Mick F wrote:I don't use a high cadence, and when I try it, I feel that effort is wasted just cranking the legs up and down.
Average long term cadence for me is 67rpm.
The reason I said mine was surprising was that before I had access to a power meter i would have said my optimum cadence was around 80. Whereas it turns out I'm pretty rubbish at that leg speed when looking at my wattage.
What I can see is that it's much better for me to turn my legs faster. This is more sustainable and I produce higher watts. I go faster, further and for less effort.
Have you had an opportunity to measure your watts at different cadences?
That's my experience - although without the power meter. I go on the results compared to what the group I'm in are achieving. I find it easier to keep up when at my physical limit if pedaling faster (around 90rpm) than when pedaling slower.
But the context makes a difference. For continuous effort over significant time (say 15+ minutes) spinning is best to keep up. For all out sprints and riding as a rouleur over bumpy roads with many short climbs, flats and descents, I find lower rpm allows me to push hard up the short ascents, with a (relative) rest on the short descents before the next ascent.
My feeling is that higher cadence allows m to keep up a continuous relatively high power output over significant time because my muscles don't fatigue. If I try the same speed in the same circumstances at low revs (say 60-70 rpm) my muscles tire before I run out of puff. At higher rpm the muscle pain is bearable and the puff is just below the limit (aerobic capacity threshold) - balanced, if you like.
At lower revs I can produce more power - but not for very long. This is why it works for bumpy rides where there's an oscillation between high power output and medium power output on the ascents and descents respectively.
When I was younger, we racey lads all had 42 X 21 as the lowest gear. Low cadence was thus a norm in many circumstances, particularly climbing. This is why we all had much more muscular quads in them days than many cyclists do these days, I feel. Low revs up hills is doing weight training. It was also very fatiguing and often saw lads blowing up rather than just losing contact for a little bit.