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A Question About Power

Old 05-04-22, 05:44 PM
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ntcarson
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A Question About Power

Hello,
Thank you, in advance, for considering my question. My daughter, 14, recently participated in her first triathlon, which is super exciting to me! However, I suspect that my cycling knowledge and techniques are paleolithic, at best....

She has an amazing bike that was acquired during the pandemic at a silly price, but I think it is awesome. We keep dumping in money, which is okay too, but sometimes I start to feel like we aren't spending wisely....so, here is my dilemma:

In cycling training/practice, the other team members often talk about "set your power level!" so that they can maximize their training efforts. So, we buy the best watch (Garmin Fenix) for insane money, because that is what it takes to train properly with the team. Understanding that "power" is clearly a calculated value based on sensors, I ask the question and the answers are vague and, frankly, don't make sense. So, I order some cadence and speed sensors, thinking, clearly with her body metrics and bike metrics, these two sensors should be able to talk to her watch and allow her to "Power Up!!".

Then, oh no - you just need a power sensor - it is just a tiny thing - and that is it! Then, no, you just need new $1,200 pedals and that is it!!

However, never do we get to a meaningful explanation of what is going to better about these sensor and, really, how is "setting your power level" going to be valuable to this 14 year old. I understand we are talking about wattage and efficiency of the body, but I can't quite figure out how I'm going to get there by spending, spending, spending.

I'm 100% into doing whatever it takes to help her develop, but I'd prefer to do it smartly. Any help in telling me how I should best (easiest would be great too) get her to set her "power level" so that she fits in with the elite players on her team.

Again, thank you for listening to my ignorant rant and helping me simplify something that, I suspect, is being over-complicated by expensive gadgets....

Neil
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Old 05-04-22, 06:13 PM
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asgelle
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Originally Posted by ntcarson View Post
Again, thank you for listening to my ignorant rant and helping me simplify something that, I suspect, is being over-complicated by expensive gadgets....
A little searching and reading would have saved you a lot of time, money, and anguish. https://www.amazon.com/Training-Raci...s%2C123&sr=8-1
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Old 05-04-22, 07:20 PM
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The first thing that comes to mind is coaching. It sounds like rather than spending money on equipment (at this stage), you need the guidance of an experienced coach. At the very least, Id seek out the advice from someone whose input you trust and respect rather than unsolicited opinions from a collection of strangers.

Last edited by Kedosto; 05-04-22 at 07:24 PM.
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Old 05-04-22, 10:19 PM
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At her age she could probably just ride lots, ride hard, recover, repeat, and improve. A powermeter will definitely help if used correctly. Knowing how to use it is a big part of the equation. It can tell you definitively if improvements are being made (eg: higher FTP, higher power for lower heart rate, etc). If not used correctly, it just becomes another expensive metric shown on your head unit.

Buy the book linked above, it's a fantastic resource (although a lot to take in and comprehend).

Also if your daughter is keen to pursue triathlon training, a good coach will most likely net the best outcome for the cost involved! 🙂
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Old 05-04-22, 11:13 PM
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Buy, borrow, or check out the book mentioned above. It will tell you everything you want to know about power training. And whether it would be worth it to invest in a power meter.
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Old 05-04-22, 11:21 PM
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Also, you can get a Stages crankarm PM for $325.
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Old 05-05-22, 06:08 AM
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Thank you all for your responses. My daughter and I are both getting started on the book. A coach is really what I was thinking too, but wasn't sure where to turn; I have an old friend, who is triathlete, who might be willing to lend me an ear. Again, thank you, and please throw then out here if you have any more ideas/info!
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Old 05-05-22, 06:15 AM
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Originally Posted by ntcarson View Post
Thank you all for your responses. My daughter and I are both getting started on the book. A coach is really what I was thinking too, but wasn't sure where to turn; I have an old friend, who is triathlete, who might be willing to lend me an ear. Again, thank you, and please throw then out here if you have any more ideas/info!

To find a coach, you could try Training Peaks.

https://www.trainingpeaks.com/coaches/search

My coach is on there too.

A PM is a great tool, if used correctly, but I'm not all that sure it is necessary for her age - she needs to be learning to spin etc which means a limit to the sizes of her bikes gears. A coach would advise best, of course.


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Old 05-05-22, 08:25 AM
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Pm

My coach has me training to Heart Rate levels.
My power meter allows me to get to, and maintain, the correct HR accurately.
it takes the guess work out of maintaining a level of effort.
With experience it can be done without a power meter, but not so easily or accurately.

Lastly, a power meter gets you bragging rights. I could see a team of same aged athletes using it to compare teammates performance to their own.
Not a useful or helpful comparison. But me and my 50+yr old friends are guilty of it.
It can be quite disheartening if you’re on the bottom.

PM me if you’d like a coach suggestion.

Barry

oh, and welcome to Bike Forums
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Old 05-05-22, 08:34 AM
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If your daughter is going to compete, I'd think getting a coach for her will be the best money spent. Though if she is on some sort of team that includes a coach, then maybe that person will be all that's needed.

