newbie and cadence

User avatar
Posts: 611
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2007 12:24 am
Location: Perth

newbie and cadence

Postby nimm » Sun Mar 25, 2007 12:48 am

hey folks, been reading the forums but first post.

I've had my road bike for about 4 months (my first road bike!) although it wasn't until today that I actually had a bike computer setup. So I just _had_ to take it out to see how far my regular circuit is, how fast I was going, and my crusing cadence.

Based on what I've been reading it seems I should be shooting for something in the 80-100 rpm range (see the "What determines optimal cadence" paper off wikipedia). However this is for pros and I'm anything but. FYI my circuit turned out to be only 26km so not exactly an endurance ride.

Anyway, my experience today. I started out peddling like i'd normally do
and discovered it was around 70 rpm, a bit low. For the remainder of the ride I tried to keep it above 80rpm as an experiment. Intersting results were that it took a lot more out of my breathing/heart (no heart rate monitor though - i just felt more puffed like I do when running vs riding). Second thing was that I was getting calf muscle cramping. As for the legs, I couldn't really tell whether it helped, perhaps I need more distance.

My interests, based on that paper, is less stress on the joints and be able to sustain a higher average speed.

No real question here but feel free to give me some pointers =)

Super Mod
Super Mod
Posts: 1381
Joined: Tue Sep 27, 2005 5:32 pm

Postby heavymetal » Sun Mar 25, 2007 8:42 am

Welcome to the forums nimm.

I'm actually a tourer so I train differently, but I train to be able to ride at a certain pace all day.

I find that altering my speed and cadence for small periods does help. I don't have a HRM or cadence, but I find that riding at a certain pace for awhile and then dropping the speed for 20 mins helps to get the distance.

A couple of good hills thrown in as well also alters the trianing routine.


User avatar
Posts: 7334
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 10:51 am
Location: southern end of Adelaide - home of hills, fixies and drop bears

Postby europa » Sun Mar 25, 2007 9:45 am

When you're working down in the 70 range, you are putting a fair effort into the pedals. As you get above 80, you start to replace leg effort for leg speed. Until you're used to riding the higher revs and until you have a reasonable level of bike fitness, the higher revs will raise your heart rate (and with it, your breathing) but you'll put less stress on your body.

I'm no pro athlete by any means (50, over 105kg, fitter than six months ago but let's just say that's a relative judgement :roll: ) and I make the above comments based on my own experience, not on articles.

I now ride with a cadence in the 80's. It zips higher from time to time and sometimes, it's appropriate to keep it higher - I climb with a cadence of 90 because that's where I convert the most power into useful work.

It appears that your 'natural' cadence drops as you get older. I started by aiming for 90. That required a fair bit of careful cadence watching on my part and some rides designed specially to train my legs to work at those speeds. Once I was able to spin freely throughout the ride, I started to let my legs decide where they wanted to work rather than 'watch the clock'. As a result, I now work in the eighties.

As my cadence drops out of the eighties, the effort required to ride goes up noticeably. In the old days, I would have welcomed that because it felt like I was working. It's a false impression - okay, it's accurate because you are working, but you are working harder than you have to. I also find that I start to get sore knees and muscle pain if I let things mope about in the seventies.

When you get tired, letting your cadence drop is very seductive but again, it's a false impression because you working harder. By choosing a gear that allows you to spin in the eighties (totally ignoring bike speed), you will in fact, go further and often recover while on the bike. Hell, I can now recover while climbing hills if I have a low enough gear to use.

I use a HRM. My max HR is 185. If I ride with a HR of 140, I can go miles - recently did a century and a large part of that success was carefully controlling that HR. For a more intense workout, such as my 30km rides while the lad's at soccer training, I run my HR around 150 - 160 and get back the car swathed in sweat and feeling comfortably tired. Recovery rides are great and I'll do them at HRs below 120.

I control my HR using my gears. I keep the cadence up, but if the HR goes too high, I drop a gear or two and let the bike speed drop. On a long ride, where I'm tiring towards the end, my bike speed will drop as I come down through the gears. I've actually got quite good control over my HR now - if I'm aiming at 140 and it runs up to 145, down one gear will see the HR back to 140 very soon.

BUT, the numbers are just that, numbers. The above sounds like I'm ruled by the computer but in reality, I'm not. I use it as a guide. It has proven a great boon in helping me understand my body because many of the signals your body sends you are subtle and the 'thing that goes beep ... too flamin' often' tells you what those signals actually mean.

Of course, I also ride a fixed gear bike ... where you've go no control over cadence, HR or indeed much esle. When the road starts going up, you have to fight it because you can't change down a gear. When the road goes down, your legs are forced to spin with the pedals (a cadence of 140 is fun ... except when you're knackered from climbing up the other side of the hill you're now rolling down :wink:). On those rides, the HRM sits in my back pocket (because I've only got a basic computer on the fixie), quietly recording the numbers so I can scare myself later - because there's only one gear, you can easily calculate your average and max cadence.


User avatar
Posts: 1528
Joined: Fri Jan 26, 2007 12:05 am

Postby gururug » Sun Mar 25, 2007 3:12 pm

Yo Dude,

I'm realtively new to the sport too, also took my new cadence (VDO) meter for a spin today.

Don't rely on cadence to determine output. Use the cadence as a general guide both on ride and afterwads over time for a while before reading too much into it.

You cadence will vary on thing like;

-energy levels

Learn to read your body and push it without urning it out.

That said, higher is generally better than lower.

Personally, I was surprised today that my cadences sit around 92-115. But without the meter I ahve been focussing on keeping them high anyway. Try to sustian 80+, yes it sort of feels puffy at first but your joint will thank you and you'll find that over larger distances. Make sure you get to grips with your gearing, before I geared will my cadence was lower too.

puffy != burntout
lactate = burnt

Have fun.

P.S. Ensuring your bike fits you well will go a lot longer way to preserving your joints than any cadence level.

User avatar
Posts: 8770
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 9:29 am
Location: Adelaide, South Australia

Postby MichaelB » Fri Mar 30, 2007 4:48 pm

I too have just been for my first ride with a cadence meter. Average for the 38.5km trip was 90 - it was bloody gusty, so was up and down the gears all the time.

Average speed was a pleasing 28.5km/hr. Hit 52.3 km/hr at 123 rpm (with a slight tail wind) in a sprint which was surprising.

I tired to stay in the mid nineties, and if I dropped in the mid eighties, changed down a gear to bring the cadence back up.

Haven't quite gotten used to maintaining high nineties yet, but I'm on the way.

Cheers for the advice guys

Michael B

User avatar
Posts: 611
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2007 12:24 am
Location: Perth

Postby nimm » Sat Mar 31, 2007 12:16 am

yeah thanks for the feedback guys.

I've been for a few more rides now and it already seems to be a little easier for me to keep the rpms up there - i kinda can tell when it's a bit low without looking and will adjust power/gearing to suit.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users