High Cadence Cycling



We are now approaching Christmas and will no doubt be taking some time off to relax, eat and enjoy time with family. You should now be fully immersed in your pre-season training, or coming towards the end of the cyclo-cross season which is short but a lot of fun.

If you have been racing in cyclo-cross, or been training with a mountain bike, your base fitness should be pretty good and you should be well versed in high cadence cycling. Cyclo-cross and mountain biking use bigger gears, which make you pedal faster. These two disciplines have varied terrain which you need to be able to climb more and therefore need bigger gears to get up the hills.

A high cadence technique is now the adopted technique for road cycling also. This technique is very useful because the faster we can spin the pedals around the more revolutions the wheel takes. Pedalling above 90rpms increases the metabolic cost and improves your cardiovascular system, meaning that when you come to ride at a lower cadence you will be able to go for longer.

A high cadence also doesn't use our bigger muscles in our legs and therefore conserves more energy.

Here is a testimonial from one customer I gave high cadence cycling advice too:

'It took two minutes off my PB to climb Cragg Vale - approached it in a totally different set of gears and it worked a treat. Thanks for the coaching!'

I therefore recommend getting a cadence monitor to start understanding what rate you are pedalling. To start improving your cadence start by holding 90, 100 & 110rpms for a minute each on a flat with a one minute break in between. Repeat this five times and try to work at your threshold when doing this which means you should be pedalling quite fast using a lower gear and be out of breath.

Another drill is to try and find a gradual hill and hold a cadence of 110, 100 and then 90rpms and hold each until fatigue. Use the downhill to also use a low gear and pedal above 90 to get the muscle memory of pedalling at that rate. Again, hold this at threshold to increase the muscle memory.

Over time start to increase the time that you spend at those cadences and try to aim to pedal above 90rpms all the way around your training rides.

Yours in pedalling and Christmas cheer,

The Secret Cyclist

The Secret Cyclist is a British Cycling Level 2 coach who specialises in road and time trial. Based on the south coast he has a facility that incorporates personal training, cycle coaching and bike fitting. His weaknesses are hills and a love of cake. When off the bike he has a love of food and can often be found eating his way around Manchester. 

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