Cadence naturally changing over time

Did a Ramp test on Monday and got a nice increase thanks to a ton of consistency the last several months. Was looking over my data and my cadence was around 104 for the entire ride. Pretty normal number for me, but it made me look back at some of my earlier data in TR.

If I go back to 2018 when I first started doing the Ramp test my cadence was consistently in the high 90’s. Then I went back to my first ever 20 min FTP test on the platform in 2014 and my cadence was 91.

Today I did Carpathian Peak and my avg cadence during the efforts was 104, so I looked back to my previous attempts at that workout and sure enough a couple years ago my avg cadence was mid-to-high 90’s.

I’m not deliberately trying to change my cadence, but it seems my “natural” cadence is climbing over time. Anyone else experience this?

Maybe age related?? I’m mid 40’s now. :man_shrugging:

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Yes, this is what I experienced. I was trying to some extent to raise my cadence, but it naturally became easier with time. Erg definitely helps because it’s harder to maintain a consistently high cadence when you have to shift gears.

Erg is a really good point. My percent of time on the trainer in Erg mode has drastically increased over the years as well. I’m probably 90% Erg now while back in the day I was 90% outdoors.

No. It’s power related. Sort of a chicken and egg type thing but, the rate (cadence) at which work (pushing down or torque on pedals) can be done is “easier” when you “have” more power. Perhaps a horrible explanation. I’m sure someone more learned in this subject will chime in. Or post a few studies/papers etc…But, when beginners ask how to increase cadence I just say ride lots. Of coarse in riding lots their ability to produce power will inevitably go up and cadence always mimics the increase. My experience.

Went back even further and I’d say my avg cadence for my entire 30’s was 90-95. My FTP was also higher back then, but the vast majority of my riding was outdoors and my gearing was way different back then as well. It does seem like it started climbing with increased time on the trainer.

Without running the numbers in WKO, I feel like my cadence increased in 2018 and 2019 as I did more and more work on the trainer. My natural cadence is upper 70s and lower 80s. I can still remember the first time doing a long sweet spot workout on SSB-1 and getting up to 95rpm for the workout. It seems the reasons are:

  • TrainerRoad encourages targeting cadence in 85-95rpm range for sweet spot, and 100rpm or higher for vo2 work
  • Erg mode on Kickr seems to encourage higher cadence, at least to my legs

Interestingly since February I’ve been training outside >95% of the time and my natural cadence has returned, along with ability to do higher force / higher torque efforts.

I was a TT guy in my 30’s and I can remember before having a power meter using cadence to find my “sweet spot”. In TT’s I’d watch it and when it started to creep into the high 90’s that would be my trigger to shift.

Outdoors I’m mostly off road these days and cadence is all over the place so I don’t have a great comparison. I’ll start paying attention to it when the terrain is stable just to see if there is a difference.

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Been paying attention since September… Without looking at bike computer I can start to feel a higher aerobic load (breathing increases) when cadence climbs into mid 90s. It is that slight increase in breathing rate the causes me to instinctively shift and lower cadence. Something similar happens in zone2, with both HR and breathing rate.

It’s interesting stuff. At 70-80 my quads will light up trying to hold power, but at 95+ breathing is calm and I’m good to go.

In a TR workout at Threshold or V02 if I start to drop into the mid 90’s that’s a strong signal that the wheels are coming off and I’m probably toast!

Same experience on the TR workouts at vo2, and now outside I’m doing 1-3 minute vo2 intervals at 90rpm and its all good.

Quads are another story… Four years ago when I started riding, trained for an event with 15,000’ of climbing and I was under 3W/kg. Climbed for over 8 hours that day and average cadence for the 5 major climbs was 60, 63, 64, 59, 65rpm with the last climb taking 2.5 hours. Then almost 18 months later I joined TR, did SSB-1 High Volume with a TR inspired focus on increasing cadence, and at the end of week 5 did a 2.5 hour climb at 79rpm. I definitely favor strength over aerobic efforts.

Yikes, that sounds like the Death Ride. I live in that area as well.

I did a gravel race in Truckee last year and was not well trained for it. Last climb had me at 60-70 just to get up the thing. Needless to say the rest of the day did not go well.

yup, I’m down in Sactown area. This year was considering riding from here to South Lake Tahoe on the 21st (longest day of the year). Maybe next year. The day after the DeathRide I felt fine and drove the car home.

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I’ve used Tacx training programs for years, and those had a lot of emphasis on high cadence work - spin-ups starting at 80 rpm and increasing by 5 rpm every 30s up to 125 rpm a typical one, sometimes followed by the reverse, and maintaining 115-120 rpm for 5 minutes as the load goes from easy to threshold another one. There’s nothing quite that barbaric in TR.

So - I actually spin slower now on the trainer than I used to. And I find I spin faster on the road than on the trainer. I’m above 100 rpm most of the time on the road. And hover 95-100 when “natural cadence” is called for in TR.

fascinating to see the differences between people!

@shawrx thx for connect on Strava… I’m overdue for a ride up that way. Have a climbing event the end of Sept, I’ll probably start hitting the hills in EDH late July. Looks like you are a CF member too? The 4 Towers route is a good compact climbing ride I like to do up there.

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@bbarrera Yea, I’m sure we’ve been on the same rides before. I road with CF a ton in 2013-2014. 2nd kid arrived in 2015 and I’ve been less consistent getting out with the group.

I live right off one of those 4 towers so I know them well!

FWIW (which isn’t much), my cadence at FTP has dropped by 15 rpm as I have gotten older (and wiser).

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Master riders older than you guys tend to prefer lower cadences. I am 66, ex. cat 3 in my past. What I find is intervals from 1 minute to 1:30 I can ride at
high cadence between 90-100. Longer threshold efforts cadence drops to 76-84. With age your cardiovascular system is weakening, cardiac output, max. H.R. On longer efforts you depend on your aerobic type 1 slow twitch fibers, so by selecting a lower cadence it puts less stress on your CV system. This is my personal experience for the older guys that might be reading this thread.

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For me it’s an erg mode thing. I always ride a faster cadence in erg mode at all intensities, I think it’s a subconscious response to the trainer increasing resistance as cadence drops. Just looked at my last ramp test and average cadence was 102. Even for an easy ride like Pettit it tends to be mid 90s.

Outside or without erg mode, it varies much more with intensity and is overall lower. Typically about 100rpm for VO2 max, 95rpm for threshold, right down to about 75rpm for endurance.

I was searching for the right thread to discuss this.
If I am doing VO2max efforts by cadence naturally goes to the 90s rpm.
Now for SS is a different story: I started SSBHVI two weeks ago. For the first few workouts my self selected cadence was about 90 rpm, But two weeks in and without and increase in perceived exertion yesterday I was grinding 270 watt SS intervals in the high 60s low 70s rpm.
Is this fatigue in my muscles not allowing them to contract faster?
Any ideas? Thanks!