Cadence

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
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Claireysmurf
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Cadence

Postby Claireysmurf » 5 Aug 2012, 12:54pm

Apologies if this has been covered many, many times before...

I think for me to improve as a cyclist, I need to improve my cadence. I have a habit of treating bike gears like those of a car and trying to pull the highest I can (which given a 50-39-30 front, 12-25 rear is pretty tall) and often spinning very quickly to get there. I was interested to note that when I went out cycling on a couple of very hot days recently I was pulling lower gears but spinning more quickly and evenly. However, at most other times I seem unable to do this.
My left knee aches a fair bit at times when I walk (although it is largely ok when cycling) and my right achilles still aches from a running injury last year; I therefore want to do all I can to protect them.

My bad technique feels rather ingrained, so can anyone suggest any low tech suggestions to help.

Incidentally, I have been tempted by the idea of a single speed (with flip flop hub), perhaps a Jamis Beatnik. Would this help or hinder?

Thanks, Claire :D

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Re: Cadence

Postby Vorpal » 5 Aug 2012, 1:05pm

If you want to improve your cadence, a single speed won't help :shock:

If you're really interested, you can spend a bit of money and get a cycle computer with a cadence monitor. I Have to admit that I never have, but based on the recorded cadences some of friends I cycle with, I guess my cadence is typically about 80 or 90 rpm.

I don't push for the biggest gear I can manage unless I'm in a real hurry to get somewhere. I usually put my bike in a gear that gives me a comfortable cadence.

I expect that other folks on here can make more specific recommendations.

p.s.

I'd be careful about knee pain though; unless it's normal for you, it deserves some investigation. The most common culprit is saddle position. Other possibilities are cranks the wrong length, poor foot postion (especially with clipless systems), and overdevelopment of the muscles used for cycling, relative to other leg muscles.
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meic
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Re: Cadence

Postby meic » 5 Aug 2012, 1:07pm

Fitting a cadence meter helps you put a number to your cadence and then keep an eye on yourself to see how you are doing.

I have never bettered the speed that I managed the first time I rode with the cadence meter fitted, though I didnt even get a chance to take a drink in those 20 miles as I was keeping the cadence up and power on without a single pause. I didnt try that again.
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Mick F
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Re: Cadence

Postby Mick F » 5 Aug 2012, 1:12pm

"Improve" cadence?
Do you really mean "increase"?

Personally, I have a low cadence and enjoy it as such. I suspect I am not alone. We are all different, so if you are happy riding like you ride, you are happy. How can you "improve"? Not necessarily by increasing cadence.
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Re: Cadence

Postby theenglishman » 5 Aug 2012, 1:13pm

I'm coming back from a badly broken leg and during test rides on prospective bikes I found that a nagging pain was purely due to me badly positioning my feet on the pedals, along with arbitrary saddle alignment.
So, first, I'd recommend getting cleat type shoes and have them fitted properly - either read the guides or pay a setup specialist (you're worth it) to do this, along with setting the saddle position so the right bits of your knee/hips are in the right place. Of course, this may need a new stem and bars, but that's what 'they' say you need to do to get your body gelling nicely.

Having done this I have no pain riding now. (Well muscle pain, but that's to be expected 8) )

'They*' say that a cadence around 90 rpm is the most efficient and the only way I'm managing to keep around that is to use a cadence sensor and keep an eye on it. You fairly quickly know when you're out of the zone. When I get tired I find it more and more difficult to keep up the cadence, but 'they*' say this comes with practise and increasing fitness. I can manage this on the flat but hills and my lack of fitness mean that I drop down the averages on a long ride.

I may be talking b*****cks of course - so anyone why actually knows what they're doing can chip in and tell us how to do it properly.


* I have no idea who 'they' actually are, but there's an endless number of web pages written by them!

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Re: Cadence

Postby Mick F » 5 Aug 2012, 1:20pm

My average cadence, measured over years with a speed/cadence unit for my Garmin705 shows 65rpm.

I'm happy. I can ride all day, I can ride the length and breadth of the country, and my average cadence is the same. Anything much over 80rpm and I'm unhappy, so I will change up a gear.
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Re: Cadence

Postby Vorpal » 5 Aug 2012, 1:22pm

theenglishman wrote:So, first, I'd recommend getting cleat type shoes and have them fitted properly - either read the guides or pay a setup specialist (you're worth it) to do this, along with setting the saddle position so the right bits of your knee/hips are in the right place.


Not everyone gets along with cleats and such. I don't, and I've wasted a fair amount of money trying. I won't write an essay. There are numerous threads on here about the pros & cons of clipless systems. I am aware that many people obtain, or feel they obtain efficiency benefits, but they don't help everyone, and without ensuring that they are correctly fitted and positioned, they may make knees problems worse, rather than better. For more information, see one of the threads on clipless systems, like this one viewtopic.php?f=5&t=46706&hilit=+clipless
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Re: Cadence

Postby Claireysmurf » 5 Aug 2012, 1:38pm

Mick F wrote:"Improve" cadence?
Do you really mean "increase"?

Personally, I have a low cadence and enjoy it as such. I suspect I am not alone. We are all different, so if you are happy riding like you ride, you are happy. How can you "improve"? Not necessarily by increasing cadence.


My first half decent bike was a Viscount Sprint 'tourer' which may have been 12 speed and I am pretty sure a gents' 25" frame. The bike was huge on me, even as a gangly 13 year old and I think as a result of that, have got into the habit of pulling quite tall gears.

