I have written about my new cycling computer before. The VDO M6. It has functions I never had previously. Heart rate. Gradient. Elevation gain. Time spent in each of 4 pre-defined training zones. Temperature. Stopwatch. And, with the optional Cadence Kit, current, average, and maximum cadence.
Well, this week I purchased the Cadence Kit. It’s optional, and I wasn’t sure I needed it. Then, while training on the spinning bike, I noticed how much attention I pay to the cadence display. A lot. I have learned that by increasing my cadence while in a lower gear, I actually increase my wattage output. This is a lot easier than pushing a higher gear. I’m using my cardiovascular system to generate the power, rather than my leg muscles which tires more quickly.
For the most part, the higher the intensity, the higher your cadence should be. The reason for this higher cadence is that it stresses the aerobic component more. A higher cadence engages slow twitch (Type I) muscle fibers, which are the oxidative fibers, thus saving your powerful and fast twitch (Type II) muscle fibers for when you need them – sprinting, attacking, climbing, surging. Pedaling with a higher cadence also generates decreased muscle tension and blood vessel compression. This allows blood to flow to the muscles with O2 and carry waste products away easier.
On the spinning bike, I average 90-110 rpm, sometimes higher, during my workouts. Can I do the same on the road? I have no idea, but I’m about to find out.
Most social cyclists sit on a cadence between 75-85rpm. They’ll plod along at one tempo for hours, regardless of changing terrain. What we suggest you learn is increase your cadence to between 90-100rpm regardless how flat or hilly the route is. – BikeRoar
Well, I’ll try.
I installed the kit on the Roberts frame for now. I’ll be training on this bike mostly for the next 2 months while I’m back at the cottage, cycling the quiet, rural roads. By the time I return, I will have a better understanding of what cadence I maintain on the flats, and while climbing.
How will I train differently, you ask.
I’ll try riding at 90-100rpm most of the time, and increase my cadence on small grades, remembering to control my cadence through gear choice, and not by increasing my physical effort. Once I have this down pat, I’ll increase my physical effort and pedal a faster cadence in a higher gear, which means I’ll go faster uphill 😂
Sounds easy enough. Right?
Stay tuned 😀
My coach has told me to try not to go below a 90rpm cadence while I’m cycling. I’ve found it doable as long as I’m not going up a steep hill. I haven’t quite figured out how it’s beneficial, though. I don’t feel like it has increased my speed. And I don’t feel any more/less tired than usual. All of my turbo sessions are based on cadence as well. She has me doing really high cadence intervals on easy gears and quite low cadence intervals (60rpm) on heavy gears. I’ve found that there’s definitely a limit to how high I can go with my cadence even for short time periods. The 90-110 range, though, isn’t difficult to maintain. It’s anything higher that becomes really really challenging. I’ll be interested in reading more about this on your blog. Maybe you can help me figure out why this is important!
It sounds like you are doing everything right. Spinning in a lower gear at a higher cadence is supposed to enable you to go further (and faster) with less effort, provided you have trained your cardio vascular system. This is why lactate threshold and VO2 Max workouts are important. Interestingly, I have no idea of my cadence on the road. I think I spin in the 90-100 rpm range but have no idea. This will be a learning process for us both.
Most cyclists can keep a fast 90-100 cadence,even me☺️ in a low gear.
The difficulty is trying to maintain that cadence in a higher gear.
I use my cadence meter a lot on rides,I can’t seem to get my average cadence much above 72,dropping right down to 50-60 on the hills..it’s probably down to age and having both hips replaced in the past 3years..but after saying that it’s maybe better to go with the cadence that suits you best,we’re all different..
I just returned from a 90 minute ride to test the Cadence sensor out. I was surprised, I maintained a 90-100 rpm average, even on a 2 km 5% grade climb. Although I maintained this pace, I felt like I was racing even though my speed dropped off some. I’m hoping that by doing this more often, I will slowly begin to turn a larger gear and maintain the cadence.
I think you make a good point. We each have our own rhythm. Some people are naturally fast, or slow. However, I don’t think we have to slow down as we age. At least, not a great deal. Provided we continue to train at a high intensity, keep our weight down, and strengthen our cycling muscles, we can slow the aging process down.
I think I’ll give that a go,pedaling a faster cadence in a lower gear.
I’ll most likely be slower at first but hopefully be able to drop a cog over time whilst keeping the same cadence.
Let’s compare notes in a few weeks.