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Powertap SL or other Watt meter users: how did it improve your training?

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Powertap SL or other Watt meter users: how did it improve your training?

Old 09-01-06, 10:54 AM
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Powertap SL or other Watt meter users: how did it improve your training?

I'm thinking about a Cycleops Powertap wheel - seeing as how it's the Rage Du Jour in serious bicycle racing. So assuming the super weenies know something I don't (duh) if you actually have one of these gizmos, how did it make you faster? Any input appreciated.
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Old 09-01-06, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by patentcad
I'm thinking about a Cycleops Powertap wheel - seeing as how it's the Rage Du Jour in serious bicycle racing. So assuming the super weenies know something I don't (duh) if you actually have one of these gizmos, how did it make you faster? Any input appreciated.
I don't have one yet but I'll probably buy one next year.
(See "How much did you spend in the last 12 months thread" )

My coach swears by them. I currently train by heartrate, but that fluctuates a lot depending on heat & fatigue. Supposedly it's better to train at a specific power.

The SRM is better than the power tap (more reliable, fewer problems), but of course they're $$$$$$! I have heard that the power tap hubs are not waterproof, so it you train in the rain they're easily damaged, but their customer service is supposed to be pretty good (this is why I wouldn't buy one used).

I don't know how much it would really benefit my training over using just a HRM, but it would be a fun toy and I'd love to see my power numbers when climbing.
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Old 09-01-06, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by patentcad
I'm thinking about a Cycleops Powertap wheel - seeing as how it's the Rage Du Jour in serious bicycle racing. So assuming the super weenies know something I don't (duh) if you actually have one of these gizmos, how did it make you faster? Any input appreciated.
If you go into it with the aproach that a power meter will make you faster, I think you'll be diappointed. I got a power meter because I had specific questions about my training that could be best answered through power. My main question was how well was I distributing my training between aerobic (LT) training and V02max/anaerobic training. By looking at all my efforts for the past week, month, etc. I feel that I get a better picture than was possible before, and based on this, I could adjust my training for the next week or so to make up for deficiencies or emphasize a new area. Since I've had it, the analysis and planning tools have improved so that I can do much more with the power data than I thought possible. Now, I base all training levels on actual performance rather than some formula or estimate, I can identify specific limiters through race data, and I can quantitatively plan a taper. I'd suggest that before investing several hundred dollars in the system, spend $20.00 on this book, which explains what can and can't be done with a power meter. Also if you get a power meter, you really should get cyclingpeaks's WKO+ software to best take advantage of the data.
http://www.amazon.com/Training-Racin...e=UTF8&s=books
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Old 09-01-06, 11:31 AM
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it's not a panacea, but I think it's a valuable tool. I like to suggest Training with Power by Coggin and Allen which gives a lot of information on how to make the most use of it. If you're considering a power meter, read the book and it might sell you. If it doesn't you saved a lot of mney, and if it does having read the book will help you take full advantage of the power meter.

+1 on Cycling Peaks. Way more useful than the software that comes with it.

Training with a power meter is a lot like doing a HR based program working specific zones. However, its more precise than HR alone. Also having HR and power data can help identify what's working for you and what's not.

Just as an example, I'm in phase right now where I'm doing consecutive days of steady state intervals. Often on the second day, its very hard to get my HR to the specified range. However, I can still produce the specified power. If I was doing HR alone, I'd either give up on the interval, or I'd push myself too hard on that second day. With the power data, I can focus on the power to guide the effort and hit the right zone to accomplish the objective.

Also if you work with a coach, the file downloads are a great communication tool that will really help maximize what you get from your coach.

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Old 09-01-06, 11:34 AM
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I take all this stuff with a grain of salt. I don't need a HRM to crush myself on the interval course I regularly train on - I get to the 3 minute interval session section of road and lay down as many watts as I can. And I don't need an HRM to know when I've recovered - although it does help. But 90% of the time when I look down at the HRM to see what it says, it reads what I expect it to. So when I leave it home on intervals day (sometimes I'll forget it) it doesn't seem to make much of a difference. Tuesday is Crunch Day, and Eddy Merckx didn't have a Powertap or HRM on Crunch Day (although you get the feeling for Eddy every day was Crunch Day).

