Time-Trial Cadence


New Member
Jan 31, 2002
I've just started with a new training program in which I maust stay on a time-trial cadence. What is this?
Tough call.....

Armstrong TT's at around 120-130rpm - Ullrich did a steady 80-90rpm....

I reckon you can't go wrong with around 90-100rpm......
How can you go about measuring this?

I have a clock on my bike, but it only tells me my average speed, current speed, riding time, and distance. Is there some other type of clock or mechanism that measures cadence?

I have always wanted to know what mine was.
There are a few cycloputers that come standard with cadence meters.
But, a quick way is to count the number of strokes you pedal with, let's say, your left leg within 10 seconds and multiply that with 6. Easy!
Research done on my campus has shown that when muscles are warm, pedaling at higher cadences is more economic than pedaling at low cadences when the same power output is maintained.

To maximise this effect you need to train at these high cadences. So following a good warmup pedal at 95 to 110 rpm during races. During training you will need to train at even higher cadences if only for short durations (try pedaling at 140).

World class sprinters can reach more than 300 rpm during unloaded sprint tests. Endurance cyclists can acheive just over 200 rpm. This is mostly due to greater neuromuscular coordination alowing the sprinters to move their limbs quicker. To develop this requires training at higher cadences.
Studies have shown that a constant power output (as would be the case in time trialling) is best achieved with a slightly lower cadence than you normally ride at.

Armstrong is a freak of nature so don't try and follow his example. Ullrich has the right idea.

All the V02 tests I've ever done were at acadence of 60rpm.
Ah, but was that the gear selected by you or the tester? To get valid and reliable results you have to use the same protocol in every test you do, is that why you always use 60 rpm?

A better test rather than riding at a pre selected cadence is to ride at a self selected cadence. This is acheived by measuring and riding to intensitiespower (e.g. using SRMs, a king cycle or magneticaly braked ergometer).

Also by restricting your cadence to a single rate throught a test we would have to assume that it is the most efficent cadence for the full range of intensities performed in a test. What actualy happens is that the economy of pedaling at the same cadence changes with intensity so that other intesities have different 'most economic' cadences. To complete a good VO2 max you need to ride at your most economic cadence for as much of the test as you can.

Experianced cyclists choose their most economic and effective cadence as a matter of course. Therefore riders should be allowed to choose their cadences during VO2 max tests. At least, a preselected cadence should replicate the cadence that you use in racing and training, is that 60?
A wise old man (and he was Belgian so he must be right) told me:

You have infinite pedalling speed but not infinite power.

Road racing I stick to 90-100rpm - except on attacks, sprints and short hills. Time trials I drop to around 80-90rpm (depending on the length - Ironman I did closer to 100rpm all the time). Power (low cadence) is limited so use it wisely.
Power and low cadences are different things!

I do agree that you that your ability to maintain a power output at low cadences is limited.
Power and low cadence are different only if you pedal very lightly at low cadence. Accroding to the formula Power=Work/Time if Time (rpm) is constant then Power is directly proportional to Work.

Pedalling lightly at low cadence is useful only if you're riding in a large bunch and being drafted along. It's inefficient in most other applications.
I agree with your use of the equation, however that also applies to high cadences. You have suggested that pedalint softly and heavily change the work component which it does. However pedaling slowly and quickly alters the time component.

Therefore Power and low cadences are different things, instead its the combination of force applied to the pedals and cadence that produce a given power.

Power is just a measure of how hard and how quickly you pedal.
140 RPM ??? , my max ever achieved on the trainer is 150rpm and there is no way I can sustain that for more than 30 seconds. My normal comfortable rpms on the trainer is 80-90. On the road it's about 90.
Sorry OUZO, didn't mean any offence.

You realy can sustain 140 rpms for a few minutes or longer, but you'll need to adjust your gears accordingly or use rollers or a turbo with little resistance. The idea behind high cadence training is that you are overloading your neuromuscular system and forcing it to adapt. You will see new riders that can't pedal above 80 rpm, but with a few weeks training they can maintain 90 rpm. They have addapted their neuromuscluar systems. Perhaps you should give it a try and see what effect it has on your max cadence of 150 rpm.

