Importance of cadence measurement?

Discussion in 'UK and Europe' started by Therealslimshad, Aug 28, 2003.

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  1. Can someone explain this to me please? The way I understand it, cadence is the speed that you can
    turn the pedals. However, that depends on what gear you are in and whether you are on a hill or not.
    What is it that is actually being measured? If you can turn the pedals 60 times a minute and yet I
    can only do 55 that might not make you better than me since our bikes could be different. I am also
    very powerful in the legs since I do powerlifting with squats etc. That means that I can press the
    pedals down harder than most people. However, more able cyclists still blow me away since they can
    cycle with less instantaneous power but for longer. I would like to find some explanations and
    advise in this area.

    Are there any articles that you can point me to so I can read about this please? Is cadence an
    important function on a computer? Should I bother with that since I am a realtive road bike novice?

    Thanks,

    Slim
     
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  2. Peter Clinch

    Peter Clinch Guest

    TheRealSlimShady wrote:
    > Can someone explain this to me please? The way I understand it, cadence is the speed that you can
    > turn the pedals. However, that depends on what gear you are in and whether you are on a hill or
    > not. What is it that is actually being measured?

    It's the speed at which you can turn the pedals, but where the stuff about the hills and gears comes
    in is an assumption that you're in the right gear for travelling wherever you are. Assuming you're
    not having a dawdle, you should typically be aiming to run the pedals at a reasonably constant rate
    no matter how steep the road is, so you use the gears to compensate for gradient etc.

    > yet I can only do 55 that might not make you better than me since our bikes could be different. I
    > am also very powerful in the legs since I do powerlifting with squats etc. That means that I can
    > press the pedals down harder than most people. However, more able cyclists still blow me away
    > since they can cycle with less instantaneous power but for longer. I would like to find some
    > explanations and advise in this area.

    This is strength vs. stamina, squats is about strength, but cycling for a couple of hours at
    speed is about stamina. If you spin at a high cadence and are used to doing that then you can
    typically keep going for longer at the same speed than if you're mashing higher gears. If you
    have stronger legs *and* can run at a higher cadence you'll still get to go faster, as you can be
    in a higher gear.

    > Are there any articles that you can point me to so I can read about this please? Is cadence
    > an important function on a computer? Should I bother with that since I am a realtive road
    > bike novice?

    It can be important if you're trying to optimise performance. If you're just trying to get about
    then it doesn't really matter as long as you arrive at Point B happy with the ride. But in any case,
    making a point of using lower gears than you might think obvious at first but at a higher rate will
    often help getting to the end of a long ride without your thighs turning to cement. Change up when
    you can't keep up with the gear putting useful work in any more, rather than at the minimum speed
    you can still keep going in the higher gear at all.

    Pete.
    --
    Peter Clinch University of Dundee Tel 44 1382 660111 ext. 33637 Medical Physics, Ninewells Hospital
    Fax 44 1382 640177 Dundee DD1 9SY Scotland UK net [email protected]
    http://www.dundee.ac.uk/~pjclinch/
     
  3. Jim Price

    Jim Price Guest

    TheRealSlimShady wrote:

    > Can someone explain this to me please? The way I understand it, cadence is the speed that you can
    > turn the pedals.

    Correct.

    > However, that depends on what gear you are in and whether you are on a hill or not. What is it
    > that is actually being measured? If you can turn the pedals 60 times a minute and yet I can only
    > do 55 that might not make you better than me since our bikes could be different. I am also very
    > powerful in the legs since I do powerlifting with squats etc. That means that I can press the
    > pedals down harder than most people. However, more able cyclists still blow me away since they can
    > cycle with less instantaneous power but for longer. I would like to find some explanations and
    > advise in this area.

    You've got some of the answer in this paragraph.

    > Are there any articles that you can point me to so I can read about this please?

    There are quite a few bits of info at the usual place: www.sheldonbrown.com Put "cadence" in the
    search box.