I've been training like this for a long time. And it does make me faster. And that's why I train. To get faster/stronger. I'm not sure why else I'd be out there crunching intervals in the rain. I'd just go out for a ride. As anyone who has trained knows - training is considerably harder than simply riding most of the time. Am I training 'right'? I don't know. I have been able to get quite a bit faster with my training approach over the past 15 years. So the way I train does result in marked improvements in my fitness and speed compared to where I start out. Could I train more effectively? No doubt. I think that's true of most amateur riders/racers.

Hence the questions about the PowerTap. And thanks for the informative responses so far...
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Old 09-01-06, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by patentcad
I take all this stuff with a grain of salt. I don't need a HRM to crush myself on the interval course I regularly train on - I get to the 3 minute interval session section of road and lay down as many watts as I can. And I don't need an HRM to know when I've recovered - although it does help. But 90% of the time when I look down at the HRM to see what it says, it reads what I expect it to. So when I leave it home on intervals day (sometimes I'll forget it) it doesn't seem to make much of a difference. Tuesday is Crunch Day, and Eddy Merckx didn't have a Powertap or HRM on Crunch Day (although you get the feeling for Eddy every day was Crunch Day).

I've been training like this for a long time. And it does make me faster. And that's why I train. To get faster/stronger. I'm not sure why else I'd be out there crunching intervals in the rain. I'd just go out for a ride. As anyone who has trained knows - training is considerably harder than simply riding most of the time. Am I training 'right'? I don't know. I have been able to get quite a bit faster with my training approach over the past 15 years. So the way I train does result in marked improvements in my fitness and speed compared to where I start out. Could I train more effectively? No doubt. I think that's true of most amateur riders/racers.

Hence the questions about the PowerTap. And thanks for the informative responses so far...
Honestly Patentcad, I don't think a powertap really fits your style. To make use of it requires a very regimented approach. It's not for everyone. As you point out, lots of people have , and continue, to ride with great success without power meters or HRM's. I also think the more you know about yourself , and how you respond to training, the less you need a power meter. you've obviously ridden a lot and have a good sense of what works for you. So I can see your side of this discussion.

For it to make much sense to use a powermeter, you have to buy into a zone based system of training.
When I'm doing maximum intensity intervals, the powertap isn't much use, other than to compare progress from from previous sessions.
Where it really becomes helpful is regulating sub maximal efforts. For example, the core of the program I use is a lot of steady state intervals, prolonged efforts right at Lactate or functional threshold. The powertap is very helpful for these efforts.

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Old 09-01-06, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
Honestly Patentcad, I don't think a powertap really fits your style. To make use of it requires a very regimented approach. It's not for everyone. As you point out, lots of people have , and continue, to ride with great success without power meters or HRM's. I also think the more you know about yourself , and how you respond to training, the less you need a power meter. you've obviously ridden a lot and have a good sense of what works for you. So I can see your side of this discussion.

For it to make much sense to use a powermeter, you have to buy into a zone based system of training.
When I'm doing maximum intensity intervals, the powertap isn't much use, other than to compare progress from from previous sessions.
Where it really becomes helpful is regulating sub maximal efforts. For example, the core of the program I use is a lot of steady state intervals, prolonged efforts right at Lactate or functional threshold. The powertap is very helpful for these efforts.
That's the kind of feedback I'm looking for. I might still opt for one - simply because it would be big fun to know how many watts my weenie motor puts out - and then be able to compare that with Floyd Landis or any other rider - in a meaningful, quanitifiable way that exceeds any other measure I can think of outside of a 40km TT time....

Besides, I figure if I buy one for $1100 or so I can use it for a year and eBay it at the end for $600+. I don't even have to eBay it. My trusty LBS will do that FOR me : ).
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Old 09-01-06, 07:21 PM
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I just got my powertap, and fiddling around with it, to be perfectly honest, has has renewed my "fire" after a long season. Might help jumpstart a good cross season? At this point in the year, it's obviously too late to begin a training program (road), but I plan on using the Friel program starting this December, along with CyclingPeaks as the software to help analyze my workouts.

Until today, 2x20mins were just a crapshoot, hoping that I would somehow run into an area with no wind, or hoping that there would be no traffic on the loop I do for workouts. Relying on timing myself per lap was functional, but this is far better in terms of getting a bigger overal picture. Still hit a couple lights and a number-killing downhill, but already I can tell that this will be a great tool.

