Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Steady power output

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Old 06-12-18, 12:18 AM
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Danny01
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Steady power output

My power graph consists of steep spikes from beginning to end. It isn't smooth anywhere. I use 3s averaging. Cadence is steady. I have 2 power meters on separate bikes, so it isn't the power meter that's the problem, its me. Any tips on how I can keep it steady?
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Old 06-12-18, 05:30 AM
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mvnsnd
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What are you looking at to see the power graph? Strava doesn't smooth its graph to 3 seconds.

To smooth the power, you will need to fully concentrate an a smooth pedal stroke. Do this with light pressure on the pedals to start with and feel constant pressure all the way around the stroke.
It's going to take a lot of practice to get smooth.

Here is a short example from a recent ride where I was following, then leading a small group.

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Old 06-12-18, 05:42 AM
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Practice keeping it within a tight range. I generally shoot for plus/minus 10w and can keep it pretty steady over undulations. Maybe start with a bigger range and work on making it tighter. It took a bit of focus and practice initially. I also found that the harder you're going, the easier that is to do. It's eaiser to stay steady at threshold than easy pace.

I also disagree that it has anything to do with a smooth pedal stroke or putting pressure all the way around the pedals. That's not how anyone actually pedals, and not as efficient anyway.
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Old 06-12-18, 06:16 AM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
Practice keeping it within a tight range. I generally shoot for plus/minus 10w and can keep it pretty steady over undulations. Maybe start with a bigger range and work on making it tighter. It took a bit of focus and practice initially. I also found that the harder you're going, the easier that is to do. It's eaiser to stay steady at threshold than easy pace.

I also disagree that it has anything to do with a smooth pedal stroke or putting pressure all the way around the pedals. That's not how anyone actually pedals, and not as efficient anyway.
By the nature of cycling power calculation of force (torque) times angular velocity, measured at a certain frequency (typically 1 sample per second), to see a smooth graph, one would need to have a constant torque and velocity, or a combination that results in a constant output value.
And while you are correct that no really has a full circle force on the pedal, trying to think about it while pedaling will help to smooth the pedal stroke.
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Old 06-12-18, 06:44 AM
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What you are describing isn't atypical and I wouldn't see it necessary as a problem. Terrain or very rough uneven roads can have an influence. Do you coast a lot? If you can look at power distribution in bins what percentage of a ride are you at 0-25?
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Old 06-12-18, 08:31 AM
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rubiksoval
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Originally Posted by mvnsnd View Post
By the nature of cycling power calculation of force (torque) times angular velocity, measured at a certain frequency (typically 1 sample per second), to see a smooth graph, one would need to have a constant torque and velocity, or a combination that results in a constant output value.
And while you are correct that no really has a full circle force on the pedal, trying to think about it while pedaling will help to smooth the pedal stroke.
Again, that's not how people pedal. And it's not an efficient application of force. You're pushing down hard with one leg while unweighting the other. There's no circular application. Thinking about it is a bit of a nonsequitor. Keep pushing on the pedals and you'll continue to produce power.
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Old 06-12-18, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
Again, that's not how people pedal. And it's not an efficient application of force. You're pushing down hard with one leg while unweighting the other. There's no circular application. Thinking about it is a bit of a nonsequitor. Keep pushing on the pedals and you'll continue to produce power.
I'll politely disagree and ask you to simply try an experiment. Try to make a smooth, fluid pedal stroke and monitor your power vs just pushing down. Do this at the same cadence and force and you will see power increase as there's more force over angular time. It may not change your mind, but give it a try.
Yes, many people just push down and do well. But, if you use some of the remaining pedal stroke to push forward over the top and pull back through the bottom, you will see a smoother power graph, which is what the original post was asking for.

See the section of fluidity here: https://www.trainingpeaks.com/blog/s...-pedal-stroke/
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Old 06-12-18, 09:16 AM
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Try this:

Ride a fixed gear for the first few weeks of the season.

THAT will round out your stroke.
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Old 06-12-18, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by mvnsnd View Post
I'll politely disagree and ask you to simply try an experiment. Try to make a smooth, fluid pedal stroke and monitor your power vs just pushing down. Do this at the same cadence and force and you will see power increase as there's more force over angular time. It may not change your mind, but give it a try.
Yes, many people just push down and do well. But, if you use some of the remaining pedal stroke to push forward over the top and pull back through the bottom, you will see a smoother power graph, which is what the original post was asking for.

See the section of fluidity here: https://www.trainingpeaks.com/blog/s...-pedal-stroke/
This might be beneficial during long periods of Z1/Z2 cruising, but when sprinting it all goes right out the window. Up past 400W or so, I don't think about my cadence, I don't think about my pedal stroke, I'm just (as rubiksoval put it) "pushing on the pedals."

That said, I have a pretty smooth pedal stroke, and in general "pedal in circles." My power graphs (over time/distance) still look like a renegade seismometer. The smoothest looking ones? The ones that were hammered out.
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Old 06-12-18, 09:38 AM
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Honestly, just let it be random.
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Old 06-12-18, 11:44 AM
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What rubiksoval said. One trick I learned on BF was to set my Garmin training page to show 3s power, lap power, and lap time. I try to make the 3s power and the lap power equal my target power. It's mostly psychological, but it's really leveled out my power on long intervals.
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Old 06-12-18, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Danny01 View Post
My power graph consists of steep spikes from beginning to end. It isn't smooth anywhere. I use 3s averaging. Cadence is steady. I have 2 power meters on separate bikes, so it isn't the power meter that's the problem, its me. Any tips on how I can keep it steady?
Thats why. If you want smooth power, then your cadence needs to vary with the undulations on the road. You start to get a feel for this the balance between pedal torque and cadence to keep power the same. It will still vary and that is normal for unsmoothed data.
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Old 06-12-18, 01:21 PM
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Power is on the downstroke , drops off at pedal bottom dead center.
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Old 06-12-18, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by mvnsnd View Post
I'll politely disagree and ask you to simply try an experiment. Try to make a smooth, fluid pedal stroke and monitor your power vs just pushing down. Do this at the same cadence and force and you will see power increase as there's more force over angular time. It may not change your mind, but give it a try.
Yes, many people just push down and do well. But, if you use some of the remaining pedal stroke to push forward over the top and pull back through the bottom, you will see a smoother power graph, which is what the original post was asking for.

