Anyone using cycleops powercal (HR based powermeter)? Thoughts? Impressions?
For those who don't know about this, it's a heart rate monitor that also sends a "power data" signal to your ANT+ computer monitor. While not true power data (as one would get from a crank, pedal, or hub based powermeter), it's supposedly based on a sophisticated algorithm based on the analysis of reams of power/HR data from multiple cyclists in the databanks of Cycleops (one of the big 3 companies in the powermeter business).
When I first heard of this, I thought it'd be perfect for my needs. I have over 15 bikes (yes, I'm addicted but that's a different thread) and 3 powertap wheels. I have 3 different computers for the powertap wheels (one's a wired comp model and the other 2 are ant+ computers - a garmin 500 and a joule 2.0). I have several other standard bike computers for some of the other bikes which just measure milage / speed etc. Uploading the power data into my computer based software program (WKO+ 3.0) has never been difficult. The problem is, the majority of my miles are commuting and I rarely use a powertap wheel when commuting as those are generally recovery pace kinds of rides and I don't like leaving a powertap wheel locked up outside all day while I work. I'm too lazy to try to manually enter the commuting milage into the WKO+ software so I never really know my total milage or, more importantly, my true weekly / monthly TSS (training stress score) for training purposes. With the powercal, I can use it on any of my bikes and whenever I'm not using a powertap wheel and easily upload the data into the WKO+ software along with real power data. Yeah!
When cycleops first announced the powercal ~June 2011, they were designing it to be calibrated to each individual end user using his or her real world power/hr data (some kind of ramp test procedure using the powercal and a true powermeter). This, they claimed, would give accuracy in the ballpark of 5% if I remember correctly. They scratched that idea (marketing decision, I'm sure) and ultimately released a powercal that doesn't require calibration and is claimed to be within 10% accurate (again with their algorithm based on reams of power/hr data analysis). Though less accurate and individualized, it's simpler to use and they cut the MSRP in half to $100. Considering I'm cheap as well as lazy, I didn't mind the decision.
What I'd like to hear from the group are your thoughts and impressions on how are they using theirs with training (opinions from those without one are welcomed, too). I've used mine for 2 rides now. It definately works as advertised and was a breeze to set up. I'm not one who can watch his bike computer while riding (other than some occasional brief glimpses). So, I can't comment much on what's going on during the ride. However, when reviewing post ride data in WKO+, the average power rating for the entire ride seems rougly consistent with the normalized power score i'd get with an actual powermeter for a similar ride / similar perceived intensity level. The powercal seems, for me anyway so far, to be a little higher but certainly in the ballpark of 10%. Some of the things I wonder about are how might my age factor in (I'm 2 months shy of 50yo)? Is the algorithm based on data from younger cyclists who's hr and power respond differently (max HR declines with age, right)?
Anyway, I love my new toy, and now have little excuse not to take my cycling to the next level. All I have to do is actually learn how to fully take advantage of my WKO+ software's capabilities now! I'm new to training. In a nutshell, I started commuting 6 years ago, got my first powermeter 2 years ago to see how I might "stack up" against the "competition", and went on my first group ride last year. I hold my own pretty well in the group rides - especially in my age bracket. I've yet to race, but that's one of my goals. Up to now, my power data hasn't really been used much in a training way. It's been fun/interesting to get some snapshots of my power / power to weight / max power etc, but I haven't done any real periodization cycles to take things to a new level. I want to become familiar with that kind of training and perhaps one day get a coach. Any feedback on this would be appreciated.
I appreciate anyone who's taken the time to read my new thread. Much of what I'm asking is personal. However, I figure a tread like this could help more than just me. Hopefully, I put it in the right place and haven't broken any forum rules.