Now, I haven't even set up the software on my computer yet, but does anyone know if you can get normalized power with the software for a PT Pro?
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Old 09-01-06, 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Duke of Kent
Now, I haven't even set up the software on my computer yet, but does anyone know if you can get normalized power with the software for a PT Pro?
I don't think so, but even if you can - and I can't stress this enough - you must get the WKO+ software (and the Allen and Coggan book) to get the most out of a power meter.
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Old 09-01-06, 08:43 PM
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Yeah I'm getting cycling peaks before I start a regimented training plan with the PT.

Right now I'm just observing the data from rides in order to get a feel for where I'm at right now, and where I want to be at next year. For example observing my numbers from today in order to have a mark to hit at a certain point in the season next year.

Already I can tell that crits are not the right races for me. I don't put out enough pure wattage compared to some of my friends/teammates with LTs in the 350s. Long RRs involving hills/mountains where I can put my watts/kg ratio (where I'm a bit higher than them) to better use would be great for me. Although, maybe with this new helpful training aid, I can make up some ground.
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Old 09-01-06, 09:18 PM
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I just got my PT SL used from ebay this week. I got it the day i had a TT, so it was really neat to get the data for something like that. I also got a full reg for Cycling Peaks, and definitely find it to be leaps and bounds ahead of the Software it comes with.

I too have gotten it too late for this season, but it certainly has sparked a desire to perhaps actually use my trainer over the winter for a change. LOL

I am going to get teh book tomorrow, and look forward to learning and training with this great tool for years to come!!
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Old 09-01-06, 09:27 PM
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It can identify your strenghts and weaknesses. For instance, I have a moderately low 1 hour average power since I am a samll rider. I often had troubles hanging onto the main group in the early season road races, New England style (somewhat long but will huge rollers). Due to insufficient pack riding skill and lower threshold power, I tended to ride at my threshold power for the first hour of the race. But the race was 2 hours long. Since threshold power by definition is our average power in 1 hour, with the way I race I would just get dropped. These information you can find out by doing your post race analysis. If you work too hard in the race, your 1 hour power would be very close to your threshold power, which is not good if the race is 2 hours long. With your power data file, you can find out how many matches you have burn in the race. Or how brightly you burn them.

With training, power meter isgreat to do micro-intervals, 30s ON 30s OFF, for 2 sets and 15 minutes each. Is no longer if you do the interval but how hard you need to do the interval. 30s intervals require you to go 150% to 200% of your threshold power. Think of them like the initial jump of the attack or sprinting out of the corner in a crit. As soon as you could no longer hold the power range, you are done for the day. Without a power meter, you can't do these intervals. You would either do them TOO hard. When you are really fatigue, you would do them less intense.

Since my powetap is with Saris now for repair, I was doing some 2x20 in my local park with my powertap computer working in the HRM mode. Well, it sucked. My average HR was 176 for each set. But my time got slower. It was windy. So, did I lose fitness because my time was slower??? With a power meter, I could simply look at my average power to see if my fitness is good as before. .
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Old 09-01-06, 09:58 PM
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How do you go about determining max 1hr power if you don't do any 1hr/40k TTs?

Is there any way for me to take my 2x20min power and get a figure for what I should be expecting for an hour?

Like XXXw * 85% = 1hr power...?

Also, for those experience with power training:

I've been riding for a little more than a year, and as such have not had a structured training plan yet. I have, however, been riding around 15-16 hours a week (non-race week) with a good amount of intensity two days a week. The rest of the days are long rides or recovery rides. I want to improve a good deal in terms of my LT for the collegiate season.

What is a reasonable amount of power, percentage wise, that I can expect to gain by following a much more structured, periodized training plan?

