Cadence

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
michael42
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Re: Cadence

Postby michael42 » 12 Oct 2012, 11:59am

Ayesha wrote:I rode a TT yesterday at approx 88 - 90 cadence average. If I increase the gear, I slow down. If I lower the gear, I slow down. Don't take any notice of this, it won't be correct for you :wink: It simply demonstrates I have a 'Power band'. Your's won't agree with mine.


Well, no. If you change up a gear and do the same 90 cadence you must go faster :) Similarly, if your cadence lowers you can do the same speed in that higher gear, or you could increase your cadence and do the same speed in the lower gear too.

This is back in a circle where you realise the cadence figure doesn't really tell you enough, or anything much. I do 90-100 cadence now, the same as many pro cyclists, but I don't go anywhere near as fast, because they push a big gear around quickly. Hence, we're back where we started with me saying clearly "spinning or mashing" is a question that makes no sense at all. If you want to be fast you have to spin a high gear fast, which is, from the point of view of a mere mortal, both spinning and mashing :)

Many pages on the web on cadence start like that "beginner cyclists often spin too slowly at 60 rpm or less in a higher gear...." without once mentioning that spinning at 90 in a lower gear is not what a pro cyclist does. He's now slow with spinning legs as opposed to slow with mashing ones.

They might have a question like "well, how do I get so I can spin a big gear. Do I spin a lower one, or do I mash the bigger one" ? I had that question and asked it here - but don't answer it now - the moment has gone, I've looked elsewhere for answers :)

So yeah, I find I can cycle a range of cadences with different speeds in different gears. But the question was really about what to do to get better.

To me that implies change, because the chances of me doing the right stuff already by chance are unlikely (and it's self evident that if I'm slow my power band or whatever has to change. I don't really want my future power band to agree with mine, let alone yours, do I? If you can't change it and adapt, then there'd be no point to training or need to do it)

I'm relatively convinced it isn't simply "go cycling a lot" - because I see people who do that every day that aren't fast, have never been fast and never will be fast and I have my own experiences too. Cooking every day might make you a meal but it doesn't make you a chef. It's certainly not "find something that's comfortable or relaxed" - again because pretty much every page and site and book on the topic says more or less the exact opposite. I'm expecting it to hurt. Get fast or cry trying, at the least.

Perhaps I'm as fast as I'll ever be, I'm getting long in the tooth.

But, I think the short answer is "cycle intervals" - in any case, this isn't the place to answer the further questions that lead on from that 2 word answer. I also think to do those intervals you're best measuring a bunch of data that includes power (and measure as in preferably measure rather than calculate, deduce, infer, estimate or guess :) ) As I said in another thread, I think I'd have been better buying an exercise bike instead. I'd have done 3 or 4 months of intervals now, rather than 3 or 4 months of cycling around at more or less the same speed I've cycled around for years with no change in my ability at all.

So, at the moment at least it's in limbo until I can get one because although I've tried some "poor man's intervals", I don't really find the road suited to doing them - the conditions changes, there's traffic, I've no idea of how much effort I'm really making with nothing to measure data except speed. So yeah, I pedalled up a hill 5 or 6 times and got out of breath. Was that hard enough? Too hard? Long enough? Or too long? It's a waste of time. Local club? They're all either 10mph trips along the canal or "road bikes only". So, if I want to get fast, I either need £2k to splash on road bikes and power meters - which I can't begin to afford. Or I might get somewhere with a much cheaper exercise bike and, ironically, many of the other downsides of cycling disappear.

Thanks for all of the replies to my question anyway.

michael42
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Re: Cadence

Postby michael42 » 12 Oct 2012, 1:01pm

meic wrote:Of course I am not a sports cyclist, I am just a leisure cyclist (which I would have thought made me more fitting for this forum than a sportsman) with nothing more than a lot of miles in his legs who can complete Audaxes at a leisurely pace, without formal training or measuring devices. Those who are aiming for some sporting glory will have to push the leg muscles harder in training to build up the muscle more quickly, I am not into that kind of suffering.


I feel I should add a point here. It's suffering for me anyway. I couldn't really say "well, I'm going to relax and take my time" because there's no "leisurely pace" for me at which I can go up a hill where it doesn't hurt and that means any hill, anything that isn't downhill with me coasting hurts when I'm cycling. I can put the bike in the lowest gear and it'll hurt. As I've said, how anyone can talk about comfort and cycling and keep a straight face beats me.

