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Thread: Cadence

  1. #1
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    Cadence

    I have been riding enough that my butt does not hurt anymore. I can ride for hours on the flats, but when I hit the fire roads, legs burn pretty quick. I have a ride I do, that is 2 miles up a pretty steep hill. It has a couple of short flat sections, but mainly all uphill. Grade is enough to put me at 42 mph coming down. (if that helps) I generally stay on 32 on the front, and mid to larger gear on back. almost never get to the 34t on the back.

    I am a clyde, 255 lbs at the moment. Down from 270 in a month and a half.

    I don't hit those granny gears, because I read on here, it seems to be frowned on by some. After finishing my ride today, I notice this other fella going up my loop in a super small gear. Should I be in those smaller gears, if I am wanting to ride longer distances since I am a beginner, or should I just shut up and crank on it like I have been. My cadence is probably around 50 to 60 by guessing.

  2. #2
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    Cadence is a pretty personal thing. I'd try spinning in a smaller gear for a while, and see where that gets you. It's definitely better than avoiding the granny because some randoms online frown upon it.

    Personally, I used to spin at around 80-90 and climbed hills mostly in the saddle. Then I started riding single speed, and now I don't have much say in the matter.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bdabike View Post
    ... I don't hit those granny gears, because I read on here, it seems to be frowned on by some. ... My cadence is probably around 50 to 60 by guessing.
    I use my granny gears a lot and about 100lbs ligther and get up the hills reasonably well. I try to keep a cadence of 80 to 95 rpm and use what ever gear gets me there. There are times I will stand and mash on the pedals, but for any sustained climb I will drop the gears an spin away. That allows me to keep my body in good position effort wise and to ride at a high average power output. Too low a cadence will cause my power to drop or blow up and too high of a gear will cause me to be slow.

    My advice is try running 80 rpm at least. Do you have a bike computer with at least a speedo reading? If so you can play around with cadence and road speed. Try it in a big gear mashing and then do it again spinning and see which allows a higher speed for longer.

    Also what gearing do you have? I run a 22 / 32/ 44 with 11-34 3x9 on 26" wheels. My 22/34 super granny is good for about 4 mph at high cadence. Not much speed, but perfect for super steep sections where is good grip. Depending on the climb I will use any combination of gears to get me to the top as fast as I think I can do it.
    Joe
    2003 KHS Alite 4000 26" Hardtail - XC, All mountain, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  4. #4
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    You will build endurance the more you ride. But even then as you go along some days you may want an easier gear than others-- depends on how rested and other things you are. Since the climb is broken by some flats use different gears for some segments to see how it goes.

  5. #5
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    Same gearing as you ,but on 29 r. 11-34, 22/32/44. I have never been on the 22 cog, period.

    I am thinking, my problem could be that I have been in such a hurry to get in riding shape, that if I am not moving forward with power, I am only getting cardio workout.

    I do have a cheap computer. It measures mph/dist/time/ avg speed. My avg. time climbing those 2 miles is at 18 minutes. I keep riding after reaching the summit, but my legs are a little rubbery, and I am panting like a sled dog.

    I will try what you suggest. Maybe I am just impatient on getting where I am going, or I am a closet singlespeeder. (not that there is anything wrong with that)

    It sounds like the rabbit and the hare kind of thinking, no turtle.

  6. #6
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    Cardio workouts are key. What you want is to have both your lungs and legs give out at the same time.

    So 2 miles in 18 min means you are 6.6 mph average speed. For that assuming you are using you 32front and 30 rear (2nd biggest) you are at 71 rpm cadence. Not as bad as 50-60 rpm, but you might do better at 80 rpm

    Your 34 in the back will get you 80 rpm.


    Using the 22 front and 3rd from the largest (26) will get you 85 rpm

    All of this at the same 6.6 mph average speed.

    Best to try out these other gears and see what works.


    Personally I try to use my 32 chain ring for most flat ground or moderate climbs. My 22 is for steeper slower climbs and while I can run a my 22 front and some smaller rear cogs that overlap what I can run on my 32 chainring I like the 22. The reason is that if I ring my 32/34 comb and the grade goes really steep I have no where to go but stand to get more power. This can break my flow. However if I am in my 22f and 23 rear (similar ratio) I can always drop rear cog to maintain my cadence and sit and spin over the steeper section. It is very hard to change front chainrings under power and it take at least a pedal stroke or two. So I hate changing big rings the middle of a climb especially if I need instant power. So by using the 22 I have more flexiblity to adjust with rear to get what I need.

    I use the big chain ring for fire road descents or smooth pavement stuff. I willl even use the big ring to reduce chain slap on fast rocky descents as middle ring with small rear cog leave alot of chain to bounce around. Bigger ring in front and back tightens up the chain some. You just need to remember what chain ring you are in when you need to climb something as you can't drop to many rear cogs before you cross chain. This where I with often stand to power and momentum over a small rise in the trail.
    Joe
    2003 KHS Alite 4000 26" Hardtail - XC, All mountain, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  7. #7
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    Thanks JoePAz. Very helpful.

    You are dead on with those gears I am usually riding on this hill. I will drop that front gear, and give it a go. Thanks again.

