Finding Your Bike Cadence


I decided that I would put in a little more effort (actually seems like a LOT) in preparing for the triathlons I signed up for. I got me a new bike…Dominique Diva Dawes…, started going to the Triathlon Group Swim Class at my gym and I even picked up a couple of books on triathlon training.


I really like this one pictured above. It breaks everything down in pretty simple & practical terms and has 2 12 Week training programs (Finisher & Performance) that make me look like I am over training.


I decided that I was going to do a ride and “get back in the saddle” as I had put off swimming & biking for a few weeks to focus on getting some run time for the Cherry Blossom (a lot of good that did, LOL). The night before I read the chapter on Bike Training.


Eye Opener.


I have been told by several people or comments made that my cadence (the rate at which I pedal) is high. That if I want to cover a greater distance/go faster that I should move up to a higher gear – push against more resistance. I intuitively felt that was not right or wasn’t really working for me, but since I didn’t really know why I felt that way – like I’m a novice at this, so what do I know – I went with it. I would pedal in a big gear, stand out of the saddle to muscle up the big hills out here in the suburbs wilderness…and I would be exhausted at the end of a ride. My legs would feel like jello…but I beasted out that ride.


Here is what Tom recommended regarding cadence:


…A high cadence will serve to save valuable energy while on the bile, but more importantly for triathletes, it will also “save” your legs for the run to follow…Triathlon is not about who goes the fastest, but who slows down the least. …Do not forget that triathlon entails three sports and you will have to run after you bike. Push the bike to hard, and you will suffer on the run, possible joining the ranks of the walkers who failed to adequately pace themselves during the bike leg.

….you should try to maintain a cadence of at least 85 RPMs as much as possible…you may not be able to maintain this cadence on steeper hills, but even then it is a good strategy to try to stay in the saddle and spin up them as much as possible…


He goes on about finding out if this strategy will work for you and what your cadence is. I figured that I would give it a try.


OMG! This was the ticket. I maintained a higher cadence for my entire ride and even stayed in the saddle on some of the steepest hills. What made me a true believer/convert to this strategy was the two cyclists that I CRUSHED (at least in my minds eye). I was attacking the steepest hill on the Iron Girl Columbia Tri route and there was another cyclist at the top catching her breath. She started off but was going real slow. I not only made it up the hill but still had enough energy to blow past her and keep it moving. Later on the route, on the approach up a hill past Glenelg Country Day School, another cyclist blew past me, muscled up the hill, standing in the saddle to get up the hill and trucked on. I kept my pace and eventually caught up to her – why – cause she slowed down after each hill from fatigue and I didn’t. GO ME!


When I finished (approx 11.5 miles) I felt good and my legs didn’t feel like jello. I felt that I could complete a couple of miles without walking. I’ll have to put some Brick workouts in to completely test this new strategy but I’m going with it for now.


I may be slow as cold molasses on these long run races. Maybe 10K or less is my event. Maybe triathlon is my thing. I don’t know, but I’m willing to find out. I’m having a blast on this journey.


P.S. I know I’m a crackhead for Triathlons now. My latest gear purchase.


I going over to my fave bike store to get my personal one-on-one lesson on how to change a flat. It is NOT CUTE to be out in the wilderness with a bike flat. No matter how chexy I look in my cycling outfit & helmet – nobody pull over to help change a BIKE FLAT. NOBODY. All I can hope for is a ride and I watch too much CSI & Criminal Minds to throw my bike into the back of someone’s car (male or female) & hitch home. No thanks. I got this.