Pro Tips: Talking Cadence with Julie Krasniak
A few weeks ago I noticed an Instagram conversation around cadence. It was a photo of Julie Krasniak scarfing a snack, but one commenter noted that she was riding in the small ring, which led another commenter to note that he had seen her ride 120 miles in the small ring, spinning 110 RPMs all the way. Julie then provided a brief explanation of her high-cadence strategy. It got me thinking.
I average 80-85RPMs for most rides. I don’t think about it much. But what if I did? What if I could bump it up a bit? Would there be any benefits? Would it make me more efficient. I started asking around to find answers and I started at the original source: Julie herself. Krasniak is a pro cyclist with the Rapha Focus, a 4th generation bicycle racer and 12-time French National Champion. She was kind enough to answer a few questions for me via email. In the next installment, Coach Russell Cree of Upper Echelon Fitness and Rehabilitation will break down some of the science and training strategy behind the things that Krasniak mentions here.
Krasniak recently moved from France to Portland and is improving her English language skills at an impressive rate. I have left her responses mostly un-altered, except where necessary for clarification.
1. I’ve heard you spin a pretty mean cadence. How many RPM’s do you average on a ride? How many RPMs were you averaging when you were riding on junior gearing?
I try do be around 110. When I was junior and before, our game was to be around 120 because it was the cadence of guys on track who were beating chrono!
2. Is it the same on a hilly ride or a very long ride?
You can’t do it on a hilly ride, but you can try. The goal is to get closer and have everytime the right gears to take the best of a high cadence, it’s never spinning and you everytime have to feel pressure on the pedal.
3. Where did you learn this?
My dad was a bikeracer then a coach, and he was really focus on that because it’s how he was training when he was on national team, in Poland and in France. Also it’s the best way to improve. When you pro, you ride everyday anyway, everybody do the same kind of intervals, the trick is to focus on how you do it, you have to focus on details to be better.
4. Obviously, you’ve been very successful with it, why do you think it works? What are the advantages?
I wasn’t that successful. But I believe I did good on races because of that. I was a small format, climber profile; small muscles, fragile health, but I do have really high endurance capacity since very young, and I did win or do really well at races on flat because I mixed this natural capacity with a work on my cadence. It was really important for TT and I liked to race it. If you able to keep high cadence, whatever the ride, you can be 100% all the time when other competitor will need rest. It’s why riding on a [stationary] trainer is so hard, because you never stop to turn your legs, you get no rest. You want be able to do that on race, give everything. Training that way is a good way to be ready. On mountain bike, you can’t never let your focus go down, so even you are on a downhill, you body keep the effort and it make you confident to keep pedaling. Same when you escape on the road, it’s time to never stop to pedaling until the line, which it’s not the case if you are on the pack.
5. I noticed when riding the Tour de France last year in a peloton of older Dutch men that most of them push a very big gear, turning over maybe 65-70 RPMs. Is that a Dutch thing? :)
Well, push a big gears works, to win a sprint or for cyclo. But if you want win Tour des Flandres, you need a different strategy! Cancellara dropped Sagan, seat on his saddle, and you can see his cadence is higher than the one of Sagan, who have to sprint to try to keep up, and then he just explode, while Cancellara just seat on line, aero, keep turning his legs without showing a shadow of pain. Cancellara is a great example of what you can accomplish working on your cadence – be world champ of TT, yellow jersey on Tour de France, eventually win Tour des Flandres and Roubaix in a row… Be like Bo Jackson, be good at everything because you get good skills!…
6. Any tips for how to increase cadence? Drills your coach taught you or things you learned along the way that help?
A screen with a number, I believe you have to practice for years with a Garmin or a Polar to start to feel what is your more efficience cadence. Each person is different, you can’t really do it if you are not ” a big engine”, have natural huge lung and a heart with great potential. High cadence will make work your body faster, it’s like an engine on a car which will rev high, some will get burn if you go too high…!… It’s something you can improve just for fun, for some reason, the fiber on your muscle you use on high cadence will regenerate as it go, while using just power [spinning a lower cadence] will make you tired faster and will need days to make new fibers. Or you can be dutch :-). Don’t go from 90 to 110 in a day. Do it step by step and be aware of what you are before start this kind of new stuff in your training. If you don’t like TT or win race in a break, well, you maybe don’t need to change anything!