General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Bike Cadence Rss Feed  
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2023-01-20 3:03 PM

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Cypress, Texas
Subject: Bike Cadence

I had an an afternoon newspaper delivery route for 4 years that I did on my bike.  I carried 40-50 lbs of newspapers on the handle bars of my bike so I was used to high power low cadence type stuff and when I got into triathlon I gravitated to the big gears doing about 65-75 RPM.  Everything I read said that higher cadences above 85 RPM were what you wanted for racing so I spent time in every training ride focused on raising my cadence.  Is this general knowledge type stuff that everyone works one?  I ask because I am leading a Winter Cycling Group for my Tri Team and notices in the first round of testing that lots of people were in the 70-75 RPM range.  Should I be encouraging them to spend time increasing their cadence or are there better things to spend time working on the bike (i.e. single leg drills, time in aero, big ring intervals, Sprint intervals, climbing technique, etc.?

2023-01-21 3:14 PM
in reply to: BlueBoy26

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Middle River, Maryland
Silver member
Subject: RE: Bike Cadence

90 rpm is an average...I think everyone sort of self selects based on their leg bone lengths, crank arm length, and body type.  That said, 70s is pretty low and that's griinding for me and I'm a big guy with praying mantis legs.  I typically run in the high 80s when doing easy riding and 5-7 rpm higher than that when riding hard, sprinkling in the standing climbs which are lower and an occasional sprint where I can top out in the high 110s..

One thing (drill?) that has helped me get my cadence higher is doing spin classes early in the training season.

As for your team, you're likely not going to make a huge difference in cadence in a short period of time and like you said you're probably better off sprinkling in some speed skills in your drill work and working on holding a good aero position.

2023-01-22 2:21 PM
in reply to: BlueBoy26

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Albuquerque, New Mexico
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Bike Cadence

Most of what I know about biking I learned here on BT over the years. 

As has been explained to me, higher cadences tax the cardiovascular system while lower cadences tax the local muscles with a resulting buildup of lactic acid. 

My "natural cadence" was probably around 80 and I'd work diligently to get up to 85-90 and let it dip to 70-75 when climbing hills. 

As for your class, it's probably work integrating all of the skills you mentioned and also some "high cadence" work just to get them exposed.  Keep those sessions really short with plenty of recovery time as they're probably not really conditioned for that. 

2023-01-22 7:28 PM
in reply to: McFuzz

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Cypress, Texas
Subject: RE: Bike Cadence

Thanks Michael and Mike.  I didn't think I would have to work on any type of pedal efficiency drill with this group (quadrant drills, cadence drills, etc.).  The Ambassador Race Team has two 2022 world AG champions on it, dozens of overall winners at local USAT certified triathlons, dozens of certified coaches, etc...  I thought we would have a pretty experienced group but even the 3-team mates that I have meet in person that I know have all done multiple full Ironman races had results that have surprised me.  I think I will monitor the workouts for now and keep an eye on Cadence.  

2023-01-24 9:01 AM
in reply to: 0

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Cypress, Texas
Subject: RE: Bike Cadence

More thoughts on selecting cadence.   

During intervals in a workout I can usually jump back and forth between different cadences and still maintain the same power output without any difficulty.  I might be at 350W for a Vo2 Max interval at 85 RPM for the first 30 seconds then shift to a new gear and complete the last 30 seconds at 100 RPM to maintain 350W.  The two cadenced will feel about the same in terms of effort with no clear winner on what cadence is better.

During power tests I have tried to do the same.  I might be at 300W for a 20-minute test at 85 RPM and after 6-7 minutes I might switch to a new gear and speed up to 95 RPM but inevitably during testing I see the power that I am able to maintain drop when I go to the higher RPM so I might dip down to 285W.  I might try to increase the leg speed going to 100 RPM or 105 RPM and not be able to keep the speed and power up until I switch back to the original gear and get back to the original RPM. discovery is that for Power Tests I can get higher numbers at a lower cadence (i.e. 85-90 RPM).  However, my legs lock up when I get off the bike after hard efforts at the 85-90 RPM range, so when I am racing I keep the cadence between 95-105 RPM.  That seems to keep my legs from locking up off the bike and from getting the dead legged feeling on the run that I do when I race as the lower bike cadences.  

What experience do others have with riding at difference cadences.  I know that you have to do lower cadences to climb hills, etc. and am fine with that. I am just wondering what your experience is is for flat courses.  

Edited by BlueBoy26 2023-01-24 9:29 AM
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