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Still trying to improve my cadence, any advice?(38 posts)

Still trying to improve my cadence, any advice?joekm
Jan 16, 2003 11:48 AM
I've made some post in the past regarding my efforts to reform my old gear-mashing ways. Progress has been slow. Currently, it's pretty cold out here so I've been on the rollers a lot. Anyway, to help encourage a faster spin, I've been running a 53/17 gear ratio exclusively. I start out easy for the first five miles to warm up (try to average 16 mph) then do my first 1-mile "wind sprint" at an 80+ cadence. Rather than mess around with switching between my speed/cadence display and speed/distance display, I've just calculated that I need to be at 19.5 mph and above for my tires. So, I run my wind sprint at 19.5 mph to 21.5 mph. I'll generally do two or three wind sprints per session, slowing down to let my heart rate recover a bit between them. Then I get off the bike and let my heart rate go back to zone II while I drink some Gatorade. Then get back on the bike and spin to perceived effort to finish at 15 miles total.

Problem is that, while I've gotten a lot smoother over time, and the 80+ rpm cadence is feeling much more natural, my heart rate tends to climb and often reaches or even exceeds (momentarily) my computed max. I've been told that heart rate should improve rather quickly but it does not seem to be the case with me. In "mash-mode" I can go considerably faster with less heart stress, but I'd like to be able to spin 80+ rpm for sustained periods.

Any advice?

Thanks
re: I'd lower the gear and maintain the 16 mph.dzrider
Jan 16, 2003 12:25 PM
When that becomes easy, lower the gear again and maintain the 16 mph.
re: Still trying to improve my cadence, any advice?JS Haiku Shop
Jan 16, 2003 12:35 PM
42x18 with somewhere to be in about an hour (15ish miles away), every saturday morning, helped my spin last winter. the difference was tremendous (when i got back on the geared bikes).

plus, if it's cold as heck, keeping the engine revving is a sure way to stay warm. i moved to 42x16 mid-year, mostly to keep up with the local group rides. got some nice comments when my friend pulled me up to the line on the saturday sprint...with his 18 gears and my 1x1. wonder how fast my legs were going around--if somebody wants to do the math, i was spinning 42x16, 172.5 mm cranks, 700x23, at about 30 mph, when i lost the sprint.

have fun.

-J
found it...that was about 150 rpmJS Haiku Shop
Jan 16, 2003 12:44 PM
http://www.soulbikes.com/cgi-bin/gears.exe
found it...that was about 150 rpmjoekm
Jan 16, 2003 1:01 PM
yea, 150 would put you about 30.7 mph by my calculations.
Heart Rate vs Powermikebikr
Jan 16, 2003 12:53 PM
Typically your heart rate will increse with your cadence. It's a tradeoff. Lower cadence with a bigger gear results in more muscle stress and less heart stress. I would suggest using a 39-16 combo or such and try to work on maintaining an even higher cadence 100+. That will really smooth you out and eventually make that 80-90 rpm very comfortable. Only increase your cadence to a point where you almost but don't bounce and try to hold that for 30 seconds, then a minute. Over time you will be able to ramp up your cadence as the nuero muscular connections get better.

Note: Your heart rate may be artificailly high since the body has to cool itself without the aide of wind moving across it. Make sure you have at least a fan going.

Good Luck!
where does spinning start and mashing begin?laffeaux
Jan 16, 2003 12:58 PM
The post brings up something I've never thought about. Joekm's spinning goal is to maintain a spin of 80+ rpm. I guess I'm a spinner, because lately I've been practing "mashing" by running a higher gear and slowing my cadence down to 80-85 rpm.

I've found that as long as I keep my cadence about 92/93 rpm that I can ride forever. However when I hit a hill that requires me to drop my cadence (i.e. I run out of gears that I can turn above 90 rpm) that I lose speed rapidly. Thus, my practicing the 82 rpm "mash."

