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Old 05-28-08, 12:47 PM   #1
eriksbliss
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Power Meter -- Is It For Wussies, Too?

Assume that:

1) I am about to be forty years oldI have been cycling for just over two years -- a hobby I selected to lose weight, but then got addicted -- and racing for about a year. By racing, I mostly mean weekly events at the Velodrome: other than that, I have three USCF Cat 5 criterium starts, a handful of 20K time trials, and a few short, non-sanctioned road races.

2) I'm not that fast. My three criteriums have been (a) a DNF, (b) getting pulled with a few laps left while in about 25th place out of 50 starters, and (c) a back-of-the-pack finish. I do better at the track, with some "podium" finishes against a 20+ person field that is usually guys who are Cat 4s.

3) My priority will always be track racing -- I like it best. My ultimate road racing goal is to be "competitive" in Cat 4 criterium-like races and 20K time trials (meaning, for example, that I don't finish every criterium at the back of the pack). I have no aspirations to do longer road races. I doubt that, at my age and weight, and with my limited time, I will ever see Cat 3: if I do, it's gravy; if I don't, I'm won't be disappointed.

4) I ride/train on the weekends, about 35 hard miles on Saturday with a group ride, and 50 miles or so on Sunday on my own or with a friend or two. I track race on Tuesday nights through the summer. My work and family commitments prevent me from riding more. While I enjoy racing, and would like to be better at it, it is not enough of a priority for me to sacrifice the work or family time.


At each of my Cat 5 criteriums, I have seen many in the field pull up to the line with PowerTaps on their Zipps. That seemed, to me, overkill. But what do I know?

Would riding/training with a power meter be that much help to me? How would it help? Or is it, frankly, not a wise use of money for a guy at my present level and with my future aspirations?
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Old 05-28-08, 12:54 PM   #2
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If you're committed to improving, get a power meter and a coach. Those who suck will see the greatest gains from focused training.

With regards to riding time, I'm in the same boat. But I've started either a) waking up at 4am; or b) going to bed after my wife so that I can get in more ride time. If you want to do it bad enough, you'll find a way.
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Old 05-28-08, 01:07 PM   #3
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Buy Training and Racing with Power by Allen and Coggin. It will give you a good idea of how you might use it, and whether it's something you would use.
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Old 05-28-08, 01:28 PM   #4
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A power meter will measure a Cat 5's power output just as well as a Pro's.

If you are going to continue doing the same set of rides for your training, I would think the PM is not worth it for you. If you think you will alter that training based on your power testing to include some intervals or other specific workouts, and especially if you might add a workout or two during the week then it might be worth it. Like merlin said, Hunter & Allen's book will give you a good overview whether you choose to buy a PM or not.
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Old 05-28-08, 01:51 PM   #5
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Power Meter -- Is It For Wussies, Too?
from what i've seen, yes.
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Old 05-28-08, 01:53 PM   #6
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I'll say what bd said in a different way. A PT is a tool. A coach can tell you how to use that tool more effectively given you limited schedule. IMHO the coach is the more useful of the two.
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Old 05-28-08, 01:53 PM   #7
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oy
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Old 05-28-08, 02:00 PM   #8
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from what i've seen, yes.
I'm living proof.
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Old 05-28-08, 02:04 PM   #9
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a Cat V who rides about 100 miles a week needs neither a power meter or a coach. Unless you're looking to spend money for the sake of spending money it should be impossible to justify the cash outlay. Read Friel's book. Train as hard as you possibly can, given your limited training hours, and most of all enjoy yourself.
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Old 05-28-08, 02:08 PM   #10
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a Cat V who rides about 100 miles a week needs neither a power meter or a coach. Unless you're looking to spend money for the sake of spending money it should be impossible to justify the cash outlay. Read Friel's book. Train as hard as you possibly can, given your limited training hours, and most of all enjoy yourself.
I'm beginning to think this advice is appropriate for a certain Cat 3 who rides +/- 175 mi/week ...
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Old 05-28-08, 02:23 PM   #11
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I'm living proof.
of what? darwin's theory of evolution?

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Old 05-28-08, 02:27 PM   #12
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wussies? what's wussies?

Wussy not wussies.

F-ing wussy.
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Old 05-28-08, 02:28 PM   #13
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a Cat V who rides about 100 miles a week needs neither a power meter or a coach. Unless you're looking to spend money for the sake of spending money it should be impossible to justify the cash outlay. Read Friel's book. Train as hard as you possibly can, given your limited training hours, and most of all enjoy yourself.
Such logic has no place in these confines. The appropriate answer to any suggested purchase of bike stuff is, "yes, it will make you faster, but for $XX more you could get YY which will help even more." Geez, Gary, haven't you learned how this place works?
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Old 05-28-08, 02:55 PM   #14
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I think you'll find the overwhelming majority of PM owners will tell you they have been worthwhile investments, and the majority of people who will tell you not to bother with one don't own one.

A better saw does not make a better carpenter though, unless he knows how to use it.
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Old 05-28-08, 03:02 PM   #15
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^^^ +1

You're at the point where you can make enormous gains without a power meter, but having one could make the process more efficient. As you get stronger and stronger, it becomes easier and more meaningful to integrate the power meter into your training. It's never necessary, but it sure doesn't hurt.

