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How to use my power meter?

Old 05-28-24, 05:37 AM
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How to use my power meter?

I posted a similar thread in Road Cycling. It was a bit different in terms of the info I am seeking. But, apologies if this seems redundant. Having said that, a bit of background. I will be 78 on Juneteenth and on a "tall day" am 5'9" and around 188 lbs. Down from 5'11" and up from 178 lbs. If you're over 60 it's a well known story. So....I wasn't looking to own a power meter. But, Canyon inadvertently shipped my Aeroad with one installed. So, I have one. Yesterday I did a 9 mi circuit t 13.5 mph (55 ft/mi of elevation) and it tells me my average watts was 120 and max was 300 watts. I have no idea what that means. And, particularly how to use it for health as I age. It's the "aging well" thing I'm focusing on. Also, FWIW, 23andMe says my muscle composition is that of an "elite power lifter." I am not worried about becoming frail with age but I am concerned about Sarcopenia and visceral fat. Can this power meter help me train for this? What do the numbers tell me? How to use it for max benefit? Any info will be greatly appreciated.
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Old 05-28-24, 06:11 AM
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As per your other thread, at this stage I would just log the power data and observe how it varies over your normal rides. The advantage of logging power over speed is that it is largely independent of your bike, weather and road conditions. So for a given level of fitness you can expect your average power to be pretty consistent over a given time duration and intensity.
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Old 05-28-24, 07:31 AM
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Without knowing what your 20 min power is, which requires a 20 min all out test (and I don't think that kind of test is something I would be doing at 78 years old!!) that 120 average reading isn't giving much info.

Do you have a HR meter as well? Do you know your +/- HR zones? Can you correlate that 120w to a HR zone?
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Old 05-28-24, 09:23 AM
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In this matter, I agree more with PeteHski than Jughed. I think simply monitoring what you're doing and how it feels for a while is a perfectly fine, even appropriate, way forward. I don't think you need to know what your "20 minute power" is right now (or perhaps, ever -- I don't know what mine is, and I've been using a power meter for a couple of decades).

Do you ever watch cooking shows? I used to, and I always thought it amusing when someone would taste the finished dish and then announce with awe, "Ah! So this is what a carrot tastes like!" This is sort of what you're going to be finding out over the next couple of weeks: "Ah! So this is what 100 (200, 300) watts feels like!" and "Ah! So this is what 1 minute (2 minutes, 3 minutes) at 175 watts feels like!" That's useful information.
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Old 05-28-24, 09:27 AM
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I'm also 78. I have a power meter on my single, but not on our tandem. I ride with a Garmin on all my bikes and wear a HR strap-type transmitter on all my rides. I've done a lot of training, group rides, and brevets with these devices. HR is your most important thing to watch because it tells you what your physiology is doing, sort of the output end of the process. A PM is the input side of the process. Thus it's interesting to note the output results of the input under various conditions. What a PM is good for is doing intervals while holding a steady power and also noting maximum power during sprints and intervals. If your short term power goes up, you're getting stronger, duh. If your HR goes down over time on the same ride, you're getting fitter, duh. If your HR goes up at the same power on a longish ride, you're probably getting dehydrated. If your HR goes down at the same power during a ride, you probably need to consume some carbs.

Thus as others have said on both forums, for now just watch the two numbers and notice how and when they do and don't correlate. But as far as your personal goals for fitness and long life go, a PM doesn't add much. Mostly that's just a matter of going to the gym and lifting heavy while also riding lots. As you've noticed by now, just "riding lots" has a lot of crazies talking more detail and arguing about it than a sane person unacquainted with said detail would suspect. Welcome to power data!
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Old 05-28-24, 01:01 PM
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I'll add my voice to the chorus urging you simply to use the thing retrospectively to see what you're actually doing quantitatively, and how your subjective experience maps onto it. You'll also need some kind of analytic software to make sense of it, find your zones, etc. Then, if you feel like it, you can begin to structure your activity based on the info.
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Old 05-28-24, 03:46 PM
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Mod note...you are only allowed to have one thread per subject matter open at a time. We understand that there may be subtle differences between this one and the other one but in our opinion, they are very similar. And the thread in the road forum is probably run its course. Maybe we close that one????
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Old 05-28-24, 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Hermes
Mod note...you are only allowed to have one thread per subject matter open at a time. We understand that there may be subtle differences between this one and the other one but in our opinion, they are very similar. And the thread in the road forum is probably run its course. Maybe we close that one????
I have no problem with closing the former.
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Old 05-28-24, 06:57 PM
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Originally Posted by bruce19
I have no problem with closing the former.
I will check the activity tomorrow in road and take action as required.
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Old 05-29-24, 09:53 AM
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I will echo others that say ride with power and collect and store the data. It is hard to predict the future and how you may decide to use the power meter and new data. You may then wish you had the data from previous rides.

I have been training and racing with power since 2007. I have power meters on all my bicycles including our tandem. Prior to power, I used heart rate. We had a training group and it was typical for riders to say, wow, today I climbed ABC hill at 170 heart rate and I was very happy. Okay, how much time did it take to reach the top? Did the 170 HR result in a faster time? Or did this guy just want to run his heart at 170 bpm? Heart rate is a tertiary measurement whereas power and time are direct measurements of performance.

I ride Fiesta Island 4.2 mile flat lap a lot. And the course is used as a time trial course. I have a lot of Strave, power and time data racing and training on Fiesta. Time is a very cruel mistress. Setting a PR is extremely hard to do no matter what the wind and road conditions seem to be. And power fluctuations per lap for me over the years are small. So gains are made with incremental adjustment to equipment and position. A 10 watt increase in average power on the course is a year's worth of work for me assuming I can do it.

The indoor track is a very attractive but infinitely cruel mistress. I will be doing structured work with my coach calling out lap times and it is ridiculously difficult to improve the times. And power fluctuates a lot on the track as one goes around turns.

My training is about perceived effort. The more I can feel the effort in my legs and change power to match the objective, the better I am able to improve lap times. Today, I use my power meter to train my legs. This is what 150 watts feels like. I want to hold that feeling for 30 minutes. Is that feeling in the legs of 150 watts an endurance pace? If the answer is yes, then one wants to have that perceived effort in ones legs for the prescribed endurance time or distance. If the power at the end of the ride is 140 watts, not a problem. The perceived effort was endurance and the ride lasted as predetermined. Training is not about performance but completing the workout as defined in the program.

Power can be used to control the effort in a long distance ride. Starting out too fast for ANY event usually does not end well. Glancing at the power meter and seeing a high number when one's legs are fresh, then one can lower the power and stay on plan. And when the legs begin to fatigue at the end of the ride, one can glance at the power and see that power is dropping. Then one can decide if putting in more force is going to work for the remaining distance or time.

Power meter can be used on a smart trainer on a video game platform such as Zwift which I think is a lot of fun.

Information provided by the power meter can be used instantaneously to manage effort but should not be a limiter especially near the end of the event.

At age 75, my worldview on anti-aging is intensity rules. High intensity training (cycling, running, skiing and whatever) and strength training are more important than lower power and or longer distance training. The caveat emptor is...do not injure oneself doing it. A nutrition plan is extremely important to enable recovery from intensity and body fat and weight control. I am with bated breath the posting of small studies to provide the science that proves unequivocally that I am wrong.

Another way to think is that in the 7th decade, the Grim Reaper is trying to get on our wheel. Use the power meter, pedal harder and drop that guy.
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Old 05-29-24, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Hermes
At age 75, my worldview on anti-aging is intensity rules. High intensity training (cycling, running, skiing and whatever) and strength training are more important than lower power and or longer distance training. The caveat emptor is...do not injure oneself doing it. A nutrition plan is extremely important to enable recovery from intensity and body fat and weight control. I am with bated breath the posting of small studies to provide the science that proves unequivocally that I am wrong.

Another way to think is that in the 7th decade, the Grim Reaper is trying to get on our wheel. Use the power meter, pedal harder and drop that guy.
Well put, but I hate to break it to you: at 75, you're in your 8th decade.
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Old 05-30-24, 03:07 AM
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I'm well down the intensity path too. In my case that was always my game in other sports. Explosive but was useless past 100 yds or a couple of minutes. So, it all fits for me in my 8th decade (78 on Juneteenth).
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Old 05-30-24, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by bruce19
I'm well down the intensity path too. In my case that was always my game in other sports. Explosive but was useless past 100 yds or a couple of minutes. So, it all fits for me in my 8th decade (78 on Juneteenth).
Generally, riders can be divided into two groups. One that likes torque in their legs over time and the other that likes torque but in short bursts. I am a bursty rider. I suffer a lot on time trials and hill climbs and long slower constant power rides. Of course, I need the endurance and longer term power but it is hard for me.

I am much better at the track in the 500 meters, 2k pursuit and team sprint and team pursuit. Those events are my strengths.
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Old 05-30-24, 09:51 AM
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I think one of the uses of power data is to figure out what you're good at, and what you need to work on. People say, "train your weakness, race your strength" but I used to choose my races to exploit my strengths and then train my weaknesses just enough so that I wouldn't get dropped before I had a chance to use my strengths. Nowadays my race is to get to your age and my goals are to train my weaknesses just enough to not get dropped before that.
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Old 05-30-24, 12:11 PM
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When power meters were just becoming more popular on BF, members would ask about wheels and were told to buy a power meter. In those days, my thought on that response was why not do both and one always gets the benefit of faster equipment where as the human engine can be fickle.

The question I have is what particular training routines require a PM to be effective? At the track, one can only get a lap time every lap. So at the indoor 250 meter velodrome that is going to vary but not by much 14 to 25 seconds. An endurance effort on the track may be 20 laps with a timer beeping at the pursuit start line every 23 seconds.

So if one wants to build power and improve lap time performance, one would do faster laps and then recovery for a time period.

On the road, one can build faster speed by doing shorter efforts based upon a power level and then set a recovery interval of either rest or a recovery power. So here is an advantage of a power meter. However, if one is not inclined to do this workout...ever. Then it becomes a moot point.
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Old 05-31-24, 03:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Hermes

On the road, one can build faster speed by doing shorter efforts based upon a power level and then set a recovery interval of either rest or a recovery power. So here is an advantage of a power meter. However, if one is not inclined to do this workout...ever. Then it becomes a moot point.
For a few reasons almost all of my rides are like this.
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Old 05-31-24, 06:08 AM
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Originally Posted by bruce19
For a few reasons almost all of my rides are like this.
So one thing you could do immediately is simply note your power output during these periods of intensity and recovery.
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Old 06-04-24, 03:46 AM
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I've now had three rides with my power meter. While my average watts has remained in the 120-150 range, my max went from 300 to 400 to 546. The 546 was on a climb where I decided to make a serious effort. I'm thinking the 546 is not bad for a 78 yr old guy but I have no way of knowing.
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Old 06-04-24, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by bruce19
I've now had three rides with my power meter. While my average watts has remained in the 120-150 range, my max went from 300 to 400 to 546. The 546 was on a climb where I decided to make a serious effort. I'm thinking the 546 is not bad for a 78 yr old guy but I have no way of knowing.
Now give it to us in W/kg and tell us how long you held it. Then we can judge your fitness and intrinsic worth as a human being.
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Old 06-04-24, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by MoAlpha
Now give it to us in W/kg and tell us how long you held it. Then we can judge your fitness and intrinsic worth as a human being.
I have little intrinsic worth as a human being according to my wife.
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Old 06-04-24, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by bruce19
I have little intrinsic worth as a human being according to my wife.
A fundamental lack of respect is the secret of a happy marriage!
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Old 06-04-24, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by bruce19
I've now had three rides with my power meter. While my average watts has remained in the 120-150 range, my max went from 300 to 400 to 546. The 546 was on a climb where I decided to make a serious effort. I'm thinking the 546 is not bad for a 78 yr old guy but I have no way of knowing.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, there are apps that will tell you how well you stack up.

