At cycling events and triathlons, in bike shops, velodromes, and anywhere else cyclists and multisport athletes gather, the power meter has become the topic that everyone wants to discuss. The consensus is the same: For cyclists, training with power is the next big step in achieving peak performance.
In our work in coaching and exercise physiology, we have seen the benefits of training with a power meter firsthand. Using a power meter can take your training to a new level and allow you to fine-tune your training program. Simply put, the power meter allows you to quantitatively track your fitness changes, more easily define your weaknesses, and then refocus your training based on those weak areas. It can be an impetus for change in your training program.
Even riders who have been racing for many years and think they “know it all” are likely to benefit from a power meter. Hunter has found this to be true again and again, even with masters riders who have been cycling for twenty or thirty years. Phil Whitman, for example, a masters 60+ rider, had seen many advances in cycling over the years and was hesitant to adopt the power meter, thinking it unlikely that it could help him improve further. However, he gave it a try and found that his power meter did help him improve. “I have seen all the little ‘gadgets’ that have promised improvement, and most have come and gone,” he said, “so when Hunter asked me to purchase a power meter, it took some convincing. However, now that I have used it for a full season, I don’t need any more convincing. I know it really helped me this year in focusing my training for specific intervals, pacing in breakaways, and also in time trials, plus it’s been exciting to actually see my progress quantitatively for the first time in thirty years of racing.”
By installing a power meter on your bicycle, you will gain access to more data than you can now imagine. True, the benefits accrue only when you know what to do with all that data and how to interpret it using the power-meter software. This has been a problem for many power-meter users: Seeing the graphs of all the data from your ride may seem daunting at first. That is why we have devoted Chapters 6 and 7 to explaining how to extract the information necessary to focus your training and track improvements. You also will need to understand how to implement new wattage-based workouts in your training regimen and when and how to make changes in your training. Chapters 3, 4, 5, 8, and 9 will teach you how to train effectively with a power meter and use this new technology to achieve your performance goals. By learning some simple steps, you will be well on your way to training with a power meter effectively and expertly. We are going to help you take this “fancy” bike computer and turn it from an expensive toy into a tool to be utilized completely. Truly, this is what a power meter is: a tool to be used to improve performance.
Here, we will survey the benefits that you can look forward to when you take the simple steps to improvement that are presented in this book. The benefits are many, but they generally fall into four main categories. These can be expressed in four brief phrases that sum up what you can do when you know how to use the power-meter technology properly: · Know Thyself: A power meter supplies a great deal of information about your ride, and these data will enable you to identify your strengths and weaknesses. · Work Together: A power meter communicates detailed information to your coach and teammates in a way that will enable everyone to work together more efficiently. · Focus Your Training: With this information at your fingertips, along with good coaching and teamwork, you will identify appropriate training goals and methods. · Achieve Peak Performance: With better information, better communication, and better training, you will be positioned to do your best in cycling.
As you can see, these four areas are interlocked. They build on each other. Without the data that the power meter provides, analysis of your ride, communication with your coach and teammates, and development of a training plan all remain limited to guesswork. With the data as a basis, you can move to a whole new level in all these areas.
However, let the old-timers be warned: If you do not use a cyclocomputer or heart rate monitor now, or if you are unwilling to change the way you train, then training with a power meter might not be for you. It will take some time and effort on your part, using your home computer and adjusting your training paradigm, but in the end, if you are serious about training and going faster, then a power meter will help you reach your peak performance.