I'm a masher. This term has garnered scorn and distain among high level amateurs, and I've tried to force myself not to be. This article has given me some pause:
I've been wondering for a while whether high cadence is really worth it for everyone. The tribal knowledge amongst coaches and the industry in general is 90+rpm, and often the recommendation is to try and force yourself through training to go to 100rpm.
I recently switched my training cadence back to something that feels more natural, which is in the 80-85 rpm range. It feels so much better, and has contributed to reducing perceived exertion, and helped with reducing overuse injuries.
The end of this article seems to be really good advice:
> If your legs are giving out before your lungs, go to an easier gear and increase your cadence. If you’re gasping for air, but your legs are fine, switch to a harder gear and bring it down. Practice switching back and forth and pay attention to how you feel. It’ll help you find the right rpm for you to ride stronger longer.
When racing I tend to run out on the cardiovascular side of things, and my muscles are usually ready to go. One theory that I've had about this is that I'm a smaller rider, which leaves me with a longer crank length relative to my leg length.
Digging a littler deeper. Lets compare two male cyclists, small and large:
small: 80cm inseam, crank length (17.0cm), 4.7 leg / crank ratio medium: 91cm inseam, crank length (17.5cm), 5.2 leg / crank ratio
The smaller cyclist is going to have to spend more time muscling their way around the crank length, because 170mm is typically about as small as you are going to get on a road bike (this is changing a little bit but usually requires after market cranks). If you assume the larger rider likes riding at 90rpm, then comparing leg / crank ratios:
90rpm * (4.7 / 5.2) = 81.3 // Right in my preferred natural cadence.
Note: I'd love if someone with a bit more mechanical knowhow could shed a little bit more insight here and clean up my language.
I'm that non-standard 80cm inseam rider. I think I'll stick to my lower cadence barring any knee pain.
What do you think?
Image is taken from the article: