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Power Meters (Why?)

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Power Meters (Why?)

Old 11-14-19, 06:20 AM
  #76  
livedarklions
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Except that other that between the green and checkered flags, speed is a meaningless metric. I could draft a van all day and do a century at a 30mph average. Or I could just ride downhill. Or one day the wind is in my face and the other is at my back.

Speed is in not always indicative of effort. A power meter shows work done and ignores speed altogether. Anyone who has ever ridden up a hill knows it can take every bit as much work to climb a hill at 7mph as to cruise on flat ground at +20mph.

A power meter is one way to eliminate a lot of variables.
So basically, the power meter is a method to confirm what everyone already knows? Everyone also knows you can control for this by repeating the same course under similar conditions. and comparing times.

It's a useful tool for many, but clearly not a necessity for effective training.
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Old 11-14-19, 10:11 AM
  #77  
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Except that other that between the green and checkered flags, speed is a meaningless metric. I could draft a van all day and do a century at a 30mph average. Or I could just ride downhill. Or one day the wind is in my face and the other is at my back.

Speed is in not always indicative of effort. A power meter shows work done and ignores speed altogether. Anyone who has ever ridden up a hill knows it can take every bit as much work to climb a hill at 7mph as to cruise on flat ground at +20mph.

A power meter is one way to eliminate a lot of variables.
I agree with your statements that speed is not indicative of effort and it does eliminate variables. That is why I like time better for measuring improvement. Power is just one factor in going fast. I think there are too many variables, and too much variability in the measuring devices to make focusing on power very useful. Then what do you do with that number. Defining if power is for a sprint, or a TT, or up a hill will in theory tell you or the coach what to change, but more power generally comes at a cost someplace and the only measure I know of telling you if it was "worth it" is seeing the time go down.

Time over course may decrease by becoming more aero, taking better lines, changing cadence, and varying power application such as applying more power before cresting the hill, coasting downhill. Looking at the time for a "regular" ride is as useless as looking at your power. But when you want to measure, you pick the same undisturbed course and ride it for a time that you think is important. That time, or that power tells you how you are doing. If only one measurement device could be used on a repeatable course, I'd use the watch.

On that same course ridden for a test, the variance in PMs (hub, pedal, crank or different ones) will be much more than the variance in watches. Get on one bike with one PM and hold 300W and the time will be different on the same course than another bike, or another PM at the same 300W.

We use PMs when testing equipment and position as that is the only consistent thing (short of a wind tunnel) available. Once the equipment is dialed in, then time is the best indicator of what you are trying to achieve.
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Old 11-14-19, 10:14 AM
  #78  
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Originally Posted by jad3675 View Post
I got mine from probikekit - they had two versions listed, I got the cheaper one. Check out powermetershop.de - they had good pricing.

John
Thanks for the suggestion- I ended up buying one to try it out. Might turn into a couple more come next spring too.
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Old 11-14-19, 10:26 AM
  #79  
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
How is that any better than speed / time? It does not measure the most important thing - winning. And it does not measure speed. Targeting power may not help either (and I am very serious about racing).
Speed and time does not relate very precisely to effort (energy expended, and the duration). You're referring to training methods; I am referring to a measurement that people find useful in training.

Your training using only speed and time will always take the road grade into consideration, the wind, even which bike they're on, right? In other words it boils down to estimating power, which is more easily and more accurately measured using a meter. If you want that more accurate measurement, that's the "why" of a power meter. If you don't need it, you don't need a power meter.

The secondary use I mentioned is "relating speed to power", which isn't necessarily training but may be useful in developing technique and racing strategy.


I have not seen the power training folks go faster than those that don't.

Cameron Wurf - 2X Kona record breaker - no PM
Taylor Phinney - no PM
(those are public with videos)

Many racers have them. Our current USA kids do too. USAC coaches get all excited about power too.

If you want to go faster, measuring speed is more results oriented.
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Old 11-14-19, 11:01 AM
  #80  
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For me, one of the most interesting things coming from having a PM is seeing how inaccurate my RPE is.

The same perceived effort can be 50w different from early to late on a long ride.

Closing that gap is then a useful measure- still putting out decent wattage at the end means good fitness.
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Old 11-14-19, 11:18 AM
  #81  
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
Speed and time does not relate very precisely to effort (energy expended, and the duration). You're referring to training methods; I am referring to a measurement that people find useful in training.

Your training using only speed and time will always take the road grade into consideration, the wind, even which bike they're on, right? In other words it boils down to estimating power, which is more easily and more accurately measured using a meter. If you want that more accurate measurement, that's the "why" of a power meter. If you don't need it, you don't need a power meter.

