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Noob question about power meters

Old 09-16-17, 08:00 PM
  #1  
rob214
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Noob question about power meters

i've been riding for a year now, i'm pretty serious about getting fitter and faster. don't really have any desire to race but love to ride organized events and try and keep up with my new cyclist friends and go fast on long group rides. why should i have a power meter or why i don't really need one? i've been trying to learn and understand them but not sure what all that data means or how my training would change with a PM vs training with HR. i ride about 5 days a week 3 days for training and group rides on weekends where i'm hoping to become faster to not get dropped by the cool guys.
thanks
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Old 09-17-17, 09:22 AM
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For your intended purpose, a power meter can be used to pace yourself for the intended distance covered. Here's an example of one of many similar videos you can find discussing this topic.

Edit: Heartrate is slower to respond to effort, and can be influenced by other factors like fatigue, dehydration, air temperature, etc., while power measurement is for all intent and purpose instantaneous.


Keith

Last edited by trainsktg; 09-17-17 at 09:26 AM.
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Old 09-17-17, 10:45 AM
  #3  
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If you want to get faster, ideally you would start a structured training program. A powermeter is helpful but not necessary. Many young racers do just fine without using a powermeter. At the end of the day there are no shortcuts to doing the work. You need to enjoy pushing yourself and riding hard when it gets uncomfortable.

Riding/racing with others can help with the motivation to push hard when you don't feel like it and, for some, a powermeter can help with that motivation. A powermeter will also allow you to easily track your performance over time although there are other ways (timed effort up a hill) to do this.

Best way to get faster: Ride lots.
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Old 09-17-17, 02:57 PM
  #4  
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Originally Posted by rob214 View Post
why should i have a power meter or why i don't really need one?
What questions are you asking about your rides and training that aren't being answered? Once you know that, you can see if a power meter will give you what you need to know.
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Old 09-17-17, 03:33 PM
  #5  
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thanks for the input so far, i started doing structured workouts about 2 weeks ago and can feel the difference so far. i do time / HR based workouts because that's all i have available to me. do you think it's absolutely necessary to have a PM? since i'm not racing? i love going fast and getting stronger. i push myself hard every ride except for my recovery rides of course. i did 30 sec sprints last week and thought i was going spill my guts on the side of the road after the 10th sprint. i'm doing what i feel is good for someone who has only been riding for a year. my century ride is an 18 mph ave. and my 60 mile pace i just upped to 19.5 mph ave.
none of my friends have PM's but whenever i ask the fast guys about improving they all say the same thing you need a PM.
thanks
rob
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Old 09-18-17, 04:48 AM
  #6  
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Originally Posted by rob214 View Post
thanks for the input so far, i started doing structured workouts about 2 weeks ago and can feel the difference so far. i do time / HR based workouts because that's all i have available to me. do you think it's absolutely necessary to have a PM?

Of course it's not necessary. I rode and raced my first four years and made it to a cat 1 all based on hr training. It's just about going hard enough consistently enough and then recovering enough to force adaptations.

Really not all that complicated, but very easy to overthink.

I would focus more on longer efforts than sprint like efforts for long-ride goals, though.
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Old 09-24-17, 08:12 AM
  #7  
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Originally Posted by rob214 View Post
i do time / HR based workouts because that's all i have available to me.
You also have RPE - Rating of Perceived Exertion.

Combined with heart rate data, and a desire to understand your body, you can get surprisingly good results training based around RPE. You won't end up with the same level of data to chart and analyze as you would with a power meter, but if you're not racing, you probably don't need to (or care to) spend lots of time on that.
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Old 09-25-17, 04:34 AM
  #8  
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This is a good book to get to learn about power meters - https://www.bookdepository.com/Train.../9781934030554

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Old 09-26-17, 12:36 PM
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It depends on how good you want to be and which crowd you want to fit in with. If you want to be a cat3 or better racer, a power meter may be necessary so you can know what your true output is rather than gauging it by your perceived effort. If you just like to ride organized rides, even if the riders are very good, you can look at your distances and times to know how you're doing.

