cadence and flow

is there a sweet spot for cadence; a point at which the extra effort to gain speed is counterproductive; where the muni wants to go at a certain rate and seems to flow best in a certain discrete window? and is there more aesthetic pleasure in hitting obstacles on the trail slowly, relying on balance and thinking ahead rather than relying on momentum, force and survival instinct?
sorry if these questions are odd

Different people approach trail obstacles in differnt ways, so it depends more on your stlye and what you think will work. I’m not much of a hopper, just never got into hopping, BUT I still wanted to overcome obstacles, so I developed techniques for rolling obstacles. My style is more like a biker than a trial rider.

This style has served me well, I feel like rolling obstacles is faster, safer, and more efficient. As a result of my style, I have a preference for larger wheelssince the bigger the wheel the bigger (obstacles) it rolls. My standard muni is a 29er, my newest trail ride is a 36er. As I have been learning to ride a 36er off road, I have found the limits of my abilities and endurance. Big wheels are fast, but they take a lot of energy to maintain stability and flow when the going gets bumpy.

Wheel size, cadence, to roll or hop, even crank length, they all combine to form a “package” that has pros and cons. My reluctance to hop might lead to me walking some obstacles, while at the same time my ability to roll saves me energy and makes my riding faster and more flowy. I can hop and at times I do hop, and there are times when I think that doing more hooping would make me faster, but I just don’t care for hopping, so I don’t.

Some folks are natural spinners, meaning that they have the coordination, body/muscle type, etc that allow them to run a higher cadence. The are things you can do to make your spin faster and smoother, like running shorter cranks, riding a narrower tire, pretty much reducing those things that inhibit spin. I am not a fast spinner, never was one on a bike or when I trail run, I have big bones and heavy legs, so I tend to hammer away with torque vs horsepower.

There is a perfect cadence, you know it when you find it, but it’s always changing depending on conditions, concentration, and stamina/fatigue. The stronger you get, both physically and mentally, the faster you can ride and the longer you can sustain a high cadence. In other words, practice makes you faster. Really, this is where the magic comes from, practice, practice, practice.

And it doesn’t hurt to have a big wheel :smiley:

My style has always been “one obstacle at a time”, picking my way through and round things, always rolling, never hopping.

I went on a Muni weekend a few years ago on Dartmoor. It was my first serious riding with other Muniteers. I learned a lot.

It was interesting to discover that where I saw a patch of rocks, gravel or mud with maybe 5 individual “obstacles” to negotiate, many of the better (and younger) riders saw only a single obstacle and flowed across it at a steady speed. As a result, they used less energy than I did.

The upper limit has to depend on what’s coming next, and the potential consequences of a UPD. However, I certainly learned that for many situations, attacking a “patch” a bit faster gave the uni the chance to find its way through without getting bogged down. It’s the changes of speed that burn the energy.

If you do this, it is important to get out of the saddle and let the uni react to the ups and downs while your own mass travels in a straight a line as possible. Think in terms of reducing the “unsprung weight”.

Yes, riding through the patch will often work better than isolating the obstacles, both mentally and physically I find that I can cruise through more easilly if I just ride out of teh seat and let the uni take the route of least resistance.

This is one of the reasons I like a bigger wheel, it provides more stability for this style of riding, esp a 36" muni.

I did two rides yesterday, the first on my 32 x 2, the second on my 29 x 2.4, and even though I had far more cushioning on the 29er, the 32er bridged obstacles much better and led to a smoother ride overall.

I am a pounder i run medium cranks and not much of a spinner.