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  1. #1
    Senior Member johnybutts's Avatar
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    Another Power vs RPE stream of thought

    I sold my power meter. I'd had it for 4 years I think. I've spent untold amounts of time learning about "training with power" and training in general.

    At some point a few years ago someone asked on here about setting up some hugely complicated training regime and one of the elders responded, "Just make up a workout that sounds really hard and go do it." So that's what I'm doing these days rather than looking at power numbers.

    This has freed me from the time spent looking at the data. I don't even take my garmin out anymore (strava iPhone app). and basically just track hours in the saddle. Some of my workouts are hard, some are easy.

    One of the keys to this is that during the week, I ride the exact same 1.25 mi cycling-path loop every single weekday. 10 minute warmup to get there, between 40-60 minutes working out and 10 min home. So I've literally reverted to using "average speed".

    I'm going to begin throwing some legitimate intervals in here in another couple weeks. I'm not going to be *too* strict with the timing. If it's 2x20 and I end up with 2x18, I won't care. As long as I feel like some midgets took baseball bats to my legs after the workout, I'll be fine.

    The other parts of the workout don't require power. Spin ups, Mash downs, 1-leggeds, sprints, cooldowns, warmups, etc...

    I'm just gonna see how this goes.
    I'm sure when you were getting to the point of blowing nothing was obvious but making the pain stop...I don't know about you but after the fact I always look back at those moments and think 'why didn't I just keep going' but at the time there wasn't enough oxygen on the planet to make me take one more pedal stroke.

  2. #2
    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    I've gotten to the point that I don't spend much time looking at my data at all, rarely analyzing a given ride from a power perspective. On the bike though, power guides just about everything I do in training. I'm so low volume that I won't burn out with 3 week blocks and 1 week of recovery no matter what my CTL looks like. It's not that I'm sick of analyzing data or anything, it's just that I've been doing this long enough that I know what it's going to look like and no longer get benefit out of the analysis.

    I would like to get a new head unit to get HR back into the mix though. I don't know how it stopped working on my Cervo, b/c I haven't dropped this one. I liked having HR to track recovery rates during "hard" recovery between intervals (rather than costing/JRA for 5').

    I think this will go well for you. Your RPE should be fairly honed from power training.

  3. #3
    Senior Member RedLeg's Avatar
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    I keep thinking of liberating myself as well. I still have the PT wheel on. My Garmin 500 bracket is broken and I have been carrying the computer on my jersey pocket. I may just ditch the whole thing.

  4. #4
    You blink and it's gone. rbart4506's Avatar
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    I've been riding sans PT since my wife needed mine for training...

    Since it's fall and most of my training has consisted of solo tempo rides with low cadence as the focus I haven't really missed the PT. Plus, I've actually made some gains. In September\October, on our weekly team ride. I never hung on for the shenanigans heading home. I was usually one of the first getting dropped, but now I'm there for a good part of it.

    I honestly don't miss the PT out on the road, but definitely need it indoors on the trainer....Then again, I'm sure if I didn't have it I'd make due somehow...
    "On the other hand riding down a hill at 55 MPH wearing (essentially) women's underwear and a Styrofoam cup on your head is the epitome of rational life-extending decisions." - RacerEx

  5. #5
    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    Interesting. I find that on the trainer, with my normal cadence, I know about where my power is, in a given gear.

  6. #6
    You blink and it's gone. rbart4506's Avatar
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    I do find the same thing as the winter progresses, especially for longer intervals (2x20's and such)...

    Every /winter it takes a bit to get into the swing of indoor workouts. I rarely if ever ride the trainer during the season since I spend so much time on it during the winter. That early period is where the PT is invaluable, providing me invaluable information. For example, after about 6wks of 80rpm tempo workout my optimum power seems to be produced in the 92-95rpm range. Last year it seemed to be in the 100-105 range, but there was very little top end power and I seemed to fad quite easily. This fall that fade hasn't been happening as fast and hence explains the ability to hang on when with the team.
    "On the other hand riding down a hill at 55 MPH wearing (essentially) women's underwear and a Styrofoam cup on your head is the epitome of rational life-extending decisions." - RacerEx

  7. #7
    Fast for a sloth miwoodar's Avatar
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    I think the usefulness of riding with power goes down as you learn your strengths/weaknesses and you learn how to train better. I'm not surprised when I see a cat 1 who's riding w/o power because more often than not that guy has been riding competitively for 10-20 years. What can power really tell him that he doesn't already know?

    My indoor trainers are wacky. I spend most of this time on the rollers which is dependent to how I fold the towel that goes under the drum. Folding it the same way every time does not ensure consistency. My fluid trainer gets much easier after it warms up (~30 mins?) so there is a sliding scale that I haven't gotten used to yet.

