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I am into my second week on the bike and determined to build skills correctly. I am riding 10 miles in about 40 min. I counted my cadence this morning and seem to be averaging about 75 rpm. What is a good number to shoot for?

I am trying to keep my cadence steady and use the gearing to adjust for hills. Is that correct?
 

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I think the answer depends on a few things, and you will probably get a few different answers. Finding what you're comfortable with is as important as anything, but 75 is a bit low IMO. I think, as you're starting, shooting for 80-85 or so is a good starting point. Once you find that comfortable, work your way up to 90 or so and see how that works for you and go from there.

If you're doing a lot of climbing on your route, you will find that you'll typically be spinning a bit slower on the hills. This depends a bit on your technique too as you can opt to sit and spin more, or if you stand you'll be pedaling much slower than you'd normally be on flatter road.

Your fitness will factor in as well, and the latter will change as you ride more. I'm a very small rider who is very fit and I generally like a cadence of about 100 to 105 (or higher), but sometimes I like to mix things up a little bit too.
 

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I am by no means an expert, but for me, I ride at a cadence that feels comfortable. On flat ground I average about 90-100, sometimes hitting 110. On climbs it can go as low as 55-60. Sometimes lower if I'm having an extraordinarily bad day. But, I've learned enough about me and how my body works that I know that riding a certain way works best for me.

Find a route that takes you 45 minutes to an hour. Ride it the way you normally would. Then ride it a gear or two lower (not the same day, obviously) and see how you feel. Then ride it a gear or two higher (again, not the same day) and see how you feel. That way you can figure out what works for you.

But, at the end of the day, don't stress about a number. Get out there and ride and enjoy it. Personally, I can't enjoy the ride if I'm constantly thinking "okay, I need to be at this cadence and in this gear to get the most out of this". I ride how it feels good to ride.
 

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joelh said:
I am into my second week on the bike and determined to build skills correctly. I am riding 10 miles in about 40 min. I counted my cadence this morning and seem to be averaging about 75 rpm. What is a good number to shoot for?

I am trying to keep my cadence steady and use the gearing to adjust for hills. Is that correct?
In general, a cadence of 90 +/- is the goal, but you don't have to attain it in a week. :)

IMO using averages is pretty meaningless though, because theoretically you could be riding at 60 for a portion of your ride (too low in certain conditions) and still end up with an acceptable (average) cadence. Good thought about keeping a relatively steady cadence.

My suggestion is to consider a bike computer with cadence. Lots here think it's a useless feature, but for you it isn't. As you build experience and stamina, it'll serve as a guide and free you from all that counting so you can just enjoy the ride!
 

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PJ352 said:
Lots here think it's a useless feature, but for you it isn't. As you build experience and stamina, it'll serve as a guide and free you from all that counting so you can just enjoy the ride!
How can you determine your cadence without a cadence sensor? I have a Flightdeck that reads out cadence and have used it to monitor my cadence and learn what different rates feel like. Last year I had it figured out that my ideal cadence was 80-85. This year, with a lot more miles of experience, I was surprised to find that I'm now regularly doing 90 and higher.
 

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rochrunner said:
How can you determine your cadence without a cadence sensor? I have a Flightdeck that reads out cadence and have used it to monitor my cadence and learn what different rates feel like. Last year I had it figured out that my ideal cadence was 80-85. This year, with a lot more miles of experience, I was surprised to find that I'm now regularly doing 90 and higher.
:confused: I think there's some confusion here. I never suggested NOT using a cadence sensor. I suggested getting a bike computer with cadence (feature). That would require a sensor and magnet.
 

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rochrunner said:
How can you determine your cadence without a cadence sensor? I have a Flightdeck that reads out cadence and have used it to monitor my cadence and learn what different rates feel like. Last year I had it figured out that my ideal cadence was 80-85. This year, with a lot more miles of experience, I was surprised to find that I'm now regularly doing 90 and higher.
The O.P. said that he "counted" his cadence, which suggests to me he does not have a cadence sensor (other than his brain). As a beginner I liked a cadence sensor in order to learn what different RPM's felt like. A year later, I don't really pay attention to it unless I am doing specific drills. I normally spin 95-100 rpm on the flats, but it will decrease on climbs. When I do big ring climbs to build power, I will let it drop to about 60 rpm. The cadence meter is used when doing my stationary trainer work in the winter. Yuck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yes my bike computer doesn't count cadence. I would count stokes during a 10 second interval and then multiply by 6 to get an rpm. I did this on level ground and up hills and the results ranged from 74 to 80. I will try to get to a bit higher number just to see what it feels like. I have been doing a lot of spinning for the last 6 months and I suspect that that 75 number is close to what I have been doing in spinning class.
 

