The Advantages of Measuring Heart Rate and Cadence in Cycling
Cadence, when used in the cycling context, means literally the number of revolutions of the crank, per minute; basically, the pedalling rate of the cyclist. Most cyclists have a preferred cadence at which they feel comfortable and at which they are achieving the best velocity, but in training most keen cyclists like to keep an eye on their cadence and try to improve it, measured against a power meter and heart rate. A racing cyclist will average between 80-120 rpm, although a sprinter may reach 170 rpm over short distances. But within that range, the cyclist will have found their comfort zone and will aim to stay within it, no matter what the gradient or conditions, by using extra effort or the gearing of the cycle.
HR in a training context is very important and shows the athlete how they are improving their overall fitness. Cycling computers that keep a record of your pulse against cadence and power output are very useful in this. Many cycling computers in the higher end even have an audible alarm when the heart rate goes out of the average parameters. This is useful in the first instance of preventing the cyclist from straining beyond their fitness level, but also shows as a peak on any stored graph to show the other conditions the cyclist was under when the peak occurred. Calculating training zones by using Maximum Rate and Resting Rate can be quite complicated mathematics, but a reasonably sophisticated cycle computer can calculate this for you.
Cycling computers which measure heart rate and cadence can help enormously in any training programme. A simple heart rate monitor is useful alone up to a point, but without a measurement of the pedalling rate is not a full aid to training. Most cyclists aim for a steady cadence first; this does not come naturally, as it is the body’s reaction when tired or when heart rate rises to slow down the work done. This is partly due to the build up of lactates in the muscles, which in turn is linked to heart rate. It takes a while to be able to push through, and the guidance given by the cadence monitor is a great help with this. When the cadence training is complete, using the heart rate as well will show how well the cyclist can manage to keep up a regular pedalling pattern when the power output is being increased by gradient or other conditions.