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  1. #1
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    Racing with a computer

    How many of you guys race with a computer on the bike. I was thinking about this the other day when I got my new computer. It is a Garmin 205. It has plenty of data logging to help my training, but I was wondering if it is really needed in a race. I mean in a race sure it is nice to know how fast you are going, but really all I need to know is who is in front, and in back, if they are closing, or if I am, and how hard I am working, and how much left I have in me. The computer tells me none of that. The nice thing is, the Garmin is easy on, easy off. I can easily take it off for races. Then I can save 88g without it. I am a weight weenie, yes I know. Besides that the bike would be slightly more aero. I strive for every advantage I can get so I am thinking the computer is dead weight, and aerodynamically inefficient. Anyone else ever ponder this, or anyone out there race computerless?

  2. #2
    Carbon Fiber Bones elgalad's Avatar
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    I always race with my HRM/computer, if only because I can download speed, elevation, and HR data to my PC after the race and analyse my performance and where I need to focus my training. Fore example, is there a certain type of terrain where my HR consistently blows up, or is there a pattern in my HR/speed prior to getting dropped, etc.

    I wouldn't worry about the extra weight or aero penalty. The data will be more helpful than the drawbacks will be damaging with regards to your performance.

  3. #3
    elitist jerk daytonian's Avatar
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    OCLV - have you raced before??
    I feel like a soiled kleenex dropped in the gutter in the red-light district of Paris.

  4. #4
    Quarq shill cslone's Avatar
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    I race with my Powertap quite a bit.
    FS: Fuji SL1 frameset, 55.5cm toptube, excellent condition.

  5. #5
    Senior Member bitingduck's Avatar
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    On the track I race without a computer-- the computer isn't going to tell you anything useful compared to what you're going to see with your eyes. In a mass start race the only thing that matters is that you're across the line ahead of other people at the appropriate times.

    When I race crits I have a computer, but again, it doesn't tell me anything useful about how to race. Even the speed doesn't really matter-- you have to go as fast as you have to go. When I've used a HRM in races it was just to record time in various HR zones-- again, you're either in the race or not, and the computer isn't going to help with that unless you're off the front by yourself with nobody else in sight and trying to hold things right on the edge of what you can do without dying.
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  6. #6
    lowracer ninja master lowracer1's Avatar
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    If you race with a computer, the best you'll ever get is 3rd place. You lose aero advantage with a computer on the bike. You are wasting in the neighborhood of .0007 watts with that computer stuck in the wind.......... oh yeah, better pop that zit on yer chin too............. don't want that hanging out there slowin ya down.
    chris@promocycle.net

  7. #7
    Senior Member The_Convert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bonnet View Post
    most pros that race with computers, hrms, srms, and powertaps so if its good for them.. its good for us..
    They also train 30 hours a week, run 6+ inches of drop, have coaches and doctors analyzing every file ....

    What they do has no bearing on most.


    It might be helpful if you already have your sh*t down but more likely just pay attention to what is happening in the race. If the finish line is coming up and there are still bikes in front of you, pass them.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonian View Post
    OCLV - have you raced before??
    Yes.

    Also I should have specified. This question is geared towards mass start road racing. In crits, I could see the advantage of knowing your lap times, and knowing how much you can shave off when you need to go for it. In a TT I can see where if you knew your personal best, and striving to better that at every split, but for a mass start race I see no advantage to using a computer. Even in a TT I can see where besting your best wouldn't work depending on conditions, such as wet or windy. The only time I ever used it is to check my speed, but there really was no since to it, I don't feel knowing it was of any advantage. Also I have never TT, or done Crits, but I have Road Raced.

  9. #9
    Little Pony obra3's Avatar
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    I do.

    Good to know the amount of time in the red zone. With my Garmin, my main screen is taken up with 5 fields. Largest is HR, four smaller ones are lap time, distance, speed and ascent.

    RR: red zone time
    TT: ability to ride at exact threshold
    Crit: lap time and red zone
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  10. #10
    Mr. Dopolina Bob Dopolina's Avatar
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    How about how far it is to the feed zone? Or how far it is to the next climb? How about hearing on the radio that the break is 2:30 up the road and knowing you have 60km to bridge or reel them in.

