Using Caedence meter to go faster?

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CyclingObsession
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Using Caedence meter to go faster?

Postby CyclingObsession » Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:40 pm

Ive heard a lot of talk about using cadence meters and low or high cadence to increase your average speed, can anyone explain this too me, I tried searching the net but I am lost.

danowat
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Re: Using Caedence meter to go faster?

Postby danowat » Wed Oct 03, 2012 13:21 pm

What makes you think it's your cadence that's stopping you going faster?

oldwelshman
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Re: Using Caedence meter to go faster?

Postby oldwelshman » Fri Oct 05, 2012 21:59 pm

dont listen to them its rubbish, your av speed will go up as you get fitter and stronger.

bahzob
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Re: Using Caedence meter to go faster?

Postby bahzob » Sat Oct 06, 2012 09:35 am

Its a fact that the cadence of elite cyclists is much higher than the average one.

It will typically average 85-95 rpm. Furthe the cadence is distributed quite tightly around the mean. An example is from a pro who rode the Fleche Wallon. (red line = 80 rpm) (Note please no-one mention Jan Ulrich, his cadence was only relatively slow compared to other pros)

Image

The same graph for the average cyclist riding an equivalent event, say a sportive, would be more like this:

Image

With a lower average and a much wider spread of cadence. (Most riders are probably worse, the graph is mine and I was one of the top finishers, those finishing mid/back would be have even slower cadence especially when the going got tough)

Since most cycle computers don't store cadence most folks probably think they look just like the pros and so can be in denial about this, but its pretty obvious, when you ride past as many as I have.

So there is a correlation between cadence and performance.

However it does not follow that simply increasing cadence will improve performance, the correlation is more likely to be due to other of factors:
- Pros are more likely to be born with the luck to have a naturally good pedalling style along with good lungs etc. (e.g. David Millar mentions some tests he did that demonstrate this in his bio). That's one reason they end up being good enough to be pros in the first place.
- Pros and elite riders are likely to have spent time track riding which is good training to develop a faster and more efficient pedal style.
- Pros have the ability to use all the gears on their bike, so they can keep high cadence regardless of gear. Average riders tend to have gears too big, especially for long hard efforts.
- Pros have better technique resulting from some/all of the above.

Better technique results in better performance due to the following:
- Pedalling involves using a variety of muscles. As with any skill if you use all the muscles involved in a harmonised, co-ordinated fashion then you will be better than if you use some too much and others not enough. Chances are many average riders are not using some muscles that could help pedal much if at all.

- Linked to this, the biggest fail with average riders is that they are quad heavy. Most of the focus/effort is directed towards a big maximal push during the downstroke. This leads to peak forces each rev that are very high, especially so if during periods of high demand and too high gearing. The stroke loses momentum during the dead spots every rev. So if you look at the force applied each rev it is very spiky with high highs and low lows. Timing the application of max force so that it happens best from a mechanical efficiency POV will be hit and miss. This leads to quicker fatigue. The equivalent for a pro is much smoother. Peak force each rev may well be less but it will be executed at the optimal time and end power will be much more since power=average effective force over time not max force applied per rev. (All this is why top riders like Lance Armstrong famously found a high rev style more "efficient". This style places less load on individual muscles and more on the overall cardio system, which is very well developed and less of a limiter (and in his case it was ofc boosted to boot...))

If you want to improve then for most average riders time spent working on pedal technique will be time well spent. If you improve your technique then average cadence will most likely go up as a result as will your ability to sustain more power longer.

It did for me, after a long lay off I got back on my bike this summer and, more through good luck than good judgement, spent some time working on my pedalling. Despite spending only 3 months training in comparison to 3 years last time I was amazed to find I ended up producing significantly more power (+25W FTP). And with due modesty, my old figures/performances were already pretty damn good and my pedalling better than most. I expect the average rider using this forum will get at least as much if not more benefit.

An example of how cadence follows good technique is below. It is from a recent ride of mine over typical sportive type terrain, I wasn't thinking about cadence, just pedalling smoothly. The end result is far closer to a pro profile.