Training Peaks has a StackUp Beta feature that compares your power to others in your age group (more accurately, others in your age group who use Training Peaks). I find this feature simultaneously encouraging and humiliating. It shows me at the 94th percentile for 1-minute, but only the 73rd percentile for 20-minute. It's telling me I need to work on those 20-minute efforts. Can confirm.
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Old 06-04-24, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
Fortunately, or unfortunately, there are apps that will tell you how well you stack up.

Training Peaks has a StackUp Beta feature that compares your power to others in your age group (more accurately, others in your age group who use Training Peaks). I find this feature simultaneously encouraging and humiliating. It shows me at the 94th percentile for 1-minute, but only the 73rd percentile for 20-minute. It's telling me I need to work on those 20-minute efforts. Can confirm.
intervals.icu has me right at the median or slightly above for everything from 5 s to 1 hr, but I cling to the fact that I'm almost 68 and the age group is men ≥ 60 and I was a lot faster at 60. The sample size is around 3500 and the distributions are nice and normal.
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Old 06-08-24, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by bruce19
I've now had three rides with my power meter. While my average watts has remained in the 120-150 range, my max went from 300 to 400 to 546. The 546 was on a climb where I decided to make a serious effort. I'm thinking the 546 is not bad for a 78 yr old guy but I have no way of knowing.
It's good. My average ride watts are lower than that, due to easy pedaling on large portions of my group rides.

I'm 70, and have a left side Stages power meter. (Stages now seems to be out of business, but the power meter still works great, so far.)

On the last group ride, it was a conversational pace for most of the day, with two 300 foot high hills. I went all-out on the first climb, looking for a Strava P.R. on the climb segment. I beat my previous best time by 20 seconds, yeah!

I upload the Garmin recordings to the free Golden Cheetah. It's designed for tracking training, but I just use it to see trends and find out interesting info on my rides.
I look at ride data charts, and also check the Trends section's Performance Manager chart, which tracks the short and medium term training load from my rides.

CP chart
The CP chart, "Critical Power", picks out the best efforts from my rides from 1 second to the length of my longest ride.

Here's the chart, annotated. Strava has a similar chart "Power Curve", but with less detail.

It shows the best efforts over the last 12 months (and this time period can be set to shorter or longer time periods, too.) That's the dark purple line, changing to dark dots for the shortest time periods.
The current selected ride is the thinner solid line.
Any max watts under 10-12 seconds is due to the increased power from standing up and sprinting -- body weight is a lot of watts!
I wondered what my 30 second numbers were here -- so I hovered over the ride curve to show it.

The blue shaded part is the all-out climb I selected in the sidebar -- my best watts all day, as expected, except for some various 12-25 second hard efforts elsewhere on the ride where the ride curve is slightly above the shaded area. I matched or set my best efforts in the 3-5 minute range for the last year, good.
For 4-5 minute pacing, I try for a steady 200-220w, but did quite a bit better this time.


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Old 06-08-24, 04:03 PM
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Another interesting Golden Cheetah chart.

Power-Time Scatter.
This is set to show every second of the ride as a dot. I used 5-second averaging, since watts are so variable second-by-second.

It's easy to see the two hard effort climbs, with consistent higher watts. The rest of the ride varies so much, to ride the rolling terrain and stay with the group's mostly conversational pace. Lots of dots in the 100-150w range, and quite a bit of soft pedaling low watts too. I did chase some of the stronger riders over short roller hills, with brief hard efforts. The store stop in the middle, and a wait at the top of the second hill show as zero watts.

I stayed back with a slower rider toward the end, just cruising back to the parking lot.


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