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Old 11-05-11, 03:49 PM   #1
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Output in watts to be competitive?

Anybody got data on how many watts (threshold) i'd need to be producing to be competitive at 50+ on road and track?
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Old 11-05-11, 04:11 PM   #2
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There are members here racing with powermeters, and though I've not raced I'll add my two cents FWIW. First, it is more about w/kg at threshold than absolute watts. Also, your power profile, the power you can produce for any given duration will also predict what your strengths and weaknesses are. There are very few true all arounders as most people tend to be adept at a one thing or another. Training your weakness can be the best way to improve. While not a specific answer, if you develop a power profile over time and testing you can identify what to work on and where you need to improve. Dropping weight really helps of course as less mass is quicker to accelerate and makes it easier to fight gravity at any given power.
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Old 11-05-11, 08:04 PM   #3
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BikeWNC makes a good point. I'm 6' and weight 170. My strength is crit racing and the sprint finish. I'm only an average road racer, decent at the TT and never raced on the track. My cp30 LT is 260 watts and my sprint is well over that. My competitive record is on my racing blog at http://icycleoc.blogspot.com/
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Old 11-05-11, 09:15 PM   #4
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I am competitive with the most experience at cyclocross racing. I'm 160 lbs and 280 watt ftp. I finished 4th overall in 50+ last year in the chicago cup cx series (about normal 50 competitors).
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Old 11-06-11, 11:09 AM   #5
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There is a table in Coggan & Allen's Training and Racing With A Power Meter that provides Watts/Kg for different ability levels, and where you stand on it can also be generated within Training Peaks WKO+ software. I hate looking at the charts because it points out how badly I suck, but I've set up a spreadsheet to track my progression over time in the key Critical Power intervals.

Of course there is also a lot of skill affecting how well you do in a race. - it isn't ALL your power/weight.
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Old 11-06-11, 12:32 PM   #6
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I race in the 55+ peloton and the 60 - 64 for championships events. Masters categories in the USA are very tough. We have a 45+ Cat 1,2,3 and 4 category that fills up with 100+ riders for most races. It is one of the toughest groups. At one of the most difficult road races on a long 3 mile climb, one racer reported to me that it took in excess of 500 watts of sustained power to stay with the lead group on on parts of the climb. The 50+ is not going to be any easier. The track is the same.

I suggest just showing up and race and see how you do. Then you will know where your weaknesses are. There are many key metrics. Power to weight, power to frontal area, power in the first 4 pedal strokes, maximum leg speed, power at the first pedal stroke of a standing start and etc. And as AZT said, skill and tactics play a major role. IMO, it is too complicated to frame as simply as FTP. However, in general, with the exception of sprinting, increases in FTP floats all boats. Good luck.
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Old 11-06-11, 01:27 PM   #7
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w/kg is important on climbs. w/aero drag (frontal area mostly) is what's important on the flat.

Coggan's "e-wang" chart is not meant to show what w/kg is needed for cat 4, 3, etc. It's meant as a way to compare your relative strengths for different time periods. I.e if you have a "cat 1" 5 second power and a "cat 5" ftp then you need to work on your ftp in order to do well in longer races, or race to your strengths, or both. Coggan has said that the first version of the chart had the "category" values too low and he's issued an updated chart.

You can have a good w/kg, not have the ability to respond when the pace goes higher, and get dropped a lot. Or you can have a poor w/kg but be good at hiding in the pack until the right moment and still do well at races. The power required differs in different parts of the country/world as it depends on the level of competition.

Go race and see what happens.
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Old 11-06-11, 02:00 PM   #8
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Coggan's "e-wang" chart is not meant to show what w/kg is needed for cat 4, 3, etc. It's meant as a way to compare your relative strengths for different time periods. I.e if you have a "cat 1" 5 second power and a "cat 5" ftp then you need to work on your ftp in order to do well in longer races, or race to your strengths, or both.
That's exactly what I use it for: (1) changes over time, and (2) an indication of my power profile, so I know what to focus on, and where I'm most likely to succeed.
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Old 11-06-11, 04:07 PM   #9
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I suggest just showing up and race and see how you do. Then you will know where your weaknesses are.
This. OP, i don't have a Powermeter (yet). Just using HR now. But I raced my first crit today at age 52. NOTHING prepares you for a real race experience. Data and fast group rides at so called race pace are fine, as long as one understands that the intensity of the race will be an order of magnitude greater. Specifically, the surges out of the corner--OMG! The silver lining in the cloud (it rained too) is that now I have a much better sense of what racing is about and what I'm shooting for. Again only by lining up and doing the damn thing could I ever really know.

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And as AZT said, skill and tactics play a major role.
And this. Tactically, I now know that riding at the back is not where you wanna be. Seems that in the pack about 1/3 - 1/2 of the way in from the front makes managing the surges easier. Too much braking on the back into the turns thereby creating the need for greater efforts out of the corners just to get back to the pack and hang on. This took a lot out of me.