I don't plan to buy a power meter because they're expensive. I did a challenge ride on the weekend and did better than I expected to. I got to that level by putting in a lot of miles, climbing a lot of hills, lifting weights, and working on improving my average speed. My average speed varies from day to day, and I think a lot of that is because of wind. I would know for sure with a power meter.

I use the ridewithgps app on my iphone for tracking and logging. I pay around $60 a year for the upgraded level of service. I bought a nice mount for the phone to the handlebars. So overall, my investment is low, and I'm pretty happy.
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Old 09-26-17, 01:05 PM
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No, you don't need one, even if you do race. It's a great tool for gathering data and for planning, doing, and analyzing your workouts. But it's a just an expensive gadget if you don't use it as part of a structured plan (with a coach or otherwise) and you don't actually do the work.
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Old 09-26-17, 10:26 PM
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Nobody needs a power meter. But they're a useful tool.
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Old 09-27-17, 07:59 AM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
Nobody needs a power meter. But they're a useful tool.
Exactly, I know riders that don't have one that can rip your legs off and I also know riders that have one that still ride B pace and essentially use it as another data field. As the entry level prices for power begin to fall below $500 mark, a power meter combined with structured training is the best upgrade you can make to your riding. A power meter will allow you to see your gains objectively (power numbers) instead of subjectively ("I think I'm faster now").
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Old 09-27-17, 09:01 AM
  #13  
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If you want to get faster, get the book "The Cyclist's Training Bible" by Joe Friel. It's a lot cheaper than a power meter. You might read it and still decide to get a power meter, but at least it'll be an informed decision.
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Old 09-27-17, 12:32 PM
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IMO a big problem with younger cyclists is that they never learned to listen to their bodies because their heads are buried in computers.

The Joe Friel book is an excellent suggestion. Learn the basics first. Efficient stroke, cadence, relaxed upper body, how to breath (huge), how/when/what to eat, etc.

Perfect practice makes perfect. Really learn to be mindful of your entire body while riding. This is so overlooked today.

You are going to get much more "data" from your body than you ever will from a computer.

Once you have a really solid base, maybe you will wish to quantify data for amusement, but if you're not racing I would say that is $ you could better spend on other parts of your kit/bike. IMO.
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Old 09-27-17, 12:37 PM
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Its just going to tell you your weak and slow. I could tell you that for half the price.

Just ride more. Save the money for bananas and oatmeal cream pies.
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Old 09-27-17, 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by VeeArSix View Post
As the entry level prices for power begin to fall below $500 mark, a power meter combined with structured training is the best upgrade you can make to your riding.
I'd say a good coach is the best upgrade, powermeter or not. Will be pricier, though.
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Old 09-30-17, 01:59 PM
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To be clear about one thing, while you do need a structured workout plan to make the most of training with a power meter, it needs to be a power based structured plan. Sounds obvious, perhaps, but I know people who have gotten power meters but who stick to HR based workouts, which is silly.

A PM allows much more precisely tailored workouts, workouts based on solid data rather than feel. It's not necessary to use data, as has been said, but it can be efficient.

In my case, I've been doing coached, power-based studio workouts since '13 (at PowercyclingUSA), but I almost never ride on the road with power. Doing precise workouts gives me the fitness to go out and push hard and confidently on the road (and occasional race), so I use both solid data and feel together. It's especially useful for me because my ride and workout time is limited, and I love doing group rides on the road, where trying to do structured workouts doesn't really work, so getting targeted and result specific studio rides has been a boon.
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Old 10-26-17, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by rob214 View Post
...do you think it's absolutely necessary to have a PM? since i'm not racing? i love going fast and getting stronger
Think of it this way, if you wanted to get stronger in the gym by weight lifting, isn't it more helpful to see the amount of weight you're lifting, rather than going to a gym that doesn't have the weight listed on any of the equipment? Riding without a power meter is like going to that gym. A PM isn't strictly for racers, the same way that going to a gym isn't only for competitive bodybuilders.

The PM will allow you to slightly increase your efforts in a controlled way, rather than just using the perceived effort approach.
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