Sprinters are always pushing their max cadence, hence why they can reach 300 rpm. While endurance riders who ride arround at 90 to 100 rpm with a few sprints can only reach 200 rpm. This is not really associated with fitness because even when low gears/no resistance is used, endurance and sprint riders still reach the same values. Its just that they can't coordinate their body fast enough to pedal quicker.

The values I use are values I have seen in a sport science lab with national and international level riders. Normaly I would give ranges, but I gave single values as examples I have seen.

Just like 'if you want to race faster, train at higher speeds', 'if you want to pedal faster, pedal faster in training'.

Some training sessions that you can use at a high cadence (140 would be suitable if your aiming to pedal like Armstrong, chose something more appropriate if you cant pedal too quickly)...

(1) 2+ mins at a continuous cadence followed by rest (i.e. intervals of cadence)
(2) ramps up to a high cadence (e.g. 140) and down to a low cadence (e.g. 90), repeated. Use short and long ramps in different sessions.

Ouzo, how do you manage when you sprint? Do you just change gear or do you pedal quicker (i.e. explosivly increase pedaling)?
2lap - what I was trying to point out was that (in most cases):

Light pedalling = fast pedalling
Heavy pedalling = slow pedalling

Using the Power equation was probably not the best way of doing that.

Hey - just noticed you are from the North West - so am I!!! I would offer to buy you a pint to discuss our views but I'm off home (South Africa) at the end of August.

Have you ridden much in and around Buxton? My fave hill climbing terrain.
2Lap, no offence taken dude. I was just amazed at those figrues.

When I sprint I normaly just change gears as I get to a high cadence. The STi's help alot in this regard (was alot more difficult when I had frame mounted gears).

This season I found a good 30 minute workout for use on my indoor trainer.

Warm up.
15 second sprint
2 minute low cadence (they said 5 minutes but I thought that was to long)
Repeat steps 2 and 3 until 30 minutes is up.

This is where I've managed to reach my max RPM. But I guess as you say, practise makes perfect as I find it difficult to co-ordinate my legs to spin any faster.

I normaly do a mixture of very high resistance/low cadence sessions (similar to the one you describe) and low resistance/high cadence sessions. As I get closer to the season I bring the gears closer to my racing gear so that they are the same as my race gear just before race day.

The reason why the book suggests 5 mins is due to recovery of the ATP-PC system, which can take upto 5 mins when there is active recovery (2 mins with complete rest). By having these massive rests you ensure that you perform every effort rested. Even so, I'm like you, I'm always cutting my rest phases short coz I'm too motivated!
ewep, what kind of &quot;training program&quot; doesn't tell you what to do and leaves you asking people on the 'net????<br /><br />Anyway, I had a time trial test at the local uni. I didn't watch the cadence meter, but every time I glanced at it, it was 96rpm. I'd say 90-100 rpm.<br /><br />60rpm is WAY too slow. It's what the excercise physiologist at the uni wanted me to use in my max power tests, and I told him no way! You're using too much FORCE, and fatiguing your muscles when you do that.<br /><br />And when the time trial goes up hill, SPIN even faster. In time trials on rolling roads, I go 110 to 120 rpm on the uphills when you are going a bit slower anyway, and the extra effort pays off with speed.<br /><br />I recover a bit on the downhill where you are going 35mph anyway and with air-resistance proportional to the square of speed, a full-on time trial effort for a few seconds isn't going to add very much.
I think the exercise physiologist asked for 60 rpms to standardise procedures, not due to a lack of cycling knowledge.<br /><br />If you do another max test Animal, make sure you use the same cadence as otherwise you wont be able to compare their results!
Originally Posted by Eldron .

A wise old man (and he was Belgian so he must be right) told me:

You have infinite pedalling speed but not infinite power.

Road racing I stick to 90-100rpm - except on attacks, sprints and short hills. Time trials I drop to around 80-90rpm (depending on the length - Ironman I did closer to 100rpm all the time). Power (low cadence) is limited so use it wisely.

Infinite leg speed... That I gotta see. ;)

He's Belgian, so he was probably drunk when he said it.
That's gotta be some kind of record Swampy, you just replied to a nine year old post!

If the dude that posted that was riding U23 he might be retired by now ;)

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