The role of cadence in performance

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LightningTony
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The role of cadence in performance

Postby LightningTony » Sun Dec 18, 2011 01:23 am

Hi Guys
I would like to gather opinions from you on the role of cadence in your performance. To make things easier I want to propose a scenario that eliminates as many variables as possible, so here it is;
You are attempting the world hour record on an indoor track. You can train as much as you like on the track. You have absolute choice of gearing, wheel diameter, crank length. However once you start, for obvious reasons, that is the setup you finish with. You are already really quite fit, so your training has to address how will you get from where you are now to where you want to be, which is fastest ever!
More than one person, even very accomplished cyclists, have told me that improving cadence doesn't make you a better cyclist, and that only power output matters.
It is my belief that the only way to smash that hour record is to find your optimum gear and then pedal it as fast as you can maintain for the hour.
How do you determine your optimum gear?
Good question, it is inextricably linked to your optimum cadence. However, now that you have chosen it you cant do anything about it. You can't tweak the gradient, it is a flat track! There are no magnets or turbine blades, or friction or magnet settings. We are indoors, there is no wind. The altitude could only be changed by an earthquake!!!
Your training has started,,,
is cadence important?
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Alex_Simmons/RST
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Re: The role of cadence in performance

Postby Alex_Simmons/RST » Sun Dec 18, 2011 02:52 am

LightningTony wrote:is cadence important?

Within reasonable bounds, not particularly.

Pseudonym
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Re: The role of cadence in performance

Postby Pseudonym » Sun Dec 18, 2011 08:48 am

LightningTony wrote: is cadence important?


in that context, it's a bit like saying "is going faster important?"

colinsmith123
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Re: The role of cadence in performance

Postby colinsmith123 » Sun Dec 18, 2011 11:29 am

It seems my sweet-spot cadence is around the 95-105 mark. My variation on the question raised by Lightning Tony is, if my cadence is around 100, do I need to be training to improve my performance at 65-75 as well as at 115-125 mark.

If yes, then what are these differing cadence ranges doing physiologically? Which hopefully will bring us back to the original question. Is cadence important in performance?
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sub55
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Re: The role of cadence in performance

Postby sub55 » Sun Dec 18, 2011 12:20 pm

Alex_Simmons/RST wrote:
LightningTony wrote:is cadence important?

Within reasonable bounds, not particularly.

:lol:
that`s a stunningly brilliant answer Alex
constantly reavalueating the situation and altering the perceived parameters accordingly

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sub55
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Re: The role of cadence in performance

Postby sub55 » Sun Dec 18, 2011 12:40 pm

As long as you are not right at the extremes either end of the scale and your cadence is comfortable for you, it doesn't matter what the actual rpm is. To go quicker, you need to increase your cardio vascular systems efficiency in order to maintain that cadence for longer. To do that ,you need to put in the work.
In the scenario implied by the op , all the hours of training and analyzation will have been going on for months if not years. Which would eventually lead to the biggest gear the rider can maintain for 1 hour at the cadence the rider finds most comfortable
constantly reavalueating the situation and altering the perceived parameters accordingly

RChung
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Re: The role of cadence in performance

Postby RChung » Sun Dec 18, 2011 13:14 pm

LightningTony wrote:is cadence important?


Image

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Alex_Simmons/RST
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Re: The role of cadence in performance

Postby Alex_Simmons/RST » Mon Dec 19, 2011 07:40 am

sub55 wrote:
Alex_Simmons/RST wrote:
LightningTony wrote:is cadence important?

Within reasonable bounds, not particularly.

:lol:
that`s a stunningly brilliant answer Alex

To be honest, I thought I was being verbose.

RChung
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Re: The role of cadence in performance

Postby RChung » Mon Dec 19, 2011 23:24 pm

Alex_Simmons/RST wrote:
sub55 wrote:
Alex_Simmons/RST wrote:
LightningTony wrote:is cadence important?

Within reasonable bounds, not particularly.

:lol:
that`s a stunningly brilliant answer Alex

To be honest, I thought I was being verbose.

Yes.

racingcondor
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Re: The role of cadence in performance

Postby racingcondor » Wed Dec 21, 2011 16:36 pm

One area in which cadence is important is if you race. Drop to a cadence that is too low for you and you won't be able to match the accelerations of the bunch (leading shortly to you being at or off the back if you don't take the hint).

A powerful person with weak cardio will be able to hold the same power (at a lower cadence) output as a weak rider with good cardio. The question relevant to training is what suits each riders physiology (I strongly suspect for most amateurs even physiological tendancy doesn't matter since you're not going to hit your limit until you're borderline pro even if your body is limited by a relatively weak cardio and you're training yourself to ride at high cadence, may take longer to get there though).

