cadence

Norm

Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
In general spinning is better than mashing for several reasons, knee considerations as well as power distribution. Ok, the knees is obvious. If you have no knee problems then it leaves you with 1 thing: power. If it takes you 1000 units of energy to climb a hill and you do it in 100 pedal strokes, you need to provide 10 units per stroke. If you do it in 200 strokes you cut that number in half, to 5. It's a lot easier to maintain 5 units of energy output than 10.

The consequence to that is the old thumper in your chest. More pedal strokes leads to a higher heart rate. This will be taxing at first, and any attempts to spin will probably be met by your cardiovascular limits. Over time, however, your cardiovascular system will adjust at a pretty rapid rate, and won't be your limiter. At first a higher overall cadence will seem like hell, but you'll quickly find yoself "falling in" to something in the 85-95 range. When I first started years ago, I think I generally kept it at 70, which now feels absurd to me.

Having said that, as a mountain biker you'll need to mash from time to time, especially in North Jersey. Also, the general consensus is that cadence is immaterial above a certain point. What that point is, I do not know.

There are others who will say: just ride. I agree with that but I think you do yourself justice learning to spin a bit faster than you might naturally tend towards.
 

Shaggz

A strong 7
i didn't have a cadence magnet on the mtb when it was on the trainer, so i never knew how many rpms i was at. new rig on, i was between 88-93, at what i would consider an L3 exertion for 30 mins, and maintained an average speed of 16 mph (which is about 3 mph higher than my average with the mtb). i felt more satisfied when i finished up, but my legs felt more on the spongier side, and i felt i pushed the cv system more efficiently, for lack of a better term.
 

ChrisG

Unapologetic Lifer for Rock and Roll
I agree with everything Norm says above and would add from my own experience that learning to pedal smoothly and efficiently is what separates cyclists from people who ride bikes.

When you consider how little "real-world" power (as in horsepower) a person generates, it is clear that wasting power can be a huge handicap. Not to mention the issues of bike control raised by bouncy, herky-jerky pedaling actions.

Pedaling smoothly begets pedaling at higher cadences, and it is something that can be learned and practiced on every ride.

It's important not to get carried away, though. I often witness riders who are spinning their brains out and not generating power. The goal is not just to pedal faster but to move the bike faster as well. Sometimes this means pedaling slower in a bigger gear.

The ability to vary one's cadence effectively is really a big deal on the SS, obviously.
 

pixychick

JORBA: Ringwood
JORBA.ORG
I agree with everything Norm says above and would add from my own experience that learning to pedal smoothly and efficiently is what separates cyclists from people who ride bikes.

Pedaling smoothly begets pedaling at higher cadences, and it is something that can be learned and practiced on every ride.

The ability to vary one's cadence effectively is really a big deal on the SS, obviously.
Be good at varying!! Yes Yes YEs!! I agree, especially with mountain biking. Hmmm, I think I need to get to work, cause I been slackin in that department.:hitsfan: :sleep:
 
Cadence Drills?

when beginning to train the legs to spin, should gearing be an issue? I am not yet strong enough to spin a high cadence in big gears, but a high cadence ride doesn't seem to get me anywhere fast (yet).

What are best ways to tackle getting cadence and power to increase? Should I work on one first and then worry about the other, is there a point where the training for each should intersect?

For the first time I have a computer w/ a cadence sensor and I want to utilize the feature to my greatest benefit.
 

Norm

Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
My sense is that if you're asking these questions, you would benefit from getting in a lot of miles at whatever cadence feels best. Having said that, if you find yourself below 80 on the flats, I would just try to notch it up a hair with an easier gear.

High cadence isn't a "sure fire" way to be a better biker. Lance won 7 TdFs with his high-cadence approach but it doesn't work that way with everyone. Some people prefer a grind to a spin and if their knees can handle it, there's really nothing wrong with that.

In terms of increasing your power, it will increase no matter what you do, unless all of your rides are JRA rides, in which case you're doing little more than burning some extra calories.
 

Maurice

New Member
Team MTBNJ Halter's
Well said Norm. Couldn't have put it better.

