Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Strain-Gauge Perspective

Mostly the information I get from my power meter just provides a different angle on cycling. It doesn't make the riding and racing better, it just adds data mining to the list of things I enjoy that are associated with cycling.

But the one thing that the Ergomo provides that helps me the most is long-term perspective.

Relatively speaking, I'm no stronger in my group of riders than I was 12 months ago. On a good day, I end up in a strong front group, and on other days I get dropped like a trapeze artist with bad timing. If I had no power meter, I might think that I was no better rider now than I was last February. But the power meter tells me that I'd be wrong. I'm a much better rider now - occaisionally dropping or getting dropped by teammates who are also much better riders than they were last winter.

I know that to be true because today I went to my regular hill repeat spot and did a few 1-minute intervals. I was aiming for 60-seconds at 1.5 times FTP, or 420 watts. I decided to do the first interval based on perceived exertion, not looking at the power meter. My average for the interval was 477 watts - and I didn't kill it - I just pushed steady for 60 seconds.

To put that into perspective, you'd need to look back at a hill repeat session I did in April of 2007 at the same location. On that occaision I did 10 hill repeats, all of them about 40 to 50 seconds long, and all of them averaging between 340 and 380 watts. And I can remember that session. I remember how strong I felt and how I couldn't believe that I was holding 375 watts steady. Now I'm a hundred watts stronger for the same interval session.

While the results make me feel good, they don't guarantee race results. Those come from more than just wattage. And the competition may have power meters that are telling them good things, too.

1 Comment:

Colin Griffiths said...

Don't mislead yourself, not many riders will have taken your structured approach, power meters or not. It may be that you just need to think about what happens when things go right compared to when they don't. Perhaps you need to work more on riding clever and outwitting your opponents, you don't have to be the rider with the most watts to win!