I don’t often ride with earphones, especially commuting, but I wanted to find out what my natural rhythm or cadence was when cycling. I tried to do the same with running a few months back and found that I ran somewhere between Fratelli’s Chelsea Dagger which felt a bit stompy at 76 bpm to This Charming Man that was an ever so slightly frantic 99 bpm. Last night I found a tool on the internet that interrogates the MP3s on your hard drive and works out the BPM for each track. With this info I realised that pop music is more likely to be around 120 BPM why I was struggling to find music to run to.
Moving on to 2 wheels, I’ve read that a higher cadence is recommended for triathlon or time-trial cyclists as they need to be as efficient as possible rather than as strong or fast as possible. Triathletes only compete against each other in the final running discipline so with just the clock and your personal best in mind, the ability to vary your cycling pace from your optimum is not required. Higher RPM means less pushing per turn and less of a strain on your body. To do the same speed in a higher gear (lower cadence) would require more power and therefore more muscle. Larger muscles consume more carbohydrates and so are less efficient (and there’s the extra weight to carry too). I suppose it’s like comparing a classic Ford V8 block with a Japanese multi-valve VTEC engine that revs almost twice as high. If you don’t need the power to generate that low end grunt you’ll find you are refuelling less and running leaner with less power whilst you use your gears to rev higher.
I think my natural cycling cadence is around 100 and today I’ve learnt that my latest MP3 of my running tunes wouldn’t be quick enough. However, I’ve found out that when running; Let’s get excited (78 bpm), The boy does nothing (87 bpm) and Cinderella Shoe (97 bpm) mean that Alesha Dixon is very well suited to my natural rhythm [ahem].