The other day I bought a new cycle computer, 'cause I trashed the old one, ripped the wire and the computer itself went into the twilight zone. I chose the cheapest 3 or 4 functions one, because it's small, light and seems to work (not to mention I'm cheap). All I need really is trip distance and that it give me the time (can't wear wristwatches while riding anymore, too expensive). I don't stop while riding so trip time is easy to figure out. No average, one button.

The way it works is this: when current time - start time is more than 3 hours, start thinking about getting back home. Especially these days.

Maurice
 

ArmyOfNone

Well-Known Member
I don't stop while riding so trip time is easy to figure out.

The way it works is this: when current time - start time is more than 3 hours, start thinking about getting back home. Especially these days.

Maurice
I chuckled at this first comment. Its something to strive for.

Maurice, why do you say cut it off at 3 hours?
 

Maurice

New Member
Team MTBNJ Halter's
That is just me, I usually only bring water on my rides, so 3-hour is just about right. That's usually 30 miles off-road, RV style, or around 60 miles on the road when it's not too flat.

I will do the occasional 5-6 hours epic but that usually ends up with broken stuff on the bike.

Maurice
 

ArmyOfNone

Well-Known Member
That is just me, I usually only bring water on my rides, so 3-hour is just about right. That's usually 30 miles off-road, RV style, or around 60 miles on the road when it's not too flat.

I will do the occasional 5-6 hours epic but that usually ends up with broken stuff on the bike.

Maurice
i normally cannot go more than 1.5 hours without eating. I have been getting better though. I just need to eat :D

I have been able to sneak out two water bottles for 3 hours. Although yesterday it was a bit warmer, and i barely had enough water to make it. I could have rode more but i was out of water. so im not sure if should go back to the camelback or not. I have been riding the last few months without it.
 
A

Ant

Guest
when beginning to train the legs to spin, should gearing be an issue? I am not yet strong enough to spin a high cadence in big gears, but a high cadence ride doesn't seem to get me anywhere fast (yet).

What are best ways to tackle getting cadence and power to increase? Should I work on one first and then worry about the other, is there a point where the training for each should intersect?

For the first time I have a computer w/ a cadence sensor and I want to utilize the feature to my greatest benefit.
No. Just pedal in whatever gear you are comfy in. Generally a high cadence is like 95 or up. Start out with maybe 1 or 2 gears lower then what you are used to.
 
OK, so tonight's ride had a snafu towards the end, but it started out well.

I went out tonight with a goal to keep my cadence high. I started out on my usual 18 mile loop that has a few small hills and some sections with a coupla rollers, but is mostly flat. After a warm up spin around the block I hit the route spinning at around 96 rpm and tried to keep it there. I do not have an average cadence reading on my bike computer but everytime I glanced at it I was somewhere in the range of 91-96, and after a while I got used to the feeling of it, so as my legs went 'round I could sort of guess at what my cadence might be. I started to play that game with myself, spinning and guessing where my RPMs were and then looking at the computer for the reading.

Hills are an issue for me - even in my easiest gear I was spinning high 70s - low 80s and my speed was totally scrubbed - on the biggest hill of the ride I dropped to ~8 mph for a few seconds before I put in the effort to bring it back up for the last push.

My average speed before the flat tire was 14.4 mph with a sustained high cadence for about 85% of the ride.

This kind of training is not easy. I got into a rhythm after awhile, and I have been very conscientious of keeping my pedal strokes smooth, trying to spin vs. hammer. But high cadence spinning is weird. My legs would come around so quickly sometimes my butt would take little hops off the saddle. I would drop gears when this started to happen but sometimes it still caught me by surprise.
 

jdog

Shop: Halter's Cycles
Shop Keep
If you are bouncing off the saddle you might want to slow it down a bit.
It is OK to work up to higher rpms over time.

I ride at a pretty high cadence most of the time on the road. My comfort zone is about 105 at 21 mph on the flats. Keep in mind that I live on a SS mt bike and I am using Rotor q-rings on all my bike.