    How about looking at your HR and seeing you need a few more km to recover before your attack? How about realizing you haven't eaten in 40 minutes so now might be a good time?

    How about knowing you can really squeeze a few more watts out as you work in a break? Or bridge? Or chase?

    How about seeing what kind of speed the others in the break are pulling and doing the same work, but no more, so you can jump them at the end?

    Downloading your race and looking at it afterwards is, by far, the best way to analyze and adjust your training.

    Maybe those who say if the finish line is coming just pass a bunch of people wouldn't find any of this information useful. I do.

  11. #11
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    I only use an HRM but if I could afford a Powertap or the like, I'd use that too.

  12. #12
    部門ニ/自転車オタク NomadVW's Avatar
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    I do, but pay little attention to it whilst riding unless I'm all by myself and want pacing for the long haul. Otherwise, there's plenty to look at around you.
    Envision, Energize, Enable

  13. #13
    Senior Member bitingduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina View Post
    How about how far it is to the feed zone? Or how far it is to the next climb? How about hearing on the radio that the break is 2:30 up the road and knowing you have 60km to bridge or reel them in.
    Not a lot of races around here where those questions are even going to come up. And radios are only allowed in P/1/2 races in the US. If he's in those races he already should know if a computer will be useful to him.

    How about looking at your HR and seeing you need a few more km to recover before your attack? How about realizing you haven't eaten in 40 minutes so now might be a good time?
    You should be able to answer the first without an HRM, and and the second is again not going to be useful in a 1 hr crit. Almost any race where feeding will be necessary will have other cues.

    How about knowing you can really squeeze a few more watts out as you work in a break? Or bridge? Or chase?

    How about seeing what kind of speed the others in the break are pulling and doing the same work, but no more, so you can jump them at the end?
    determined by the race-- you don't need to know how fast the break is going to minimize your effort in it.

    Downloading your race and looking at it afterwards is, by far, the best way to analyze and adjust your training.
    yes, it is actually useful for that. But more power for longer, and with faster recovery is always going to be useful in a mass start, and you can figure that out as much during training as racing.

    Maybe those who say if the finish line is coming just pass a bunch of people wouldn't find any of this information useful. I do.
    I have friends who focus on their power and speed and can tell you how much power they were doing at all different points during the race, and how fast, and all the various telemetry almost as soon as the race is over. They don't race well in mass starts, because they get hung up on that, not on crossing the line first. The ones who do well either can't tell you that, or tell you later because they don't know until they downloaded it. For someone who doesn't know whether to race with a computer or not, they'll learn to be a better racer faster without one. Then it can become an occasionally useful tool later, but not something to get hung up on.
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  14. #14
    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    If nothing else, knowing the elapsed time and distance are useful in just about any race unless you know the course inside-out, and it's not a crit.

  15. #15
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    Take off my HR monitor during a race.

    I would see the big numbers and psych myself out. Easier not knowing whta my heart rate is since it won't make it any easier and I don't worry about blowing up/recovering.

    Leave on the regular computer but I don't bother looking at it, the speed is what it is.

  16. #16
    The mods changed this... damocles1's Avatar
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    If you have the time to look at your computer during a race, you aren't going hard enough. I don't even notice the PowerTap head until the race is over.

    And I hate to say it, if you show up with a Garmin on your bars, you'll immediately be pegged as a noob and someone to stay away from...

  17. #17
    semifreddo amartuerer 'nother's Avatar
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    I've been experimenting over the past couple of months, doing a series of local hillclimb races both with and without my PowerTap. The anecdotal evidence from this suggests that I do better...at least on hillclimbs...with it rather than without, even though it's quite a bit heavier than my non-PT wheel + computer.

    Probably doesn't apply do just any ol' computer, but with the PowerTap I'm able to meter out my effort more sensibly. I know roughly how much I can put out over various time periods, and I know roughly how long each climb is going to take. So I usually shoot for close to my number, maybe slightly below for the beginning and slightly above for the end. Without it, I blow myself out too early and suffer mightily.
    Can you pass the test?
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  18. #18
    base training heretic Squint's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jit5 View Post
    Take off my HR monitor during a race.

