Power meters

graveyardman67

Well-Known Member
Team MTBNJ Halter's
As the season is tapering down I am planning my training for next year. I want to kick it up notch and have been doing some research on training. Many studies as well as most of the support programs (Carmichael Traing System) advocate the use of power measuring devices - i.e. PowerTap hub.

In theory the concept makes perfect sense. If you plan on training hard, you have a measurable way of constructing your workouts and instant feedback on where you are in your training plan.

#1 Does anyone use anything of the sort?
#2 Has anyone every used any of the online (or otherwise) training systems (CTS, training peaks, etc)?
 

Norm

Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
1. No, but I'm very familiar with PM technology and the structure of training with power.
2. I have not paid for it, but I'm very familiar with the various plans out there: Carmichael, Freil, Morris, Ross, Burke.

Here's the problem with power. You need a PM on every bike you have, especially if you're new to the game. Eventually you can get on the bike and know what power you're putting out based on RPE and experience. But in the first year or so, it's going to be hard to get a good read on that. Also, the Powertap is rim brake only.

Performance usually has it:
http://www.performancebike.com/shop/Profile.cfm?SKU=18503&item=40-1961&slitrk=search&slisearch=true

It will get cheaper as it gets colder.

Also, one of your teammates is like inches away from being a certified coach. So you could always bounce some questions off him. Though he's a little more old school in his approach than I am :) But of course he's faster.

IMO, you don't need all that. You need a plan. You need an approach to stick to and to be willing to start building for it in a month or 2. Power is great and it's an objective measure of exactly what you're doing on the bike. But it's probably a bit of overkill. OTOH, it probably makes training extraordinarily efficient.

Still, at the end of the day you will still need a plan and an approach that's going to start in about 1-2 months. The PM will just help you stick to your design better and make adjustments.

I'm not a dork, I swear.
 

Norm

Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
The iBike gets ripped pretty hard with the PM crowd. It's apparently not very accurate off road. Or at least it used to be wildly inaccurate off road and inconsistent on the road. I don't know if they've improved in those areas recently.

But the iBike and Polar PMs can be had on eBay for much cheaper than the Powertap, SRM, Ergomo. The Quarg (or something) is a new player but expected MSRP is in the $2k realm.

I've been drolling over PMs for like a year now, and I just can't rationalize buying one. Given how easy it is to rationalize a $500 wheelset I guess that's saying something.
 

graveyardman67

Well-Known Member
Team MTBNJ Halter's
I find that the only "training" I can do on the MT Bike is hill intervals. The tourne has a decent 330 ft climb at 15% on one side and 12% on the other.

http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/3273994

I had done most of my early season riding on the road. But I feel like once I had the base miles in, I lacked "the plan" to get marked improvement. If I do PM it will only be on my training road bike. Having limited time makes the PM attractive.
 

Norm

Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
But you'll still need a plan. The PM just tells you what power you're putting out. When it comes down to it, you'll still need to get into the L3/L4/L5/L6 stuff to have a "plan". The PM isn't going to say you should go at X watts for Y minutes on any given day.
 

jimvreeland

Endurance Guy: Tolerates most of us.
I've been on a power-based program for about a year now...I just bought a book, read it cover-to-cover several times, and bugged every person that's faster than I am what they do to train, and it's really paid off for me...I have the base PowerTap Pro, and the program it came with...In the course of 2 years, I've lost 80 pounds and went from being dropped on every group ride I've ever been on, to placing top ten in Expert class (sometimes)...Tweeking my program through this off-season should give me the results I'm looking for next year...
 

BiknBen

Well-Known Member
Consider an indoor trainer with a power meter. These are expensive compared to other indoor trainers but cheap compared to other power meters. Something like this: http://www.performancebike.com/shop/profile.cfm?SKU=21067&subcategory_ID=4120

Spend the winter getting used to it. Use it to establish a baseline of data until spring. Once the next season hits full stride use it occasionally for testing and monitoring improvements during the year.

As Norm attempts to point out, a PM will not make you stronger. It is just a tool used in conjunction with a good training plan.
 

Kirt

JORBA: Chimney Rock, Team MTBNJ.COM
JORBA.ORG
Team MTBNJ Halter's
Also, one of your teammates is like inches away from being a certified coach. So you could always bounce some questions off him. Though he's a little more old school in his approach than I am :) But of course he's faster.

Who are you referring to? Does he charge?
 

graveyardman67

Well-Known Member
Team MTBNJ Halter's
I am clear (crystal) that the implementation and folow through of a program is critical. I am looking to the PM's to establish a base line, help maximize my efforts and track progress. I spent about two hours last night researching online and found out that I could spend hundreds to thousands of dollars. Powertap, SRM and even the Computrainer look like the best "tools". PT and SRM can be used on the road or on the trainer. The computrainer adds some neat technology to your mid winter workouts; even looks like it mught be fun, but $$$ and only indoors.

