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Old 02-27-12, 10:43 PM   #1
todayilearned
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Looking for progress...

I'm a recreational rider so I'm not looking for a huge performance change but trying to see if I've made the right amount of progress or if I'm slacking.

Been riding for 1 year... 1/2 of that was on a heavy mountain bike then hybrid and now on a road bike. I ride 2-3 times a week and once in a spinning class just since the atmosphere is the same.

For power monitoring I do it at the spinning class on the Keiser M3. Started out at 120 Watts average for 1 hour and now I'm at 150-170 Watts depending on what type of day I'm having. I weigh 190 lbs right now age 25.

The problem I'm having is I keep hearing people hitting 300-400 watts for 30 minutes or so. I can do 300-400 MAYBE for 10 seconds but that's it. Last spinning session the instructor (female looked 130-140lbs) said she was doing 500 watts for 1 minute towards the end of class.

Are my numbers THAT horrible or am I doing Ok for someone who has been doing recreational riding for 1 year?
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Old 02-27-12, 11:12 PM   #2
blcknspo0ln
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I don't know anything about power wattage, but I can tell you that doing interval training will help you in the power output department.
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Old 02-27-12, 11:13 PM   #3
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You need a difference measure of your power besides the Keiser. It may be repeatable but is not accurate and not really comparable from one machine to another. If you want to get a better estimate of your power find a group to ride with and see how you do or better yet find the steepest hill you can and time yourself over a measured distance. You can then plug the numbers into http://kreuzotter.de/english/espeed.htm.
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Old 02-27-12, 11:28 PM   #4
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OK, is there a method I can use to monitor my progress? Which would be best... distance or speed?
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Old 02-28-12, 07:23 AM   #5
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Easy way to monitor your progress: Pick a stretch of road you ride regularly, preferably with light traffic and no stops so you don't have to worry about interruptions. Time and record how long it takes you to ride it, include notes on how hard you felt you were going and wind conditions. Do this every few weeks, don't expect steady improvement (we all have off days), but do compare over one or more seasons. I use a 5 mile stretch of a local bike trail (2 low traffic road crossings), a hill climb that takes about 5 minutes, and a shorter/steeper climb (2 min). The nearest big-long hills are far enough away that I don't ride them often enough for regular tracking purposes.

You can also do a lot with time vs perceived effort (RPE). So instead of recording: "easy, hard, thought I was going to die by the end", record RPE of say, 5, 8, 9.5. Add a heart rate monitor to get measured and maybe repeatable data on how hard you are working. Add a power meter ($$$), or start with gf83's suggestion - sustained vertical ascent rate (weight of rider and bike and all gear is known) will get you into the ball park (the slower speeds when climbing take most of the aerodynamics out of the picture and simplify the calculation).

Your numbers are not horrible and there is nothing unusual about the range of apparent power numbers you are seeing, even accounting for inaccuracies in the measuring equipment. The folks with high W for 30' may have a lot of the right muscle and aerobic capacity, have many more years of riding and training, are geneticly gifted, riding particularly poorly calibrated bikes, exaggerate, or all of the above. My local Computrainer class (power-meter equpped stationary trainers with computer controlled loads, plus several riders have Powertap wheels or Quarg power-measuring cranks) has several riders with significant power ability (they're also strong on group rides and races, so it's not just an indoor effect). You can also have a different power profile (sustainable watts vs time) by training and body make up. Power/weight (W/kg) is another metric, although a lot of climbers make it up on the weight side. "Training and Racing with a Power Meter" (Hunter & Coggan) is the bible for this, and Coggan has published tables of typical power-weight ratios at different durations for a variety of ability levels from untrained to world-class. Ignore what the other people are (or say they are) doing. Unless the power data is calibrated and automatically recorded and analyzed, someone saying they were holding 300W for 30', or 500W for 1' is guessing.
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