If you want to spring for a power meter then you can get single sided crank based PM's for less than 300 USD. Pedal based PM's makers are currently enjoying a very high margin because they are all the rage now and also the latest and greatest technology.

Look at some of the offerings 4iiii or Stages and others that still sell crank based PM's.

However if your daughter does get a coach, weigh your choice of PM by what they want. It won't do to get something that doesn't give them the information in the manner they can easily use.
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Old 05-05-22, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by ntcarson View Post
Hello,
Thank you, in advance, for considering my question. My daughter, 14, recently participated in her first triathlon, which is super exciting to me! However, I suspect that my cycling knowledge and techniques are paleolithic, at best....

She has an amazing bike that was acquired during the pandemic at a silly price, but I think it is awesome. We keep dumping in money, which is okay too, but sometimes I start to feel like we aren't spending wisely....so, here is my dilemma:

In cycling training/practice, the other team members often talk about "set your power level!" so that they can maximize their training efforts. So, we buy the best watch (Garmin Fenix) for insane money, because that is what it takes to train properly with the team. Understanding that "power" is clearly a calculated value based on sensors, I ask the question and the answers are vague and, frankly, don't make sense. So, I order some cadence and speed sensors, thinking, clearly with her body metrics and bike metrics, these two sensors should be able to talk to her watch and allow her to "Power Up!!".
Then, oh no - you just need a power sensor - it is just a tiny thing - and that is it! Then, no, you just need new $1,200 pedals and that is it!!
...
Neil
As noted, there are quite a number of good resources which you can refer to for basic triath training, books and internet. But you also have a 14 yr old, who will have her own ideas on what she wants. First is to determine how much investment she's willing to make into being a Triathlete.
If she's wanting to put a focus on Tri, then appropriate, good coaching is by far the best approach to supporting her and her efforts. A coach who shows some knowledge of working with young people. There is a strong 'social' aspect to youth athletics. Not necessarily a large group, but just some peers who, along with the coaching, are supportive of each other. There are a few very special youth who can thrive in a singular, solo environment, but then you should already know your daughter's inclinations, as to the current need for 'social interaction'.
How much 'coaching' is dependent on how your daughter takes to Tri and the training process.
The tools, like Powermeter, Heart Rate Monitor, bike, wetsuit, shoes, all the associated stuff really should be considered when the stages of development and improvement are defined, measured and planned.
Your description of the current group you and she have contact with shows either problematic communication and understanding, or complete misdirection in well defined development of young athletes.
Search and make contact with groups or resources in your area for youth coaching. In-Person is many degrees of higher value and significance than online or long distance coaching.
... my comments come from some years of coaching for bike racing and working with young people of that age, at a time when the tools available were more limited. The ultimate issues were always helping them develop in the sport and within the total development they wished to follow - not always in the sport... Good coaching requires an acceptance to provide a good path of development of the person as competitor and the person they wish to be...
Find some good coaching. Your own very positive attitude as shown, will be a strong foundation for her development however that happens...
Ride On
Yuri

There is a Tri Forum here on BF...

Last edited by cyclezen; 05-05-22 at 09:35 AM.
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Old 05-05-22, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Barry2 View Post
My coach has me training to Heart Rate levels.
My power meter allows me to get to, and maintain, the correct HR accurately.
I don't follow. Wouldn't a heart rate monitor be the correct tool if you want to insure your heart rate is at the appropriate level?
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Old 05-05-22, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
I don't follow. Wouldn't a heart rate monitor be the correct tool if you want to insure your heart rate is at the appropriate level?
The Short Answer
Perceived effort is tough to judge.
If you want your HR to be 138bpm, how hard do you plan on pedaling on the flats, what about up a hill **********?
I know exactly how many watts to pedal in order to reach 138bpm.
I can even maintain that effort up and down hills.

The Long Answer
I know my Lactic Threshold Heart Rate (LTHR).
At or below my LTHR my heart and lungs provide the oxygen required by my muscles, this is my endurance level.
At this HR I can go all day as long as I'm fed and watered correctly.

Once you go above LTHR the heart and lungs not longer can provide all the oxygen you require.
You begin to use Glycogen that is stored in the muscles, and there is only so much of it.
You start to build Lactic acid and that muscle burning sensation sets in.
At this point you're on a limited budget, the muscles will only hold this level for so long.

As you increase effort, heart rate increase is delayed.
It is quite easy to increase effort only to find out that you've gone into the Glycogen burning zone yet HR has not caught up yet and you are burning Glycogen.

A power meter will assist you with remaining within the HR you require.
Either to remain within your endurance zone, or to intentionally burn Glycogen but at a controlled rate/pace.

Hope this helps

Barry
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Old 05-05-22, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Barry2 View Post
The Short Answer
Perceived effort is tough to judge.
If you want your HR to be 138bpm, how hard do you plan on pedaling on the flats, what about up a hill **********?
I know exactly how many watts to pedal in order to reach 138bpm.
So many words. If my goal is to maintain 138 BPM, I look at the heart rate display on my bike computer and adjust how hard I pedal to keep my heart rate at 138. I don't care about flats, uphill, downhill. I pedal as hard as it takes to maintain that BPM.