What is the line between spin and mash? And am I right in trying to become a better masher?
RE: where does spinning start and mashing begin?joekm
Jan 16, 2003 1:06 PM
For years, I ran between about 60-65 rpm. Basically, I didn't know any better and had focused primarily on building leg strength. I think you probably have a greater proportion of "slow twitch" fibers than me. Right now, I would self-destruct trying to sustain 92-93 rpm.
If you wanna spin, spinvelocity
Jan 16, 2003 1:08 PM
If you want to get away from mashing and improve your cadence, so that you can spin 80+ for sustained periods, do some of your training in the small chain ring (39x16, for instance) for an extended period. When you're doing this, if you have a cadence setting on your computer, use it, forget about your speed, and try to maintain 90+.
re: Still trying to improve my cadence, any advice?Tarball
Jan 16, 2003 4:04 PM
Try this..http://www.lancearmstrong.com/lance/online2.nsf/html/03training
If it's good enough for him, it's good enough for the rest of us.
What worked for meKristin
Jan 16, 2003 4:11 PM
I don't know if this will work for you, but I didn't try any specific formulas. I just focused on always riding one gear higher(lower?) than what I felt comfortable in. So whenever I settled into that comfortable slow cadence (83-85 for me) I would force myself to shift and spin faster. Two weeks later I was spinning comfortably (naturally?) at 95 RPM

Whenever I ride on the trainer or hit the limestone path though, it all goes to naught. I go right back to mashing at 80RPM. There is something about that added rolling resistance makes me want to mash.
fixed gear down hillsDougSloan
Jan 16, 2003 4:16 PM
Ride a fixed gear down hills. You WILL get better at spinning, for you have no choice.

The getting winded is normal; the more you do, the more efficient you will become; you are what you train to be.

Of course, "calculated heart rate" means zilch. Do a real max hr test, then you'll know.

Doug
a VERY strong secondRay Sachs
Jan 17, 2003 5:09 AM
If you want to be a better spinner, ride a fixie in the hills. If you want to be a stronger masher, ride a fixie in the hills. If you want to have a friggin' blast, ride a fixie in the hills and in urban traffic. Nothing else like it. Assuming you have some decent hills, you have to have a low enough gear to get UP them somehow and then you'll be spinning like a banshee on the way down. Before I started riding fixed several years ago, I could barely manage a 110 rpm cadence. After a few weeks on the fixie, I clocked myself on a downhill at a cadence of over 160. Then I got to where I could sustain that for one to two minutes and pull out of it smoothly at the bottom.

Mount a front brake for emergencies, but try not to use it.

TRY to remember not to coast :)

-Ray
160 rpm x2 minutes = you're my hero! :) nmJS Haiku Shop
Jan 17, 2003 5:33 AM
No power, just keeping upRay Sachs
Jan 17, 2003 10:24 AM
It's not all that tough after you do it a while. You learn (by necessity) to sort of relax and go like a maniac simultaneously. And I'm not generating any power at all, just trying to stay ahead of the cranks. I'm actually a pretty slow rider, so I know a LOT of folks here could do that and more. I need a low enough gear to get UP the hills that I have to spin like mad on the way down, or reach for the brake. I've read about track sprinters who regularly spin well up into the mid 200s, like 250 or 260, so my 160 isn't that impressive.

-Ray
What happens if your riding a fixie downhill at 40+MPH and keep up with the RPM? nmKristin
Jan 17, 2003 2:19 PM
probably negative powerDougSloan
Jan 17, 2003 2:36 PM
Even if you are keeping up at high speed, your legs are probably resisting a bit. At some point, you might have to hit the brake a little.

Doug
I thought they didn't have brakes?Kristin
Jan 17, 2003 2:47 PM
Thus the main reason I won't ride one. No brakes and can't stop pedaling. Can you say, "AAAAAaaaaaahhhhhhhhh..."
They CAN have brakesRay Sachs
Jan 17, 2003 5:12 PM
You read a lot about the messengers and other folks who ride with no brakes, but most road fixies have at least a front brake. A rear brake is sort of redundant since you can use your legs, but for really crazy descents, a rear brake might not be a bad idea. I ride with a front brake and definitely use it when I need to stop on a downhill.

-Ray
Couple thingsPODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Jan 16, 2003 4:49 PM
1) computed heart rate max means absolutely (fricking) nothing. I'm 19... very fit... my max hr is 193. Guy who has at least 15 years on me can get up to 210.
2) cadence takes a lot of time to develop... if you want to improve your cadence try doing the wind sprints at like 120 rpm keeping your pedal stroke super smooth and your hips level. To get the muscular pathway for your body to do it all the time you have to train over and above what you'll do everyday.
3) also make sure your motivation isn't to become like Lance on the hills. Its one thing to try to improve it so you can spin but its another thing to imitate him. His muscular makeup in his legs and years of training suits his pedalling style... so if mashing up a hill in a hard effort like a race or long century works best for you do it. Just over time try to move away from this.

