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I have been riding for 25 years and Im a 45 yo male 200lbs 6'

I recently got a cadence computer and noticed that I favor 75-80 rpm pushing a bigger gear. I do pretty well holding a 20mph pace for my normal 25 mile route (obviously there are sections where that falls off a bit...climbs).

My question is that I have read over and over that I should be riding at a 90+ rpm cadence so I have tried that in a few of my latest training sessions, and I have to say that I find the lactic acid seems to accumulate more and Im turning less speed. If I kick it back to 75rpm and switch to more resistance I dont feel as much burn...its there but feels like my body is eliminating it much more effectively.

Is this normal? Should I be training at 90+ regardless of the burn? Is it just my body adjusting to a new way of doing things?
 

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It appears to me that a higher RPM is more typical of higher trained cyclist.

I believe it's more desirable (to develop a high RPM) since in higher levels of racing, there is more surging, especially in crits. Surges are easier to respond to using high RPM to close gap rather than high Torque, and keep your leg muscles fresher over the race.

I like doing "spin-ups" (per Friel book) to develop higher rpm. During one of your days between hard days, do the following:
-Warm up for 10-15 minutes
-During a one minute interval start at your normal RPM and spin up slowly to your maximum RPM. Then spin easy for 4 minutes
-repeat 6-7 more times. Try to stay smooth and minimize bouncing.

I found that this drill helped me develop great power at relatively high RPMs.
 

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For a 200 lbs person, spinning at 90-95 may not be ideal. I am 145 lbs and for me 80-85 rpm is ideal on flats. And I spin much lower when climbing. Which is why on a hilly route I average around 70 rpm.

I do a lot of spin drills as Poncharelli describes and can spin up to 170-200 rpm in bursts. But my body does not like it and I am not going to fight it. :)
 

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I like this conclusion paragraph (it endorses both HIT and base training):

Lactic acid also is a powerful organic acid, and its accumulation can cause distress and fatigue during exercise. Athletes need both high intensity and over-distance training to improve the capacity to use lactic acid as a fuel during exercise and recovery. High intensity training develops cardiovascular capacity that reduces lactic acid transport to tissues that can use it as fuels. Over distance training causes tissue enzymes adaptations that increase use of fatty acids for energy. This helps slow lactic acid production from carbohydrates and to enhance tissues ability to use lactic acid as fuel.
 

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Fwiw, the higher cadence stuff is mostly a myth (cover story is probably more accurate). It's like determining heart rate training zones by 220 less your age - useless for a specific individual.

The most efficient cadence is an individual thing depending on muscle make up and other factors such as the type of riding you're doing. My hunch is that your 80 or so rpms is your self selected efficient cadence for you on that course.
 

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Really? Is that why every hour record in the last 70+ years has been set at 95-105 rpm? Is that the kind of myth to which you refer? I take it you have some facts that will substantiate your claim?
On the other hand, suggesting that the average rider follow the approach of the one-in-a-million genetic freaks is also questionable. I think it is very safe to suggest that a 45 year old, 200 lbs average Joe may not find efficiency at 95-105 rpm.
 

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Really? Is that why every hour record in the last 70+ years has been set at 95-105 rpm? Is that the kind of myth to which you refer?
First, it seems to me that the hour record has nothing at all to do with the question. I've also witnessed Tony Martin do ok with a significantly lower cadence.

I take it you have some facts that will substantiate your claim?
Sure, PubMed is loaded with studies that reach all sorts of a different conclusions regarding cycling cadence, but a few points seem to show up consistently:

The effect of cadence on cycling efficie... [J Strength Cond Res. 2013] - PubMed - NCBI

- Within range, lower cadences are more efficient for almost all riders other than elite level athletes. The study above claims 80 rpm's as the most efficient, but I've read others at 60 rpm's and other advocating 90 rpm's, but I don't remember ever reading a study that found 100+ rpm's is an efficient cadence for anything other than sprinting.

