Producing power at high cadance

A light bike doesn't replace good fitness.

Moderator: Moderator Team

User avatar
Rick
Posts: 2021
Joined: Sat Aug 29, 2009 4:30 pm

by Rick

Thanks for that very interesting study KWALKER. It seemed to corroborate well with my personal situation. I have been racing and training a long time, since before power meters were generally available. So 80-90 RPM is where I would have guessed I produced maximum power, based on RPE and general subjective assessment. So after I started riding with a power meter it was disturbing that the average power numbers were always actually higher when mashing a huge gear at low cadence. I guess this is not a totally unique occurrence.

I am aware of all the other considerations too: big gears make it difficult to respond to sharp attacks, etc....but a lot of times it just comes down to going as hard as you can to the top of the hill, or time-trialing across a gap, etc.

ultyguy
Posts: 2269
Joined: Fri Aug 06, 2010 1:35 pm
Location: Geneva

by ultyguy

I need to mash more!

User avatar
Rick
Posts: 2021
Joined: Sat Aug 29, 2009 4:30 pm

by Rick

It also remains a fact that all the hour records were set with cadences of ~100RPM. So maybe elite athletes are elite because they have a higher percentage of fast twitch fibers that actually are more powerful/ efficient at high RPM. I am certainly not "elite" and I am treading at the low side of "mediocre". :unbelievable:

User avatar
Tinea Pedis
Posts: 8445
Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2009 6:08 am
Location: Geelong
Contact:

by Tinea Pedis

Keep in mind, "mashing" does not mean "pedalling slower".

Also, it has suggested that over the course of an athlete's career Type 2b* muscle fibres are actually recruited and behave more like Type 1 fibres. Which is why the top Pro's can hold speeds that we are pushing into our anaerobic capacity to maintain while they are still well within their aerobic zone.


*quite sure it's Type 2b, will stand corrected though

User avatar
Rick
Posts: 2021
Joined: Sat Aug 29, 2009 4:30 pm

by Rick

Tinea Pedis wrote:Keep in mind, "mashing" does not mean "pedalling slower".

Can you elaborate on that ?

When I got into cycling, smooth spinning was emphasized. So I always suspected that I actually "wasted time" worrying about a smooth stroke and should have spent more time simply pushing down hard on the pedals. As a result, I do have a pretty smooth spin and have spent many hrs spinning away at high cadence in criteriums, etc. ...it just doesn't produce as much power for me.

User avatar
stella-azzurra
Posts: 5072
Joined: Mon Jan 23, 2006 6:35 am
Location: New York

by stella-azzurra

I never took drugs to improve my performance at any time. I will be willing to stick my finger into a polygraph test if anyone with big media pull wants to take issue. If you buy a signed poster now it will not be tarnished later. --Graeme Obree

User avatar
Tinea Pedis
Posts: 8445
Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2009 6:08 am
Location: Geelong
Contact:

by Tinea Pedis

Rick wrote:When I got into cycling

We need you to get past this. Things have changed. Sorry Rick, don't mean to sound harsh - I just cannot think of how better to put this.

And I did

viewtopic.php?p=993955#p993955

cannot find the study at present, but there was a large analysis (in the USA I think) where they had cyclists ranging from Cat 3 to Cat 1 and Pro's. The 'smoother' and 'rounded' pedal strokes primarily belonged to the lower level riders.

As the level (and power) improved, the more the stroke was a 'mash'.

KWalker
Posts: 5848
Joined: Mon Dec 28, 2009 8:30 pm
Location: Bay Area

by KWalker

Tinea Pedis wrote:Keep in mind, "mashing" does not mean "pedalling slower".

Also, it has suggested that over the course of an athlete's career Type 2b* muscle fibres are actually recruited and behave more like Type 1 fibres. Which is why the top Pro's can hold speeds that we are pushing into our anaerobic capacity to maintain while they are still well within their aerobic zone.


*quite sure it's Type 2b, will stand corrected though

They can be recruited as oxidative fibers, but its not as big as people would think.
Don't take me too seriously. The only person that doesn't hate Froome.
Gramz
Failed Custom Bike

User avatar
Tinea Pedis
Posts: 8445
Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2009 6:08 am
Location: Geelong
Contact:

by Tinea Pedis

Point was, it contributes more than was originally thought.

User avatar
Rick
Posts: 2021
Joined: Sat Aug 29, 2009 4:30 pm

by Rick

Tinea Pedis wrote:
Rick wrote:When I got into cycling

We need you to get past this. Things have changed. Sorry Rick, don't mean to sound harsh - I just cannot think of how better to put this.

.

No "harshness" taken. It has just taken me a long time to really accept that smooth spinning is really not all that effective and "mashing" really works! :)

But I infer that one can also "mash" at higher cadence, i.e. concentrate on a forceful "Pulse" on the downstroke of each pedal rotation, and without regard to the smoothness of the rest of the stroke ?

User avatar
Tinea Pedis
Posts: 8445
Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2009 6:08 am
Location: Geelong
Contact:

by Tinea Pedis

Absolutely. The down stroke carries enough velocity that it whips the opposing 'up' stroke through.

User avatar
devinci
Posts: 3039
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 9:43 pm
Location: Canada

by devinci

why not forget all the pedal smoothness and cadence misonceptions alltogether?

Just focus on producing the required effort for the required time duration, then, post-ride analysis should take care of what cadence you naturally are using at different power output.

HillRPete
Posts: 2292
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:08 am
Location: Pedal Square

by HillRPete

I can very well imagine that riding an artificially smooth stroke comes with an efficiency cost, even if well trained (hindsight is 20/20, too). The human physiology lends itself way better to loaded leg extension than (loaded) retraction. I can't think of any need to retract with extra weight in the evolution of hominids, am I missing something?

Edit: loaded retraction, for clarity.
Last edited by HillRPete on Fri Jun 14, 2013 7:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
DMF
Posts: 1062
Joined: Sat Dec 06, 2008 10:14 am
Location: Sweden

by DMF

Unless you retract you're also pushing dead weight... I'll bet the retraction costs less than pushing the dead weight... while I do agree that taking a smooth pedal stroke to the brink of perfection might not serve a purpose...

User avatar
Rick
Posts: 2021
Joined: Sat Aug 29, 2009 4:30 pm

by Rick

devinci wrote:why not forget all the pedal smoothness and cadence misonceptions alltogether?

Just focus on producing the required effort for the required time duration, then, post-ride analysis should take care of what cadence you naturally are using at different power output.

Good idea; that is how I got on to this idea in the first place. But I couldn't really quantify it until I had a power meter.
In the past, timed efforts always had some uncertainty due to weather conditions and day-to-day variations in perceived exertion. And when going by perceived exertion I always choose a higher cadence. It was only by noticing that the power was actually higher when pedaling at very low cadence that I started questioning. With the power meter it doesn't have to be post-ride, because I set the unit to show both 3 second power and power averaged over the interval. So it is instant faeedback with the average also displayed for any length interval I choose.

Then, I also thought that maybe I actually am "exerting" more at high cadence, but it is just inefficient exertion that does not translate into power to the cranks. It does make some logical sense that efficiency would be higher at low cadence, because you can imagine that if taken to extremes, you could flail away at high rpms in such a low gear that you are producing no power. But you can always stomp hard on the pedals even at very low cadence.

Post Reply
  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post