Everyone who knows me knows I am by no stretch of the imagination good at cycling. However, I do love it and have been around the block a time or two. I have loved riding and racing bicycles for several years now and have a wall of race numbers, jerseys, and medals to show some of my experience. This background leads those newer cyclists I come across to to ask questions. I love answering questions as it causes me to think about it and really come up with as good an answer as I am capable of. Typically asking a pro cyclist or even better a pro cycling coach is the approach I would take…
I have had quite a few questions lately about cadence and why its so important or what is the optimal cadence. In fact, my dad has recently picked up cycling and has gone so far as to start racing a bit. He has signed up with my team to race LOTOJA this year. He is excited to say the say the least. It was a recent conversation with him that led me to write an email to him and our team about cadence. Thought I’d share it here:
“In today’s LOTOJA training we did some leg speed/cadence drills to increase our leg speed and make some muscle memory and neurological connections to our leg speed. Let me first say that I really don’t know much here. As most of you already know, I am just a fan of cycling and a guy who likes to ride my bike. I am not – nor will I ever be a pro cyclist or a coach. I do enjoy however learning from the various articles, websites, and coaches I have had over the years. So here is a cadence 101 in a nutshell (for more advanced cadence topics you’ll have to hit google). As an aside, I believe watching cadence and heart rate is one of the most important things to be mindful of when riding/training/racing. I have a power meter and I love everything I learn form that. However, the best money a cyclist can invest is in a good cadence sensor and HR monitor. Power meters are great – but you can train amazingly without one.
What is cadence? Cadence = leg speed. Your speed on your bike is equal to the amount of force applied to the pedals multiplied by the amount of revolutions in a given time you can pedal. Thus, in a simple way – the faster you can pedal the faster you can go (gearing of course being very important to this equation).
So what then is the most optimal cadence? That depends. It depends on whether you are climbing, sprinting, descending, etc. Mostly, it depends on you. Wait, what? It depends on me? Yep. There has been some recent research that suggests the most efficient cadence is self selected based on how you feel. However, most of us are too rookie to figure that out. Most pros still rely on coaches to tell them what cadence to pedal at any given time in a race. For most cyclists the optimal cadence is around 88-92 RPM. My coach, Anna, also tells me this. Of course when I climb its understandable for that cadence to drop and she expects a cadence of 75 or higher.
What makes cadence so optimal? Why should I focus on cadence was a cyclist when I ride, train, or race? The answer is awesome. When you are pedaling at a slower rate, i.e. a lower cadence, then you are using more of your muscular system and leg strength to move the pedals. Muscle strength doesn’t last that long and you can end up feeling the burn inside of an hour or less at times. Not sure about that? Go try it out – get on your bike and find a decent hill. Shift into a hard gear and pedal at about 50 RPMs and then see how long before your legs give out. Now try it again another day but shift into an easier gear and spin up the hill at a faster cadence. When doing this you end up using less of your muscular strength and more of your cardio vascular strength. Why should we put more strain on our cardio system rather than our muscular system? Our cardiovascular strength is only limited by it’s capacity not what it has done already. It merely needs oxygen that it then takes and disseminates to all of the muscles. Every ridden hard and taxed your cardio system where you are out of breath, then in a few minutes or hours you are ready to go again? Yep, we all have. Yet, go to the gym and do 200 squats and you’ll be hurting for days in your legs. Every time you try to sit down you will wince in pain.
The point here is that you can be a much more efficient cyclist infinitely capable of more by using your cardio vascular system more than your leg strength. Of course there is need for both! Just be wise by not taxing your legs more than necessary. Be mindful of your cadence and you can go faster longer. In the mean time, build up your cardio capacity (i.e. your aerobic and anaerobic systems) when you ride. Train smart, not just hard. Combining the strength from both your muscular and cardio systems is what makes you a winner.
Hope that helped some of you new to cycling and cadence. Have fun. Train smart. Be safe.
Given how cheap cadence sensors are they ought to be a part of every cyclists’ investment. There truly is no greater data/number to keep track of for the price outside of heart rate. get one and watch your cycling efficiency improve.
Arizona bicycle crash and bicycle accident lawyer Ben Dodge
A bicycle crash is not always an accident. If you, or someone you know were injured in a bicycle crash or accident caused by a road hazard or dangerous road condition, hire a personal injury attorney who is experienced and has a successful track record. Ben Dodge, a licensed bicycle accident lawyer in Arizona, has dedicated his entire firm to one purpose: representing cyclists. Bicycle accident cases are the only cases Bike Accident Attorneys, PLC handles. Home based out of the great state of Arizona, Ben can still help cyclists in the entire United States. Ben also founded Bike Accident Attorneys Network, a national network of attorneys who focus on representing cyclists. Ben can find you help anywhere in the country.
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In recent years there has been approximately 700 bicycle fatalities in the united states every single year. Approximately 2,000 bicycle accidents are reported in Arizona every year. approximately 30 fatal bicycle accidents are reported in Arizona every year. Bicycle fatalities are terrible and horrific tragedies that affect the lives of too many families and friends to count. Understanding your rights and obligations as a cyclist can bring clarity to your specific accident situation. It will always be in your best interest to be represented by an attorney who knows the bicycle laws and has a successful track record of winning bicycle accident cases. The negotiation tactics and strategies of winning a case are extremely important but should always take a back row seat to the litigation experience and knowledge of court room rules, local, state, and federal rules of civil procedure that can have significant impact on your bicycle accident case. It is wise to be represented by someone well versed in bicycle accident law, local and state bicycle ordinances, rules, regulations, policies, and laws. You should hire someone very familiar with negligence and tort law, civil procedure, and the rules of evidence as they all relate specifically to bicycle accident cases.
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You can call Arizona bicycle lawyer Ben Dodge of bike accident attorneys, PLC at 1.855.663.3922. Mr. Dodge’s staff is standing and ready to accept your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every single day of the year. Ben will personally return your call within 24 hours. there is never an obligation for a complimentary consultation with Mr. dodge. His passion is in representing cyclists and his entire office stands ready to serve with kindness and patience.
Bike Accident Attorneys, PLC
Call Ben Dodge, the Bicycle Lawyer today at 1.855.663.3922. Reach him by fax at 1.800.958.8902.
Mr. Dodge can also be reached by email at email@example.com
His main Arizona offices are located at:
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Tucson, Arizona 85701
Mr. Dodge represents cyclists in the entire state of Arizona including but not limited to mesa, phoenix, tucson, yuma, gilbert, peoria, glendale, scottsdale, ahwatukee, tempe, chandler, prescott, sedona, flagstaff, surprise, kingman, page, lake havasu city, payson, goodyear, buckeye, queen creek, paradise valley, show low, winslow, maricopa, nogales, globe, avondale, cave creek, fountain hills, apache junction, carefree, wickenburg, pinetop-lakeside, strawberry, anthem, safford, and more. Ben Dodge is currently involved with bicycle accident cases all over the country and can assist in representation in all 50 states.