Garmin Connect: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/388469533# (250 watts)
Strava: http://www.strava.com/activities/88212382 (164 watts. You'll see why in a bit)
Today was my first ride with the power meter. I was coming off of a cold so I probably should have put this off at least another day, but I am too impatient and decided to go for it.
I got about 200 feet down the road before I noticed something was wrong. I was wobbly, and the brakes were rubbing, in spite of having adjusted them last night. What I failed to notice last night is that the hub on the wheel is either a 125mm or 130mm hub when my bike needs 135mm. ARGH. Hopped off and bent the frame together with the QR so that there was no gap and the wheel didn't wobble. Then I readjusted the brakes. Forgot to adjust the derailleur as well, but I got on and kept riding.
I noticed the shifting was off pretty quickly, but I also didn't feel like getting off to fix it again since that would likely mean going back home and putting it on the stand. I made a mental note to simply avoid the biggest cogs, in case the frame alignment caused the chain to be off enough to throw the chain into the spokes.
So I left it on the power screen the entire ride. No miles, no speed, no distance. Just power. Strava says I normally do 150 watts, which seems pathetic to me, but I supposed I was probably weaker than I felt. I figured I was a 200 watt kind of guy. Almost immediately I noticed some interesting things.
First, even the slightest rise can pop me over 600 watts (30s), easily. That surprised me, but it makes sense when you look at how heavy I am. I was trying to maintain speed on the rises and since I weigh so much I need to output so much more power. When people say that weight is everything in cycling, they're not kidding. I ***REALLY*** need to lose more weight.
Second, it's amazing how fast your wattage drops as soon as you hit a slight decline. Using this knowledge I decided to increase my power output every time I saw it drop below 200, even if I was descending. This was very easy to do at first but became weary in the last 5 miles. That being said, I was still able to average 250 watts for the ride. I didn't set that as a target until about halfway through when I saw I was averaging about 260. Strava is always reporting wattages of 150 for me, so this was surprising.
For this upload to Strava I made a C# program that strips out all power data (TCX files are XML, just remove all <Watts> nodes) and uploaded it to see how it compares to actual power data. Strava says 164 watts. Powertap says 250. Since actual instrumentation is involved in the powertap (and my ego is a bit stroked), I'm going to go with the PT numbers.
So I feel better about myself. This was really eye-opening. Strava has been under-reporting my power for ages and I felt mediocre. Now I know better. I have to wonder if the Strava numbers are so off because it can't factor in wind, and that I'm so far out of the bell-curve of the average athlete. Regardless, an actual power meter will definitely help me to be a more consistent rider, as well as train better, and get a more accurate picture of how much work I'm really doing. Now that there's power numbers... there's no more cheating.
My next steps are going to be to get used to the power meter a bit more. See what my power does when riding in groups, what the relationship of power to speed is when I'm in different positions, different gears and cadences and so on. After that I'm going to try to perform a self-administered FTP test so I can begin calculating my power zones. I'm going to have fun with this toy.