- Freely chosen - self selected cadence is a good indicator of a riders most efficient cadence.

Seems to me that the OP without a power meter performed a good test (how fast can he ride the same course) and found the optimal cadence for him is 75 - 80 rpm's which is in line with his freely chosen cadence. Makes sense to me that for a trained athlete the body under stress seeks to always operate efficiently for the task.
 

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First, it seems to me that the hour record has nothing at all to do with the question. I've also witnessed Tony Martin do ok with a significantly lower cadence.

Sure, PubMed is loaded with studies that reach all sorts of a different conclusions regarding cycling cadence, but a few points seem to show up consistently:

The effect of cadence on cycling efficie... [J Strength Cond Res. 2013] - PubMed - NCBI

- Within range, lower cadences are more efficient for almost all riders other than elite level athletes. The study above claims 80 rpm's as the most efficient, but I've read others at 60 rpm's and other advocating 90 rpm's, but I don't remember ever reading a study that found 100+ rpm's is an efficient cadence for anything other than sprinting.

- Freely chosen - self selected cadence is a good indicator of a riders most efficient cadence.

Seems to me that the OP without a power meter performed a good test (how fast can he ride the same course) and found the optimal cadence for him is 75 - 80 rpm's which is in line with his freely chosen cadence. Makes sense to me that for a trained athlete the body under stress seeks to always operate efficiently for the task.
Tony Martin's cadence was lower, but not 80 rpm.

The Pub Med studies show what has been shown in decades of studies - the answers are all over the map. And when you look at efficiency (watts produced per calorie burned) you are not looking at the whole picture. Raising rpm shifts the load from the leg muscles to the cardiovascular system. When significantly stressed the leg muscles may require 24 hours or more to recover. The CV system recovers in minutes. This is the reason why when the professional peloton flashes by nobody is turning 80 rpm.
 

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I like this conclusion paragraph (it endorses both HIT and base training):

Lactic acid also is a powerful organic acid, and its accumulation can cause distress and fatigue during exercise. Athletes need both high intensity and over-distance training to improve the capacity to use lactic acid as a fuel during exercise and recovery. High intensity training develops cardiovascular capacity that reduces lactic acid transport to tissues that can use it as fuels. Over distance training causes tissue enzymes adaptations that increase use of fatty acids for energy. This helps slow lactic acid production from carbohydrates and to enhance tissues ability to use lactic acid as fuel.
Trying to digest the article. So,

High intensity training is good because:
- stronger heart -> pump more oxygen to muscles/tissues -> less lactic acid production
- stronger heart -> better blood circulation -> faster removal of lactic acid

Over distance training is good because:
- better muscles (more blood supply + mitochondria) -> more efficient use of fatty acid as fuel -> less lactic acid production
- better muscles (more blood supply + mitochondria) -> consumes lactic acid more efficiently -> faster removal of lactic acid

In conclusion, both high intensive training and over distance training helps reduce lactic production and increases removal of lactic acid, one does it through the heart, the other the muscles?!
 

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To the OP, I recommend working up slowly as others have said. However, I also think it is key to get a feel for different cadences at different times. Poncharelli is right about cadence in races, but you might not be worried about this. One year I did my intervals in the correct power zones, but found them most comfortable at a cadence of ~86-92 rpms. In my first race, I found that the comfortable cadence was not helpful in closing gaps. Over the season, I gradually (not intentionally) found myself doing my intervals at a faster cadence. Now I mix up my intervals, with some at a lower cadence (High 80s, low 90s) and some at higher candences (mid 90s to low 100s). I feel better when I start racing since I've starting doing this.
 

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In my first race, I found that the comfortable cadence was not helpful in closing gaps. Over the season, I gradually (not intentionally) found myself doing my intervals at a faster cadence. Now I mix up my intervals, with some at a lower cadence (High 80s, low 90s) and some at higher candences (mid 90s to low 100s). I feel better when I start racing since I've starting doing this.
This is another key point. At higher cadence you can be much more responsive to speed changes.
 

