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Cadence and others

Old 11-25-11, 07:07 PM
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v0_boulder
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Cadence and others

Hello,

I have been posting a lot of questions I have been searching bf for my answers but surprisingly I have come up short. I know that this is an Internet site not a doctors office and I should probably consult one although I am trying to get a sound general opinion. I am twenty five and have never competed anything I have ridden bikes forever and I was thinking about road racing. My first question is cadence should I maintain ninety rpm and change gears either lower or higher to maintain. Furthermore, what is the significance of 90 rpm is it designed to elevate the heart rate? In addition what about hills is there an rpm I should maintain for hills. Lastly I have never really been fit and I want to make a honest effort to get into great shape. I have been using mapmyride for logging nutrition and work outs is there a better program? Is there food I should be eating, not be eating? When I look at the bar graph of my fat intake and protein intake. They are usually off the charts but I am not taking in enough calories to replenish what I am burning.

Last edited by v0_boulder; 11-25-11 at 08:25 PM. Reason: spelling, adding to question.
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Old 11-25-11, 07:24 PM
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For nutrition and workouts: people like Lose It and Livestrong. Both have mobile apps, too.

As for cadence: everyone has a preference, but most newbs tend to pedal more slowly (use a bigger gear). This means more force per pedal revolution and it can be harder on your knees, as well as causing more muscular fatigue. Developing a smooth, brisk cadence is a good goal for a new rider. Eventually, you'll find your ideal cadence for different situations.

Keeping your cadence relatively high does place more emphasis on cardiovascular fitness than pure muscular endurance. In cycling, this is usually a good thing.

And, yes, you have to shift gears to maintain cadence in your preferred range.
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Old 11-25-11, 09:40 PM
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Most people use a lower cadence when climbing hills than they do on level ground. I prefer the 90-100 range on flat ground but prefer 75-85 on climbs.

It varies between individuals. Some people are more efficient at lower rpms, others at higher rpm. Racers tend to ride at higher rpm in races because it's easier to match other rider's accelerations. Riding at a higher rpm leaves your legs fresher for later in the ride/race. But riding fast at high rpms will tax your cardiovascular system more, so if that's a limiter you may find that you can ride a little faster at a lower rpm.... until your legs tire.

I'd say that if you're consistently below 70 on climbs, you're riding in too high a gear. Doing so can cause knee problems.
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Old 11-26-11, 05:39 AM
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The posts on cadence above are both good and accurate.

Many new riders ride at too low of a cadence. It takes some time to build up the aerobic capacity of the quads to make a high spin seem effortess. I would suggest working on the spin especially when you are riding at lower speeds and lower effort levels. Once you can spin at high speed, you can let yourself seek the cadence that you prefer. Some people are spinners and other people are not. Eddie Merckx averaged something like 115 rpm when he broke the 30 mile hour record (one of the great achievements in cycling). Gregg Lemond was famous for riding at a low cadence, in the eighties, and pushing big gears. I am not one to say or believe that highly accomplished riders like these guys were doing something wrong so I figure cadence varies with riders. Personally, I spin.

Now most people do slow their RPM when climbing. I think the slowing RPM is more about gearing than anything else. If you want a reasonable number of gears and for your gears to be closely spaced, your lowest gear will not let you climb a 7% hill while spinning in the saddle. You have to get out of the saddle and turn a lower RPM. You can get a triple and put really low gears on it that will let you spin up nearly anything and that might not be a bad idea if you have some really long local climbs. Here in Central FL, we don't have any steep long climbs so I ride a double. Of course, triple cranks are frowned upon by performance riders especially when someone using one passes them on a climb.
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Old 11-26-11, 07:19 AM
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Thank you for the help on cadence, in just one ride with the cadence monitor I seem to ride more efficent and maybe faster. I went on my usual 2.20 mile ride to the light rail to have dinner in b'more. It usually takes me about 11 minutes to make the ride and last night after observing my cadence and playing with gearing and trying to obtain a high spin in 90 rpm. I rode that short bit in under 9 minutes I am going to go on a longer ride today and see what that is like.
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Old 11-26-11, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by tadawdy View Post
For nutrition and workouts: people like Lose It and Livestrong. Both have mobile apps, too.