Image

I appreciate others may disagree. But with due respect they may not be typical. Oldwelshman for example, you have spent a lot of time on the track which is a great way to develop pedal skill. But your experience is not necessarily representative of many folks here.

It's not that you are wrong, your average speed will ofc go up as you get fitter and stronger. It did for me when I was training last time. But it severely pisses me off that it would have gone up even more if I had sorted out my pedalling back then, so all the training I did would have resulted in even better results.

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Herbsman
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Re: Using Caedence meter to go faster?

Postby Herbsman » Sat Oct 06, 2012 13:46 pm

Do you not think the difference in cadence distribution between the pro and amateur is not just a matter of the pro having higher average cadence but a matter of being much fitter therefore being able to pedal faster in a bigger gear than the amateur?
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sub55
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Re: Using Caedence meter to go faster?

Postby sub55 » Sat Oct 06, 2012 19:06 pm

Cadence is a red herring!

You'll go better pedaling at a rate that is comfortable to you , if you want to change gear , press the button .
With time and experience it will probably rise slightly . What the actual rpm is does not matter.
constantly reavalueating the situation and altering the perceived parameters accordingly

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dw300
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Re: Using Caedence meter to go faster?

Postby dw300 » Sun Oct 07, 2012 01:33 am

Pros never stop for cake or have to negotiate traffic lights.
All the above is just advice .. you can do whatever the f*ck you wana do!
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bahzob
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Re: Using Caedence meter to go faster?

Postby bahzob » Sun Oct 07, 2012 09:42 am

dw300 wrote:Pros never stop for cake or have to negotiate traffic lights.


Nor did I in any of the graphs. And if I had it would only make a marginal difference to them. The first col is so high because its 0 revs.

bahzob
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Re: Using Caedence meter to go faster?

Postby bahzob » Sun Oct 07, 2012 09:57 am

Herbsman wrote:Do you not think the difference in cadence distribution between the pro and amateur is not just a matter of the pro having higher average cadence but a matter of being much fitter therefore being able to pedal faster in a bigger gear than the amateur?


I think the point you are making is that a pro can turn over a 53x11 at 95rpm while an amateur can only turn it over at, say 50rpm?

Yes that's the case. But that doesn't alter the fact that turning too big a gear at too low revs is the wrong way to pedal. Or that being "fitter" is not just a question of your VO2. It also means your muscles work in the best possible way to deliver force in a manner that maximises output and minimises fatigue.

So the point is you shouldn't have a gear on your bike that you can't turn over at 75+rpm. Having them may mean you have the same gear as the pros but not that you can ride like them.
Last edited by bahzob on Sun Oct 07, 2012 10:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

bahzob
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Re: Using Caedence meter to go faster?

Postby bahzob » Sun Oct 07, 2012 10:10 am

sub55 wrote:Cadence is a red herring!

You'll go better pedaling at a rate that is comfortable to you , if you want to change gear , press the button .
With time and experience it will probably rise slightly . What the actual rpm is does not matter.


This statement is incompatible with the reality that elite riders all pedal at a noticeably higher cadence and smoother style than most non-elite riders.

It also makes the assumption that what is "comfortable" is always best. It's not, often it just means you have got used to bad habits.

As I originally said this does not mean you just need to pedal quicker to get better. If you work on your technique you will apply force more evenly/smoothly through a larger proportion of each revolution.

This results in higher power and less fatigue.

Higher cadence follows pretty much as a natural outcome of this.

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sub55
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Re: Using Caedence meter to go faster?

Postby sub55 » Sun Oct 07, 2012 12:37 pm

bahzob wrote:
sub55 wrote:Cadence is a red herring!

You'll go better pedaling at a rate that is comfortable to you , if you want to change gear , press the button .
With time and experience it will probably rise slightly . What the actual rpm is does not matter.


This statement is incompatible with the reality that elite riders all pedal at a noticeably higher cadence and smoother style than most non-elite riders.



I have to disagree with you , your statement implies that there is a step difference between the elites and everybody else. This is simply not true. Its a common knowledge that a novice rider has a tendency to a slower cadence than an experienced rider. But once you get up to a particular standard , there's no difference there.
I competed as a first cat road man and have competed against elites , so are you telling me i have lost a race because my cadence was 10 rpm slower than the elite. I don't think so, there is no step change.
In answer to the original post , if you want to go faster you need to stress your cadio vascular system through hard work. Everything else will follow from that. End off.
constantly reavalueating the situation and altering the perceived parameters accordingly

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Herbsman
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Re: Using Caedence meter to go faster?

Postby Herbsman » Sun Oct 07, 2012 17:35 pm

bahzob wrote:
Herbsman wrote:Do you not think the difference in cadence distribution between the pro and amateur is not just a matter of the pro having higher average cadence but a matter of being much fitter therefore being able to pedal faster in a bigger gear than the amateur?


I think the point you are making is that a pro can turn over a 53x11 at 95rpm while an amateur can only turn it over at, say 50rpm?

Yes that's the case. But that doesn't alter the fact that turning too big a gear at too low revs is the wrong way to pedal. Or that being "fitter" is not just a question of your VO2. It also means your muscles work in the best possible way to deliver force in a manner that maximises output and minimises fatigue.

So the point is you shouldn't have a gear on your bike that you can't turn over at 75+rpm. Having them may mean you have the same gear as the pros but not that you can ride like them.


No, the point is that the difference in cadence distribution is a result of being a more capable rider, not the other way around.
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dw300
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Re: Using Caedence meter to go faster?

Postby dw300 » Sun Oct 07, 2012 18:56 pm

http://app.strava.com/rides/23591881 - 1h 53m - 89rpm avg

http://app.strava.com/rides/22904652 - 1h 58m - 89rpm avg

http://app.strava.com/rides/22173518 - 2h 33m - 91rpm avg

http://app.strava.com/rides/21835866 - 1h 34m - 87rpm avg

http://app.strava.com/rides/21752198 - 1h 58 - 87rpm avg

My outdoor rides for the last month, I'm averaging about 88-89rpm ..

Am I a pro - no.
Does high RPM give me more endurance - yes.
Does high RPM give me the power of a pro - no.

So the difference between me and a pro is not the cadence, it's the torque their legs produce, and that they can turn a bigger gear than me. That's down to leg strength and cardio-vascular system.
All the above is just advice .. you can do whatever the f*ck you wana do!
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SBezza
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Re: Using Caedence meter to go faster?

Postby SBezza » Mon Oct 08, 2012 09:48 am

I would forget about comparing our cadence to that of a pro, hell even they have a great variability in cadence. They use the same gears as us in the main (if you have a standard crank set), yet have a great deal more power (hence why they are pro's), they can turn a bigger gear faster due to this extra power they can produce.

Ride at a cadence that is comfortable for you, and don't worry about what others ride at. FWIW I can quite happily do turbo sessions at over 100 rpm and produce the power, but on a road I am alot more comfortable around the 85-90 mark, I have a similar cadence independant of my gears (TT bike is standard, road bikes are compact).

Now I wouldn't suggest riding at 50 rpm, as it is probably not ideal at all, but don't try and get to the high 90's just because the pro's do it.

Pedalling faster in the same gear is faster if you can sustain it, but to do this would mean getting fitter and more powerful

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Re: Using Caedence meter to go faster?

Postby Tom Dean » Mon Oct 08, 2012 11:07 am

bahzob wrote:This results in higher power and less fatigue.
Evidence please.

Trev The Rev
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Re: Using Caedence meter to go faster?

Postby Trev The Rev » Mon Oct 08, 2012 15:16 pm

Wiggins claimed recently he reduced cadence for more power in TTs this year. Armstrong increased cadence to shift stress from the muscles to the cardiovascular system to reduce muscular fatigue.
Ulrich tried increasing his cadence but found it did not work for him
Not sure cadence is a red herring but cadence is a personal thing which depends on muscle type, build, fitness levels.

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Re: Using Caedence meter to go faster?