But, I loved it for the time I could hang on, which brings up the result: got spit out of the back about 3 quarters of the way through. DNF'd. Also, made the newb mistake of forgetting to start the Garmin at race start. Lol. Realized it halfway through or so.

Can't wait for 2012. Being humbled today provides much motivation to train.
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Old 11-06-11, 07:13 PM   #10
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I wonder about the power meter hype. My buddy JasonA (member but doesn't post much) won his category in the Everest Challenge and placed 18th in the ovrall GC.

I see him often on our local climb. We spoke the other day, I was surprised to see he didn't use any high tech power meter stuff afe all the stuff I read on the forums. He said he just rides hard on training rides.

Check out bib #400, Jason A.

http://www.everestchallenge.com/results.ihtml

If you ever see him out there, say Hi, super nice guy!

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Old 11-07-11, 12:34 PM   #11
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Thanks to all for replies.
I am 56 and my 30 min output is 200 W average or 2.9W/Kg.
While taking all the variables and comments into consideration, I guess I have to get that up to 220 to 250W to be competitive. That's a pretty big jump. Is it basically a matter of lots of threshold work over the winter and getting up to the VO2 max in spring?
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Old 11-07-11, 12:52 PM   #12
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If your 30 minute average power is 200 watts your FTP is more like 180 to 185 watts unless you did something to pre-exhaust yourself prior to the 30 minute test. FTP is the power that you can sustain for 1 hour not 30 minutes. Making constant power for 1 hour is a very tough standard. And many very good crit racers have lower FTPs but can accelerate over and over again and sprint at the finish.

IMO, you need a lot of solid endurance z2 and z3 work over the winter with some threshold. As the winter progresses you can increase your the percentage of threshold work and as racing approaches start adding some VO2 max and anaerobic threshold intervals. Think in terms of constructing a building. First, you start with a solid foundation and then begin to add to the height.

As you increase your volume and monitor your power levels, you will see where your strengths lie. This is where a 3rd party coach is very valuable to lay out a program and monitor your progress. Using a power meter and recording workout sessions provides an ideal way to communicate your results to a coach for feedback.
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Old 11-07-11, 02:14 PM   #13
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Thanks for that observation (it's even worse than I thought!) and advice. I thought I had trained pretty well last year - solid base over the fall and winter, interval stuff from Nov., regular racing from March and a good block of anaerobic / VO2 Max in late summer for a few special events. Then I got myself tested when I thought I'd have been at my best.
I'll just have to up the levels all round I guess. But maybe genetic limitations have something to do with it. Yes, a coach would probably be a good idea, even though I don't have a power meter - too expensive.
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Old 11-07-11, 02:44 PM   #14
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How did you get that power number if you don't have a power meter? If it was indoors then you have to account for the "trainer effect"- most people can't go as hard on the trainer as they can outside. Unfortunately theres no consistent scaling factor.

Whatever, I would not decide now that you are genetically limited. Give it a few years (and realize that we're all genetically limited compared to someone).

You don't need a power meter to be fast. But it helps you understand what your training is doing to you. Some people may already be training optimally without that feedback, or may be gifted enough that they can afford to give up the advantage that comes from using a PM. However it's hard to say without trying one.
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Old 11-07-11, 02:54 PM   #15
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'How did you get that power number if you don't have a power meter?' - like I said, 'I got myself tested'. And, believe me, I went 'hard'! Yes, I agree the 'numbers' aren't everything but a useful indicator non the less.
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Old 11-07-11, 03:16 PM   #16
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I suspect the late summer events and anaerobic efforts put your FTP into the toilet. They certainly did for me. My watts at Lactate threshold on a recent metabolic test showed a drop of 30 from a June FTP test (outdoor 20 minute Coggans protocol), and it was a full 60 watts less than a metabolic test a year earlier, when all I had been doing was base and threshold.

The test you did - was it a metabolic test, or purely a power test on a computrainer or something similar?
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Old 11-07-11, 04:01 PM   #17
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IMO, your power is not worse than you thought. It is one data point in time and I doubt that you are genetically limited. I think your power is neither good nor bad.

Also, I agree that the level of effort on a trainer indoors is more difficult to make the same power - 5 to 10%. So depending how you want to calculate FTP taking that into account, your 200 watts may be about right.
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Old 11-07-11, 07:49 PM   #18
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This reminds me of a funny story about riding w/ powermeters:

Last May a ride I was on took a detour specifically to make use of a 2 mile stretch with a negative 1 grade where the kids love to sprint their brains out. So we went for it. Six of us, pounding the crap out of ourselves in a crazy-stupid drag race. Fun.

We get to the end, and the last guy to roll up to the finish line happens to have a powermeter. He announces "You'll be happy to know we were doing 900 watts during that effort."