Mine has really helped me quantify my form and track my improvements.
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Old 05-28-08, 03:17 PM   #16
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Just a bonehead suggestion. I'm in no way an experienced racer but shouldn't he take a look at his current training plan and try to improve as much as he can without a power meter. Once he's reach a "plateau" then he should look for other means to help him improve.

One thing I might suggest is alternating your group rides. Are your group rides with clubs or racing teams? There's a big difference.

I guess I'm asking cause I see a lot of guys at races with PM's and I'm always wondering if it'll be worth the purchase or just HTFU and focus on my training.

This is coming from a poor guy that races.
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Old 05-28-08, 03:25 PM   #17
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I think you'll find the overwhelming majority of PM owners will tell you they have been worthwhile investments, and the majority of people who will tell you not to bother with one don't own one.

A better saw does not make a better carpenter though, unless he knows how to use it.
I think this is the key. In the right hands, a powermeter is a very powerful tool. But if you already lack the capability / initiative to stick to training plan, have many interruptions to your training plan, or generally just aren't willing to train enough, I doubt a PM will solve those problems. If you are dedicated to the sport, are focused and work hard at it (as folks like you and WR do), by all means it seems to be a useful device.

The first part describes me. During part of the year, I follow a regular schedule, but that schedule is easily disrupted. The biggest aid to me right now would be more miles and more structure. For me, a PM would likely be another reminder that I don't spend enough time riding and that my riding is poorly structured. Knowing me as well as I do, I would ignore that reminder just as ably as a cheap HRM I once had that would implore me each hour to get up and move (with a lovely running graphic!).

So my actual perspective is that in the right hands, a PM is very useful and appropriate. In my hands it would be a pretty gizmo that would give me data that I more than likely wouldn't make very good use of. That same reality is one reason I am not a very good bike racer.
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Old 05-28-08, 03:32 PM   #18
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^^^Well put.

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shouldn't he take a look at his current training plan and try to improve as much as he can without a power meter?...
A better tool used properly will yield better results.

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I guess I'm asking cause I see a lot of guys at races with PM's and I'm always wondering if it'll be worth the purchase or just HTFU and focus on my training.

This is coming from a poor guy that races.
HTFU is an outstanding concept to apply to racing. Not always so good for training though. Too many guys go out, put in big rides, go to the race and fail. They figure they aren't training hard enough, go out and destroy themselves during the week, and do even worse than the week before in the actual race.

WR is probably the best example of someone who had limited time and knocked himself out training. From what he's told us (and please step in here if I'm incorrect) is that the PM woke him up to what he was doing wrong. He made changes, added more structure and now he's a guy that the others are watching and trying to get rid of.

I can tell you pretty much the same tale. Real training is not about HTFU, it's about STFU. (Smarten baby).

But yeah, they aren't cheap.

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Old 05-28-08, 03:39 PM   #19
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I think you'll find the overwhelming majority of PM owners will tell you they have been worthwhile investments, and the majority of people who will tell you not to bother with one don't own one.
yes, because you're all enlightened and we have no idea

it isn't really true. there should be a progression in what one needs to help them train. at that level one is simply better served focusing on developing training discipline, bike handling, putting time in the saddle, and learning to suffer. the idea that one should spend 1k on a power meter and x dollars a month on a coach to ride 100 miles a week is really pretty silly.
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Old 05-28-08, 03:44 PM   #20
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I'll say what bd said in a different way. A PT is a tool. A coach can tell you how to use that tool more effectively given you limited schedule. IMHO the coach is the more useful of the two.

Unless your coach is going to ride with you, you'll get a lot more use out of your coach if you have power files he can review.

IMHO it's penny wise, pound foolish to pay $150 a month for a coach, and not spend $750 one time for a powertap.
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Old 05-28-08, 03:49 PM   #21
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Old 05-28-08, 03:57 PM   #22
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yes, because you're all enlightened and we have no idea
Enlightened is your word. I'd use educated and experienced. And thank you for proving my point.

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the idea that one should spend 1k on a power meter and x dollars a month on a coach to ride 100 miles a week is really pretty silly.
To you. I think commenting on the value of something I've never used and have no experience with kinda silly too, but such is the Internets.

Counting the races I've done I've averaged somewhere around 120-140 miles over the last 6 weeks. I guess I should fire my coach and sell my SRM's.
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Old 05-28-08, 04:04 PM   #23
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I guess I should fire my coach and sell my SRM's.
Dude, that's a great idea! When will we be racing again?
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Old 05-28-08, 04:04 PM   #24
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I've used power, and do so regularly. But I've also been riding and racing for two decades, and think that it's part of a natural progression. But you like to assume things which is kind of silly too, but such is the Internets.
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Old 05-28-08, 04:46 PM   #25
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I've used power, and do so regularly. But I've also been riding and racing for two decades, and think that it's part of a natural progression. But you like to assume things which is kind of silly too, but such is the Internets.
I'm sorry you took my initial post regarding the plethora of PM opinions as some kind of personal insult and saw fit to fire back with sarcasm and condescension. I think you'll find my statement to be true though. And considering you use power it's puzzling you consider it good enough to use, but not good enough for the OP?
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