On the topic of speed and rate of pedaling. Every cyclist is different. A little about the importance of cadence.
Not sure who wrote this but it is a good quote to start with:
"As anyone who’s ever ridden with a power meter knows, you can produce the same wattage and go the same speed by pedaling 60 rpm, 100 rpm, or any other cadence. It’s all about the work you’re producing, what feels comfortable, and what you can sustain. That varies from person to person.
If your legs are giving out before your lungs, go to an easier gear and increase your cadence. If you’re gasping for air, but your legs are fine, switch to a harder gear and bring it down. Practice switching back and forth and pay attention to how you feel. It’ll help you find the right rpm for you to ride stronger longer."
Much ado about it and you know why? It is something really important.
First off, I don't think any rider should ride the same cadence all the time.
We have all seen gear mashers, we have all seen spinners.
To each his own.
The thing we need to keep in mind is all cadence is not created equal.
I think of it like this:
We have two separate engines we can tap into for big efforts.
(I like the idea that I have two separate power sources to tap into, makes me feel like I have a reserve! There are times I wish I had four or five, but I digress).
We have high cadence, which taps into the fitness engine, ie, lungs,
and we have low cadence with taps into the power engine, ie, legs.
Big gear, low cadence efforts will put more strain, more stress on your legs and produce a fatigue load that takes longer to recover from.
Higher cadence efforts utilize your fitness, but keep the legs fresher with a fatigue load that is easier to recover from.
So, to apply this to an actual ride, It means use higher cadences when possible to keep your legs as fresh as possible.
Smash a big gear only when you have to.
This is all part of managing your workload as you ride, but you have to think about it.
Now, of course there are exceptions to the rule. Sometimes, you may spin away because you are trashed and just can't put out any watts.
Sometimes you may use a low cadence because you are also trashed and can barely turn the pedals.
The point is, I am talking about hitting high watts by using either a higher or lower cadence. Those two types of efforts affect your legs and recovery differently.
A really good example of this for me was watching Armstrong and Ullrich battle. Lance, OK, king of dopers, but still, he started a whole high cadence era, but you have to be crazy fit to do that, to push big watts at high cadence. Ullrich was a gear masher. I used to wonder, how much better would he have been had he spun a bit more, especially during long events like the Tour. I would think he would have recovered better, but he was comfortable using those low cadences. Makes you think.
To sum up, cadence is a part of the whole package when it comes to measuring and judging your efforts during a ride, and the longer the ride the more important it is.
You have to take care of business, and the business is keeping as much gas in the tank as possible until you really need it.
Use cadence management to do that. It works.