So yeah, there's more effort to plough up hills and perhaps more pain, but there's no relaxed, comfortable cycling up them. Most of the time I'm cycling that's what I'm doing, sitting just at the point where the pain in my body is at a level where I don't have to stop. The exception is descents where I'll hit 40+kph without needing much effort. At 50kph, which only happens on a steep hill, I've pretty much reached the limits of the bike's gearing and my nerves anyway.

I'm a bit stuck at the moment between being able to spin 5th gear on my bike at 100-110 rpm (which is around 28 kph) or 6th gear at 80-90 rpm (which is around 31kph) The 5-6 gear is a big step on the nexus. It's as you say, trying to push that bigger gear takes it out of you, it starts to make the flat into a hill. But, when they say "do intervals" are you supposed to push that 6th gear? Because I'm flat out in the gear below, and I can't really push the higher one. This idea you can sprint at twice the speed you normally can for 30 seconds or something is just alien to me. How? Perhaps on an exercise bike, spinning indoors it's easier?

Someone said in the thread something about cycling along, relaxed, in a big gear at 30mph or something. If only. I don't think I could physically get my bike to move that quickly if I tried, let alone for any length of time. So, I'm not looking to train to beat Bradley Wiggins here or to win any TT event or anything, but I need something to just make me have even a reasonable pace. Perhaps a pace that's slower than yours when you think you're relaxing and not training hard.

If you can all do that without training, fair enough.

Mark1978
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Re: Cadence

Postby Mark1978 » 12 Oct 2012, 2:02pm

Strange that you say that, I find cycling tiring at times of course, but painful? Not really, even cycling up the biggest hills just requires effort, sometimes that effort is too much, but pain? nah.

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Mick F
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Re: Cadence

Postby Mick F » 12 Oct 2012, 2:18pm

No pain here either.
If it hurts, I don't do it.

Hard work, yes, but no pain.
Mick F. Cornwall

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Deckie
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Re: Cadence

Postby Deckie » 12 Oct 2012, 2:27pm

There is this notion that flies around constantly about pro cyclists and the 90 - 100 rpm cadence.

On tours where the cyclists are riding at their maximum sustainable power output for up to three weeks, trial and error (and a fair bit of input from the type of sports physions they employ) has found that this sort of cadence at times when effort is required (uphill, into wind, accelerating) is efficient AND helps avoid the sort of niggling knee injury that can ruin the third week of a tour.

On single or two day races or time trials the gearing is set quite different. For the Olympics time trial Bradley Wiggins had a cadence around 70 - 80 rpm as they found this was more powerful over the distance given that he didn't have to race the next day.

How do pro cyclists achieve this? They ride EVERY day, even on rest days in the TdF, and practice achieving and holding these cadences.

I, and I assume the vast majority of those on this forum, am not a pro cyclist (or anything like!), I do not expect to match their style (my belly gets in the way if I try to bend forward that far :oops: !), however I find that I am comfortable at around 80 to 90 rpm climbing, and am happy at 70 or so on the flat if I'm not trying to get a move on. Horses of courses really.
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reohn2
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Re: Cadence

Postby reohn2 » 12 Oct 2012, 2:33pm

Micheal42
I may have said this before(I have another go before I give up :) )
Find the cadence you are comfortable with,whatever that is.
Apply that cadence to whatever gear you're in,as you spin it out to where it becomes uncomfortable(can't get anymore out of it) change up.
If the cadence in that gear is uncomfortably low(so you can't turn it over comfortably) you either haven't got enough strength in your legs to,or the jump bewteen that gear and the lower one is too big,or both.
The solution is either a closer ratio cassette or riding more frequently or both.
Short intervals in the bigger gear will help but not if there is a huge gap between the comfort gear and the next one up.
Ayesha is right when he says he has a power band,everyone does,some people's PB are wider than others.

A definition of spinning and mashing is one of cadence not power.
Spinning is high cadence(above 80rpm) mashing is a lower cadence where it appears the cyclist is wrestling with the machine.
Both systems work for those that find it comfortable to illustrate take a look at the difference between Wiggo(spinner) and Bert Grabsch(masher).
Last edited by reohn2 on 12 Oct 2012, 2:49pm, edited 1 time in total.
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reohn2
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Re: Cadence

Postby reohn2 » 12 Oct 2012, 2:47pm

Deckie wrote:..........How do pro cyclists achieve this? They ride EVERY day, even on rest days in the TdF, and practice achieving and holding these cadences..........


