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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 10-09-08, 04:35 PM   #1
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Power Meters and Clydesdales

Hi All,

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.
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Old 10-09-08, 06:01 PM   #2
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These are some of the points that a guy I rode with this summer was telling me about when I asked about power-based training vs. target heart zone training. We were talking less about weight loss and more about increases in overall riding strength, but it was a similar conversation.
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Old 10-09-08, 07:55 PM   #3
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I'd love to have one. Right now, finances are the obstacle. I'd love to have the Quark one that hooks-up with the Garmin 705. But I have my eyes on a cheaper used PowerTap.
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Old 10-09-08, 08:09 PM   #4
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Seems to me that that's all a big waste of time and money. If you want to lose weight and you're not (or you're not losing fast enough to suit you), simply eat less and/or exercise more until you achieve the results you want. There's no need to worry about the's the over-all results that matter.

Of course, if gadgets and analysis turn you on, I guess it makes for good hobby.
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Old 10-10-08, 08:39 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by deraltekluge View Post
There's no need to worry about the's the over-all results that matter.

Of course, if gadgets and analysis turn you on, I guess it makes for good hobby.
If you're eating less and exercising more, then you ARE worrying about the details. This is simply one way to let you do that more accurately. I would argue that most people could use some help in that regard, for if they didn't, there wouldn't be much of any need for a forum like this one. I'm glad that it's so easy for you, but that's not always the case for the general population.

As for the expense, walking/running burn calories too, and the only equipment you need for that is an occasional new pair of shoes, so why bike at all? If expense is that important, you've definitely picked one of the most expensive ways to do it already. I guarantee that at least 99% of the readers on this forum make more money than I do, so I certainly don't take the expense lightly, believe me. However, if you are going to spend money on equipment, I repeat that this is one area that the money will be well spent, and certainly better than spending it on fancy wheels/frames/parts/gasoline. I see plenty of people out there with dura-ace/ultegra/record etc. equipped bikes that have absolutely no need for it whatsoever, so there's plenty of wasted money out there that could be better spent on other things.

If you'll re-read my post, you'll note that I lost my weight without the benefit of a power meter, so I never claimed that it can't be done without one, it's only a way to make it easier for you. There are several techniques to achieve weight loss and no two people are going to do it the same way. Choose what works best for you and don't be afraid to try something new.
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