Background info

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Athletic background: three years high school soccer, 3 years of high school wrestling, four years of high school track and CC, one year of collegiate track (800/1500m)
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Am I forgetting anything?
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Old 09-02-06, 06:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Duke of Kent
How do you go about determining max 1hr power if you don't do any 1hr/40k TTs?
http://www.cyclingpeakssoftware.com/.../threshold.asp
http://lists.topica.com/lists/wattag...?mid=910289158
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Old 09-02-06, 07:09 AM
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I got my PT Pro when I hired my coach. I figured if I was going to spend the time and money on a coach then I'd better give him the the most accurate data. With this data I can just download my ride to my coach and he has all the numbers. Combine that with my written report and he has a complete picture of my workout.
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Old 09-02-06, 02:36 PM
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I really enjoy using the PowerTap. I'm not saying it's indispensable but it does provide another data point to help with training. As a relatively inexperienced cyclist and novice racer it's hard for me sometimes to judge "perceived exertion" so the PT helps me keep my effort *down* when I'm trying to do sub-threshold efforts and it acts as a carrot when I'm doing threshold and VO2Max work.

I have used the PT in two race situations. One was a triathlon relay in which I did the bike leg. Since I knew what my threshold wattage was, I was able to mete out my effort so to speak. The second was a crit in which I spent a significant amount of time at the front of the pack. I wanted to push the pace at the front (because I believe I have good solid-state power but not much experience cornering and sprinting) but I wanted to make sure I didn't overdo it and burn out before the half hour was left. By occasionally glancing quickly down at the PT I was able to have one more data point (along with heart rate and perceived exertion) at my disposal.

Again, I'm not saying a power meter is indispensible but I personally *really* enjoy having one and find it very helpful to my training plan. To each his own, however.

--Steve
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Old 09-02-06, 07:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Duke of Kent
How do you go about determining max 1hr power if you don't do any 1hr/40k TTs?

Is there any way for me to take my 2x20min power and get a figure for what I should be expecting for an hour?

Like XXXw * 85% = 1hr power...?

?
Couple of ways. CTS field test is 2 3 mile tts. Take your average power for the two and multiply by .92.
The assumption is that people can mantian fo r8-10 minutes 110% of their L or functional 1hour threshold. For me, my LT power based on this formula was almost exactly equal to wha t I go t in the lab with blood tests.

Or just ride a lot, enter all your data into cycling peaks. The power level at which your power distribution drops off substantiall is right at your LT threshold.
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Old 09-02-06, 08:00 PM
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Perfect. That's the type of information I've been looking for. I'll turn my monitor over on its side and let 'er rip for 3 miles and see whats cookin'.

(in case you're wondering how i'll be able to tell when 3 miles has passed: out here the roads form perfect 1milex1mile squares. from road to road is a mile.)
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Old 09-04-06, 06:20 PM
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I'm currently testing the "amazing customer service" theory. My powertap SL started acting up after owning it for a month. I sent it to CycleOps a week ago and am awaiting results.
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Old 09-05-06, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by brianappleby
I'm currently testing the "amazing customer service" theory. My powertap SL started acting up after owning it for a month. I sent it to CycleOps a week ago and am awaiting results.
Don't worry they'll take care of you. I recently sent my wheel in for a complete hub rebuild and they took care of everything and didn't even charge me, not even for shipping. They've been right on top of every issue or question I've had with my PTP.
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Old 09-05-06, 09:19 AM
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Saris customer service is great but so are other powermeter companies (except Polar). You just don't hear about it because people don't need to take advantage of their customer service as often.


Originally Posted by El Diablo Rojo
Don't worry they'll take care of you. I recently sent my wheel in for a complete hub rebuild and they took care of everything and didn't even charge me, not even for shipping. They've been right on top of every issue or question I've had with my PTP.
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Old 09-05-06, 07:59 PM
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i noticed some sideways movement in my PT hub today, i guess I'll have to send it in for a bearing job, hopefully they take care of second hand buyers well too!
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Old 09-05-06, 08:11 PM
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Both Saris and SRM will take care of secondhand owners.

You might be able to fix the PT hub yourself or have a shop do it so you don't have to send it in. Call Saris and you should be able to figure out what the best approach is.

P.S. You likely won't get a very fast response by email with either company. They just get too much email but they all answer the phone/voicemail.
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Old 09-05-06, 08:53 PM
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I love my PT SL. It's a great tool. The only risk I see with it is becoming a bit too tied to the numbers game. When I first started using it and racing with it I was looking more at at the wattage than I was feeling the sensations in my legs. It took me a while to get a good balance between using it to train and then being able to race without it and just go by feel. Others are better at this than me so YMMV.
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Old 09-07-06, 01:30 PM
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squint, thanks for the advice, they gave me some things to look for before i send it in.
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