Friday, October 17, 2014

Spin Monkey Spin

My workouts over the past couple weeks have called for cadence drills. Basically, it amounts to a set or two of  five 5-minute intervals at higher than normal cadence. The goal each time is to spin at a high (115+ rpm cadence) as smoothly as possible. This means riding without any bouncing in the saddle. The theory is that a smooth cycle stroke results in a more efficient power transfer.

Until last week, I had done very little cadence work. Ever. This is mostly because I didn't fully grasp the value of it. And I suppose I was lazy.

It's amazing what a small investment in time can do to begin smoothing out a pedal stroke. On my first five minute interval, my form began breaking down at 105 rpm. The second interval jumped up to 115 rpm average. The third: 120 rpm. Fourth at 125 and fifth at 127. That was last week. This week, my first five minute effort started at 125 rpm. That's a 19% improvement from last week's starting point. Also, my best five minute average was 135 rpm, but there was a solid minute in there at 145+ and a max cadence of 151 rpm.

My breakthrough came in discovering the role core strength plays. Actively keeping the trunk firm helped provide a more stable platform for my legs to spin freely.

What was also interesting was how the bike felt immediately upon completing the cadence portion of the workouts. There was a new "understanding" that my legs had for the drive train. It was akin to a special connectedness that felt more familiar, like how a well-fitting glove is supposed to feel on the hand.

These first two session have been a successful experiment. It has been solely to see how fast I could spin with very little resistance on the crank. Next week, I intend to start adding more resistance to see what I can hold at a certain power. The goal then will be to identify my sweet spot where I'll produce the best power at the greatest efficiency.

Certainly one can do cadence drills without a cadence meter. But it sure helps to see the raw data. If you're considering a power meter, add this to the justification list. Otherwise, a cadence meter can still be had for cheap.

And that's all for today. Go out and have a spin. Happy Friday

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