  8. #8
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    I'm a little late to the party, but here's an article that reviews a few studies and has full citations. In a practical sense, it looks like you're taken care of, but if you're curious about the data, it should give you some stuff to follow up on.
    Technique - Pedal Like A Pro - BikeRadar
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  9. #9
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    Do you have any idea how much climbing you do on those 2 miles? If this is a 10% climb then you'd be maintaining a climb rate of 3000' per hour. That's nothing to sneeze at for 20 minutes, especially for a 250# guy. If that's the case you are doing fine and you are in excellent shape. Spinning up a 10% hill is nothing to be ashamed of.
    More likely, though, this hill is on the order of 500' and you are maintaining a ~1500' per hour climbing rate. Still ok, I think.
    The higher the climbing rate the more important it is to spin. Unless you are already well-trained (and you'd probably not ask the question then) you will be able spin for longer than mash on the same climb at the same speed. Additionally, if you mash too much without having built sufficient strength you can hurt your knees -- and that goes double for a Clydesdale.
    Bottom line: If in doubt spin, spin, spin. Don't worry what others think

  10. #10
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    I gotta say...I am new to this, but what gear I ride in is not anyone else's business. Worried about people frowning on it?? Really? Switch it up, try different gears, and find what works best for you.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by bleedinblue View Post
    I gotta say...I am new to this, but what gear I ride in is not anyone else's business. Worried about people frowning on it?? Really? Switch it up, try different gears, and find what works best for you.
    Okie dokie

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fred Smedley View Post
    Okie dokie
    lol, if I'm missing something I'm all ears!

    All I meant was there are plenty of things that if others "frown" on me for that would/could alter my behavior. Too wet to ride, damaging the trail, not paying attention to others...basically anything that affects someone else. I'm all for suggestions on technique and what not, but I guess the notion of "I'm not going to ride in xx gear because it is frowned on" rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe I took it the wrong way, or maybe I just need some fresh air!

  13. #13
    human dehumidifier
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    My experience is that if I can't get up a hill on the middle ring, I'm not going to get up it in the granny ring either. Or, if I do, I will be on the verge of a heart attack when I get there. So I started running 1x, which gives me the benefit of shedding the extra chain rings, derailleur, shifter, and cable from a borderline heavy bike too.

    I kept my triple setup on my 26er, which I ride when I feel like taking it easier.

    But - you should try it out and do what works best for YOU.
    When you get older, much of your hate comes from knowledge and experience, which is why really old people hate everyone

  14. #14
    Kitty! Kitty! Kitty!
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    Re: Cadence

    I ride in granny gear all the time... Because it's comfortable and who gives a **** what gear I'm in? Plus, I only worry about gears on the downhills.

  15. #15
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    I did the same ride again today. I started out on the 22 f ring, 23 r, adjusting my cadence to keep around 5.5 mph. That worked pretty good. Legs and breathing was less labored. That first section is .4 mile. Flat areas are only around 100 to 200 ft long, then it is up more. I then kept it in the 22 f, and played around with the rear. Found that it is much easier altogether to put more miles in before burning out. Now I need to quit looking at my computer so much, and just getting more familiar with my needs. I am not a racer, yet, but I really like pushing myself, to get more miles, faster.

    Once over the 2 mile mark, it goes downhill a little more, with smaller uphills. Then it is broken up into equal amounts of up and down hills. I was able to put in 15 miles altogether today, non-stop.

    I said that the granny gear was frowned on by some, by their remarks on other posts on this forum. I cannot find those post at this time, because I was gathering info and lurking. I more than likely would not bring those comments up, to protect their good name in this awesome and new to me forum.

  16. #16
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    Slightly off topic but: Comparing a 32-34 to a 22-23 is about the same ratio and cadence but the chain loading is almost 50% higher. The lavage ratio with the smaller rings is higher. Its a small thing but keeping the chain load down has got to reduce the amount of wear on the chain and rings. This is one of the reasons I like to reserve the granny ring as a bail out option and try to turn more time on the middle. I have no problem going to the granny ring if I need it I just don't like to live there. Of course YMMV etc.

  17. #17
    Toro
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    As a Clyde, I can agree with a few things on this thread.

    1) Ride the gear ratio that you are comfortable with until your cardiovascular system and muscular endurance improve. At this stage of development, you need to concentrate on just riding longer distances and/or longer periods of time without blowing up. You indicated this to be your immediate goal, so, congratulations on the progress.

    2) Have your LBS check your drivetrain often. Put money aside for replacement parts. You WILL stretch out that chain. Your granny ring WILL suffer. There's nothing wrong with that. Just be ready for it.

    3) When your fitness improves, try the same hills in higher gear ratios once in a while. Say, once a week, then twice, etc. Eventually, your muscular endurance will improve along with your cardiovascular system and you will find yourself climbing in a higher gear ratio with the same perceived effort level but at a higher speed. Not having to switch rings up front and not cross-chaining will also save you money.
    Ricardo aka "El Toro"
    Team Raging Toro
    Toro Page on G+

  18. #18
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    My browser ate my reply, so I'm going to tl;dr it.

    Two things:
    IMHO, mountain bikers are well served by watching chain wear themselves. It's highly conditions dependent and very easy to take care of. Google "Sheldon Brown chain maintenance" and buy a good ruler. You're welcome.

    OP, try your granny gear. Your real granny gear - 22/34, or whatever your lowest gear combination is. I bet you're pleasantly surprised. I use that combination a lot, and I'm also on the first page of the leader boards for some of the big climbs near me.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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