Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: SE USA, Appalachia
Bikes: 98 Litespeed Natchez
Power Meters and Clydesdales
Being a serious cyclist for 20+ years and having spent a good deal of time recently in Clyde status, I'd like to point out some of the advantages this piece of equipment can have for big riders. Being also a licensed USACycling coach, IMO if you are going to spend any money on equipment this should be at or near the top of your list. I know these units can be expensive, but they can be well worth the money, especially for a daily rider. Don't make the assumption that these units are only for serious racers, they have many uses that ordinary riders can use, some of which are even more helpful for big riders:
- Allows one to accurately count the number of calories burned on a ride. This is CRITICAL to a proper weight loss program. Cycling is much more difficult than other types of exercise to accurately predict the calories burned due to the many variables that can distort the calculation. Consider just a few of the more major things that can vary the difficulty: Wind speed ( always changing ), tire pressure/rolling resistance, terrain ( a MAJOR factor for Clydes ) , temperature/air density, drafting, riding position (aero bars,etc.), equipment or weight changes to the bike, road surface (loose dirt,bumps,etc.), and lastly your own personal weight ( which, of course, can vary greatly even during the ride itself ). A power meter can all but eliminate all those variables for you.
- Having a power-based reading allows you to spend less time focusing on the speed you ( and others around you ) are riding and focus on the actual work involved. This can give you something to shoot for in your training, even if your weight is not ideal. A power meter can let you shoot for a "personal best" even if you have gained some weight back ( which is usually a time when most people's motivation takes a hit ). This can help you through the rough times by keeping you on the bike and active. A power-based reading can give you positive feedback even if you aren't going at top speed.
- Having a more accurate calorie count will help you to avoid under and over eating, each of which is important in a weight-loss program. This will help smooth out the days where you feel fatigued or hungry by keeping you from trying to create too big of a calorie deficit.
- Allows you to focus more on your training and calories, and less on what kind of equipment you have. How often have you worried about putting something heavier on your bike and how much it will slow you down? Having the power meter will steer your attention away from that and towards where it needs to be, on the actual amount of work that you are doing. Put as many tires/tubes in your pack as you want, use heavy tires/wheels/etc., carry a 15 lb. sack of groceries home, whatever, it will all be taken into account. Back hurting? Sit up and don't worry about being "aero". Etc. Etc. Etc.
- A big advantage these units bring is taking into account your personal weight as it changes ( which is the ultimate goal, right? ). A drop/gain of 20 lbs can make a major difference in the amount of calories you burn per mile. A power meter assures that you have a seamless transition in your calculations as your weight changes. Having lost 100 lbs myself in a rather short period of time, I know how much this can vary, especially on hilly terrain. I spent a few years out of the sport, so I didn't purchase one of these units right away until I learned more about the technology, but I wish I had obtained one sooner during the time I was losing the main part of my extra weight. It would have made things a whole lot easier if I had.
Of course these units also come with a whole other host of training tools and data as well, I just wanted to point out some of the specific things they can do for big riders. Many of these units can be had used for less than retail, especially if they are on non-cutting edge wheels. There are also bottom-bracket units available. Used Powertap units on standard 32-spoke wheels usually go for around US$800-900 for the newer wireless models and the older wired versions can be had for a lot less, some for less than $500. Not cheap in any event, but considering what many people spend on equipment well worth the money IMO. A hub-based system lets you switch the unit to different bikes, while a BB-based system lets one change wheels easily - each has it's own advantages/disadvantages.
Hope this helps some of you and good luck with the battle.