Training Rides | Picking Up the Cadence
Cadence = Not Just an Awesome Movie with Charlie Sheen
For the past couple weeks I have been working on improving my cadence when I ride. This is essentially the number of pedal rotations you take in a minute of cycling. Based on the information I have gleaned of the internets, beginning riders usually spin at around 50-60 rpm. While more experienced riders generally range around 80-100 rpm or so. Professional riders allegedly range closer to the 100-110 mark.
Average Cadence for Riders*
Beginners = 50 – 60 rpm
Intermediates = 80 – 100 rpm
Experts = 90 – 110 rpm
*These numbers are for straightaways on flat grounds without a stiff headwind. So, like a good Summer early morning in St. Pete, Florida.
It’s the Efficiency, Stupid!
Why these numbers? What do they mean? Why so? Well I am not entirely clear on that. But what I am told is that this is all about finding efficiency in your energy expenditure. So the higher cadences are recommended for endurance riding, and might sometimes be lower (depending on the riding style) for time trials – or just faster, shorter rides.
Where My Cadence At?
I received a cycling computer as an anniversary gift, and from that I have learned that my cadence is more similar to that of a beginning cyclist. Ouch. This hurts the old ego a little bit, if I had one, which I don’t because I am a Buddhist.
Average Cadence for Me*
73 = 19 mile ride (8/17/11)
74 = 54 mile ride (8/13/11)
75 = 16 mile ride (8/11/11)
I really feel like the way I ride isn’t all that bad. But I did find myself getting up in to the higher (faster, higher tension) gears more quickly than other people I ride with. I felt like it was faster and easier to keep the gears higher, and the rotations less frequent. I figured it was less effort, and that meant I could ride longer. I am still struggling with that still… so any feedback from advanced riders is appreciated. Here’s how I am managing my gearing, which affects my cadence.
*Expert Rider Input Requested*
I like to spin with a tension similar to that of… say… kicking an inflated basketball. In order to get my cadence up to 90, and maintain a manageable speed, I feel a tension more like that of kicking a super light beach ball. At the higher cadence, I also find that I am not as solid on my saddle. Do I just need to buck up and get that pedal stroke down till I can spin that high? Is ‘basketball’ tension about right? Too much or too little? Also, I think the heart rate goes up when the cadence goes up. Does that really lead to a more efficient effort for long distance? Or am I just outa shape?
Anyway, I have been working on it. And one of the ways that I try and stay on track – without having to watch my cycling computer all the time – is to count in my head, or imagine a rhythm like a hi-hat cymbal hitting a series of 16th notes.
Lately, here is what I hear in my head (and visualize in my brain) as I am trying get my feet moving to the 90 cadence beat.
I had to look the video up on youtube see how fast the Wicked Witch of the West (aka Mrs. Gultch or Elphaba) was pushing her chain. Turns out, not as fast as I had visualized. But, I think it will still help me get to the rotations I am aiming for. I will keep on trying to Defy Gravity!