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Training with a power meter

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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

Training with a power meter

Old 12-30-13, 09:10 AM
  #1  
Square Wheels
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Training with a power meter

I don't intend to start yet another my power meter is better than your power meter thread.

I am a relatively new rider and I never plan to race. I also am not very social and don't plan to ride with any clubs or groups.

I recently started indoor training with some "real" cyclists and a "real" former pro racer for our coach. While I feel a little intimidated by these guys, we're all on a trainer so there is not easy way to see how fast we all are. I am dreading the spring as I suspect we'll hit the roads. I feel I am keeping up, but can't really measure what that means.

Most of the people in the class have power meters of some sort and are doing every other month power measurements.

As a new rider would I benefit from training with power? I road 3,000 miles this year (first year ever on a road bike) and hope to do 4,000 next year. I also rode three centuries, and the White Mountain century kicked my butt. I finished but I did stop 3 or 4 times on the hills.

I have three cycling goals:
  1. Get Lighter (currently weigh 200 lbs)
  2. Get faster
  3. Become a better climber

I know just putting in more miles and getting more experience will help meet those goals.

I am really hooked on the bling, I have a pretty nice carbon bike and wouldn't mind some Zipp 303s with a PowerTap.

Would training with a power meter help me?

Thanks
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Old 12-30-13, 09:28 AM
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get this:
https://www.amazon.com/Training-Racin.../dp/1934030554

If it bores you to death and you don't like looking at the graphs then dont get a power meter as it will be a waste of money
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Old 12-30-13, 09:36 AM
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chemist suggested the book you would want to get started with a power meter, so start there.

Also, some shops rent or loan out PowerTaps. Ask around. And/or somebody in you group may have a spare you borrow for a couple of rides. You can use it to get some reading on your trainer of what speeds equal what power to do some comparing and repeatable efforts.

Or if you are using a trainer like a a Kurt Road Machine or Cycleops Fluid you can get a power curve for it. These aren't going to be exact, mind you, but it should give you an estimate of where you are at and it works fine for doing intervals on a trainer.

Edit: my comments assume you have some sort of computer with a speed indicator.

Last edited by canam73; 12-30-13 at 10:06 AM.
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Old 12-30-13, 09:37 AM
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It would help if your goals were more specific - as they stand they aren't measurable, so it's hard to say how you might best use a power meter to achieve them.

i'd think about something like

1) reach target weight if XXXlbs by yy/zz date
2) complete local loop in xx mins
3) could be the same as 2), but you get the drift

A power meter will help you get a clearer handle on your current performance, identify areas where you can improve and help you train to address your weaker areas. As others have said before, just having power numbers on your computer screen has no magic performance enhancing effect.

BTW riding with other cyclists who are stronger than you can be a great way to improve fitness and motivation without the $ and hand-wringing that go into buying a power meter. Good luck!
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Old 12-30-13, 10:02 AM
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+1 on the book.

Power meter is very handy for indoor cycling because it's hard to calibrate your effort on a trainer. You can use heart rate, but that tends to skew with heat training indoors.

Its fairly easy to con yourself about how hard you're working on a trainer. Power meter prevents that.

That said, I'd only buy a power meter if you're dedicated to following a structured training program.
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Old 12-30-13, 10:07 AM
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Thanks for the suggestions.
I just ordered the book, should be here this week.
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Old 12-30-13, 10:07 AM
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Trainerroad.com for the full-out train-with-power experience for <$100 initial outlay and $10/month. Yes, I'm their unofficial supershill, but it's that good. Cancel anytime if you dont' like it, but I'll bet you'll like it if you're interested in training with power. If you hated indoor training I'd say stay away (it's all indoors) but since you're already doing it, it'll put your indoor training on the fast track.

I would prefer having Trainerroad.com with the virtualpower setup for training over a powertap (I have one) with no trainerroad indoors - it wouldn't even be a close comparison in my book.

I've read all the books, and while they're ok, honestly, you'll get most of the information from the books from the TrainingPeaks.com website. You will learn far, far, more from actually DOING the workouts than just reading about them. You probably don't think a workout like 3 x 20min @ threshold is a hard workout, but once you do it, you'll quickly realize how death that is. Similarly, something that sounds like cake like 80% FTP for 3 hrs, actually feels pretty tough if you actually do it. I found that after reading the book, I was concocting all sorts of trainng plans, but had a rude awakening the moment I started doing them and realizing how hard they were. I would honestly say that 1 month training with TrainerRoad was far, far more educational about power-based training, so much so I no longer recommend the books anymore, since TrainingPeaks.com has most of the core info on it, and Trainerroad supplies everything else in a immediately practicable way for nonexperts.