    My "this is how I understand it" version goes like this:

    To travel at a given speed, you need to put out a given amount of power through your legs. With
    gears, you can choose to do this at several different cadences.

    As the cadence goes up, the force required on the pedals goes down, but the distance over which you
    apply the force goes up. This is because you will do more pedal revolutions at a higher cadence when
    travelling a given distance at a given speed.

    As the cadence goes down, the force required on the pedals goes up, but because you are in a higher
    gear, the distance through which you apply the force is less.

    The work done is the force times the distance over which it is applied, and (give or take a gnats
    for assorted things like friction and completely ignoring muscle efficiencey at different speeds of
    operation for now) the same amount of work is done through the pedals to cover the same distance at
    the same speed in different gears.

    So, what cadence to choose is going to be a trade off between how hard you want to press the pedals
    versus how many rotations of the pedals you want to do to complete the distance at the given speed.

    As cadence lowers, you can end up pressing so hard on the pedals that your knees start to hurt. This
    is the lower limit you want to think about. You should have already changed down a gear before your
    knees start to hurt (although it is not the only reason your knees might hurt
    - more common is having the saddle too low).

    As cadence increases, you start to put more power into the movement of your legs (think about lying
    on your back and "air cycling" with your legs - it gets harder the faster you go).

    What you end up with is a curve very much like the power curve on a car engine, where things get
    more and more powerful until the effects of running at higher and higher speeds cut in and make it
    inefficient and difficult to pedal any faster[1].

    Cadence and pedalling technique are linked. The trained cyclist will have learned through their
    training how to pedal fast with a technique which maximises the efficiency of their higher speed
    leg movements such that the movement of their legs does not use up any more power than necessary.
    Just pedalling faster to a target cadence will get you some of this efficiency thanks to the
    wonderful way the human body reacts to such exercise. There are lots of pedalling technique tricks
    in cycle training manuals, like "think squares", "think circles" etc, but they're all aimed at the
    same target idea, which is to try and exert force all the way around the circle of motion of the
    pedals (so toeclips are a must). It just takes a little time and feedback to work out which one
    works for you.

    There is another advantage of a higher cadence, which is that because you avoid exceeding the lactic
    acid producing threshold in your muscles (which is exceeded by how hard you press, not how fast),
    you can go on for longer, recover quicker, and still have a bit of a kick available when it comes to
    the sprint at the end (or half way through, if you don't mind carrying the lactic acid the rest of
    the way through your journey - even then, the extra movement in your legs will help disperse it).

    > Is cadence an important function on a computer? Should I bother with that since I am a realtive
    > road bike novice?

    There comes a point at which you need to start paying attention to cadence and pedalling technique
    if you want to improve your performance. IMHO, the earlier you start paying attention to cadence and
    pedalling technique, the less difficulty you may have in unlearning inefficient pedalling as you
    improve, so if improvement is the target, get a cadence sensor and see what sorts of cadence you can
    do now, and see if you can increase it by using lower gears and pedalling technique.

    I hope that helps, and isn't so far from the truth as to be useless.

    [1]This is Fred Flintstone's car we're talking about here.

    --
    Jim Price

    http://www.jimprice.dsl.pipex.com

    Conscientious objection is hard work in an economic war.
     
  4. Stevie D

    Stevie D Guest

    TheRealSlimShady wrote:

    > Can someone explain this to me please? The way I understand it, cadence is the speed that you
    > can turn the pedals. However, that depends on what gear you are in and whether you are on a
    > hill or not.

    Correct. To some extent, it is like measuring the revs of a car engine
    - except that in a car, you run most efficiently at low revs, whereas on a bike, you run most
    efficiently at high revs.

    > What is it that is actually being measured? If you can turn the pedals 60 times a minute and yet I
    > can only do 55 that might not make you better than me since our bikes could be different. I am
    > also very powerful in the legs since I do powerlifting with squats etc.