As for cadence: everyone has a preference, but most newbs tend to pedal more slowly (use a bigger gear). This means more force per pedal revolution and it can be harder on your knees, as well as causing more muscular fatigue. Developing a smooth, brisk cadence is a good goal for a new rider. Eventually, you'll find your ideal cadence for different situations.

Keeping your cadence relatively high does place more emphasis on cardiovascular fitness than pure muscular endurance. In cycling, this is usually a good thing.

And, yes, you have to shift gears to maintain cadence in your preferred range.
My question is that I feel good in a aggressive gear although my cadence will be around 75 rpm although should I push a smaller gear to achieve 90 Rpm or keep on slugging away at that aggressive gear. I went for a 50 mile ride today I road it in about 3:25:26 I tried to maintain an rpm between 80-90 and about 70 rpm up a hill

Last edited by v0_boulder; 11-26-11 at 02:44 PM.
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Old 11-26-11, 04:23 PM
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If you're looking to race then it's worth the effort to learn to pedal faster.
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Old 11-26-11, 04:45 PM
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I am I to old to start training to race? Do I need to do aerobic training like running and sprints on a cycling trainer? I imagine that strength training is going to be a big part of it as well
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Old 11-26-11, 05:01 PM
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There's a guy in my racing club who started racing in the 55+ age group. He's since won a medal at nationals. You're probably too old to go pro because even for the genetic outliers who make it as a pro it takes years to build up the endurance that lets them train as much as pros need to train. But you're not too old to be a successful amateur.

Running doesn't make you faster on the bike, although sometimes former runners make good racers. But that's because they already have an aerobic engine.
Road racing is an aerobic sport. Weight lifting can help if you are unusually weak, and strengthening your core can help. But generally weight lifting is not that useful.

I suggest you buy a good book on training (i.e. Friel's "training bible") and read it.
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Old 11-26-11, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by ericm979 View Post
There's a guy in my racing club who started racing in the 55+ age group. He's since won a medal at nationals. You're probably too old to go pro because even for the genetic outliers who make it as a pro it takes years to build up the endurance that lets them train as much as pros need to train. But you're not too old to be a successful amateur.

Running doesn't make you faster on the bike, although sometimes former runners make good racers. But that's because they already have an aerobic engine.
Road racing is an aerobic sport. Weight lifting can help if you are unusually weak, and strengthening your core can help. But generally weight lifting is not that useful.

I suggest you buy a good book on training (i.e. Friel's "training bible") and read it.
Oh yeah to go pro I would have to ride competitively when I was a kid. Do I guess I need to ride a lot to get better
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Old 11-26-11, 06:59 PM
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What's the best way to increase my cadence? At the beginning of the year I was doing about 60 RPM when I was told that higher cadence would be beneficial to my speed and endurance, so I got a cadence monitor. I was able to bump up my cadence to around 77-80, but it's pretty much stopped there. I try to go faster but it just doesn't feel comfortable or natural. I've been thinking making a playlist for my mp3 player that slowly ramps up in tempo from 75 to 90 and train to that, anyone have any experience doing something like this?

Sometimes I think that maybe my legs are just too damn big and that's the problem, since there's more mass to move back and forth on every revolution.
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Old 11-26-11, 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
What's the best way to increase my cadence? At the beginning of the year I was doing about 60 RPM when I was told that higher cadence would be beneficial to my speed and endurance, so I got a cadence monitor. I was able to bump up my cadence to around 77-80, but it's pretty much stopped there. I try to go faster but it just doesn't feel comfortable or natural. I've been thinking making a playlist for my mp3 player that slowly ramps up in tempo from 75 to 90 and train to that, anyone have any experience doing something like this?

