Ever watched the Olympics or the Tour De France on TV and wondered just how it was possible for these guys and gals to go so fast for so long. Well.... apart from the countless hours of training and their incredible natural talent, technique takes a major role in their unbelievable performances.

Cycling technique is the one thing that you can work on that will make the biggest difference to your performance. Probably the most important technique that will give you this performance boost is the art of spinning on the bike. That is, how fast your legs go round. This is called cadence.

Should you have a slow cadence or should your legs spin around quickly with a high cadence, and just how fast is a high cadence?

A lot of people think that the best way to get fit, or to beat your mate, or to go the quickest, is to put it in the biggest gear that you can and grind away on the pedals....using brute force. WRONG!

All this will do is make you go slower, for a shorter distance with more pain and probably wreck your knees in the process.

The answer is in spinning. The cadence or leg speed which is considered the ultimate for road cycling (on any style of bike) is 90rpm. That is, your legs are rotating 90 times every minute. If this sounds quick to you then this information is for you.

You see, a cadence of 90 is deemed to be the most efficient way to ride a bicycle. You will be able to cycle longer distances with greater ease, go a lot quicker over a long distance, keep your heart rate up higher and lose a lot more fat in the process. Surely all of these benefits are better than grinding away in a massive gear and just plain old getting sore knees!

If you don't have a cycle computer that tells you cadence then don't despair; all you need is a watch. It's easy to work it out. Simply ride along, count your leg revolutions for 10 seconds and multiply by 6. If it is around 15, then perfect.... You have the ideal cadence for efficient cycling. If it is around 10, 11 or 12, then you have something to work on.

Practice dropping it down a gear and pedalling more quickly until 90rpm feels natural. It is as simple as that. After a while, you will know what 90rpm feels like and you will no longer need to count. This does take a little bit of time, but probably after your 4th ride or so, you will have mastered the technique of spinning.

The only exceptions to this rule are a) riding a mountain bike in the bush where it is virtually impossible to ride at this high a cadence, and b) riding up a hill on the road. In this case it is more efficient to just grunt over the hill and to sacrifice your leg revs a bit. Notice that I said hill, not mountain. Riding over mountains becomes much more effective using a high cadence technique of maybe 80 rpm and occasionally getting out of the seat to rest your back as well as getting you over the steeper parts of the climb.

Happy Cycling!
Howard Duhs