I cycled about 100 miles last weekend which included approximately 5000 feet of climbing and have been exhausted all week. My reason for asking was really wondering if my (to me) inconsistent style of pedal furiously with low load, pedal slowly with high load, coast lots may contribute to the exhaustion. I have already posted on this forum about CFS/ME so I don't propose going there again, but other than not overdoing it in the first place, sleeping well, eating well, bike technique is another variable.

I think the term in my head about cadence is 'measured', but can I manage it without a bike computer?

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Re: Cadence

Postby Vorpal » 5 Aug 2012, 1:59pm

Perhaps if you try to think more about it... and find yourself pedalling slowly, just go a couple of gears easier and see how you get on with it.

I guess I learned more or less by trial and error, and cycling with others.

Make certain you drink plenty, and it may be worth trying some electrolyte drops (like these http://new.eletewater.com/) in water. I find that taking in electrolytes helps my recovery when I've overdone it.

p.s. After I had a very slow recovery from a difficult ride a few years, a friend told me that *everyone* has times like that, our bodies don't always do what we think they will, nor react as well as we'd hope. It can be unpredictable, and it can happen despite the best efforts of an entirely healthy person.
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Re: Cadence

Postby gaz » 5 Aug 2012, 2:08pm

Claireysmurf wrote:I think the term in my head about cadence is 'measured', but can I manage it without a bike computer?


There is a formula relating cadence to speed:- Speed(mph) = Gear(inches) × Cadence (rpm) ÷ 336.

Or to rearrange it Cadence (rpm) = Speed (mph) x 336 ÷ gear (inches).

80-90 rpm is oft quoted as an efficient figure but as Mick F said we're all different.

You can calculate your speed in any given gear at a particular cadence. You'll need a basic bike computer with mph function, or use the Sherlock Holmes method (Watson, since the lampposts on this street are spaced at regular intervals of a feet and we have passed b of them in c seconds our tandem is proceeding at d mph. :wink: )

Once you know the speed for a few key gears at your desired cadence you can compare that with what you are achieving on the road.
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Re: Cadence

Postby Si » 5 Aug 2012, 2:12pm

Vorpal wrote:If you want to improve your cadence, a single speed won't help :shock:


Oh yes it will...but only if you know what you are doing with it. If you don't then you risk injury and setting your self back a fair bit. For instance, if you live somewhere with big hills everywhere then you are going to find it somewhat less helpful as you'll spend most of your time slowly grinding up the hills and then free wheeling down - so your cadence will probably get slower not quicker. Likewise, if you pick a gear that is too high a similar thing will happen.

But if you get it right, and you have the necessary base fitness to use a SSer in anger then you ought to see increases in your RPM. My SSer is set up with a gear that, on a flat road, with no wind, it's just below what I would normally use in those conditions. Thus I find that I can get up all of the gently rolling hills around here without any of the gurning and swearing, but can still spin down most of them. And the more I ride it the easier it gets. Then when I swap back to the multigeared bike, I find that I'm using much small gears than before. Indeed I hardly ever use the big chain ring these days.

(A slightly less painful way of increasing cadence is to go to _good_ spinning classes.)

Of course, all of this just says that it's improved my cadence/RPMs on the pedals - not that it has made me any faster or stronger, or given me unlimited endurance. :wink:

A fixie, on the other hand...and should you survive it :twisted: .....will increase your cadence and strength.

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Re: Cadence

Postby meic » 5 Aug 2012, 2:16pm

gaz wrote:
Claireysmurf wrote:I think the term in my head about cadence is 'measured', but can I manage it without a bike computer?


There is a formula relating cadence to speed:- Speed(mph) = Gear(inches) × Cadence (rpm) ÷ 336.

Or to rearrange it Cadence (rpm) = Speed (mph) x 336 ÷ gear (inches).

80-90 rpm is oft quoted as an efficient figure but as Mick F said we're all different.

You can calculate your speed in any given gear at a particular cadence. You'll need a basic bike computer with mph function, or use the Sherlock Holmes method (Watson, since the lampposts on this street are spaced at regular intervals of a feet and we have passed b of them in c seconds our tandem is proceeding at d mph. :wink: )

Once you know the speed for a few key gears at your desired cadence you can compare that with what you are achieving on the road.


Or if you are feeling that is too much hassle then just use this.

http://www.gear-calculator.com/#
Yma o Hyd

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Re: Cadence

Postby al_yrpal » 5 Aug 2012, 2:20pm

For fast recovery there nothing like a pint of milk. I watched a tv programme about it recently. They tested sports drinks on one group and milk on the others and the milk group recovered consistently faster. I think they did have control groups and swapped so that it removed errors. I have found milk very good if you have a cold or flu type virus too. Sports drinks have got rubbished in scientific trials because you should get all the salts you need naturally from food.

I have never measured cadence, do we each have a natural cadence and is there any point in it?


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meic
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Re: Cadence

Postby meic » 5 Aug 2012, 2:32pm

I see it as strength v fitness.

Obviously you can develop both (fixed wheel in hilly terrain) or neither (pootling on the flat).

I reckon that if you go for high cadence you are favouring fitness over strength and if you go for low cadence you are favouring strength over fitness.

Again these seldom work in contradiction to each other, it is a matter of which you want to develop/maintain through cycling.
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Re: Cadence

Postby nez » 5 Aug 2012, 2:51pm

Mick F wrote:My average cadence, measured over years with a speed/cadence unit for my Garmin705 shows 65rpm.

I'm happy. I can ride all day, I can ride the length and breadth of the country, and my average cadence is the same. Anything much over 80rpm and I'm unhappy, so I will change up a gear.


I don't think 65 is excessively low. If you watch TdF the range seems enormous. I think 90 is probably the higher end.