What's Your Pedal Speed?
Are You Pedaling Too Slow or Too Fast?
If you are anything like me, your first bike was an old mountain/commuter bike that you rode around town when you were 10 years old. I wasn’t worried about pedaling efficiency. I was focused on getting to my friend’s house.
Twenty years later, some of those bad habits I picked up while pedaling my bike around town still show themselves in my competitive cycling.
Many people have a slower-than-optimal pedaling cadence. Others lean toward a pedal cadence that’s far too high to be very efficient.
Most commuter cyclists have an average pedal cadence of approximately 60 revolutions per minute (RPM) while advanced to elite cyclists average between 80 and 100 RPM. But does that doesn’t mean that NO elite cyclist has a lower than 80 or higher than 100 RPM. Of course not! That’s because they know their cycling efficiency.
“Both (sic) riders and coaches and cyclists spend some time manipulating their cadence in order to maximize their training effects,” said Professor Passfield, who was British Cycling’s lead scientist.
So how do you improve your cycling efficiency? It takes a lot of time to truly find your most efficient pace. Here’s a look at one of my basic cadence-specific workouts to get you started:
Cycle for 10 minutes keeping an RPE of 3 and a RPM of 75+.
5x(00:10 seconds at RPE 10, 00:50 second recovery cycling at RPE 3)
5 minutes cycle keeping your RPM above 80 the whole time
5 minutes cycle keeping your RPM below 60 the whole time
5 minutes cycle at RPE 6 at a cadence that feels natural to YOU
Repeat for a total of 3 times.
Cycle for 5 minutes at RPE 3.
Do you know your natural cycling efficiency? Let me know at becky@teamMPI.com!
PS: My fastest sustained cycle is currently 79 RPM...I’m paralyzed on the right side so that was just with the left leg. The right leg wasn’t helpful at all…
Coach Becky Piper is a USA Triathlon Certified Level 1 Triathlon Coach, Paratriathlon Coach, and Cycling Coach. She is currently on her way to Michigan but has made a little stopover in Wisconsin to see friends and family while her husband Sam is serving in the military. Her dog, Gunner, is with her on her long adventure across the country. She is the reigning national champion in the Time Trial and Road Race in women’s C2 Paracycling, and is preparing for her debut in the Paralympic Trials, but her true passion is coaching. Coach Becky can be reached at becky@teamMPI.com