High Cadence

The foundations for successful riding

High Cadence

Postby fionahills » Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:44 am

Hi - was watching 2012 TDF last night - prologue (sad I know but missed whole thing this year - was literally living in a grass hut on tropical isalnd for 3 months - not as much fun as it sounds and another story)

anyway - as Cadel came rolling down the ramp and started his ride, PL made the comment that he was pedalling at a much higher cadence (about 100 rpm he said) than previous riders - said CE was riding like LA instead of pushing a big gear....like another rider (missed his name)

As a newcomer to all things cycling, and not knowing anything about the evolution of training and riding techniques, I am genuinely (not trying to start anything ) wondering if LA was the first, the most well known, the most successful proponent of higher cadence - are LA successes riding with high cadence the reason why we all try to ride now at the highest possible( comfortable/efficient) cadence?

Or is it just that PL liked to mention LA as often as possible in whatever context he can, and that all sorts of sports science is behind this technique.

Getting advice from BNA members about using an easier gear and higher cadence was the single best piece of advice I got -when I started 3 months ago - so I really like riding this way as not strong enough to push the harder faster gears for long.

But there is an obvious question that follows - if high cadence was 'normalised' because of LA training/riding techniques where does that leave us mere mortals...

no need to get really technical ( would not follow it anyway) -more a historical query about evolution of cycling training/riding and interest in the impact LA seems to have had on many aspects of cycling.

thanks for any info Fiona
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by BNA » Tue Nov 27, 2012 7:05 am

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Re: High Cadence

Postby Nobody » Tue Nov 27, 2012 7:05 am

Here are a number of pages we prepared earlier.
viewtopic.php?f=43&t=30753

Have a read, but my warning is, you may finish as confused as you started. :)
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Re: High Cadence

Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Tue Nov 27, 2012 8:22 am

Armstrong's "high" cadence was a myth in the minds of a few TV commentators, in particular Sherwin and Liggett.

Focus on effort and choose a suitable gear. As you progress and develop, improve fitness and begin to engage in more competitive cycling pursuits, you will naturally begin to pedal faster. For most competitive road riders, a typical cadence will be in the range 85-100 rpm, and 65-90rpm when climbing, but some will operate outside those ranges. In short high power high speed scenarios (such as a prologue or a track pursuit), the tendency is for pedal speed to be higher >100rpm. For more recreational riders, they might pedal a little less quickly.

There is no right or wrong cadence, and there is no such thing as an optimal cadence for such riding.
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Re: High Cadence

Postby ldrcycles » Tue Nov 27, 2012 8:41 am

Alex Simmons/RST wrote:

There is no right or wrong cadence, and there is no such thing as an optimal cadence for such riding.


This. IMO (bearing in mind i am an amateur with no qualifications so my opinion doesn't count for that much) a lot of people are overly obsessed with high cadence, i think you should ride the way you feel comfortable. If that is spinning fast, great. If you go slower in a harder gear, fine (so long as you aren't going everywhere in 53-11 and actually damaging yourself, or for that matter trying to sit on 200+ rpm all the time).

It's just like saddles, no one would say "a Fizik Arione is the correct saddle and if you don't have that you're doing it wrong", it is understood and accepted that bodies are different and what works for one person won't necessarily work for another.

I hate all Fizik saddles btw :) .
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Re: High Cadence

Postby brett.hooker » Tue Nov 27, 2012 8:54 am

Fiona,
One of my best friends in high school, back in the early eighties (hmmm) was a state track and road cyclist and he taught me how to ride correctly on both... I remember those days of lapping on the Chandler velodrome when it was still squeaky new...

Anyway, even back then, he taught me about cadence first and then higher cadences up to 100rpm...