If my goal is to maintain 138 BPM, why should I care how many watts it takes to do that?
Originally Posted by Barry2 View Post
A power meter will assist you with remaining within the HR you require.
Then you're training by power, not heart rate.
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Old 05-05-22, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
So many words. If my goal is to maintain 138 BPM, I look at the heart rate display on my bike computer and adjust how hard I pedal to keep my heart rate at 138. I don't care about flats, uphill, downhill. I pedal as hard as it takes to maintain that BPM.

If my goal is to maintain 138 BPM, why should I care how many watts it takes to do that?

Then you're training by power, not heart rate.
You obviously don't care how many watts equals 138bpm and that is perfectly fine.
I can't possibly tell you why or even if you should care.

However I did go to the trouble of explaining why I care and how I utilize the PM to train and pace by HR.
If you don't see this as a potentially competitive advantage, we simply have different requirements regarding how we cycle.

All the best

Barry
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Old 05-05-22, 01:02 PM
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A guy who names himself 'cyclezen' coaches teen-agers? I never expected that.... Sure, staying calm an centered should be help in coaching, but how can anyone do that while coaching kids that age?
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Old 05-05-22, 04:12 PM
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What exactly is your daughter's goal, what does she want to do? Just have some fun a few times a year or crush the other girls and become the next Laura Bennett?
She is on a team, what does the team coach or team captain say how you should train?

I would say the power meter is the one piece of equipment that has most changed road bike racing in the last 20 years. As a tool for training and pacing yourself during big rides it is invaluable and much better compared to an HRM alone, but if you're just in it for some fun its probably not worth expense.
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Old 05-05-22, 04:56 PM
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The best training tool, one which has been used by generations, is a stop watch. I did some competitive riding some years ago, and my girlfriend was our state’s triathlon champion. We both had coaches, and training revolved on establishing a strong base-level fitness, and then training regimens for competition. For both of us it was mostly interval training. I was on an amateur road team, and was the designated sprinter, so I did some weight training in addition to riding, and intense intervals. In those days (about 25 years ago), heart rate and VO2 were the technical parameters, things like wattage and power were not yet in the mainstream. To train to ride fast you generally spent a lot of hours riding fast, and that is as true today as it was then.

Much of what is involved in training today is marketing and hype. The improvement in performance over the last 25 years from newer training systems is small, especially when you consider the improvement in technology in bicycles. Top riders in the late 1990’s are not much slower than riders of today, which is remarkable when the late 90’s some pros were still riding steel bikes and using 8 speed drivelines. When our team was provided with the new Record 9 speed equipped bikes, it was a big thing.

The basic ingredients of champion-level riding are talent and sweat, and more of the latter can make up for much of the former. I was not talented, but I was competitive, and loved to feel my body burning in a sprint, short as my career was, I had some good finishes.
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Old 05-05-22, 05:05 PM
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Originally Posted by 50PlusCycling View Post
To train to ride fast you generally spent a lot of hours riding fast, and that is as true today as it was then.
That's correct, but not in the way I suspect you mean.
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Old 05-05-22, 05:25 PM
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At 14 I would recommend having fun competing and no regimented training at all. Ride around the neighborhood, go fast once in awhile, go for a longer ride now and then. Swim, run... have fun.
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Old 05-05-22, 10:08 PM
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Originally Posted by 50PlusCycling View Post
To train to ride fast you generally spent a lot of hours riding fast, and that is as true today as it was then
wow that’s old school, and we all knew it to be true.
But science has moved on.
in those day we all knew it was faster to charge around on 18mm (Wolber) tires running 110-120psi on the road.
Most here have never even heard of an 18mm !
and science proved that wrong as well.

If you want to go fast, you train to raise your VO2 max
VO2 max responds more to high volumes of lower impact aerobic training, than it does to high impact anaerobic training.

Now the norm is approx 80% aerobic + 20% anaerobic training.
Don’t believe me, go ask your coach. Do the research.

Yes I know it’s counterintuitive.



Barry
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Old 05-06-22, 06:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Barry2 View Post
If you want to go fast, you train to raise your VO2 max
VO2 max responds more to high volumes of lower impact aerobic training, than it does to high impact anaerobic training.
I think you're confusing VO2max with aerobic capacity (threshold). From https://velodynamics2.webs.com/traininglevels.pdf
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Old 05-06-22, 08:12 AM
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That document is over twenty years old.
And the fine print states, volume matters and “May” be better

Last edited by Barry2; 05-06-22 at 08:20 AM.
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Old 05-06-22, 08:16 AM
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Thank you all for your time and consideration. My daughter and I have started digesting the book, ordered a crankset PM, talked to an old friend who is a triathlete, and will start leaning more heavily on the team coaches for guidance.
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Old 05-06-22, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Barry2 View Post
That document is over twenty years old.
Go ask you coach.
Do you really think human evolution has progressed so rapidly that physiology has changed in 20 years?
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