The secondary use I mentioned is "relating speed to power", which isn't necessarily training but may be useful in developing technique and racing strategy.
I agree a PM is the best way to measure power. And if the why is that you want to measure power, it is the best tool. As I posted, I used it for tuning equipment.

When there used to be bike races in SoCal, I didn't see that those that trained with or used PMs did any better (winning) than those that did not, my leaning was they did less well.

I would be curious how those that see their power numbers improve their cycling vs not seeing those numbers - beyond just enjoying the numbers. And contrast what they do because of those numbers to other training methods.
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Old 11-14-19, 11:28 AM
  #82  
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
I agree a PM is the best way to measure power. And if the why is that you want to measure power, it is the best tool. As I posted, I used it for tuning equipment.

When there used to be bike races in SoCal, I didn't see that those that trained with or used PMs did any better (winning) than those that did not, my leaning was they did less well.

I would be curious how those that see their power numbers improve their cycling vs not seeing those numbers - beyond just enjoying the numbers. And contrast what they do because of those numbers to other training methods.
Going by "feel" or using variable metrics are not good indicators of how much effort you have actually put out. Speaking just from my own experience, I have improved big time since training with a PM.
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Old 11-14-19, 12:39 PM
  #83  
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Also, not all of us are employing a power meter for the sole purpose of getting faster. Mine is primarily a fuel gauge, because I'm generally pretty worthless at riding by RPE. This morning for instance was set out to be low intensity, with the only goals being to have a good time, and try to get home around the 1,000kJ mark. I absolutely cannot do that by RPE. After the 50 brisk miles yesterday, today felt a bit harder than it actually was.
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Old 11-14-19, 12:41 PM
  #84  
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
I agree a PM is the best way to measure power. And if the why is that you want to measure power, it is the best tool. As I posted, I used it for tuning equipment.

When there used to be bike races in SoCal, I didn't see that those that trained with or used PMs did any better (winning) than those that did not, my leaning was they did less well.

I would be curious how those that see their power numbers improve their cycling vs not seeing those numbers - beyond just enjoying the numbers. And contrast what they do because of those numbers to other training methods.
That could be difficult to compare because our response to training depends on our level of fitness relative to our potential. It follows an "S" curve, like many things biological. After a certain point it tapers off, with diminishing returns. So I think you'd have to be somewhere in the middle linear portion, trying it either way for awhile. Maybe, a lot of cyclists start out training with perceived effort, then buy a power meter and use that, and have kept good enough records to compare. I haven't seen anything like that posted though.

What I do find curious though, and it plays to your point, is that runners hardly ever use devices to measure power. They rely on pace - speed - as a proxy and utilize that almost exactly analogously as you'd use power measurements. Obviously speeds are lower and wind drag less of a factor, and yet ... it's not insignificant either. To put real numbers to it, somewhere around 8 to 8:30 pace you start to lose time outside vs a treadmill, which is (primarily) due to wind resistance. There is a lot of "sloppy" opinion about that out there, but let me just say that best information is that pace is non-linear with power for practical purposes for runners at around an 8 minute pace. Which is pretty slow, generally speaking.

So to me, it shows a logical discrepancy in approach, two different "conventional wisdoms" in the two sports even though the physiological objectives and physical factors are largely similar. If pace is "close enough" for competitive runners, why isn't speed "close enough" for competitive cyclists, as you contend?
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Old 11-14-19, 02:06 PM
  #85  
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
That could be difficult to compare because our response to training depends on our level of fitness relative to our potential. It follows an "S" curve, like many things biological. After a certain point it tapers off, with diminishing returns. So I think you'd have to be somewhere in the middle linear portion, trying it either way for awhile. Maybe, a lot of cyclists start out training with perceived effort, then buy a power meter and use that, and have kept good enough records to compare. I haven't seen anything like that posted though.

What I do find curious though, and it plays to your point, is that runners hardly ever use devices to measure power. They rely on pace - speed - as a proxy and utilize that almost exactly analogously as you'd use power measurements. Obviously speeds are lower and wind drag less of a factor, and yet ... it's not insignificant either. To put real numbers to it, somewhere around 8 to 8:30 pace you start to lose time outside vs a treadmill, which is (primarily) due to wind resistance. There is a lot of "sloppy" opinion about that out there, but let me just say that best information is that pace is non-linear with power for practical purposes for runners at around an 8 minute pace. Which is pretty slow, generally speaking.