    I would see the big numbers and psych myself out. Easier not knowing whta my heart rate is since it won't make it any easier and I don't worry about blowing up/recovering.

    Leave on the regular computer but I don't bother looking at it, the speed is what it is.
    Are you really that susceptible to an LCD display?

    Why not just put tape over the first digit so when you're HR is 185 you think it's 85 and keep attacking? Psych yourself in instead.

  19. #19
    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by damocles1 View Post
    If you have the time to look at your computer during a race, you aren't going hard enough. I don't even notice the PowerTap head until the race is over.

    And I hate to say it, if you show up with a Garmin on your bars, you'll immediately be pegged as a noob and someone to stay away from...
    I dunno, if you're going so hard you can't look at your computer, you may have upgraded too early.

    I'd never notice another rider's Garmin to shun them.

  20. #20
    Dances With Cars TRaffic Jammer's Avatar
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    If all you look at is speed then no, you don't need it for racing. Unless you are gathering some sort of telemetry off it it's useless except, as above, to count kms to the feed zone, sprint point or the BIG hill.

    Everything else is irrelevant in the race.. it's how you place that counts.

  21. #21
    Blast from the Past Voodoo76's Avatar
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    Remember a MI State RR sometime in the middle 90's. Dude in the break not only wearing his HR monitor, but had the audible alarm on. Funny, everytime that thing went off on a hill 2 or 3 riders would attack

    I've never quite understood this. To me race day isn't about fitness, it's a game. There are certain points in a race you need to react to, regardless of the speed your heart rate, power output ect. Sometimes you can rest, sometimes you gotta dig deep. My HR and wattage doesn't matter, when it's time to bridge or sprint I either make it or not.

    Oh, in answer to the question. Never use a spedo or HR on the Track, leave the spedo on for Crits because im too lazy to take it off. Always use them training.

  22. #22
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    During long hill intervals I perceive my effort to be much more than it is (in reference to HR) with out looking at the monitor. Knowing I'm able to increase HR another 10bpm before the "red zone" say, I increase the effort. PE is super deceptive.

    So, for me at least, this is directly applicable to ITT's and road races where a long climb or chasing or maintaining a break is concerned. Works in a crit while chasing or maintaining a break as well.

    Other than that while riding along in a pack, referencing HR is useless. The only other function I monitor is distance during a rr or tt.

  23. #23
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    The only races where I use my Powertap to help dictate my pace are hillclimbs and TT's. For these two events I use the meter to pace myself for the max power I can do for that duration. TT's I'll start a bit under FTP and then ramp according to feel and distance to the finish.

    For crits and RR's either you can respond to the moves and stay in the race or not. The caveat to this is the breakaway. If you're in one or going to instigate one then having a powermeter along can be really nice. Just peg it for 60 seconds and then try settle into the max power you can for the proper duration to the finish.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Voodoo76 View Post
    Remember a MI State RR sometime in the middle 90's. Dude in the break not only wearing his HR monitor, but had the audible alarm on. Funny, everytime that thing went off on a hill 2 or 3 riders would attack



    That's classic.

    This thread really has me wanting to race. That's only what, 4-5 months away?

  25. #25
    Senior Member Duke of Kent's Avatar
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    We did that to a teammate of ours at a training race last spring. Hilarious.

    I ride with a computer in all types of races. In crits I turn it sideways (stem mounted) because I don't want to scare myself into slowing down if/when I start or bridge to a break. In road races I actually monitor it so I know when/where the feet zones are. The former will change this year, as I'm racing in the 1/2s now, and doubt I will get many opportunities in crits. But, as I get to travel further abroad for RRs, I'll be doing long climbs and will have to see what kind of power I'm capable of producing multiple times.

    The only time I ever have the current power displayed is during a climb, just because it's something to look at and take my mind off the pain. "Oh, I've never seen numbers in the 600's for a minute before. Hmmm." Otherwise I have it set to display max speed and max power.
    "If a non personal post makes you feel as if you've been attacked, maybe the problem IS you."

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