Cadence

bazzer2
bazzer2 Posts: 189
edited October 2009 in Road beginners
So, with my new toy came a cadence computer. And I've been paying attention on here to people who say 80-90 is a comfortable cadence, and if they're sprinting up to 120.

When I've been out for the last week (52 miles over the week, mostly evening miles, so after work and before dinner) I've started off at about 80, with all good intent. But after the first big hill, I can't get back up to 80 without dropping a couple of cogs. I've got an average of 17mph for the week, which I don't think is too bad.

Pretty simple question then really - am I setting my sights too high? Which is most important, rpm or mph?

Comments

  • hopper1
    hopper1 Posts: 4,389
    I wouldn't be too concerned with speed at the moment.
    There's nothing wrong with having to change gear to maintain your cadence...
    Start with a budget, finish with a mortgage!
  • oldwelshman
    oldwelshman Posts: 4,733
    I would not worry about your cadence or average speed.
    You wll find your natural cadence the more you ride and for most it is 80 to 90, does not mean yours has to be though.
    For climbs it will be lower generally though I am sure loads on here will come along and say how they climb with cadence of 90!! But most end up climbing between 60 and 80 and even less on steeper climbs.
    Speed is dependent on too many conditions to worry about, ride more, ride harder you will get faster.
  • Garz
    Garz Posts: 1,155
    Agreeing with others, its more important to focus on getting out there and doing mileage as a priority. I tend to look at the statistics just to notice any improvement gains I have made.

    I have got a cadence computer for my birthday now though, surprised to see its around the 80 on average over a 65 mile ride which looks like im selecting the right gears at least! :)
  • careful
    careful Posts: 720
    I have given up measuring cadence. I think the cadence that feels right at ther time is generally best. Legs are not like car engines which have optimum revs for power. Muscles can develop to suit the task and the ability to rev fast at some times, and mash hard at others is very useful on a bike in my opinion.
  • CiB
    CiB Posts: 6,098
    careful wrote:
    I have given up measuring cadence. I think the cadence that feels right at ther time is generally best. Legs are not like car engines which have optimum revs for power. Muscles can develop to suit the task and the ability to rev fast at some times, and mash hard at others is very useful on a bike in my opinion.
    +1. Bang on.
  • careful wrote:
    I have given up measuring cadence. I think the cadence that feels right at ther time is generally best. Legs are not like car engines which have optimum revs for power. Muscles can develop to suit the task and the ability to rev fast at some times, and mash hard at others is very useful on a bike in my opinion.

    exactly, and if you spend half your time analysing your cadence/power/ave speed and so on it just saps any fun out of it. i can understand if you are seriously training for racing etc but 9 times out of 10 your body is a better judge of how well your doing than any computer ever will be.
  • flanners1
    flanners1 Posts: 916
    careful wrote:
    I have given up measuring cadence. I think the cadence that feels right at ther time is generally best. Legs are not like car engines which have optimum revs for power. Muscles can develop to suit the task and the ability to rev fast at some times, and mash hard at others is very useful on a bike in my opinion.

    Totally agree!
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  • markos1963
    markos1963 Posts: 3,724
    careful wrote:
    I have given up measuring cadence. I think the cadence that feels right at ther time is generally best. Legs are not like car engines which have optimum revs for power. Muscles can develop to suit the task and the ability to rev fast at some times, and mash hard at others is very useful on a bike in my opinion.

    Totally agree, how else would half of us be able to ride single speed/fixed? In fact at least one training session a week i go out and mash as big a gear as i can in training for TT's. The wire that reads my cadence sensor has broken but I won't be fixing it in a hurry.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous Posts: 79,667
    Ask bhima.. :wink:
  • Garz
    Garz Posts: 1,155
    I think it (cadence) helps when you start out to select a better gear than just guessing.
  • DubaiNeil
    DubaiNeil Posts: 246
    I think cadence is interesting, but I would have to disagree with the statement from Garz above.

    The "better" gear is what ever your body tells you is "better", not just aimed at hitting some theoretical target rpm.

    The target rpm does not take into account how you feel, the wind conditions, your fitness, your strength, the length of your ride and a whole host of other factors.

    I can see cadence measurement being of value to elite athletes, but these guys are measuring a whole host of other parameters as well - and then have trainers/coaches/analysts reviewing all of the data and modifying training plans appropriately

    Neil
  • fnegroni
    fnegroni Posts: 794
    DubaiNeil wrote:
    The "better" gear is what ever your body tells you is "better", not just aimed at hitting some theoretical target rpm.

    Difficult to either agree or disagree on this one.

    It is certainly the case that _comfort_ plays a role in a riding style, but bad habits also need to be corrected.

    I think a cadence sensor might be useful to those who haven't got access to a personal trainer and want to gather some data to experiment. It also assume the rider has the sensitivity to adjust the workout accordingly.

    I think cadence is sometimes overrated, but I also it is then sometimes underrated.

    If it's available at not too much cost, then I would gladly use it as an indication of my progress.