See the section of fluidity here: https://www.trainingpeaks.com/blog/s...-pedal-stroke/
I've tried many different things. Even had a pair of powercranks for a while.

I've said it twice already, but it's been shown repeatedly that "pedaling circles" is not an efficient method of producing power. And it's been shown repeatedly that even the best cyclists are simply unweighting, rather than trying a circular motion. If I want to put out the most power possible, I'm putting out the most power possible the most efficient way possible. Which is not the method you're proposing. Which is why hardly anyone does it.

I don't think that article is talking about what your'e talking about. It's talking about a "fluid spin" as in you're not bouncing off the saddle when you pedal over 90 rpm, which generally involves getting used to relaxing different parts of the body and simply getting used to it. It's not talking about spinning circles to create a more steady power output. And then with lower cadence, simply developing the strength to muscle over things. Again, not smoothing out a pedal stroke.

As I said before, it's a lot eaiser to flatten out power output at higher power, and it's also easier going uphill with constant pressure on the pedals (when you're typically producing more power).
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Old 06-12-18, 04:03 PM
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What does your power look like on a stationary trainer?
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Old 06-13-18, 05:23 AM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
I've tried many different things. Even had a pair of powercranks for a while.

I've said it twice already, but it's been shown repeatedly that "pedaling circles" is not an efficient method of producing power. And it's been shown repeatedly that even the best cyclists are simply unweighting, rather than trying a circular motion. If I want to put out the most power possible, I'm putting out the most power possible the most efficient way possible. Which is not the method you're proposing. Which is why hardly anyone does it.
I agree pedaling in full circles is not the most efficient, I don't actually do that, or believe anyone else does. The original poster wasn't asking about putting out the most power, only about making a "smooth power graph". I was just trying to say that working on pedaling can help smooth out that plot of power over some distance or short interval of time.


Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
I don't think that article is talking about what your'e talking about. It's talking about a "fluid spin" as in you're not bouncing off the saddle when you pedal over 90 rpm, which generally involves getting used to relaxing different parts of the body and simply getting used to it. It's not talking about spinning circles to create a more steady power output. And then with lower cadence, simply developing the strength to muscle over things. Again, not smoothing out a pedal stroke
It actually is what I am talking about. It takes practice and trying to apply pressure through the upper rotation, downwards, and through the lower rotation of the pedal stroke. Having a fluid pedal stroke will help create a smooth power application, and therefore a smooth power graph for some parts of a ride. It's what I showed in the image posted earlier.

Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
As I said before, it's a lot eaiser to flatten out power output at higher power, and it's also easier going uphill with constant pressure on the pedals (when you're typically producing more power).
I also agree with you here too. I think we are saying essentially the same things, but I am probably being to literal in responding to the original question or not clear in my communication. I was only originally trying to address the original question of how to produce a flat power graph. Not talking about sprinting, high power application or anything else, but literally what they needed to do to see a flat section of power. It's not something that I think could be maintained through an entire ride. I've certainly never seen it, there's always going to be spikes. It just doesn't work that way, but for a short section, I think it can within reason.

I appreciate your previous responses and dialog.
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Old 06-13-18, 06:14 AM
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Wouldn't the OP's cadence be a factor? I would think it would be more difficult maintaining a steady power output from a rider with a lower cadence style verses a rider that spins a higher one.
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Old 06-13-18, 07:24 AM
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My personal experience is the opposite: I find it easier to maintain a steady power with a bigger gear/lower cadence. Don’t know why, just do.
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Old 06-13-18, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by mvnsnd View Post
I agree pedaling in full circles is not the most efficient, I don't actually do that, or believe anyone else does. The original poster wasn't asking about putting out the most power, only about making a "smooth power graph". I was just trying to say that working on pedaling can help smooth out that plot of power over some distance or short interval of time.




It actually is what I am talking about. It takes practice and trying to apply pressure through the upper rotation, downwards, and through the lower rotation of the pedal stroke. Having a fluid pedal stroke will help create a smooth power application, and therefore a smooth power graph for some parts of a ride. It's what I showed in the image posted earlier.



I also agree with you here too. I think we are saying essentially the same things, but I am probably being to literal in responding to the original question or not clear in my communication. I was only originally trying to address the original question of how to produce a flat power graph. Not talking about sprinting, high power application or anything else, but literally what they needed to do to see a flat section of power. It's not something that I think could be maintained through an entire ride. I've certainly never seen it, there's always going to be spikes. It just doesn't work that way, but for a short section, I think it can within reason.

I appreciate your previous responses and dialog.
Wasting time concentrating on that unless you are on a pan flat windless road will result in more power variation than less. The "smooth" power curve you posted below isn't due to equal pressure throughout the pedal stroke, your PM doesn't have the precision and sampling rate to record that information for a crank revolution.
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Old 06-13-18, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
My personal experience is the opposite: I find it easier to maintain a steady power with a bigger gear/lower cadence. Don’t know why, just do.
I imagine the sweet spot varies from person to person. Also, there must be a point in either direction(soft pedaling or coming out of the saddle) where power can no longer remain steady.
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