back to a slower cadence.

A year later (but actually only 9 months of training since I lost a couple months last year due to a crash)...95-100 is my normal cadence on the flat and 105 for longer intervals is very doable.

It just takes some time to train your nervous system to fire that rapidly. Higher cadence does put more load on your cardiovascular system, but it helps keep your legs fresh. Too low a cadence and your can get premature onset of lactic acid accumulation. Also, if you pedal at a higher cadence when racing it can help you respond faster to breaks and other things in the race.
Nice post.
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Old 07-08-06, 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by -VELOCITY-
I normally ride with a cadence between 80 and 85. Occasionally I'll jump up to 90 or 95 but it feels ackward having to pedal that fast. It doesn't feel normal. Should it feel normal? I keep seeing in various places that they recommend a faster cadence and how it helped Lance win his first tour. But for the everyday non pro rider does a high cadence help. I find that I have to work harder to maintain such a high cadence. My heart rate goes up. Any feedback would be great. Thanks.

It just takes time to develop a smooth pedal stroke. High cadence works wonders. Today I was on a group ride of 55 miles, we were approaching a 1.5 mile or so gradual hill. Some were using a high gear and using alot of muscle power to get up the hill. I was doing a really low gear at 110 rpms. I was averaging 18mph up the hill and I pass almost everybody by the time I got to the top. You could see the pain in the others faces. High cadence does not wear me out and makes it possible for me to go long distances since i am not really a powerful rider.

I always ride with 100ish to 110 rpms.
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Old 07-08-06, 08:32 PM
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It's also easier on your knees!!! I have two torn ligaments, and some (don't know yet how much) damage to the menescus from an incident at work last year... they still haven't decided on whether they should operate on it, or not.

I know that when my cadence drops, and I start to mash, my knee will start to throb, but I can ride at a higher cadence all day and not feel anything from the knee.

It takes a bit to get used to, but I've increased my cadence by more than 20 rpm in less than 2 months. I used to ride everywhere at about 55-65 rpm... that's what I was used to, what I rode at in high school, and what I've done since. A month and a half into it, and my cadence is almost always above 75, and pretty regularly in the mid-90s. I feel fairly comfortable in the 100-110 range for a couple miles.
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Old 07-08-06, 08:44 PM
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I've been told that cyclists have two kinds of "energy" that we use. The first is stored in muscles and the second in body fat. When the energy in muscles is depleted, the only way to re-energize is with rest. When the body fat energy is depleted it can be renewed by eating and drinking. Mashing gears uses muscle energy and spinning uses body fat energy. Therefore, if you spin rather than mash gears, one can ride longer by continuing to stoke the body fat stores.

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Old 07-08-06, 08:45 PM
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Am I a freak that I can do sustained bursts of 130 rpm? I just got a cadence computer and had no idea what rpm's i was turning. Turns out my comfortable cruise is in the 95-105 range, I can do those 130 rpm bursts for a bit, and anything under 85rpm seems uncomfortably slow.
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Old 07-08-06, 08:54 PM
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Originally Posted by WorldPax
Am I a freak that I can do sustained bursts of 130 rpm? I just got a cadence computer and had no idea what rpm's i was turning. Turns out my comfortable cruise is in the 95-105 range, I can do those 130 rpm bursts for a bit, and anything under 85rpm seems uncomfortably slow.
Sounds like maybe you have a head start on speed work and sprint practice. Also, if you are going to ride track at all, I think you have to get used to high cadence since the only way to go faster is to pedal faster since you only have 1 gear to use.

another thing I've noticed with respect to cadence is that after probably a good 4-5 months of hill climb practice, I can do 90 rpm up the same climbs that I used to struggle to do 75-80 on. The next day my legs are a lot less sore.
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Old 07-08-06, 08:54 PM
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Can anyone suggest me a computer with cadence, nothing too fancy, I just need cadence and/or speed.

Thanks.
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Old 07-08-06, 09:02 PM
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I'm a masher by nature. It has made me a strong rider in some ways. But it will only take you so far, to get to the next level, something has to change.

In the past couple of months, I've been working on training more efficiently. One thing I've learned is to back it down a little, get my cadence up there and work on my spin. The higher cadence makes it easier to work on your spin. Try working on your spin while mashing at a lower cadence and you'll get worn out in no time.

At least 70% of my training the past couple of months has been keeping my heart rate down in the 120-130 range while keeping my cadence up. I don't take speed or anything else into consideration on these types of rides, just low heart rate and high cadence. At first, my rides were slower but I came away not as tired. No problem, I was working the spin and I could feel the improvement in some muscles.

Now I’m seeing the payoff. Example; yesterday, I took off on a 40 mile ride pushing it hard. I was amazed to see I was doing 24mph against a slight headwind on a flat section with a cadence of 95. In the past, I would have been almost sprinting to be doing that. Yesterday, I was cruising. Hills are easier, recovery at the top of hills is better, my average mph has gone up significantly and my recovery after a ride is much faster. I also had plenty of energy throughout the ride.

Now, the slower training rides with the low heart rate and high cadence are as fast as the rides where I went out and hammered it used to be.

I always knew what I should be doing but I had simply accepted the fact that I was a masher because to become better at spinning meant slowing down my pace which to me was regressing, not progressing. I wish I had seen the light sooner.
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Old 07-08-06, 09:04 PM
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The Cateye Astrale 8 is a good value. Also has the added benefit of the speed sensor being on the rear wheel, so you can log that trainter time.

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Old 07-08-06, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by The Fixer
Use your watch and count your crank revolutions.
Nah, go to www.sheldonbrown.com, and print out his MPH vs. Gear-you're-supposed to be in charts. Tape it to your bike.
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Old 07-08-06, 09:09 PM
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Yeah, it's definitely awkward at first(and more tiring), but it does get better. It took me about a month to go from serious masher(small chainring, what's that?) to 90 rpm. Now, it just seems normal.
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Old 07-08-06, 09:34 PM
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Originally Posted by DrPete
The Cateye Astrale 8 is a good value. Also has the added benefit of the speed sensor being on the rear wheel, so you can log that trainter time.

DrPete
i just looked at this computer because i need a new one for my new build. one question: WHY does this computer need to go up to 185mph? who is going this fast on a bicycle?
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Old 07-08-06, 09:43 PM
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Acutally, I just bought a new cycling computer. I recommend VDO computers. Here is their website:

http://www.cycleparts.de/en/startseite/

They have been around for the longest time making speedometers for german cars. I love their display too, its just the right size. I have a cateye double wireless, they just tried to fit too much info on the display. I cant take quick glances just to findout some info. Personally, I just need speed and cadence always displayed.
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Old 07-08-06, 09:51 PM
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I have both the Cateye Astrale 8 and an Echowell F2 on my two road bikes. In all honesty I prefer the Echowell. It will record max and average cadence and you can see speed, cadence and something else (time, distance etc) on the screen at once (you only get two things at once on the Cateye). The Echowell has the added advantage that it is also substantially cheaper.

Max cadence the other day on my Echowell was 191rpm (done on the flat in 30/25 on a triple). I was pretty stoked that I could actually spin my legs that fast.
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Old 07-08-06, 10:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Paulus
Max cadence the other day on my Echowell was 191rpm (done on the flat in 30/25 on a triple). I was pretty stoked that I could actually spin my legs that fast.
Ahhh, that makes my 130rpm seem a lot less freakish. Thank you.
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Old 07-08-06, 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by allez
i just looked at this computer because i need a new one for my new build. one question: WHY does this computer need to go up to 185mph? who is going this fast on a bicycle?

For that guy whose MTB has a rocket strapped to the back...
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