Sometimes I think that maybe my legs are just too damn big and that's the problem, since there's more mass to move back and forth on every revolution.
Thats the problem I have to, sometimes at 90 rpm I feel like I could push a bigger gear, when I do so my rpms drop to 70-77. I have noticed that a cadence monitoring has helped me with efficiency on climbing either I push a bigger gear or step down.
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Old 11-27-11, 05:34 PM
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To improve your cadence, keep working the limit where your pedalling form deteriorates. Think about pedalling circles, or scraping mud from the bottom of your shoe. Practice spin ups- accelerating in a reasonably high gear but not shifting up when you normally would. It's easier to hit a high cadence while accelerating than it is to do it at a steady speed. Keep at it- it takes a while but it will come.
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Old 11-27-11, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by ericm979 View Post
To improve your cadence, keep working the limit where your pedalling form deteriorates. Think about pedalling circles, or scraping mud from the bottom of your shoe. Practice spin ups- accelerating in a reasonably high gear but not shifting up when you normally would. It's easier to hit a high cadence while accelerating than it is to do it at a steady speed. Keep at it- it takes a while but it will come.
that makes sense, I was flipping through the training bible that you recommended and Friel says one needs a heart monitor and a power monitor. The heart monitor would not be to hard to acquire although I would need to put down some serious cash to invest in a power meter. The cadence is something I will have to play with and like you sad with time it will come it is something to play with and a lot of riding to perfect it.
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Old 11-28-11, 11:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
What's the best way to increase my cadence? At the beginning of the year I was doing about 60 RPM when I was told that higher cadence would be beneficial to my speed and endurance, so I got a cadence monitor. I was able to bump up my cadence to around 77-80, but it's pretty much stopped there. I try to go faster but it just doesn't feel comfortable or natural. I've been thinking making a playlist for my mp3 player that slowly ramps up in tempo from 75 to 90 and train to that, anyone have any experience doing something like this?

Sometimes I think that maybe my legs are just too damn big and that's the problem, since there's more mass to move back and forth on every revolution.
Pedaling fast (high cadence) is a bit of a trick to learn to do. Basically, you learn it by doing it. But if you want to think about it while you're doing it, think about this:

Your pedals go round and round, but your legs, being hinged at your butt, go up and down. This means that your legs slow, stop, and then reverse their up-an-down motion both at the top and bottom of the pedal stroke. People who are starting to learn to pedal tend to push down on the pedals fairly evenly from the top to the bottom of the stroke. However, at the bottom of the stroke Newton's 3rd law takes over. If you're still pushing down, your butt comes off the saddle. This is known as "bouncing." Most of us have a speed at which we begin to bounce. The better we are at pedaling, the higher that speed becomes, up to a 200 cadence in track racers. What we learn to do, subconsciously, is to put the brakes on our legs near the bottom of the stroke, converting the downforce to a rearward force, described as scraping the mud off your shoe. Then at the top of the stroke, one tries to kick the dog attacking one's front wheel. So it's just practice, the most common drill being to get in a low gear and pedal up to the speed at which one begins to bounce, holding it there for a few minutes, then go back to pedaling normally. Do this a few times on a ride every week and magically your comfortable cadence level will increase.
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Old 11-29-11, 11:52 AM
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There is no magic cadence that is best for all people. As we are all different with different muscle fiber compositions and different body mechanics. Approximately 90rpm is a good starting point and from there you can shift up and down to vary your cadence while maintaining a steady speed or power output. You can generally feel when you are on your way to burning yourself out, and get a feel for the RPM at which you can go fastest without felling like you’re going to blow up.
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Old 11-29-11, 12:42 PM
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A power meter can be useful if you spend the time doing the analysis. But it's not required to be fast. It's only a tool for monitoring training. It doesn't train you. You still need to do the work. You can do the work without a PM. One of my friends won his age group at Lotoja and the California State Climbing championships (Everest Challenge) this year and he rides with no computer at all. Not even a watch.

