(Editorís note: Dear Pedalheads is a weekly feature that will run through the summer with members of the local Team Whistler cycling crew answering your questions about all things biking. Please send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
This weekís question:
Does cadence matter?
Yes, cadence matters. †
Here is a general idea of how it works: Cadence is measured by the number of revolutions-per-minute (rpm) that you turn the cranks. An easy way to measure your cadence is to count how many times one knee comes to the top of the pedal stroke in one minute.
An average, good cadence is 90rpm. This will give you the best use of your neuromuscular systems and aerobic systems. Most people will find that anything in the range of 80 to 100 rpm works well for them. †
You can use this cadence range going uphill, on the flats and downhill and still get the best results. †
As you drop your cadence down from 90 rpm, you will use more of your muscular systems. As you go up from 90 rpm you will use more of your aerobic systems and get the added benefit of an improved pedal stroke, making you more efficient with your energy.
You can play with your cadence to get your sweet spot and get a better workout.
See if you can get to 130 rpm. This is not out of the way at all for sprinters and track cyclists. They hit 160 rpm regularly. At first, you will be bouncing around on the saddle until you achieve a more rounded pedal stroke.
Mountain bikers will generally have a slightly lower cadence in the 80 rpm to 90 rpm range, with roadies in the 90 to 100 range. Both are very good ranges to use for the different disciplines.