So, I would put the LA factor down to marketing and advertising...
Loving my Merida's and working towards adding a Pinarello to the stable... Go go go...
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Re: High Cadence

Postby brentono » Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:30 am

Fiona,
[Nobody]- was quite correct to direct you to that post, a lot of info there,
and it can probably be said there is no "right or wrong" cadence and
only what is preferred by each individual (probably due to physical makeup)
Personally I preferred "High Cadence" but the caveat goes, that you must
be setup for it from when you first begin cycling, and the continue to practice
over a long period, before you would become proficient at it.
I found it to be beneficial, over longer road races, to conserve energy.
Also you may find you will be less prone to injury, if you learn to pedal
correctly at higher cadence. Just my 2c.
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Re: High Cadence

Postby Ken Ho » Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:48 am

I've ridden with a few people recently who basically stopped on small hills because they were determined to maintain their high cadence and changed down to a very low gear to achieve that. I just pressed on the pedals harder and accepted that my cadence would slow for a bit.
I go by feel. You should feel as though you are on top of the gear, ie handling it easily, rather than not quire handling it.
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Re: High Cadence

Postby vander » Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:51 am

Alex Simmons/RST wrote:Armstrong's "high" cadence was a myth in the minds of a few TV commentators, in particular Sherwin and Liggett.

Focus on effort and choose a suitable gear. As you progress and develop, improve fitness and begin to engage in more competitive cycling pursuits, you will naturally begin to pedal faster. For most competitive road riders, a typical cadence will be in the range 85-100 rpm, and 65-90rpm when climbing, but some will operate outside those ranges. In short high power high speed scenarios (such as a prologue or a track pursuit), the tendency is for pedal speed to be higher >100rpm. For more recreational riders, they might pedal a little less quickly.

There is no right or wrong cadence, and there is no such thing as an optimal cadence for such riding.


I had a recent conversation with someone about using low cadence to bias peripheral adaptations and high cadence to bias central adaptations ever thought about this? If so what is your opinion?

High cadence does often lead to higher HR (and often respiratory rate) as opposed to a low cadence.
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Re: High Cadence

Postby fionahills » Tue Nov 27, 2012 10:02 am

Here are a number of pages we prepared earlier.
viewtopic.php?f=43&t=30753


Oh MY - had no idea it was such a can of worms - you guys must get fed up with newbies coming along and asking the same dumb questions all the time - sorry but you are all very good at taking time to answer -

I think I will try and 'stay on top of the gear' - when the speed of pedalling gets me a bit wobbly on the seat I'll knock it up one and go from there. Am in the big ring at the front now much more often than I used to be.

Using the cadence as a measure has helped me a lot (i think) and its all I show on my garmin screen-

on one particular stretch (only 2kms long) my beginning speed (october) was 12.5 kph - yes I know hugely embarrassing :oops: :oops: but this week cracked 33kph for that section and 24kph average over 20km instead of 19ish- still woeful by most standards but much better than I was 3 months ago -

average comfort for me seems to be around 80rpm and that holds true on any ride up to 50 kms (longest I've done since getting the garmin in Oct.) So maybe that is kind of my benchmark for now and just work on more and more miles in the legs and trying to go faster bit at a time..

thanks again - Promise to do a forum search before anymore questions THANK YOU ALL
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Re: High Cadence

Postby ldrcycles » Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:26 pm

Ken Ho wrote: You should feel as though you are on top of the gear, ie handling it easily, rather than not quire handling it.


This is one the things i LOVE about my singlespeed, when you are on top of the gear it feels like nothing else.

My memory just clicked reading the last few posts, i briefly knew a kiwi bloke who was a successful rider as a youngster, then got back into it as a master and placed in several world championships. He once told me, "you should always try to spin your gear, if you spin you can ride all day". That afternoon i hopped on the bike, kept my cadence above 110 the whole way and then cramped terribly afterwards, presumably because i simply wasn't used to spinning a lot. The singlespeed helps with that too.
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Re: High Cadence

Postby AndrewBurns » Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:47 pm

Peak power generally occurs at around 120 rpm but you're not going to sustain that kind of cadence unless you're sprinting at the track. I feel happiest at about 100-110 rpm, I try to stay above 90 if I'm climbing up hills in the saddle. If I'm out of the saddle I want to be in a harder gear and pedaling slower.
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