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Cadence / Gearing confusion

YostYost Posts: 56
edited June 2015 in Road beginners
I had been merrily riding at 16.5/17mph over distances of 40-50 miles for the last 18 months or so without really focussing on cadence or gear choice. Then a couple of months ago I upgraded my Garmin to one with a cadence sensor. After reading a bit about cadence and looking at the Ride London beginner training programme (I am participating this year) it looked like my cadence has always been below average.

From the first few rides with the sensor I was coming out at around 80rpm generally. I read however that around 90rpm is more usual, and the Ride London programme suggested periods of 100rpm during training. I tried a few rides where I consciously aimed for a higher cadence and I did get up to around 90 on a shorter ride, but was back to around 85 on a longer ride. My understanding was that a higher cadence should mean lower gears being used and therefore less strain on the muscles (where recovery is slower) but more on heart rate (where recovery is quicker) so theoretically makes it easier over longer rides. So far it has seemed to me that I need to be in too low a gear to average 90, and I am pedalling stupidly fast in a low gear to average 100.

I realise that everyone is different, and cadence is only part of the equation because someone with a lot of power could average 90-100 in high gears. I just thought I would see what other people thought, whether I should persist or just go with what I have done before and felt fairly happy with. I have not ridden 100 miles yet, so I am conscious of trying anything that might make this easier in August.

With regard to gearing I am generally using the larger cog and only drop to the smaller one if I am going up a hill. Again, from what I have read and speaking to a couple of other people, it seems that a lot of people spend more time using the smaller cog. Is this something I should review?

Any thoughts would be appreciated. Cheers.


  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,386
    Ride at whatever cadence you like. Articles on cadence are mostly just contrived bullsh1t designed to fill pages in cycling mags.
  • NeXXusNeXXus Posts: 854
    Ride at whatever cadence you like. Articles on cadence are mostly just contrived bullsh1t designed to fill pages in cycling mags.
    This ^^ There is no one size fits all preferred cadence
    And the people bowed and prayed, to the neon god they made.
  • alihisgreatalihisgreat Posts: 3,872
    I tend to find that I need to ride at 95-100rpm in real time if I want my cadence to turn out at a 90rpm average on my Garmin. My guess is that stopping/starting at junctions, and riding up hills drags the average down.

    So don't worry too much about the average, instead try and aim for the higher cadence in real time.
  • simon_mastersonsimon_masterson Posts: 2,740
    Above 80 is a decent guideline, but do what feels natural. Unless you're deliberately doing cadence-based training (eg. high cadence sprints, climbing in big gears), it doesn't really matter that much. That said, I think current cycling culture is a bit fixated on high cadence, and some end up overdoing it because of what they're being told is the right thing to do - you don't have to be riding at 100+rpm all the time. On some climbs none but the supremely fit will manage to maintain 90rpm on typical road gearing anyway.
  • hanhamredshanhamreds Posts: 100
    I was watching Eurosport a while back when one of the x pro commentators said if you average 80 then in reality you will be around 90 anyway - think I know what he's getting at.
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