    It is not a case of you being better than me, or vice versa; it is a case of you being the best you
    can be, IYSWIM!

    Generally, a higher cadence will make riding easier, faster and better for you. Novice riders
    usually find it much harder to ride with a high cadence, so try to compensate by pressing harder
    with a lower cadence.

    I tend to cruise at about 60-70rpm, which is a lot faster than I used to ride, but not up to the
    90-100 band that most "serious" cyclists are in. If you pedal faster but with less pressure, this
    will be better for your knees and legs, and gives you more aerobic exercise, helping your
    cardiovascular system.

    It is much easier to get fitter by toning up the muscles you have (by pedalling fast and easy) than
    by building up extra muscles that still don't work very efficiently (by pedalling slowly but hard).

    > Are there any articles that you can point me to so I can read about this please? Is cadence
    > an important function on a computer? Should I bother with that since I am a realtive road
    > bike novice?

    I've not yet seen a cycle computer with a cadence function, though I'm sure they exist. A lot of it
    depends on how serious you are about cycling. For me, it is enough to make a conscious decision to
    pedal faster and use a lower gear, and I am finding that it slowly gets easier every time.

    --
    Stevie D \\\\\ ///// Bringing dating agencies to the \\\\\\\__X__///////
    common hedgehog since 2001 - "HedgeHugs" ___\\\\\\\'/
    \'///////_____________________________________________
     
  5. Thanks for taking the time to answer so comprehensively!!

    Slim

    "Jim Price" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > TheRealSlimShady wrote:
    >
    > > Can someone explain this to me please? The way I understand it, cadence
    is
    > > the speed that you can turn the pedals.
    >
    > Correct.
    >
    > > However, that depends on what gear you are in and whether you are on a hill or not. What is it
    > > that is actually being measured? If you can turn the pedals 60 times a minute
    and
    > > yet I can only do 55 that might not make you better than me since our
    bikes
    > > could be different. I am also very powerful in the legs since I do powerlifting with squats etc.
    > > That means that I can press the pedals
    down
    > > harder than most people. However, more able cyclists still blow me away since they can cycle
    > > with less instantaneous power but for longer. I
    would
    > > like to find some explanations and advise in this area.
    >
    > You've got some of the answer in this paragraph.
    >
    > > Are there any articles that you can point me to so I can read about this please?
    >
    > There are quite a few bits of info at the usual place: www.sheldonbrown.com Put "cadence" in the
    > search box.
    >
    > My "this is how I understand it" version goes like this:
    >
    > To travel at a given speed, you need to put out a given amount of power through your legs. With
    > gears, you can choose to do this at several different cadences.
    >
    > As the cadence goes up, the force required on the pedals goes down, but the distance over which
    > you apply the force goes up. This is because you will do more pedal revolutions at a higher
    > cadence when travelling a given distance at a given speed.
    >
    > As the cadence goes down, the force required on the pedals goes up, but because you are in a
    > higher gear, the distance through which you apply the force is less.
    >
    > The work done is the force times the distance over which it is applied, and (give or take a gnats
    > for assorted things like friction and completely ignoring muscle efficiencey at different speeds
    > of operation for now) the same amount of work is done through the pedals to cover the same
    > distance at the same speed in different gears.
    >
    > So, what cadence to choose is going to be a trade off between how hard you want to press the
    > pedals versus how many rotations of the pedals you want to do to complete the distance at the
    > given speed.
    >
    > As cadence lowers, you can end up pressing so hard on the pedals that your knees start to hurt.
    > This is the lower limit you want to think about. You should have already changed down a gear
    > before your knees start to hurt (although it is not the only reason your knees might hurt
    > - more common is having the saddle too low).
    >
    > As cadence increases, you start to put more power into the movement of your legs (think about
    > lying on your back and "air cycling" with your legs - it gets harder the faster you go).
    >
    > What you end up with is a curve very much like the power curve on a car engine, where things get
    > more and more powerful until the effects of running at higher and higher speeds cut in and make it
    > inefficient and difficult to pedal any faster[1].
    >
    > Cadence and pedalling technique are linked. The trained cyclist will have learned through their
    > training how to pedal fast with a technique which maximises the efficiency of their higher speed
    > leg movements such that the movement of their legs does not use up any more power than necessary.
    > Just pedalling faster to a target cadence will get you some of this efficiency thanks to the
    > wonderful way the human body reacts to such exercise. There are lots of pedalling technique tricks
    > in cycle training manuals, like "think squares", "think circles" etc, but they're all aimed at the
    > same target idea, which is to try and exert force all the way around the circle of motion of the
    > pedals (so toeclips are a must). It just takes a little time and feedback to work out which one
    > works for you.
    >
    > There is another advantage of a higher cadence, which is that because you avoid exceeding the
    > lactic acid producing threshold in your muscles (which is exceeded by how hard you press, not how
    > fast), you can go on for longer, recover quicker, and still have a bit of a kick available when it
    > comes to the sprint at the end (or half way through, if you don't mind carrying the lactic acid
    > the rest of the way through your journey - even then, the extra movement in your legs will help
    > disperse
    it).
    >
    > > Is cadence an important function on a computer? Should I bother with that since I am a realtive
    > > road bike novice?
    >
    > There comes a point at which you need to start paying attention to cadence and pedalling technique
    > if you want to improve your performance. IMHO, the earlier you start paying attention to cadence
    > and pedalling technique, the less difficulty you may have in unlearning inefficient pedalling as
    > you improve, so if improvement is the target, get a cadence sensor and see what sorts of cadence
    > you can do now, and see if you can increase it by using lower gears and pedalling technique.
    >
    > I hope that helps, and isn't so far from the truth as to be useless.
    >
    > [1]This is Fred Flintstone's car we're talking about here.
    >
    > --
    > Jim Price
    >
    > http://www.jimprice.dsl.pipex.com
    >
    > Conscientious objection is hard work in an economic war.
     