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I suggest people forget their cadence and instead focus on effort and choose a gear that feels good for them and/or is suitable for the intended purpose.
While there is some truth in this the problem is that so many people seem to believe that bicycling is not a sport where skills are developed as well as power. And so you get people who grind away because it "feels good" and don't develop the basic skills of a good cadence. There are even those who will argue that "just go natural" and "whatever is comfortable" are far better than what 100 years of experience has taught us.
 

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While there is some truth in this the problem is that so many people seem to believe that bicycling is not a sport where skills are developed as well as power. And so you get people who grind away because it "feels good" and don't develop the basic skills of a good cadence. There are even those who will argue that "just go natural" and "whatever is comfortable" are far better than what 100 years of experience has taught us.
hence why my statement says "and/or is suitable for the intended purpose".

If you are not racing, but rather just a general fitness/exercise enthusiast, then it's of little consequence. As fitness improves and people ride more, over the years they tend to pedal at faster rates, but really, what does it matter? The most important things are bike fit, safety and getting out and enjoying it. If they train specifically to improve fitness, even use structured and/or interval training because they like it, then the pedalling will come along for the ride as the power demand goes up.

If you are racing, you learn very quickly that the highly variable and higher power demands are better met with higher pedalling rates (or better put, slightly lower gearing since it's gear choice we have control over and not cadence). And the more you race, the faster you'll adapt. You'll also find that if you include intervals in your training diet, the additional power demand will tend to see pedalling rates increase over the course of a season/years of riding as one's power improves.
 

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hence why my statement says "and/or is suitable for the intended purpose".

If you are not racing, but rather just a general fitness/exercise enthusiast, then it's of little consequence. As fitness improves and people ride more, over the years they tend to pedal at faster rates, but really, what does it matter? The most important things are bike fit, safety and getting out and enjoying it. If they train specifically to improve fitness, even use structured and/or interval training because they like it, then the pedalling will come along for the ride as the power demand goes up.

If you are racing, you learn very quickly that the highly variable and higher power demands are better met with higher pedalling rates (or better put, slightly lower gearing since it's gear choice we have control over and not cadence). And the more you race, the faster you'll adapt. You'll also find that if you include intervals in your training diet, the additional power demand will tend to see pedalling rates increase over the course of a season/years of riding as one's power improves.
Never really thought about it like that. Thanks
 

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Actually, Fahey himself is a bit misinformed about "lactic acid". The truth of the matter is that the body produces lactate and not lactic acid and lactate in no way contributes to the acidosis that curtails exercise performance. On the contrary, when lactate is produced from pyruvate during the course of carbohydrate metabolism, hydorgen ions are consumed and acidosis is inhibited. Furthermore, lactate production helps to maintain a proper state of what is called "redox potential" in the working muscle. The maintenance of this redox potential is necessary to maintain high intensity exercise. Thus, lactate production enhances high intensity exercise performance instead of inhibiting it as is commenly believed.

Fahey's assertion that lactate can be used as an energy source is correct, but carbohydrate is much more effective as energy supplement. Oral lactate consumption has been shown to help with buffering hydrogen ions, reducing acidosis, and improving high intensity exercise performance. We have done a couple of studies in our lab in this area and have found it to be pretty consistently effective.

I recently published a review article on lactate metabolism and supplementation: (Current Sports Medicine Reports. 11(4):185-188, July/August 2012.
doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e31825da992). If anyone is interested in reading it and can't get access, send me an email and I'll be glad to send you a pdf of the article. You can get my contact info off of my website.

Hope this helps,

Dave Morris
RacersReady.com
 

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I recently published a review article on lactate metabolism and supplementation: (Current Sports Medicine Reports. 11(4):185-188, July/August 2012.
doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e31825da992). If anyone is interested in reading it and can't get access, send me an email and I'll be glad to send you a pdf of the article. You can get my contact info off of my website
In what form was lactate consumed? calcium lactate power?
sounds a bit like bicarb
 
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