Do you still need a stem?

j
 

anrothar

entirely thrilled
i normally cannot go more than 1.5 hours without eating. I have been getting better though. I just need to eat :D

I have been able to sneak out two water bottles for 3 hours. Although yesterday it was a bit warmer, and i barely had enough water to make it. I could have rode more but i was out of water. so im not sure if should go back to the camelback or not. I have been riding the last few months without it.
just stick another water bottle in your middle jersey pocket. all the times i've done that, i've never had one bounce out. with three bottles, you should have more than 72 oz. you'll aslo sweat less without the camelback, so you shouldn't need as much. i posit that those 72oz in bottles will last you just as long as 100oz in a camelback because of the decrease in sweat.

appologies for the ot shaggz. i generally just spin whatever i can, but try to keep it high, especially trying to spin quickly on climbs. like all have said, it's just more efficient. ss cadence isn't really applicable to multispeed riding.
 
If you are bouncing off the saddle you might want to slow it down a bit.
It is OK to work up to higher rpms over time.

I ride at a pretty high cadence most of the time on the road. My comfort zone is about 105 at 21 mph on the flats. Keep in mind that I live on a SS mt bike and I am using Rotor q-rings on all my bike.

Do you still need a stem?

j
Yes, I do need a stem, maybe I will come by tonight if not one night next week. It's been too nice to be shopping, I've been riding instead :)

I've been working on spin vs. hammer as you suggested and it does make a big difference in the way my rides feel, MTB and road.

Thanks!
 

ChrisG

Unapologetic Lifer for Rock and Roll
This kind of training is not easy. I got into a rhythm after awhile, and I have been very conscientious of keeping my pedal strokes smooth, trying to spin vs. hammer. But high cadence spinning is weird. My legs would come around so quickly sometimes my butt would take little hops off the saddle. I would drop gears when this started to happen but sometimes it still caught me by surprise.
You're correct, this is not easy, which is one reason why it's not pursued as much as it ought to be. It takes a while (years) for the muscle memory to develop, but there seems little doubt that it's well worth the effort if one intends to be a cyclist long-term and is interested in higher performance.

Keep focused and you'll see gains. It takes some time to figure out where your comfort zone resides.
 

Shaggz

A strong 7
I found it pretty cool that even for the short period of time on the trainer this winter, my pedal stroke on the mtb is much smoother than previous years. Not to only be faster...
 

Norm

Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
Hills are an issue for me - even in my easiest gear I was spinning high 70s - low 80s and my speed was totally scrubbed - on the biggest hill of the ride I dropped to ~8 mph for a few seconds before I put in the effort to bring it back up for the last push.
Sometimes on hills I drop to 8-7-6. I've seen 4.x this year at least twice. Some hills you just can't spin, period. You don't need to spin all the time. You just want to be able to ride at a variety of cadences.
 
A

Ant

Guest
OK, so tonight's ride had a snafu towards the end, but it started out well.

I went out tonight with a goal to keep my cadence high. I started out on my usual 18 mile loop that has a few small hills and some sections with a coupla rollers, but is mostly flat. After a warm up spin around the block I hit the route spinning at around 96 rpm and tried to keep it there. I do not have an average cadence reading on my bike computer but everytime I glanced at it I was somewhere in the range of 91-96, and after a while I got used to the feeling of it, so as my legs went 'round I could sort of guess at what my cadence might be. I started to play that game with myself, spinning and guessing where my RPMs were and then looking at the computer for the reading.

Hills are an issue for me - even in my easiest gear I was spinning high 70s - low 80s and my speed was totally scrubbed - on the biggest hill of the ride I dropped to ~8 mph for a few seconds before I put in the effort to bring it back up for the last push.

My average speed before the flat tire was 14.4 mph with a sustained high cadence for about 85% of the ride.

This kind of training is not easy. I got into a rhythm after awhile, and I have been very conscientious of keeping my pedal strokes smooth, trying to spin vs. hammer. But high cadence spinning is weird. My legs would come around so quickly sometimes my butt would take little hops off the saddle. I would drop gears when this started to happen but sometimes it still caught me by surprise.
What size cassette and chainrings do you have? If you're running a 53-39 and a 12-25 cassette spinning on a hill is gonna be tough.
 
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