I understand where your coming from as a gear masher. I naturally am pretty powerful so I tend to grind away instead of spinning like most people with less strength need to do but as a track cyclist I have no choice but to get away from this so my winter is spent doing a ton of cadence stuff.

My 2 cents,
Nick
PodiumBound.ca
You aim too lowKerry
Jan 16, 2003 5:05 PM
Work on your cadence at low work loads, spinning for 3-5 minutes at a cadence just short of bouncing on the saddle. Do one minute, one leg workouts, spinning as fast as you can. For the speeds you quote, you should be looking at a 19 cog, not a 17. With your current cog choices, the maximum cadence you'll get to in a 17 is 90 rpm, with a range of 80-90. Most people would say that 80 is the bare minimum to be called a spin, and that 90 is the true threshold, with 100+ as really spinning. You should be trying to ride regularly at 90-95, and be able to comfortably spin up to 110 for these brief periods.

Your calculated max HR is meaningless - you need to either measure it or back calculate from your LT. Get your LT by doing a flat out 10 mile ride after a complete warmup. Your max is pretty close to 110% of your LT. Rather than looking at your HR, figure out what cadence allows you to cover a fixed distance in the least time. Work to raise that cadence. All of the world hour speed records have been set above 90 rpm, with most 100-105 rpm.
hour records and spinningmicha
Jan 16, 2003 5:39 PM
I have an older German cycling book. It has this chart below. 2nd colummn is speed in km/h. Last column is average cadence, which is amazingly consistent through the years.

Coppi....1942..45.798..52x15..105.4

Anquetil.1956..46.159..52x15..105.9

Baldini..1956..46.393..52x15..106.6

Riviere..1957..46.923..52x15..107.9

Riviere..1958..47.347..53x15..106.8

Bracke...1967..48.093..54x15..104.2

Ritter...1968..48.653..54x15..105.4

Merckx...1972..49.432..52x14..103.9

Moser....1984..50.808..56x15..106.2

Moser....1984..51.151..57x15..105.1
What about when your not looking to set a world record?PODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Jan 16, 2003 6:35 PM
You can't imitate the pros in everything you do... or if you do... do what they do best and just get out and ride. Ignore what cadence they set the world hour record at and all of this. Theres no reason to raise your cadence... more that its just a challenge and brings order to just training to train.

My 2 cents,
Nick
PodiumBound.ca
Jeez...Moser is a mutant....joekm
Jan 16, 2003 7:06 PM
That's a pretty tall gear to turn that fast..

I suppose all the elite cyclist are like that anymore though...
I think that's metric cadence nmDougSloan
Jan 16, 2003 8:00 PM
has to becollinsc
Jan 16, 2003 8:02 PM
how do people get that much faster like that? those are some mondo gears?

the hour record bikes have to be fairly similar, so can we say why the record keeps falling? is it just training? i cant imagine one fixed gear is any more efficient than another. same goes for track surfaces.
Get past the Bounce ZoneRay Sachs
Jan 17, 2003 10:35 AM
"Work on your cadence at low work loads, spinning for 3-5 minutes at a cadence just short of bouncing on the saddle."

I also wouldn't settle for "just short of bouncing" - bust through the bouncing zone. For me, and a LOT of other folks I've talked to about this, I start bouncing like crazy at about 120-125 rpm and continue to for about another 6-8 rpm. And then it's like breaking the sound barrier or something - above 130 or so everything gets really quiet and smooth again up to my approximate max in the 160-170 range. Even then, it's very smooth (has to be) - it's just that it feels like body parts are going to start coming off if I go much higher.

There seems to be some sort of resonance (I've actually seen scientific explanations for it, but don't know how accurate they are) in the human body that makes that 120-130 range kind of tough to most people but once you get through that range, things even out.

So I'd recommend trying to get past the bounce zone and spin in the upper atmosphere for a while - I *THINK* that's when my spin really started to even out.

-Ray
(more Qs:) Get past the Bounce ZoneSpunout
Jan 17, 2003 11:57 AM
Sure, I can get past the bounce zone because my weight is totally off of the saddle. This happens because my quads aren't lifting fast enough, and the reverse force equally pushes me off the saddle.

Can you get past the bounce zone with all of your weight on the sit-bones? Or, do things start getting weightless?

