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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

Cycling Performance Index?

Old 04-04-11, 02:15 PM
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mikey_
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Cycling Performance Index?

Hi there,

I am tracking my cycling progress using excel. My data are distance, average speed, top speed, and duration. I am trying to plot these things out to see how I am progressing. I have a couple of issues I'd like some advice on. So first, my average speed is getting better, but since I am now riding longer and farther, it is not really increasing much. And as I said, I am riding longer and farther too. So when I plot these, they results are kind of boring and don't really tell me much, except that I am a little faster and that I am riding farther and longer.

In the absence of buying a power meter, etc:

I really want to know if there is any way to convert these data into some better index for how I am doing. In other words, is there some formula for converting these data into some other value to track performance. For example, is there some way to compare a 14 mph ride 10 miles ride with a 14 mph 30 mile ride?

So far, I have come up with something simple: mph*distance. Unless some other genius has come up with this already, I hereby christen it "Mikey's Cycling Performance Index" or the "MCPI".

Thanks!

Mikey
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Old 04-04-11, 02:19 PM
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Probably the most reliable way for outdoor riding sans PM is to find a reliable stretch of road/hill with no traffic, and compare either your all-out race effort start to finish, or see your avg HR correlate to speed if you're holding a steady pace.

Unfortunately, there's no good formula to translate multiple routes to one standard number without a PM, and even with a PM, conditions (heat) could dramatically affect performance.

If you own a good trainer and have a bike computer, you can do the 'poor man's PT/Computrainer', which is that you can get your HR/speed for all-out TT efforts for time or distance. Since the trainer results are very reproducible, periodic testing will let you assess your fitness.
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Old 04-04-11, 02:21 PM
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Average speed as a means of tracking performance is meaningless, really, unless you ride the same course all the time. For instance, if there is more climbs in a given distance, you will be slower in comparison to a flatter ride that covers the same distance. Getting a cheap heart-rate monitor will help a little, or you can get a cheap powermeter like the iBike (which I like quite a bit, by the way).
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Old 04-04-11, 03:00 PM
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Choose a hilly or flat loop of medium distance and as many right turns as you can string together. Repeat the loop once a week or maybe twice a month and mark that in a "comment" field. Heart rate monitors are pretty cheap and a very effective tool for helping quantify performance as well. I used one for years before getting a Powertap. I also record a Relative Perceived Effort (RPE) in my Excel sheet. It usually matches the average heart rate pretty well.
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Old 04-04-11, 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by mikey_ View Post
Hi there,

I am tracking my cycling progress using excel. My data are distance, average speed, top speed, and duration
Thanks!

Mikey
Excel, really? Mindful of people's budgets, Garmin/Garmin Connect does the same things automatically, and then some. It doesn't do any analyses or extrapolation of the data you're looking for, but makes for a good and probably less time consuming starting point.
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Old 04-04-11, 05:16 PM
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I like excel. I use it a lot for other things already. I don't think it's too time consuming to put in those 4 data points. But what else can the Garmin do? Does it use another whole program?
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Old 04-04-11, 06:17 PM
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Here's a nice little ride captured via my garmin 500 and uploaded to garmin connect. If I used a power meter, there'd be even more data.
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Old 04-04-11, 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by mikey_ View Post
Hi there,

I am tracking my cycling progress using excel. My data are distance, average speed, top speed, and duration. I am trying to plot these things out to see how I am progressing. I have a couple of issues I'd like some advice on. So first, my average speed is getting better, but since I am now riding longer and farther, it is not really increasing much. And as I said, I am riding longer and farther too. So when I plot these, they results are kind of boring and don't really tell me much, except that I am a little faster and that I am riding farther and longer.

In the absence of buying a power meter, etc:

I really want to know if there is any way to convert these data into some better index for how I am doing. In other words, is there some formula for converting these data into some other value to track performance. For example, is there some way to compare a 14 mph ride 10 miles ride with a 14 mph 30 mile ride?

