Question: Early in my cycling career, I learned to keep my cadence at 90 rpm or above on the flats. The hills are another matter, though. Even with a compact crank and a low gear of 30×25 teeth, I can’t stay above 70 rpm on climbs. How can I improve? — Bill P.
COACH FRED: Many riders can’t spin at 90 rpm on climbs even if they use relatively low gears.
It’s simply a matter of power. The pros can spin fast because they have the power to do so.
High climbing cadence isn’t a result of training to climb that way. Instead, it results from a rider having so much power that he CAN spin fast and thus spare his leg muscles for crunch time.
We tend to self-select our most comfortable cadence.
With a compact (or triple) crank, you obviously have plenty of gears. But a 25 is not a particularly low gear. Cassette ranges are growing all the time, and you can now get an 11-32 for many road bikes. Some riders go even higher and install a MTB rear derailleur to handle the range — which allows them to handle the super steeps.
So, sure, try to keep your climbing cadence above 70 rpm. That’s always a good goal. But don’t worry about climbing at 90 rpm to emulate a pro. No one else is able to do that, either — at least not in the gears they use.