Armstrong’s high cadence power vs. Ulrich’s pedal mashing approach displayed one of the most dramatic difference in climbing cadences you may ever see in the pro ranks. Remember how we define power for cycling (indoors or out)? It’s a product of, or at least intimately tied to both the resistance or gear as well as your cadence. While the gears will be all over the place outside depending on the hill, indoors it’s just a matter of more or less. However, your cadence in both environments will directly affect your power as well: higher cadence, higher power. Nevertheless, you can’t just spin at 120 RPM everywhere you go, nor would you want to as it can put significant demands on your aerobic conditioning. Instead, it becomes an efficiency issue to pedal at an RPM that taxes your aerobic capacity the least, while generating the most power; the optimal cadence/gear ratio that gives you the most power for the least effort.
One of the best aspects of buying or using one of the new bikes with power, is that it will typically come with a whole host of training tools. While this is generally a good thing, for some people, this can be a bit intimidating. Fortunately, as it relates to cadence, there are just a few things you need to know.