You are talking about highly tuned athletes,people who do that for their living,and for everyone in the pro peloton there are probably 20 who didn't make the grade.
When watching the TdeF and similar races you are seeing the best of the best,who've trained all their lives to do what they are doing.
Make no mistake about it these people are special,even to a specialist they're special,especially special,in the same way as other top athletes are.
Normal people wouldn't last an hour,let alone a three week "tour",with these people.
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reohn2
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Re: Cadence

Postby reohn2 » 12 Oct 2012, 2:51pm

michael42 wrote:I feel I should add a point here. It's suffering for me anyway. I couldn't really say "well, I'm going to relax and take my time" because there's no "leisurely pace" for me at which I can go up a hill where it doesn't hurt and that means any hill, anything that isn't downhill with me coasting hurts when I'm cycling. I can put the bike in the lowest gear and it'll hurt. As I've said, how anyone can talk about comfort and cycling and keep a straight face beats me.....


Are you in good health?
Are you overweight?
Medication?
BTW could you tell us more about you're bike ie;gears,tyres,tyre pressures,it's weight/make/type?
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BigG
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Re: Cadence

Postby BigG » 12 Oct 2012, 7:21pm

Deckie wrote: however I find that I am comfortable at around 80 to 90 rpm climbing, and am happy at 70 or so on the flat if I'm not trying to get a move on.

My experience is quite different, which in itself must say something. I find an 80 plus cadence comfortable down hill, but use a cadence nearer 60 going up. My natural cadence seems to drop with the effort required.

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timmyhiggy
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Re: Cadence

Postby timmyhiggy » 14 Oct 2012, 6:23pm

Just for fun, I tried taking an exercise bike on low resistance up to whatever my max cadence is
Turns out I can do 192rpm! At that point the imperfections in my pedalling tecnique were nearly throwing me out of the saddle!
Now if only my legs were strong enough to do that with some resistance, and the rest of me fit enough to allow me to hold it for a few hours...

reohn2
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Re: Cadence

Postby reohn2 » 14 Oct 2012, 10:24pm

timmyhiggy wrote:......... and the rest of me fit enough to allow me to hold it for a few hours...

Thats not a cadence problem,it's Prostate problem :shock:
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robwa10
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Crank Length

Postby robwa10 » 19 Oct 2012, 2:04pm

I have been wondering over the past few days is crank length has a dramatic effect on this for us mere mortals?

I know Tour riders often use longer cranks but as many have said, I'm not a Tour rider. Surely I could spin a 170mm crank around at a higher cadence easier than say a 175mm? Or maybe not?

reohn2
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Re: Crank Length

Postby reohn2 » 19 Oct 2012, 3:26pm

robwa10 wrote:I have been wondering over the past few days is crank length has a dramatic effect on this for us mere mortals?

I know Tour riders often use longer cranks but as many have said, I'm not a Tour rider. Surely I could spin a 170mm crank around at a higher cadence easier than say a 175mm? Or maybe not?


Leg length?
I spin around 90ish rpm on 175's,but I've got long legs
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Ayesha
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Re: Cadence

Postby Ayesha » 19 Oct 2012, 5:08pm

michael42 wrote:
Ayesha wrote:I rode a TT yesterday at approx 88 - 90 cadence average. If I increase the gear, I slow down. If I lower the gear, I slow down. Don't take any notice of this, it won't be correct for you :wink: It simply demonstrates I have a 'Power band'. Your's won't agree with mine.


Well, no. If you change up a gear and do the same 90 cadence you must go faster :) Similarly, if your cadence lowers you can do the same speed in that higher gear, or you could increase your cadence and do the same speed in the lower gear too.

This is back in a circle where you realise the cadence figure doesn't really tell you enough, or anything much. I do 90-100 cadence now, the same as many pro cyclists, but I don't go anywhere near as fast, because they push a big gear around quickly. Hence, we're back where we started with me saying clearly "spinning or mashing" is a question that makes no sense at all. If you want to be fast you have to spin a high gear fast, which is, from the point of view of a mere mortal, both spinning and mashing :)

Many pages on the web on cadence start like that "beginner cyclists often spin too slowly at 60 rpm or less in a higher gear...." without once mentioning that spinning at 90 in a lower gear is not what a pro cyclist does. He's now slow with spinning legs as opposed to slow with mashing ones.