  8. #8
    Resident Alien Racer Ex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by miwoodar View Post
    I think the usefulness of riding with power goes down as you learn your strengths/weaknesses and you learn how to train better. I'm not surprised when I see a cat 1 who's riding w/o power because more often than not that guy has been riding competitively for 10-20 years. What can power really tell him that he doesn't already know?
    A lot. A very long list of things actually.

    I still find it extremely useful. I'm a Cat 1 and have been doing this for a while. With a few exceptions, I think a PM's value goes up the higher up the ladder you are because at that point a percentage here or there really matters.

    But like any specialty tool, the willingness to use it and proficiency at operation dictates whether it's worthwhile or not. Coupled with a good training plan I've seen guys with years in the sport make pretty big improvements. But the key there is a good training plan and again, a willingness to use it.

    A book on building a house can be very valuable if you actually read it, but it doesn't build the house. If you use the pages for toilet paper a book seems really expensive. And you can certainly build some type of house without a book.

  9. #9
    Senior Member johnybutts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Racer Ex View Post
    A book on building a house can be very valuable if you actually read it, but it doesn't build the house. If you use the pages for toilet paper a book seems really expensive. And you can certainly build some type of house without a book.
    #NoHomeOwner
    I'm sure when you were getting to the point of blowing nothing was obvious but making the pain stop...I don't know about you but after the fact I always look back at those moments and think 'why didn't I just keep going' but at the time there wasn't enough oxygen on the planet to make me take one more pedal stroke.

  10. #10
    Wheelsuck Fat Boy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Racer Ex View Post
    But like any specialty tool, the willingness to use it and proficiency at operation dictates whether it's worthwhile or not.
    +1

  11. #11
    Fast for a sloth miwoodar's Avatar
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    I can see that. Like you said though, it's gotta be intensively used. It can't be for decoration.

  12. #12
    Senior Member topflightpro's Avatar
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    I've been toying with the idea of ditching my PM. I've been using it steadily for about five years now, and it has helped me a ton. In fact, I found it so useful, I bought a Quarq for my wife.

    But I have not been using the PM or HR or a computer over the last three months or so. That is mostly due to the fact that since I tweaked my knee, I haven't been putting much effort into my rides so I saw no reason to track power.

    After substantially changing my training plan last year and upping my total time on the bike, I am getting a little burned out. I am thinking that by riding with out the PM for a little while that will allow me to just enjoy riding without worrying about effort or HR or mph or anything else.

  13. #13
    powered by Racer Ex gsteinb's Avatar
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    Winning races helps keep me from burning out. True story.

    If one is getting burnt it's a pretty good indicator that something is awry in the training plan.

    I find a PM helps me on the high and low end. Low end, I go too hard when I should be going easy. High end, I've got more in the tank than I think. The numbers don't lie.

    I can guess tempo range stuff pretty accurately all day long.

    Of course, I won a few races without the PM. I've won more, and bigger races with.

  14. #14
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    The longer and less intense the effort, the more useful the power meter, for me at least. If I'm going to go out and do a ride of an hour or more at a specified wattage, I really appreciate it keeping me honest at the start, when I'm feeling fresh, and at the end, when I'm feeling shagged out.

    On the other hand, WRI's and shorter: I can just use a watch. Or even just sprint for signs.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  15. #15
    **** that mattm's Avatar
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    I rode "jedi" (no data at all, not even speed) for a good part of last year, it was fine, I won some races.

    But after upgrading and deciding I wanted to train more/better, I went back to power. Reminds me I need to replace that damn battery..
    pro-meter: lol

    blog

  16. #16
    going roundy round wanders's Avatar
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    I've become so dependent my power meter that if I don't have the data, the ride never happened.

    Odd thing is, since almost 80% of my time on the bike is on a trainer in the basement, even with power, the ride never happens.
    Quote Originally Posted by CastIron View Post
    Damn.

  17. #17
    Wheelsuck Fat Boy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by miwoodar View Post
    I can see that. Like you said though, it's gotta be intensively used. It can't be for decoration.
    A guy in my club commented one time, "I've gotten rid of my Powertap. All it told me was that I put out the most power when I was pulling away from stop signs." I didn't even try to get into it any further with him.

  18. #18
    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    I won the same number of races last year as this year. last year I trained with power and raced by RPE. This year I had power for training and racing. I also had a coach for the latter half. A power meter is invaluable, almost a requirement, if you have a coach. I don't ride anywhere without power now. It' not that I'm super interested in what I put out, it's more about the long term stress and what that means for the future.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by shovelhd View Post
    A power meter is invaluable, almost a requirement, if you have a coach.
    +1. I didn't get my Powertap until I started using a coach, and she convinced me. It's impossible to quantify your output with RPE, since it's so subjective. HR works better, but is still subject to other factors - heat especially, which is a huge factor where I live.