Since you're starting you're on the steep part of the improvement curve. You'll see big improvements for a couple years just through riding more and (sometimes) harder. Don't worry about a PM.
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Old 11-29-11, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by ericm979 View Post
A power meter can be useful if you spend the time doing the analysis. But it's not required to be fast. It's only a tool for monitoring training. It doesn't train you. You still need to do the work. You can do the work without a PM. One of my friends won his age group at Lotoja and the California State Climbing championships (Everest Challenge) this year and he rides with no computer at all. Not even a watch.

Since you're starting you're on the steep part of the improvement curve. You'll see big improvements for a couple years just through riding more and (sometimes) harder. Don't worry about a PM.
Cool thank you for your help, this transformation from just riding a bike to actually paying attention to cadence and speed is awesome. I finished a 14 mile ride with a 16 mph avg speed I was really stoked to see the difference thank you for the help
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Old 12-02-11, 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
What's the best way to increase my cadence? At the beginning of the year I was doing about 60 RPM when I was told that higher cadence would be beneficial to my speed and endurance, so I got a cadence monitor. I was able to bump up my cadence to around 77-80, but it's pretty much stopped there. I try to go faster but it just doesn't feel comfortable or natural. I've been thinking making a playlist for my mp3 player that slowly ramps up in tempo from 75 to 90 and train to that, anyone have any experience doing something like this?

Sometimes I think that maybe my legs are just too damn big and that's the problem, since there's more mass to move back and forth on every revolution.
Similar situation here. I am riding much more strongly now that I gave up on increasing my cadence and instead slowed down and pushed bigger gears. At cadence low 70's my legs were not tired but my cardio system was redlined.

After 3 years trying to spin, I found at cadence 60 I can generate much more torque, finally increased my average riding speed by over 33% and can mash away for 3+ hour rides. I am an Athena. One of my knees was severely damaged pre-bike leaving it weak and stiff. My knees actually feel better as a masher, no pressure on the kneecaps. I still finish rides with my cardio system taxed, but not out of proportion to the rest of me as it was before. I get a rebound effect mashing on the pedals which helps me lift my heavy legs. YMMV. Not everyone is built to spin little gears.

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Old 12-03-11, 08:18 AM
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I installed the Rotor chain rings on my existing Dura Ace 7800 setup. My initial response was that it felt that I was able to spin faster than the Dura Ace 53/39. I think it was going over the dead spots quicker with more ease.

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Old 12-06-11, 08:14 PM
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I have had troubles riding regularly I have two hobbies and work I commit to, bouldering and cycling. I think I am going to have to go for a ride tomorrow. I was reading in bicycling magazine that for seated climbing they were recommending 80 to 100 rpm for seated climbing.
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Old 12-06-11, 10:59 PM
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back in the 70's we would convert our road bikes to fixed gear for the first month of training in the spring...using a small gear...a good way to learn to pedal smooth and spin. Learn to pedal, then build strength.
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Old 12-06-11, 11:35 PM
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So I finally got a cadence sensor on my new road bike (cranks are far from chainstay, had to get a special strong magnet), and as it turns out, I'm finding it much easier to pedal faster. Cadence is about 86 now without even really thinking about it, up from around 77. There must be something about the geometry that is conducive to pedaling faster than on my MTB. Going to try to average 90 tomorrow I think.
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Old 12-06-11, 11:47 PM
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Originally Posted by v0_boulder View Post
I have had troubles riding regularly I have two hobbies and work I commit to, bouldering and cycling. I think I am going to have to go for a ride tomorrow. I was reading in bicycling magazine that for seated climbing they were recommending 80 to 100 rpm for seated climbing.
That's a little fast for most folks, climbing. Most folks go 75-85 on the climbs. Always outliers of course.
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Old 12-07-11, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
That's a little fast for most folks, climbing. Most folks go 75-85 on the climbs. Always outliers of course.
One of those YMMV type of things
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