They might have a question like "well, how do I get so I can spin a big gear. Do I spin a lower one, or do I mash the bigger one" ? I had that question and asked it here - but don't answer it now - the moment has gone, I've looked elsewhere for answers :)

So yeah, I find I can cycle a range of cadences with different speeds in different gears. But the question was really about what to do to get better.

To me that implies change, because the chances of me doing the right stuff already by chance are unlikely (and it's self evident that if I'm slow my power band or whatever has to change. I don't really want my future power band to agree with mine, let alone yours, do I? If you can't change it and adapt, then there'd be no point to training or need to do it)

I'm relatively convinced it isn't simply "go cycling a lot" - because I see people who do that every day that aren't fast, have never been fast and never will be fast and I have my own experiences too. Cooking every day might make you a meal but it doesn't make you a chef. It's certainly not "find something that's comfortable or relaxed" - again because pretty much every page and site and book on the topic says more or less the exact opposite. I'm expecting it to hurt. Get fast or cry trying, at the least.

Perhaps I'm as fast as I'll ever be, I'm getting long in the tooth.

But, I think the short answer is "cycle intervals" - in any case, this isn't the place to answer the further questions that lead on from that 2 word answer. I also think to do those intervals you're best measuring a bunch of data that includes power (and measure as in preferably measure rather than calculate, deduce, infer, estimate or guess :) ) As I said in another thread, I think I'd have been better buying an exercise bike instead. I'd have done 3 or 4 months of intervals now, rather than 3 or 4 months of cycling around at more or less the same speed I've cycled around for years with no change in my ability at all.

So, at the moment at least it's in limbo until I can get one because although I've tried some "poor man's intervals", I don't really find the road suited to doing them - the conditions changes, there's traffic, I've no idea of how much effort I'm really making with nothing to measure data except speed. So yeah, I pedalled up a hill 5 or 6 times and got out of breath. Was that hard enough? Too hard? Long enough? Or too long? It's a waste of time. Local club? They're all either 10mph trips along the canal or "road bikes only". So, if I want to get fast, I either need £2k to splash on road bikes and power meters - which I can't begin to afford. Or I might get somewhere with a much cheaper exercise bike and, ironically, many of the other downsides of cycling disappear.

Thanks for all of the replies to my question anyway.


Is this thread STILL going round? :-)

When a TT cyclist is riding at or beyond his FULL capacity, any cadence that is different from his 'natural' will result in a reduction in output power.
Remember, Velocity vs Power is a curve roughly based on the cube of the velocity. It is INDEPENDENT of gear ratio. Gearing on a bicycle ( and a motorbike or a car ) is to allow the rider to roll his legs round at his natural cadence and go at the speed relative to his maximum output power.

You CANNOT just say "increase the gear and turn the same cadence, more speed requires more power and that's what the cyclist will not be able to achieve on a TT.


"They might have a question like "well, how do I get so I can spin a big gear?"
Answer, " You bang out lots more power".
"So how's that done?"
http://home.trainingpeaks.com/training- ... allen.aspx
You pay this guy some money for his books. ( Or click on the 'Preview Plan' further down the page and read :-) )
Last edited by Ayesha on 19 Oct 2012, 5:19pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Tigerbiten
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Re: Crank Length

Postby Tigerbiten » 19 Oct 2012, 5:14pm

robwa10 wrote:I have been wondering over the past few days is crank length has a dramatic effect on this for us mere mortals?

I know Tour riders often use longer cranks but as many have said, I'm not a Tour rider. Surely I could spin a 170mm crank around at a higher cadence easier than say a 175mm? Or maybe not?

Because your feet don't move as much, it easier to spin shorter cranks at a higher cadence.
But because the leverage via the cranks is shorter, for the same cadence it takes more effort to push the pedals around with short cranks than with long ones.
So if your cadence is governed by how much pressure you feel between your feet and the pedals, you will probably have a higher natural cadence with shorter cranks.

I would love to try 140mm cranks on my bent trike.
But you can only get 170mm kick-plates for the HSD.
So I'm stuck with that lenght.