So to me, it shows a logical discrepancy in approach, two different "conventional wisdoms" in the two sports even though the physiological objectives and physical factors are largely similar. If pace is "close enough" for competitive runners, why isn't speed "close enough" for competitive cyclists, as you contend?
Running speed varies far, far less than cycling speed and thus no real need for something analogous to a PM.
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Old 11-14-19, 02:40 PM
  #86  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
So basically, the power meter is a method to confirm what everyone already knows?
Everyone knows some rides are harder than others. Not everyone knows exactly how much harder some rides are than others. Like a speedometer or a scale, a PM allows us to quantify the data accurately.


Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
It's a useful tool for many, but clearly not a necessity for effective training.
Thank you so much for pointing that out.
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Old 11-14-19, 02:44 PM
  #87  
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
The Avio is on probikekit now for $188 before the cost of installation kit.

Question for you since you have home installed it- could it be temporarily installed on a crank using something like 3m releasable tape?
Thinking about using it for the winter on the trainer bike then attaching it to one of my road bikes come spring for outdoor use.

Wasnt sure if a thin layer like the releasable tape somehow messes with power readings?


If this is isnt possible, I will end up attaching the PM to a crank on one of my outdoor bikes, then moving that crank and bottom bracket to the trainer bike. Just hoping to reduce work.
You don't need the install kit. Two part epoxy and a 10KG weight (I used a box of cat litter) is all you need. I originally had the meter attached with Scotch Automotive Molding tape to make sure it worked and didn't foul my chainstays. I calibrated it and did a few rides before I permanently attached it with epoxy. The readings appear to be fairly consistent between the methods.

John
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Old 11-14-19, 03:33 PM
  #88  
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Originally Posted by OBoile View Post
Running speed varies far, far less than cycling speed and thus no real need for something analogous to a PM.
The range between a casual runner's pace and a competitive one is similar to differences in cycling, if that's what you mean.

If you're talking about the higher speeds of cycling causing greater aerodynamic drag - square of speed etc - I addressed that. It is meaningful at even an 8 minute pace, and would have the same "need" in running as in cycling after that point.
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Old 11-14-19, 03:38 PM
  #89  
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
I absolutely cannot do that by RPE.
'Scuse my ignorance, but what is RPE?
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Old 11-14-19, 03:46 PM
  #90  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
'Scuse my ignorance, but what is RPE?
Rate of perceived exertion. Usually expressed in a 1-10 scale, but some use a 6-20 scale, which doesn't make any sense to me but hey, science. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/...?dopt=Citation
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Old 11-14-19, 03:51 PM
  #91  
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
The range between a casual runner's pace and a competitive one is similar to differences in cycling, if that's what you mean.
No that isn't what I meant.
Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
If you're talking about the higher speeds of cycling causing greater aerodynamic drag - square of speed etc - I addressed that. It is meaningful at even an 8 minute pace, and would have the same "need" in running as in cycling after that point.
Aerodynamic drag is the main source of resistance when cycling (excluding hills***). When running, it is gravity. Yes, there is an aerodynamic component, but it is, proportionally, much smaller than it is with cycling. This should be obvious to anyone who has watched/participated in these sports. There's a reason why elite cyclists can't just ride someone off their wheel and have to attack hard to create an initial gap while runners don't have to do this.
Wind resistance changes far more than gravity. It changes due to wind speed and direction. It changes due to temperature. It changes due to air pressure. It changes due to your CdA. As such, the time to complete a certain distance varies far more when cycling than it does with running. As such, outside of a velodrome, time isn't a very accurate measurement of performance for cycling.

If you want to measure how much work you are doing, running speed works fairly well and is fairly consistent. For cycling, to achieve something similar wrt consistency, you need a power meter. Your day-to-day speed will vary too much to get anything meaningful other than perhaps a long-term trend.

*** cycling up a moderately steep hill is fairly close to running wrt what type/proportion of resistance is slowing you down. That's why grand tours are decided in the mountains. It's also why you see people just fall off the back, unable to maintain the pace of the leaders. It's also why lighter riders tend to be better (whereas pretty much every elite distance runner is small and light). It's also why your times going up a hill will be much more consistent (assuming consistent effort) than your times on flat terrain.
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Old 11-14-19, 05:20 PM
  #92  
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Originally Posted by OBoile View Post
No that isn't what I meant.

