For my birthday last month, my son gave me a new cyclocomputer, a Cateye V2C. It’s loaded with bells and whistles, and I’m still trying to figure out all the different functions. But it also has one very important function I haven’t used up to now: cadence.
Since restarting biking in 2007, I’ve read that cyclists should strive to maintain 90 rpm as their cadence. About the only time I ever attempted to gauge cadence was by setting the timer on my old unit, and when it hit a round number with a zero at the end, start counting rpms as I pedaled. Count for six seconds, multiply by ten, and you have your cadence.
A fairly crude method, but it familiarized me with the fact that 90 rpms requires some quick pedaling. Once I installed the new computer last weekend, I learned that first hand. Just taking the bike around the block a few times to test the unit, I learned that I wasn’t pedaling any faster than 77 rpms.
I like the new unit’s physical setup — even tho it seems rather bulky. On my last cyclocomputer, there was a cadence function, but the magnets were positioned too far from the sensors, and even when I shimmed them, I couldn’t get a reliable reading. This one uses two large sensors.
The big square thing is the speed sensor — the arm off to the left is the cadence sensor.
Now, I’ve had the chance to test it out on some road rides. It’s true — to reach that magic 90 number, I have to pedal a lot faster than I’ve been used to. I tended to settle into what I consider a comfortable pace, which turns out to be in the low 80s — 82 or so. If I’m trying to maintain a pace of 90 rpm, I have to shift down and pedal faster.
But that’s fine. I understand it will take awhile to get used to a faster cadence, and to the gears needed to keep the faster cadence comfortable. Next, I’ll dig into all those functions on the gizmo. Like an alarm bell that tells you when you’re out of your target cadence zone. For me, that will be between 80-100 rpm.
One benefit of the higher cadence I’ve already noticed is that I travel at about the same speeds I did when mashing the large chainring — but my quadricep muscles still feel fresh after a ride. That really came in handy on today’s club ride, where we faced a brutal and chilly northwest wind all the way back.
Does cadence play a role in your training? Any tips on maintaining your target cadence zone? Or is this cadence thing all overrated?