    For example, on climb I usually have a much higher cadence, which slows down only when I run out of gears.

    I use cadence also as a target and limit, both upper and lower: I know there is a range of cadence my body is most efficient at, and I try and keep the cadence within those parameters.

    Having said all that, I don't have a cadence monitor, so I only know my cadence based on speed vs. gear inches, which allows me to sense the cadence and then confirm it on paper.

    I also experiment with target cadence where I will try to keep the lowest cadence I can muster, which enabled me to slightly overload my muscles and get stronger.
  • I think it depends what you are going to do on your bike.

    If into Sportives, then from what I read when I started cycling, about 90 was the best cadence for maintaining energy. I changed my natural style from mashing along at about 70 to 90 and feel a lot better on long rides for it.

    This only applies to on the flat though. I still struggle to do that on a hill.
  • dmclite wrote:
    Ask bhima.. :wink:
    ROFL
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    north west of england.
  • Garz
    Garz Posts: 1,155
    DubaiNeil wrote:
    I think cadence is interesting, but I would have to disagree with the statement from Garz above.

    The "better" gear is what ever your body tells you is "better", not just aimed at hitting some theoretical target rpm.

    Neil

    The better gear is what everybody tells you is better? :?
    Hmmmmm.
    I read this and agree with the post from fnegroni, and the clippet from lochindaal:
    lochindaal wrote:
    If into Sportives, then from what I read when I started cycling, about 90 was the best cadence for maintaining energy. I changed my natural style from mashing along at about 70 to 90 and feel a lot better on long rides for it.

    Before I looked into cadence I was pretty good at selecting the right gear depending on the distance or route I was doing. However advice from an old friend and some reading led me to dabble in why it can be beneficial. I experimented with a faster cadence (easier gear) on a long hill within a 50 mile ride. I found it can be helpful in a few ways another being if I notice im spinning into the late 90's reminds me to change down into a harder gear.

    So I would have to end on "I think cadence is interesting too which is why im looking into it, but I would have to disagree with the statement from Dubainiel above".
    8)

    * Also I will add I am using it as a tool to improve my riding. Simply listening to dubainiels advice can be hit and miss whereas a statistic like cadence is plain as day and you can interpret it as you wish.
  • I started using a cadence focused ride on my way to work as Id often end up arriving slightly more sweaty than your average Deo can handle...

    TBH, speed wise it hasnt changed.. but I go up a major hill and the rest of the ride is generally uphill.. so using a spinny ride over a grindy ride, I arrive to work at the same time, with a significant reduction in stink, but in all honesty I feel cheated...

    I like looking at a hill and Defeating it!! not giving in to physics..

    Although when Ditchling beacon rapes my mind again next year im sure to rethink my tactics =P
    exercise.png
  • DubaiNeil
    DubaiNeil Posts: 246
    Not sure if my intent came across clearly :(
    The better gear is what everybody tells you is better? Confused
    Hmmmmm.

    Nope, the exact opposite.

    Not "everybody", not "somebody" not "anybody" but your (or for me, my) body.

    I tend to find that I am a unique individual :shock: and as such "generic" advice may lead in the right direction, but then will be modified according to experience, practice and physiology.

    An example of what I intended:

    I get to ride once a week on a car race track (fortunately without the cars!), where we do 2.5km laps as many times as you want. On the track there is a very short, sharp climb, followed by a longer uphill drag. As I have the opportunity to, I experiment with different gear choices (and subsequent cadence rates) to see which feels "best" for me, while still measuring lap times, heart rate, average speed etc. I have tried "spinning" at a high cadence, grinding up it, sprinting up it, after all of which I now understand how I feel both during the climb, and for the rest of the lap.
    If I was attempting a single lap PB then my target cadence for the "hilly" part would be a high RPM, bigger gear sprint. If I was attempting a personal distance record (i.e number of laps completed), then I would take the uphill parts easier (lower cadence and easier gear) to retain energy. If I was riding normally, then somewhere between the two.

    Therefore the "correct" cadence for the same section of the ride would vary greatly based upon what I was trying to achieve at that particular moment in time.

    Does this mean that cadence (real, perceived or measured) is irrelevant - of course not, but the above experience does give me the knowledge to understand the impact on me of different choices, both in a known, consistent environment (i.e. the racetrack) and also when riding elsewhere.

    Now, if anyone can tell me where to get a wind strength & direction meter to tie into my Garmin I would be a happy bunny :lol:

    Neil
  • Garz
    Garz Posts: 1,155
    Understand you much better now Neil, that is correct. Originally you sounded like you should listen to what others are advising and not your own body.

    If im doing a shorter sub 25 mile ride, I can afford to go all out on the hills dropping cadence as long as its faster. However I have noticed on my longer 50+ mile jaunts that this expended energy earlier on is detrimental and when I spin instead have more overall energy to expend during the latter stages of the ride.

    This can also get effected by energy levels and what you take to boost yourself etc etc, lots of factors. Im just experimenting with this till im happy and can focus on something else to improve.

    :)