Last edited by hhnngg1; 12-30-13 at 10:11 AM.
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Old 12-30-13, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by thechemist View Post
get this:
https://www.amazon.com/Training-Racin.../dp/1934030554

If it bores you to death and you don't like looking at the graphs then dont get a power meter as it will be a waste of money
Well now that's not true at all. That book bored me to tears, and I don't like looking at the graphs. I bought the powermeter, but I also hired a coach to look at the graphs for me.
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Old 12-30-13, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Square Wheels View Post
Thanks for the suggestions.
I just ordered the book, should be here this week.
I think that as a first book and as a new cyclist, this one is better.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/193403...&pi=SY200_QL40

I actually made it through that one, lol.
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Old 12-30-13, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Silvercivic27 View Post
Well now that's not true at all. That book bored me to tears, and I don't like looking at the graphs. I bought the powermeter, but I also hired a coach to look at the graphs for me.
The coach for our indoor training sessions will review your power readings and help you set up your zones (I hope I got the terms right).

Either way, I ordered the book to help me decide if this is the right thing for me.

I have to say, these looking at things is killing me.

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Old 12-30-13, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Silvercivic27 View Post
Well now that's not true at all. That book bored me to tears, and I don't like looking at the graphs. I bought the powermeter, but I also hired a coach to look at the graphs for me.
I was going to say that. To get the most benefit of the power meter, you've got to follow a plan, geek out over the numbers, and adjust the plan accordingly, or hire someone to geek out over the numbers and adjust the plan.

I took the expensive, lazy, approach.
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Old 12-30-13, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Square Wheels View Post
That would be a very nice setup!
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Old 12-30-13, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
I was going to say that. To get the most benefit of the power meter, you've got to follow a plan, geek out over the numbers, and adjust the plan accordingly, or hire someone to geek out over the numbers and adjust the plan.

I took the expensive, lazy, approach.
The inexpensive but still lazy approach:

https://www.trainerroad.com/features/training-plans

They're all based off your initial FTP test. And yes, it's even got a solid 2 x 20 (or 3 other protocols) FTP test workouts for you, that'll just calculate your FTP after you go all-out on the test segments and ask you if you want to set all your workouts based on it.

I really need to start asking them for a *****ing comission.


As an aside; I no longer lust after those Zipp wheels. WHen you see your FTp going up and up, you know that the paltry speed gains from those fancy Zipp wheels will be dwarfed by the significant fitness gains you get with a structured training program. Upgraditis is a common disease in cycling, but well worth weaning yourself from, as there's otherwise no end to the amount of stuff you can spend your hard earned money on.

Last edited by hhnngg1; 12-30-13 at 10:23 AM.
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Old 12-30-13, 10:27 AM
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I think you missed that those 303 clinchers are laced to a G3 powertap.
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Old 12-30-13, 11:01 AM
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No, that still doesn't change a thing for me. I have a PT pro laced into a wheelbuilder 30mm rim, and it's awesome. No need for Zipps here whatsoever. (On race day for me which this season will be half ironman nondrafting bike, throw on the $100 wheelcover and it's faster than that Zipp.)
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Old 12-30-13, 01:38 PM
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What about Strava Premium for analyzing power numbers? I just got a Powertap and upgraded to Strava Premium since I was already using it to track mileage.

I absolutely despise riding indoors on a trainer so Trainerroad.com is not an option for me. I'm reading (the) Power Meter Handbook by Joe Friel which my wheelbuilder included with the Powertap wheelset and it seems pretty good. The only thing I don't like is the whole 12-week concept of peaking your performance for a race. I don't race and personally just want to raise my FTP while also having fun riding my bike. I ride very consistently 150-175 miles per week (about 7500 miles YTD.)

Last edited by Dunbar; 12-30-13 at 01:45 PM.
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Old 12-30-13, 05:02 PM
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Trainerroad is awesome. Count me as supershill as well. I have made very significant improvements since starting to use trainerroad. I am on the 40K TT mid volume training plan and it is doing wonders for my capability. Trainerroad keeps me interested and forces me to push myself. I highly recommend it.
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