My first thought is that 20% (or 2, so large margin for error) in the first post actually have higher CP at 100 rpm vs 60rpm. Any number of possibilities could explain the variation. Depending on how representative, the other subjects could not be highly trained and could have low self selected cadence–or a bunch of other possibilities.
yes, that was a good graph and I generally agree that is true for myself.
However, one of my best all-time threshold pacing efforts was 67rpm on a 10% grade. I have an opportunity to ride that grade again in a couple weeks, so that got me to thinking All my other short (20-min) and long (30-60 min) efforts are somewhat split between 80-82rpm and 88-90rpm.
Thanks for linking. Has been an interesting rabbit hole to dive down. I think the conclusions don’t change much on the applied side for our training/racing, but hopefully we can understand things to a deeper level.
On the other hand, a 9% difference in threshold from only changing cadence??
Very true! Important observation. There is a lot of variability here, but this is not the only study to show these directional results. All the refs I’ve provided are representative, not unique.
Yeah, like most exercise physiology research, it’s done on untrained male uni students, not trained athletes. I do think it’s important to draw a distinction between ‘exercise physiology’ and ‘sport science’ in terms of research objectives. This study was evaluating this particular intervention to gain insight into human physiology, not necessarily represent elite sport. Sometimes we have to grab the table scraps from the literature and extrapolate to our all-things-considered very niche application.
That being said, I don’t have a citation on-hand looking at CP/thresholds in trained+ cyclists, but my general synthesis is that (1) lower cadence = more efficient holds true pretty broadly, but more importantly (2) there is a ton of variability and interaction with workload, intensity, absolute forces, body anthropometrics, cycling experience, biomechanics… etc.
And anyway, our brain has already worked out what our optimal cadence is: the cadence we use when we’re not thinking about cadence
Yeah this is super important. Energetically optimal cadence, and freely-chosen cadence - which are two different things - both scale linearly with increasing workload.
In fact, workload alone seems to explain >90% of variance in metabolic efficiency. Fibre contraction speed (which cadence is a large modifier to) is the next largest contributor, but it’s all marginal.
thanks for dropping in! Instinctively I lower cadence on fast tailwind sections because even surfing above/below threshold it seems to lower breathing & heart rate, so I can push longer and farther. Same for steep pitches but I’m low W/kg and am forced to drop cadence.
Very nice table! Yeah I wonder what the decision making is going into choosing gearing? Maybe some trackies can comment. Would love to hear Dan Bigham’s thoughts on this. Interestingly, he’s commented about choosing a (marginally) lower cadence at 95 vs 105 rpm
Curious to try lower next time and see how it feels. I’m nearly certain it will feel much harder for me. I do use a lower cadence indoors, often standing, for short Zwift racing climbs. But nothing like the 60rpm or lower you see some guys using in their Zwift streams.
That effort saw my lowest ever HR for a threshold effort. Normal HR-to-power on the ~6% 35-min climb that preceded it. The only thing unusual that day - my ride was delayed after a morning searching outside the hotel room for our “lost” cat. After 90 minutes of searching we went back to the room and opened the (unused) dresser drawer, and she was hiding behind the drawer But it was a lot of stress Maybe I need that type of stress before the next field test or pacing effort!
April 2020: 62-min tour-de-torque in pancake flatland (perfectly flat except for a freeway overpass)
With that many efforts, can you plot cadence vs power of 20min efforts? Or, what I’d find even more interesting:
Av power of 20 min effort / FTP at that time
Av cadence of effort / preferred cadence.
That is, normalise the power to your FTP to take out any shifts over time. And I’m wondering if you get a curve for cadence where being at preferred cadence results in max power.
Might also be interesting to see what it does to HR, to get an idea of the load on the body, but I’d worry HR is affected too much by temperature (time of the year), fatigue, etc.
I was talking to my coach about this today… Was doing a SS/threshold Wo (93 to 100 ftp, 4x10) and I usually struggle when trying to keep the cadence above the 85 pushing to 90s… Today I decided to go by cadence feeling and it settled about 79 for the 100s, 82 for 95 and 85 for 93%… the best i have felt doing these kind of wo in forever
I remember there was a trend for low cadence in IM tri for a while too.
It just seems to shift the load so much to the muscular side of things to me. I could turn the pedals over at 60-80rpm at 200W for a long time, but at 300+ I feel like I’m not “strong” enough and it just blows me up.
I found the same when I was a triathlete, I used to ride at a high cadence during the IM bike leg too to save my legs for the run. I just figured it was to do with build (not muscular enough)
Yes, I was rhinking you could plot cadence vs IF, for example. However I don’t think there is a trend observable in that dataset. It is probably not large enough, and the variability in cadence not that high.
If you look at HR vs IF or HR vs cadence, I guess the main point is that lower cadence leads to lower HR.
The last effort in that list seems to be some sort of outlier - IF is pretty high, cadence is high, but HR is relatively low. However this seems to be a short 8-min effort, which might not be comperable to the longer efforts