Cadence and my back

I’ve always struggled with the “normal” cadence range of 80-100 rpm. My rides (even in the flats) are more like 70-75. Put me the mountains where I live and it’s more like 50-60s (even in a bike with a maximized granny gear).

Whenever I try to increase my cadence I find my mid to lower backs hates it! I then gravitate back to grinding.

I don’t all of a sudden go from a 70 rpm ride to a 85, I’ve tried gradually increasing it as well.

I’ve tried a bunch of things like bike fitting, regular core training with a good personal trainer, etc.

Problem with the lower cadence is that I am muscle bound verse really working my cardio. I seldom really feel it in my lungs.

Thing is I am doing 100+ km rides through mountains and it’s pretty taxing (left hip bugs me too…sigh). I think the hip wouldn’t bug me so much if I could bike at a higher cadence.

Has anyone experienced this and solved it.

I am 48, I bike around 3,500-5000 km a year. FTP = 215.

I see you say you have had a fit but was that a fit like a BG/retul or Precision? When you’re grinding I reckon you may be more upright than when you’re spinning so a 3D fit may be the place to start.

I had a pro bike fit (laser fitting), cameras, etc. from a full time fitter. While I can say it’s likely not the fit as I feel pretty comfortable too. Position is mid-range. Not a pro/areo/TT position, but reasonably forward.

Tough case, as I think you have covered all the primary issues that should be reviewed.

What’s interesting is that I usually find the opposite result to yours (backs hurt with low cadence / high power). That condition seems to results from the extra strain on the body to control and harness the higher force exerted through the lower body.

So, I don’t know if I have any ideas, but will follow with interest and add something if I get any ideas.

Hopefully someone else can toss in a suggestion.

Could you try this at a local gym. Find a reclining / recumbent bike. Do a session on that and take your cadence up and see if you get the same problem.

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It’s really the micro play/vibration in my back. I do feel it from low cadence/power too but that’s from longer term fatigue.

I’m going to increase my core training and hip stabilization for a few months to see if that helps further.

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I would honestly think and from races I have done. Lower grinding cadence is harder on my back than spinning. This is interesting. Hopefully you can figure it out. I have no advice other than bike fit does seem to change a little in real life vs being fit on a trainer when not going hard. Both bike fits I have had done were done at easy/moderate effort. I feel like when hammering real hard in real life/races bike fit changes.

I do find the grinding fatiguing on my back, but that’s a different a totally different feel. That’s a long term fatigue. The high cadence is an immediate feedback saying I hate this.

Same here. Grinding uphill in the snow at 40-50rpm puts a lot of strain on my back. Spinning is much easier.

To the OP - do you bounce much when pedaling at higher cadence? When I started road cycling, I used to, as coming from MTB, I wasn’t used to cadences in the 90-100 range.

Making a concerted effort to work on my pedaling technique really helped. Kick and pull, not just mashing the down stroke.

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I think it is something you just get used to. I did a Sufferfest plan last year which had a cadence build session every week. I used to be comfortable pushing 75-85 rpm. When I did intervals of 130+ my back would be sore the next day, but over time those muscles got stronger.