Aerodynamic drag is the main source of resistance when cycling (excluding hills***). When running, it is gravity. Yes, there is an aerodynamic component, but it is, proportionally, much smaller than it is with cycling. This should be obvious to anyone who has watched/participated in these sports. There's a reason why elite cyclists can't just ride someone off their wheel and have to attack hard to create an initial gap while runners don't have to do this.
Wind resistance changes far more than gravity. It changes due to wind speed and direction. It changes due to temperature. It changes due to air pressure. It changes due to your CdA. As such, the time to complete a certain distance varies far more when cycling than it does with running. As such, outside of a velodrome, time isn't a very accurate measurement of performance for cycling.

If you want to measure how much work you are doing, running speed works fairly well and is fairly consistent. For cycling, to achieve something similar wrt consistency, you need a power meter. Your day-to-day speed will vary too much to get anything meaningful other than perhaps a long-term trend.

*** cycling up a moderately steep hill is fairly close to running wrt what type/proportion of resistance is slowing you down. That's why grand tours are decided in the mountains. It's also why you see people just fall off the back, unable to maintain the pace of the leaders. It's also why lighter riders tend to be better (whereas pretty much every elite distance runner is small and light). It's also why your times going up a hill will be much more consistent (assuming consistent effort) than your times on flat terrain.
Yes, it is more important at cycling speeds, as I simply stated as a fact originally. I didn't think it required any justification, but OK that you mention the basics there.

What I think you're neglecting here is that even though drag is more important in cycling it still plays a bigger part than you seem to realize in running. 8 0r 10% of his energy overcoming drag in a 5k. Keeping in mind that the runner has twice to three times the drag coefficient of the road cyclist, it becomes significant at lower speeds.

Wind direction, wind speed, and the rest of that plays just as much a part for the runner. So going strictly by pace you could be off by 10% - not important, perhaps, but no less important than needing precise power in cycling rather than estimating to within, say, 10%. It's funny, to me, the disparate "conventional" opinions between the two sports, utterly convinced that a power meter is a necessary training tool in cycling and equally convinced that it's irrelevant in running, even though objectively the reasons for those firm convictions are validly applied to either sport.

I'm more in line with @Doge - it's a more specific need than most people realize - but if a cyclist believes that he really needs a power meter to train properly, then he's not really training "properly" if he's running without one.
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Old 11-14-19, 05:28 PM
  #93  
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I have a power meter, it tells me how many watts my hub motor is kicking out at any given time.
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Old 11-14-19, 06:26 PM
  #94  
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
Yes, it is more important at cycling speeds, as I simply stated as a fact originally. I didn't think it required any justification, but OK that you mention the basics there.

What I think you're neglecting here is that even though drag is more important in cycling it still plays a bigger part than you seem to realize in running. 8 0r 10% of his energy overcoming drag in a 5k. Keeping in mind that the runner has twice to three times the drag coefficient of the road cyclist, it becomes significant at lower speeds.

Wind direction, wind speed, and the rest of that plays just as much a part for the runner. So going strictly by pace you could be off by 10% - not important, perhaps, but no less important than needing precise power in cycling rather than estimating to within, say, 10%. It's funny, to me, the disparate "conventional" opinions between the two sports, utterly convinced that a power meter is a necessary training tool in cycling and equally convinced that it's irrelevant in running, even though objectively the reasons for those firm convictions are validly applied to either sport.

I'm more in line with @Doge - it's a more specific need than most people realize - but if a cyclist believes that he really needs a power meter to train properly, then he's not really training "properly" if he's running without one.
Let me know the next time a marathoner gets guttered in a crosswind and is dropped from the lead group.
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Old 11-14-19, 08:08 PM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
Yes, it is more important at cycling speeds, as I simply stated as a fact originally. I didn't think it required any justification, but OK that you mention the basics there.
Well, you seemed to struggle with what I thought was a very straight forward comment: cycling speed varies more than running speed.
Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
What I think you're neglecting here is that even though drag is more important in cycling it still plays a bigger part than you seem to realize in running.
You seem to be making an assumption about what I do or do not actually realize. I'm aware that drag plays a role, hence why Kipchoge had people he could draft from during his recent sub 2-hour marathon. But, IIRC, the difference was something like 1.5 to 2 minutes which is far, far less than the time a cyclist could gain from a draft over 2 hours.
Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
8 0r 10% of his energy overcoming drag in a 5k. Keeping in mind that the runner has twice to three times the drag coefficient of the road cyclist, it becomes significant at lower speeds.
8-10% vs roughly 90%.

Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
Wind direction, wind speed, and the rest of that plays just as much a part for the runner. So going strictly by pace you could be off by 10% - not important, perhaps, but no less important than needing precise power in cycling rather than estimating to within, say, 10%.
Whatever arbitrary number you pick for running, the difference will be significantly larger for cycling.
Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
It's funny, to me, the disparate "conventional" opinions between the two sports, utterly convinced that a power meter is a necessary training tool in cycling and equally convinced that it's irrelevant in running, even though objectively the reasons for those firm convictions are validly applied to either sport.
Given the relative practicality of using speed as a measurement of progress, there's nothing funny about it. It is perfectly logical that the purchase of an expensive measurement tool is justified for one sport but not the other.
Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
I'm more in line with @Doge - it's a more specific need than most people realize - but if a cyclist believes that he really needs a power meter to train properly, then he's not really training "properly" if he's running without one.
Dodge's comment is just about the silliest one I have read since someone tried to say lifting weights was more important than interval training for becoming a faster cyclist. There's a reason why the vast, vast majority of professional cyclists record their power when training. It works.
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Old 11-14-19, 09:28 PM
  #96  
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The Why has not really be defined. I can think of three whys.
-To train
-To perform
-To see numbers.

I think the latter is what most have a PM for. You can train with cadence, HR, Power - weights and different methods in each. I think the weights and miles on the bike give the best results per time spent. If the goal is to perform, there is a lot more than power involved.


This guy below trains a lot of cyclists to get faster. His speed training is with weights, not on the bike. HE told my kid he needed about an hour a week on the bike if he wanted to do pursuit. Our '84 Olympic Gold Pursuit winner did the same (train with weights).

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Old 11-15-19, 07:45 AM
  #97  
asgelle
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
The Why has not really be defined. I can think of three whys.
-To train
-To perform
-To see numbers.
The first should be divided in two. To design training and to perform training according to plan.
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Old 11-15-19, 08:54 AM
  #98  
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
Let me know the next time a marathoner gets guttered in a crosswind and is dropped from the lead group.
Marathoners do draft, and wind direction plays as much part in how much the drag is as it does in cycling.
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Old 11-15-19, 09:45 AM
  #99  
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
The Why has not really be defined. I can think of three whys.
-To train
-To perform
-To see numbers.

I think the latter is what most have a PM for. You can train with cadence, HR, Power - weights and different methods in each. I think the weights and miles on the bike give the best results per time spent. If the goal is to perform, there is a lot more than power involved.
Cadence and HR can't tell you how much work you've actually done. The only really reliable way for most of us, including pros, to track progress is through a PM. Improving your power is the reason why people train. Sure it's not the only factor, but it is the biggest. Does it not make sense to actually track your progress?

Originally Posted by Doge View Post
This guy below trains a lot of cyclists to get faster. His speed training is with weights, not on the bike. HE told my kid he needed about an hour a week on the bike if he wanted to do pursuit. Our '84 Olympic Gold Pursuit winner did the same (train with weights).
Originally Posted by Doge View Post
I think the weights and miles on the bike give the best results per time spent.
And what's foolish is that you've taken advice given to someone coming from an endurance background and transitioning to a short event that has a large glycolitic component and thinking this applies to the general cycling population. It's also pretty foolish to use training advice from the 1980s. The vast, vast majority of cyclists, even those doing events as short as a 4km pursuit are spending far more than one hour a week on their bike. Yes, I'm sure just about every pursuit rider is also lifting weights, but I'm equally confident that if they had to choose between dropping workouts on the bike or workouts in the gym, the vast majority would drop the latter without hesitation.
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Old 11-15-19, 09:54 AM
  #100  
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Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
The first should be divided in two. To design training and to perform training according to plan.
No disagreement. And if you do that you need a PM.

The next Why that falls from that is why a PM training program was chosen over another one.
I assume because folks think the time spend in a PM training is as effective as time spent with the correct weight program,
OR because they'd rather be on the bike than in a gym.

The latter makes the most sense to me as I think the gym is more efficient.

Some use PM to perform - ie adjust their effort based upon what the numbers say. If the idea is to hold back for another day as in a grand tour rider, that works.
I agree most pros ride with PMs, but how they use them, or not is different. On track you are not allow to see the power, but you can record it. So they are not performing to a PM, but may be training to one. Even so, on track the time will be used with the PM. If power went up and time didn't go down, there is an issue to adjust.

For a single day race, I think looking at PM numbers mid-race is more a crutch and will tell the racer what they can't do, or blow them up. RPE is a better judge for that day, and most good racers learn theri ability at least as close as what a PM will say.

If while in competition they like to record the numbers as a point to train to, that is a good use - if they use a PM to train to.
But toss in a serious gym program and you have messed with the PM training program, which explains to me why some very fast racers don't use them to train, or to perform.
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