  6. Fraggle

    Fraggle Guest

  7. Jim Price

    Jim Price Guest

    Fraggle wrote:

    > Stevie D <[email protected]> wrote in
    > news:[email protected]:
    >>I've not yet seen a cycle computer with a cadence function, though I'm sure they exist.
    >
    > http://www.cyclexpress.co.uk/products/Cateye_Astrale_8_128.asp
    >
    > fragg - this IS a recommendation!

    Unfortunately, unlike the old Astrale (without the 8 on the end of the name) the wheel sensor has
    moved to the front wheel, which makes it more difficult to use on a trainer.

    Wiggle are doing 25% off the old ones at the moment.

    --
    Jim Price

    http://www.jimprice.dsl.pipex.com

    Conscientious objection is hard work in an economic war.
     
  8. Fraggle

    Fraggle Guest

    Jim Price <[email protected]> wrote in news:3f4e521b$0$255 [email protected]:

    > sensor has moved to the front wheel, which makes it more difficult to use on a trainer.
    >
    > Wiggle are doing 25% off the old ones at the moment.
    >
    > --
    > Jim Price
    >

    http://www.cobr.co.uk/acatalog/e_cobr_Online_Shop_Cateye_Astrale_8_ 2817.html

    claim a back wheel functionality. I don't know if they have just updated the pic and not the words
    for the "8" version.

    Certainly there is a kit for trainers and those on the darkside, who require longer wires.

    Fragg
     
  9. Jim Price

    Jim Price Guest

    TheRealSlimShady wrote:
    > Thanks for taking the time to answer so comprehensively!!

    Why, thank you for the complement. I just started and it all went magnus.

    --
    Jim Price

    http://www.jimprice.dsl.pipex.com

    Conscientious objection is hard work in an economic war.
     
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