Thursday, April 9, 2009

Spin it out

I have already mentioned in a previous post that I have been playing with my cycling cadence. This week I have done a number or runs and hard rides in high wind and rain that have fatigued my leg muscles so that it hurts to even walk. I also have a cold so this has taken the zip out of my energy levels. For this reason, I have been finding it harder when cycling in to work and back.

To address this, I have been concentrating on trying to keep my speed up. I don't like looking down at my speedo and seeing figures less than 20mph. Even when I am struggling into the wind on my way home, I will put the extra effort to counter this and bring my speed back up as close to this 20mph mark. I see it as similar to attacking a hill climb. My ride is normally very flat so this brings in some variety even on the same route.

With the extra fatigue, I have been finding this hard, but with some minor adjustments to my techniques, I am finding I can still ride above 20mph, even into the wind. Spinning fast and smoothly is the trick.

This proves a good point. In a triathlon, we try to use techniques during each event to leave us as fresh as possible for the following discipline. We heavily favor our upper body while doing the swim which leaves our legs fresh for the bike stage. But when it comes for the run, we are using our legs again.

In my experience this week, I have reversed the order of the bike and run and fatigued my legs during running training. I have then had to try to keep up my speed on the bike, even with this fatigue. Just pounding my legs down on the peddles does no good. I can feel that I am grinding them around and getting very little performance out of trying hard.

When however I raise my cadence to about 90rpm, and use a smooth cyclic motion, I feel that pain and fatigue drop away and the speed rises. I stay in the same gear but am now comfortably traveling at over 20mph. If this is done correctly in a race, this should result in my leg muscles being capable or taking me through the run and onto the finish in a good time.

I love understanding the science behind this. The smooth circular motion introduces different muscles and takes the strain off the main power houses that will be needed for the run. A good lesson learned


  1. Hey Dan
    Try unclipping a foot and spinning with one leg for 30sec
    and try to create smooth power through the circle .

  2. I will give this a go. Thanks for the training tip.