Does cadence matter. Yes. Does it matter to you? Probably not.

EDIT - Having just looked at this, Alex Simmons said it all :D.

Tom Dean
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Re: The role of cadence in performance

Postby Tom Dean » Wed Dec 21, 2011 18:56 pm

racingcondor wrote:One area in which cadence is important is if you race. Drop to a cadence that is too low for you and you won't be able to match the accelerations of the bunch (leading shortly to you being at or off the back if you don't take the hint).


It certainly feels like this is the case, but I suspect only when you are on the limit anyway. eg if the pace goes up by 10% is it really easier to go from 100 to 110rpm than from 80 to 88?

Not sure what you mean about 'power' vs 'cardio'.

Cornish-J
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Re: The role of cadence in performance

Postby Cornish-J » Thu Dec 22, 2011 09:07 am

He means someone with huge leg muscles can grind a bigger gear and keep up with someone skinny but quite fit pushing a small gear at 100rpm.

imo - cadence is incredibly important, my whole training plan this winter is focused on getting the body used to 90-110 rpm all the time. Strength and power will come with more riding/training. For instance - i appreciate these guys are professionals but you have to apply the same principals and try to replicate the best in the world ... you never see cancellara on a TT grinding a 55x11 at 80rpm - he's pushing well over 100rpm all the time (difference is, he's pushing a monster gear as well).
Already after only 3 weeks of proper turbo training i find that i can very quickly get up to 90+ rpm and maintain this leg speed for what feels like all day.

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Re: The role of cadence in performance

Postby Tom Dean » Thu Dec 22, 2011 14:57 pm

Cornish-J wrote:He means someone with huge leg muscles can grind a bigger gear and keep up with someone skinny but quite fit pushing a small gear at 100rpm.


Still doesn't make sense I'm afraid, are big muscles a substitute for fitness?

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sub55
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Re: The role of cadence in performance

Postby sub55 » Thu Dec 22, 2011 18:28 pm

Tom Dean wrote:
Cornish-J wrote:He means someone with huge leg muscles can grind a bigger gear and keep up with someone skinny but quite fit pushing a small gear at 100rpm.


Still doesn't make sense I'm afraid, are big muscles a substitute for fitness?


NO
constantly reavalueating the situation and altering the perceived parameters accordingly

Tom Dean
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Re: The role of cadence in performance

Postby Tom Dean » Thu Dec 22, 2011 18:48 pm

:lol:

NJK
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Re: The role of cadence in performance

Postby NJK » Thu Dec 22, 2011 20:36 pm

Most cyclists self select their cadence at 80-100 rpm, so cadence isn't that important it just happens, what is important is increasing the power at which you ride at 80-100rpm.

Tom Butcher
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Re: The role of cadence in performance

Postby Tom Butcher » Thu Dec 22, 2011 20:48 pm

I was at a talk by a BC coach the other day - about developing young riders - and he certainly thought that the ability to spin a gear was important. Showed some footage of Cav in bunch sprints and it was quite marked how much faster his cadence was than his opponents. The message was that BC do see developing a high cadence as part of developing a complete rider and that it helped in developing a jump on the road as well as for track riding where the advantage is more obvious. I'm not saying I was 100% convinced - why can't you jump with a lower cadence in a bigger gear - but it was food for thought - previously I'd have been more in the camp that modern gears (range and ease of shifting) had made the ability to ride at a range of cadences of minor importance.
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Alex_Simmons/RST
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Re: The role of cadence in performance

Postby Alex_Simmons/RST » Thu Dec 22, 2011 23:20 pm

Cadence is an outcome we happen to measure, not an input we control.

What we can control is effort level (power) and gear choice.

ut_och_cykla
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Re: The role of cadence in performance

Postby ut_och_cykla » Fri Dec 23, 2011 08:05 am

I spent 9 months becoming a better 'spinner/twirler' under the guidance of a coach. At first it was difficult to maintain but after a while it got easier. Unfortunately I got slower too which was the opposite of what I wanted to obtain. Consequently its my belief that having a cadence repertoire is a good thing and can be useful sometimes, but sacrificing speed for a cadence that isnt naturally yours is counterproductive.

The Bounce
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Re: The role of cadence in performance

Postby The Bounce » Fri Dec 23, 2011 08:27 am

Alex_Simmons/RST wrote:Cadence is an outcome we happen to measure, not an input we control.

What we can control is effort level (power) and gear choice.

Taking our usual 'exact terminology' stance to suit your argument are we???

Cadence may be the measured outcome but leg speed, which most people regard as cadence, is the part of the input and we do control that.


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