Vaaka cadence meter review

7 years 8 months ago #19518 by Love2ski
My wife gave me the vaaka cadence meter for Christmas. This is my review after using it twice.

I am a beginner/intermediate paddler and started paddling a little over a year ago. I started on an xt and a few months ago moved to a new v10. I'm still getting the hang of the boat in the bump.

The vaaka is a simple unit that has no buttons on it. It simply starts when it senses motion. A little red led tells you it is on. Syncing it with my garmin 910 xt was pretty simple. You just change the mode to bike on the gps and follow the steps you can find on the internet to sync the device.

Putting the unit on my paddle was very easy. It just has a rubber strap.

I set my garmin to only show heart rate and cadence. That way I could concentrate only on those measures rather than chasing speed. When I fired everything up the gps quickly found the cadence sensor and my heart rate and displayed both without any issues.

I first tried the sensor in a balmoral blast race on Sydney harbour. I had driven 10 hours the day before and had a week away from paddling eating and drinking. No the best prep. The harbour was surprisingly bumpy and I struggled a fair bit.

Not surprisingly there was a direct correlation between my cadence and my boat speed. When I wasn't struggling with bump my cadence was around 38-40 double strokes per minute. My boat speed was good for me at around 10.5 to 11 kmhr. In the bump I dropped to around 33 and my speed died big time. Also there were periods in the race where I thought my cadence was good but it was 36-38. I was slow during these periods and was tired. My stroke had stretched out and was too long. My boat speed dropped to about 9.5kmhr.

My next paddle was on flatter water. I wanted to see what would happen if I used only cadence as my measure. I tried to maintain a cadence of 40 for the entire paddle. My intention was to shortend my stroke when I got tired rather than slow down.

Over about 13 Kms I maintained a very consistent speed and averaged 10.5kmhr. I really noticed that when I lost concentration my cadence would drop to about 36, my stroke would lengthen and I would slow down. The cadence meter allowed me to see instantly when this was happening and I would push myself to get back to 40. When I was tired the only way to maintain this was to shorten my stroke and use more of my legs and core to do the work. Without the meter I actually would slow my cadence even when I thought I was pushing it. I discovered that the lengthening of the stroke gives a false impression of high cadence.

My heart rate seems to have gone haywire despite a new battery. However I saw enough to see that my heart rate was down by about 10 beats per minute on where it would normally be for a performance like this. This is encouraging as I may have more in the tank now.

I found using the cadence meter very good for training. For me working against cadence as a measure rather than speed forced me to shorten my stroke and rotate properly. This is a very positive approach.

I will also use the meter for racing as I know I have some very slow periods in races where my cadence has fallen away.

I have attached my garmin screen showing the cadence.
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The following user(s) said Thank You: Rod Thomas, ElRicho, kwhatmough

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7 years 8 months ago #19586 by Stew
Replied by Stew on topic Vaaka cadence meter review
Great review, thanks for sharing.

I think you raise some interesting points, in particular one I've looked at, and that's a lower stroke rate in choppy water. Personally I much prefer to keep my stroke rate up in the chop, and in doing so I use a small blade size. I hear many guys pushing use of a bigger blade in the chop, saying that the lower stroke rate makes them feel more solid. I find the opposite, so it's good to see someone else with a similar theory.

I would suggest that you don't try and shorten your stroke out the front to get your stroke rate up though. No matter what rate you are operating at, a strong catch is the name of the game. If you focus too much on getting your stroke rate to a set target, then the first thing to suffer is normally catch and rotation, and we revert to using our arms, rather than just working harder with the legs and body. Quality strokes should be the aim.

I think having live data like stroke rate is fantastic in evaluating your performance, as well as equipment. It's a constant you can measure all others against. It would be great if you could comment in a few months about how your paddling has progressed. Stroke rate is so new to those of us not in kayak programs, and it is very much an untapped resource for surfski paddlers. I'd also love to hear if you adjust your paddle length, and indeed size, as a result of the new knowledge at hand.

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