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Most people who will tell you their cadence tend to be those with the higher numbers. People like me who've been trained to be ashamed of their cadence tend to keep quiet. Let's just say that I've been riding for years at a cadence substantially below any of the numbers quoted here.

Furthermore, average cadence over a whole ride (also true of average speed over a whole ride) is always less than the number you get if you just check it from time to time.
 

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John Nelson said:
Most people who will tell you their cadence tend to be those with the higher numbers. People like me who've been trained to be ashamed of their cadence tend to keep quiet. Let's just say that I've been riding for years at a cadence substantially below any of the numbers quoted here.

Furthermore, average cadence over a whole ride (also true of average speed over a whole ride) is always less than the number you get if you just check it from time to time.
Speaking for myself, my comfort range is between 90 and 105, depending on a number of factors. But I don't see that as a reflection of fitness or ability (as in.. lower #'s = less fit, higher #'s = more fit). For me it's more about saving my knees (assuming optimal bike fit to start, of course). Maintaining a higher cadence and the pedals feeling 'light' seems to minimize knee pain (previous injuries).
 

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Average cadence is meaningless. Throwing in a bunch of 0s when coasting does nothing good for the data and can crater it in just a minute of coasting for an hour ride.

There are better solutions out there that track the data, but those are unnecessary. Just keep a good eye on your flat-level-calm cadence periodically.
 

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i am glad to read that most of you say its not that important. I came looking for some ideas about cadence myself-very surprised to hear the high numbers 90-105-wow! im going to have to try those numbers on my next ride-ive been keeping it around 70-75 and when i got up to 80s i would gear heavier! One of the guys made the point earlier about individual styles-i can remember Armstrong v Ulrich and their completely different cadence's. Im gonna try the high cadence tomorrow and see how it goes
 

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In general sports med types say faster cadences take stress off the muscles and place it on your cardio system. Now.. if your cardio is nice and strong in theory you'll last long than you would on your legs. Armstrong and many others have show this to work for them. However not all cyclists are the same.
 

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ZoSoSwiM said:
Don't aim for any cadence... ride what is comfortable and gradually build up to a higher cadence. You can't force yourself into comfort. Unless it's a lazy boy chair..
I did quite the opposite- I used to ride at a higher cadence, but now that I'm pretty darn fit, I prefer to turn a bigger gear at a slower cadence. It's not that I can't ride at a high cadence, it's just more comfortable for me to do otherwise.

No wrong or right as long as you're comfortable.
 

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Mix it up.

While the ability to ride at a high cadence is crucial, you shouldn't always do so. For example, If you're in a group of riders and are being dragged along by a good draft, you're better off going to a slightly bigger gear and dropping your cadence, say into the high 70s/low 80s. If you're touring, there's no point in spinning your way madly from rest stop to rest stop—you'll make better time and feel better if you have the strength to turn the large chain ring at lower cadences. Keeping a prescribed 'ideal cadence' strikes me like some guy driving a six-speed manual sports car always at exactly 3,600 rpm, no matter what the conditions. Pretty silly.
 

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wim said:
While the ability to ride at a high cadence is crucial, you shouldn't always do so. For example, If you're in a group of riders and are being dragged along by a good draft, you're better off going to a slightly bigger gear and dropping your cadence, say into the high 70s/low 80s. If you're touring, there's no point in spinning your way madly from rest stop to rest stop—you'll make better time and feel better if you have the strength to turn the large chain ring at lower cadences. Keeping a prescribed 'ideal cadence' strikes me like some guy driving a six-speed manual sports car always at exactly 3,600 rpm, no matter what the conditions. Pretty silly.
That is pretty silly. I keep mine at 4500 rpms. Right above the flat spot in the torque curve.
 
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