Training peaks has some reasonable canned packages that target specific performance levels.

Norm, who is this mystery trainer? - PM me if this hush, hush.
 

Norm

Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
Have you ever used a structured plan before? If not, I think that's plenty to start with to see results.

IMO - assuredly subject to debate - I find a lot of the plans deficient for mtb racing because there's not enough training where you "put it all together". IOW, your L5 and L6 sessions are really hard intervals with total rest in between. Or your L4 stuff is 20 minute sessions of threshold work. This translates better to the road, again IMO, because you can get away with sitting in and racing at L2 at times. The power profiles of successful road racers often shows that the guy who puts out the lowest overall effort often wins. It's about having explosive power as well as experience and racing tactics and not wasting energy.

In mountain biking, you really don't get a whole hell of a lot of drafting. You're on the gas the whole damn time. So personally I found a bit of a disconnect with many of these plans (they're all basically the same) and mountain bike racing.

I have no idea if any of that is even pertinent. A PM isn't going to hurt you I'm just not sure it's necessary at this stage of your training. Maybe it is but I've never been able to convince myself.
 

graveyardman67

Well-Known Member
Team MTBNJ Halter's
Your insight is very keen on the road vs. mt bike racing zones and output levels. I looked at trainingpeaks.com and they do have different routines for road vs. mt bike. Last year for Mt Wash. I would do L6 intervals on hills and ride 1 hr tempo at L4 (different days). But no real structure and worst of all no recovery days on the bike.

My real problem is I am a number freak. I will analyze my rides, speed, gradient, HR, how I felt that day, temperature. I have already sold myself on the fact that I need (the reality is that I want) to know power output. Now its just which one.

I have to say, I was a little blown away last night. Garmin is about to release the Edge 605 & 705. Larger color display, with real maps, about 0.5 oz heavier with but with the ability to link up to ANT compatible power meters. This is way cool, because now you already have the head unit and simply need to add the power sensor (hub, crank or chain sensor).

The search continues.... In the meantime I am riding my circa 1983 rollers with an adapted mag resistance unit that I think I broke last night.
 

Norm

Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
You need a plan! A PM is a cool widget, for sure. If you're saying you just did stuff randomly then some form of structure is what you need. Oh, and not showing up to the races hungover will also help. :D Sorry couldn't resist.

If you get a PM drop all the other stuff. HR & speed becomes meaningless. It's all about power output.

IMO recovery is key and it's what most people (who get serious about it) get wrong. I dialed back to 4 days a week on the bike this year and look how I improved over the year. I'll ramp back up to 5 days when I'm trying to drop pounds but I'll go back to 4 when it gets higher-end and more serious. I'm also looking to go to a 4 on, 3 off approach. Sat-Tue on, then 3 days of rest. The idea is to make the most of those 4 days on. A PM will help. But so will having a clear direction to ride in.

If you're sold on the PM you have 2 options: SRM or PowerTap. The Ergomo is a good 3rd choice but isn't as accurate. Polar and iBike aren't reliable. And the Quarg is too new and expensive.

I think I can make this analogy to you, as I'm probably talking to you and ChrisG and maybe Ben at this point. You're probably familiar with chaos theory. Have you ever watched the smoke from a cigarette? At first it goes up nice and straight, then gets a little wavy, then finally turns into a mess of unpredictable chaos in its pattern? The top of the smoke stream is where chaos theory comes in.

As you train, you're trying to stay on the nice straight part of that stream. Things can get a little out of whack from time to time, like a little further up the stream. That's normal, that's life. You make adjustments and hopefully get back on track so your training is nice and streamlined. What you want to avoid is going all bonkers and ending up in the chaos part of the smoke stream. I see the PM as a really good way to not end up in the chaos realm.

Seriously I'm not a dork. I'm hip. I'm with it.

OK now you really have me thinking of getting a PT for the road bike. Thanks jerk.
 

Shaggz

A strong 7
you guys may want to get a consensus on a brand and model PM, throw out an "interest" thread, and try to get some group buying power.
 

ChrisG

Unapologetic Lifer for Rock and Roll
I think I can make this analogy to you, as I'm probably talking to you and ChrisG and maybe Ben at this point. You're probably familiar with chaos theory. Have you ever watched the smoke from a cigarette? At first it goes up nice and straight, then gets a little wavy, then finally turns into a mess of unpredictable chaos in its pattern? The top of the smoke stream is where chaos theory comes in.
How about discussing fractals while we're at it?
 
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