So far, I have come up with something simple: mph*distance. Unless some other genius has come up with this already, I hereby christen it "Mikey's Cycling Performance Index" or the "MCPI".

Thanks!

Mikey
How much $$$ do you have invested in your bike and all the gear that goes with it?

Get a decent HRM that you can use while cycling, download Golden Cheetah, and be done with it.

Garmin Connect is a nice little summary, but for serious performance tracking it leaves quite a bit to be desired.
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Old 04-04-11, 07:30 PM
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Without buying a powermeter, the best you could probably do is a X mile time trial over the same course once a month, and only graph those data points. Graphing all of your rides average speed will probably not lead to much meaningful data. My average MPH has gone down over the last 3 months as I went from 5000ft of climbing a month to 25,000 ft of climbing a month. It certainly doesn't mean I've had backwards progress.

So, find a course with minimal or no stops, something 10-20mi, and give it all you've got every once in a while. You'll see the progress.
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Old 04-04-11, 07:52 PM
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wow that garmin data is very, very cool. but golden cheetah seems very very dorky and i like that! i am definitely going to look into both of those! thanks for sharing!
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Old 04-04-11, 09:19 PM
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Originally Posted by pdedes View Post
Here's a nice little ride captured via my garmin 500 and uploaded to garmin connect. If I used a power meter, there'd be even more data.
18 mph average speed over 74 miles with an average HR of 134? Just a stroll through the woods? Wish I was that fit.
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Old 04-05-11, 05:18 AM
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Originally Posted by bikerjp View Post
18 mph average speed over 74 miles with an average HR of 134? Just a stroll through the woods? Wish I was that fit.
Word
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Old 04-05-11, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by mikey_ View Post
wow that garmin data is very, very cool. but golden cheetah seems very very dorky and i like that! i am definitely going to look into both of those! thanks for sharing!
Yeah it's cool ain't it? As a runner also, I actually wear the Garmin 405 - a watch - instead of the Garmin computer; it switches over to running mode vs cycling. Does most of the things I need, and little I don't, eg. cadence.
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Old 04-05-11, 01:18 PM
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I know this doesn't help you with the immediacy of your request, but judging by the methodical nature you're going about this, I think you would benefit from giving Friel's Cyclist's Training Bible a read. You can pick it up for cheap on Amazon. Then you can decide how sophisticated a model you want to build.
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Old 04-06-11, 02:55 PM
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You simply can't compare your rides the way you're seeking unless you identify what your goal is and define your personal equation.
* Distance might be your goal - if so, 15 MPH for 50 miles is better than 15 MPH for 30 miles, unless "other factors" figure in
* Speed might be your goal - 20 is faster than 15 MPH, but "other factors" can make that truly meaningless
* Both speed & distance probably matter to you - this is where your equation gets personal

"Other factors" can blow away any ride comparisons between distance and speed -
* How hilly is the course? Avg. climb/mile on a ride: 89' = 12.6 mph, 63' = 13.0, 43' = 15.9, 15' = 17.4 (I'm old and slow, but the effect of hills is consistently huge)
* Are you riding with others? Drafting?
* How much effort are you exerting? What's your average heart rate?
* Is the ride aimed at speed or distance? Does it include interval training?

Carmichael's training book is excellent (and hard core). Training for speed means practicing going very fast (intervals are almost surely the best way to do this).

FWIW, I started last June and rode 5,000 miles by the end of the year. I,e,. LOTS of miles. I rode two centuries in September, both with a 15.3 average. I did not do any interval training. By the end of the year, it was still rare for me to average above 16 MPH (most my rides were 30-50 miles).

Suggestion - forget trying to get a "performance index", do some rides for distance, do some speed interval work, and establish a standard route that you can ride once a month (or whatever) to measure your progress. And remember your body needs time to recover - not every ride can be a max effort.

Hope this helps. Good luck.
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