One of the women who got to the finish ahead of him (everyone got there ahead of him, he rolled in last) says "I'm pretty happy to know I exceeded 900 watts!"
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Old 11-08-11, 04:02 AM   #19
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"The test you did - was it a metabolic test, or purely a power test on a computrainer or something similar?"
It was on a Wattbike in a gym, done by a professional. I know there are a million ways to 'interpret' the date, but this just about sums it up best:

Three minute test - Av: 340 W or 5 W/kg
Peak power – 1171 W or 17.2 W/Kg
30 min – Av 200 W or 2.9 W/Kg
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Old 11-08-11, 08:56 AM   #20
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I looked at the Wattbike website. I doubt that the power registered is very accurate. That is based upon experience with similar bikes that have power measurement I have used at gyms. And we have professional trainers at my gym who are very good at strength training but know little about cycling and cycling performance. So unless the professional was an experienced certified cycling coach and you know the power meter was calibrated and tested against a standard, I would not put much credence in the results. If you know better then accept the results.

The reason power meters for road bicycles cost as much as they do is about the small form factor, weight, accuracy and repeatability of results in different ambient conditions under demanding stresses for long periods of time. And power meters have test protocols to calibrate power from time to time.
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Old 11-10-11, 08:20 AM   #21
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That's impressive?
What age are you?
What is the main training component to get you to that level?
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Old 11-10-11, 08:38 AM   #22
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I wonder about the power meter hype. My buddy JasonA (member but doesn't post much) won his category in the Everest Challenge and placed 18th in the ovrall GC.

I see him often on our local climb. We spoke the other day, I was surprised to see he didn't use any high tech power meter stuff afe all the stuff I read on the forums. He said he just rides hard on training rides.

Check out bib #400, Jason A.

http://www.everestchallenge.com/results.ihtml

If you ever see him out there, say Hi, super nice guy!

That about sums it up for me as well. My competitve racing days were accomplished well before the advent of power meters and we all got by without it. Not to say there isn't a training benefit as there is, but nothing replaces a solid training plan and execution of it. The only racing I do now is cross and mtb. No need for a power meter. I still lead shop road rides and have no problem doing the bulk of pulling. Power meters may help, and maybe they are an affordable toy to many, but they don't make you a racer. That comes from within.
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Old 11-10-11, 10:08 AM   #23
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Lots of good answers on here, cant add much diferrent.
My Stats are 310watts FTP at 58kg.
Thats good enough to have got me multiple UK road medals
That would certainly win you a lot of races in my part of the world as well. Congratulations.
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Old 11-10-11, 10:18 AM   #24
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That about sums it up for me as well. My competitve racing days were accomplished well before the advent of power meters and we all got by without it. Not to say there isn't a training benefit as there is, but nothing replaces a solid training plan and execution of it. The only racing I do now is cross and mtb. No need for a power meter. I still lead shop road rides and have no problem doing the bulk of pulling. Power meters may help, and maybe they are an affordable toy to many, but they don't make you a racer. That comes from within.
There are lots of things we used to get by without, but that doesn't mean they are without value. I got by fine withjout my iPhone, but it is a worthwhile tool that I enjoy using. Just how valuable modern tools are is of course an individual thing. Along with metabolic testing, and the application of other areas of increased scientific knowledge, power meters are a tool that can help target workouts more precisely, evaluate progress, and manage effort in a race. How valuable that is depends on your goals and perspective.
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Old 11-10-11, 01:39 PM   #25
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I like my iPhone a lot and think it is totally cool to pay for Starbucks with the App. I would like to get rid of all the credit cards and pay with the iPhone.

I cannot remember a time that I was not working out with weights in a gym. How strange it would be to walk into a gym and all the weights would look the same and there would be no weight stamped on them. And the weights would contain a property that would allow them to get lighter as I increased reps without my knowledge. That way, I could search for a weight and start doing reps all based upon feel and perceived effort. As the weight decreased its value as I did more reps, I could feel better about myself. At the end, I could write down a perceived result at best qualitative and at worst completely wrong. That is the world of cycling without power measurement.

A power meter is the equivalent of stamping the weight on the barbell. The cyclist knows how much power is made at all times and it is recorded for post analysis later and sharing with 3rd parties. As the cyclist fatigues and the power drops the cyclist knows that even though the perceived effort seems like it is the same.

Old school methods to connect perceived effort to power is timing known distances and breaking up intervals into short segments where the cyclist monitors the time and sees if he is gaining or losing against targets. This is possible but a PITA. A power meter does this for you plus records the information. At the track, we use the stop watch and timing short segment is easy such that power measurement is not as valuable.

As AZT says, a power meter is a training aid and not a substitute for motivation, perseverance, discipline, consistency and talent.

I think they are totally cool and make cycling and training a lot more fun.
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