Postby bahzob » Tue Oct 09, 2012 09:49 am

The above make a number of similar errors. I won't bother to answer all individually:

- I said several times: increasing your cadence does not by itself generate more power. What does achieve this is learning to pedal better, higher cadence will most likely follow as a result of this.
- There is a step difference between elite riders and average ones. If cadence was just a "personal" thing or didn't matter that would not be the case. That is not saying you have to be a pro to pedal well and a first cat rider is likely, by definition, to be better than average. Within any population there will be some who are naturally good at some things, including pedalling. And some types of training, especially track riding, will help develop this skill. But it's just foolish to say that the average rider pedals like a pro, especially when under the cosh. Take a look at the final climb up any etape. They style of 99% these riders bares no resemblance to top riders when under an equivalent level of pressure.
- Pros will fine tune their cadences true. However they are still in a different league. Ullrich is textbook example, many average riders no doubt assume they pedal just like him. They don't, take a look at this, the mere fact is is regarded as a "grinder" sort of proves my point. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CpPWTaE-0gM
He is riding at his absolute limit you can be sure. You can be equally sure no average cyclists will look anything like as smooth when at their limit.
- The notion that how much power you can produce is purely down to "leg strength" is simplistic. It skates over the complicating factor that "leg strength" results from a large number of muscles. "Strength" comes from utilising all of these in the best manner which involves a skill factor in terms of using all in a balanced and co-ordinating way. That skill can be trained and improved.


- Again. The reason why pedalling better generates more power and less fatigue is not hard to understand. Its a combination of how you use your muscles and which muscles you use:

How you use your muscles:
>> The average force per rev to produce the same amount of power is less if you pedal well with a higher cadence (that is basic physics). This puts less stress on the individual leg muscles, transferring it to the cardio system which is less of a limiting factor once you attain a reasonable level of fitness.
>> The force generated each revolution is more even. A bad style has irregular force each rev with peak forces significantly greater and these by themselves rapidly lead to fatigue. This is made worse if timing of the application of this peak force is poor (chances of which become increasingly likely as you get more fatigued). Riding in the real world can also have an impact. Sudden shifts in terrain/pace can push the peak force requirement beyond what the rider is capable of resulting in very rapid failure.
>>> It's the same as doing 2 training sessions, one steady state, the other short all out intervals with long rest. If both have the same average power the second will leave you significantly more fatigued and tired the next day because its more stressful.

What muscles you use:
- A bad style is typically quad heavy, with 2 noticeable big pushes generating a big force spike each rev and loss of momentum as the pedals go through the dead spot. Force will typically only be applied around 50-55% of a revolution. Other muscles which could assist the stroke are pretty passive.
- These muscles can assist the stroke, most especially maintaining momentum through the dead spot. One effect is that force is applied for a greater portion of each rev (65-70%). This by itself leads to a bit more power since the muscles can generate some (and some is better than nothing). But the main benefit is to keep up momentum so that the big muscles like the quad can generate more overall force.

I continue to find it baffling that people think everyone who rides a bike is doing so in the best possible way and cannot learn to do it any better. As I have said it reminds me of the days a while back when I was posting here about how training with power was better than any other method. People disagreed with that and were wrong as time and British Cycling have shown. So I guess the message is that while pedalling, like power is capable of being trained a closed mind isn't.

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Re: Using Caedence meter to go faster?

Postby Trev The Rev » Tue Oct 09, 2012 10:05 am

Don't think I disagree with anything you have said bahzob.

Tom Dean
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Re: Using Caedence meter to go faster?

Postby Tom Dean » Tue Oct 09, 2012 10:18 am

Trev The Rev wrote:Don't think I disagree with anything you have said bahzob.
What more endorsement do you need :wink:

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Re: Using Caedence meter to go faster?

Postby Trev The Rev » Tue Oct 09, 2012 10:29 am

Tom Dean wrote:
Trev The Rev wrote:Don't think I disagree with anything you have said bahzob.
What more endorsement do you need :wink:


People have been known to question their judgement when I agree with them. Best I re read what he said and come up with something I don't agree with.

No can't find anything. Good point about Ullrich.

I find that as cadence increases stroke efficiency increases. That graph on a Wattbike illustrates that well. Isn't this efficiency why in the old days training through winter on a small fixed gear was recommended?


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