My best focus is to be very light on the pedals, such that I feel my weight on the saddle.
I think the weight coming off the saddle is part of itRay Sachs
Jan 17, 2003 12:08 PM
I know its true for me and I've heard the same thing from others (here and elsewhere). When I get into really high rpm, I tend to lift my butt very slightly - never thought of it in terms of the pedals pushing me off the saddle as much as I could spin faster and easier when slightly off the seat. Maybe just to get it out of the way of my rapidly moving thighs? Don't know exactly why, but that seems to be the way it works for most folks I'm aware of.

But still, I think the leg speed and smoothness developed that way does translate to a smoother seated spin at the more typical 90-110 rpm range.

-Ray
re: Still trying to improve my cadence, any advice?legs
Jan 16, 2003 5:35 PM
start doing sit ups and core strength exercizes.. that will help your spin a ton. 80 is still really low rpm.
Remove the Big Chainringchar
Jan 16, 2003 7:43 PM
That's right, either take it off or don't use it. You can go plenty fast, especially now in Winter (northern hemisphere.) My Winter bike has 36/46 chainrings just to work on the spin. Other times a 38/42 combo was darned good, very close gear ratios.

Charlie
I agree.Matno
Jan 16, 2003 8:53 PM
Unless you're riding down a steep hill the whole time, there is no way in HECK you are going to develop a high cadence using your big ring in the front. I usually average 15-16 miles per hour, and I ride relatively flat roads (no big hills around here), and I use my big ring maybe 10% of the time, and only on declines. My cadence is still only about 85-90 most of the time (when I pay attention).
Aha! The Cadet (14 yrs) trick! Been there, done that. nmSpunout
Jan 17, 2003 4:17 AM
Form sprints on the rollers: No computer needed...Spunout
Jan 17, 2003 4:26 AM
You can forget speed on the rollers, let us just focus on time. Don't even worry about counting cadence, for you are going to either go as fast as you can, or as slow as you wish (to recover).

10 minute warm up.

Same gear: increase cadence to 'slightly' fast for 10 seconds.

Increase cadence to 'pretty fast' for 10 seconds.

Increase cadence to max, so that you don't bounce while sitting in the saddle, hold that for 10 seconds.

Recover for a minute, then repeat for your speed workout. Cool-down 10-15 minutes.

If you keep on the workout, you will get faster. During your recovery intervals, spin slow, focus on making a round motion and relax your toes.
That sounds like a good idea...joekm
Jan 17, 2003 5:14 AM
Speed was always of secondary importance. It's just that I have a Vetta V100HR computer and I was trying for 15 miles a day. Therefore, it was easier to compute speed required for a given cadence in a specific gear as opposed to switching back and forth between my cadence and distance screens.

30 seconds, ramped up in 10 second intervals will not be sufficient to drive my heart rate up too far so this could work. Perhaps I'll incorporate another posters suggestion and downshift as I increase cadence with the goal of maintaining speed.
15 miles a day on the rollers...Spunout
Jan 17, 2003 5:26 AM
...can go pretty quick if your tires are pumped up and you hammer a 53/14 on the rollers. I would worry that you aren't getting the time in for necessary aerobic fitness/base.

Make sure you are doing the necessary base work (LSD) of pure aerobic rides of over 1 hours (maybe up to 3). Book 50 hours of base (including speedwork, like we've discussed) before doing any interval work into Zones 4/5.

/M/
53/17 actually and...joekm
Jan 17, 2003 5:52 AM
with two small children and a my job, my time is limited. Right now I ride at lunch and arrive at work early to justify taking a little longer than an hour. Read my original post and you'll see how I split up that 15 miles. I typically manage at least 20 minutes in zone III with the balance in zone IV (based on a HR test I did on the rollers that I got off the internet - perhaps not perfect, but better than 220-age).

I've also mashed 53/11 on the rollers at a pretty high leg speed (hit something like 45.2 mph). Won't be doing that again though - the rollers make a very disconcerting noise at that speed.

In any event, I probably should consider a lower gear. 53/17 feels light to this reforming gear masher but I seem to be getting a lot of feedback that it is still too high.
THANKS EVERYBODY :)....joekm
Jan 17, 2003 5:39 AM
Just some clarification:

80-85 rpm was based upon advice I've received from other riders in my group and research I did on the internet. While there may be merits for higher cadences, I've still not managed to sustain 80-85 with a reasonable heart rate so I'll stick with this range for the time being.

My goals are to (1) get better at climbing, (2) Be able to pick up a sprint more quickly, (3) get better at climbing, (4) improve my range, (5) get better at climbing, (6) develop my leg speed and, finally, (7) get better at climbing.

...did I mention that I suck rocks at climbing?