    I'll do an endurance or recovery ride with just HR, since the window on them is so wide. But I'm putting aside money for a second PT so I can have two bikes to ride when I need power, without having to put all the wear on one wheelset...plus that second wheelset is sweet (RR465s with Ultegra hubs).
    Regards,
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  20. #20
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    This is interesting because I am on the other end of the spectrum at the moment. I just got a powermeter a few months ago and right now I am in the process of calibrating my RPE and Wattage. I could definitely see where it could become redundant when you get an idea of how to actually use your strengths to ride.

    One personal thing I have noticed though is that everyone seems to approach power differently. I am further on the spectrum of not listening enough to it, I have another friend who I feel is too much on the spectrum of listening to it. For example I have a very difficult time riding a single consistent wattage, I have a tendency to surge when I shouldn't. My friend on the other hand is amazingly consistent with his power but he seems to let his power numbers limit him.

    For example on the way back from a century we were in familiar territory and when we hit a hill he says "Okay lets just do this, I wont look at my powermeter". So we start climbing and he keeps up with me easily (As he should, he is probably 15 lbs lighter then me, on previous hills I was crushing him just riding a steady tempo). All of a sudden he looks down and goes "Oh my God! Way too much power!" and immediately backs off.

    I guess the moral of my story is that it seems like people either let their RPE dictate their power or their power dictate their RPE. I dont really know which one is better. But I feel like for both of us it is providing some measure of training those two to get closer together.

    Atleast this is coming from a neophyte.

  21. #21
    powered by Racer Ex gsteinb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dnuzzomueller View Post
    This is interesting because I am on the other end of the spectrum at the moment. I just got a powermeter a few months ago and right now I am in the process of calibrating my RPE and Wattage. I could definitely see where it could become redundant when you get an idea of how to actually use your strengths to ride.

    One personal thing I have noticed though is that everyone seems to approach power differently. I am further on the spectrum of not listening enough to it, I have another friend who I feel is too much on the spectrum of listening to it. For example I have a very difficult time riding a single consistent wattage, I have a tendency to surge when I shouldn't. My friend on the other hand is amazingly consistent with his power but he seems to let his power numbers limit him.

    For example on the way back from a century we were in familiar territory and when we hit a hill he says "Okay lets just do this, I wont look at my powermeter". So we start climbing and he keeps up with me easily (As he should, he is probably 15 lbs lighter then me, on previous hills I was crushing him just riding a steady tempo). All of a sudden he looks down and goes "Oh my God! Way too much power!" and immediately backs off.

    I guess the moral of my story is that it seems like people either let their RPE dictate their power or their power dictate their RPE. I dont really know which one is better. But I feel like for both of us it is providing some measure of training those two to get closer together.

    Atleast this is coming from a neophyte.

    hmmm. But, that's one of the things it's for.

  22. #22
    You blink and it's gone. rbart4506's Avatar
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    Exactly....Chances are he would have blown up if he kept at that pace...

    Just because he was keeping up at that moment doesn't mean he wasn't on the rivet...

    That is one of the prime benefits of training with a PM, it allows for easier pacing of your efforts and in the case of a climb allows you to make it to the top without blowing up.
    "On the other hand riding down a hill at 55 MPH wearing (essentially) women's underwear and a Styrofoam cup on your head is the epitome of rational life-extending decisions." - RacerEx

  23. #23
    powered by Racer Ex gsteinb's Avatar
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    It doesn't necessarily even have anything to do with being on the rivet. If you have a plan and then go out and start going off the plan you're just hurting yourself.

  24. #24
    You blink and it's gone. rbart4506's Avatar
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    True...
    "On the other hand riding down a hill at 55 MPH wearing (essentially) women's underwear and a Styrofoam cup on your head is the epitome of rational life-extending decisions." - RacerEx

  25. #25
    Senior Member topflightpro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gsteinb View Post
    Winning races helps keep me from burning out. True story.

    If one is getting burnt it's a pretty good indicator that something is awry in the training plan.
    Looking back, I think burned out was probably a bad term to use. I think frustrated with my training and unfocused are better phrases.

    As I've mentioned several times, I tweaked my knee pretty badly in late August - doctor thought I had a partial tear of my patella tendon - and that completely derailed my off season plans. I had been pretty gung ho about training this fall to have a spectacular race season next year. But it has been a very slow healing process and only now, three months later, am I really able to start putting time in on the bike, and I am still not 100 percent. My fitness is awful and it is frustrating.

    The hardest part has truly been the mental aspect. Going from riding five to six days a week to riding one to two days at most left me with a ton of free time that I really didn't know what to do with. I am optimistic that getting back to riding more regularly will help me regain my focus and motivation and reduce my frustration.

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