Power Point­ers

It’s no use spend­ing your hard-earned on the lat­est tech­nol­ogy if you’re not go­ing to learn how to use it. Here are our top tips for en­sur­ing your power train­ing yields the right re­sults…

Cycling Plus - - POWER - Words Bryan Tay­lor Pho­tog­ra­phy Getty

AAt Verve Cycling ( verve­cy­cling.com) we had a team on hand dur­ing some of the main en­durance events in the Alps this sum­mer, in­clud­ing La Mar­motte and Haute Route, to an­a­lyse the use of power me­ters among the keen­est am­a­teur cy­clists. In par­tic­u­lar, we have close in­ter­ac­tion with many rid­ers who en­tered the Haute Route In­foCrank pac­ing com­pe­ti­tion, so see and hear how many good rid­ers are us­ing their power me­ters, if they have one. The aim of the com­pe­ti­tion is to se­lect a win­ner based on his or her abil­ity to pace their cycling over each of the cols on the fi­nal day of com­pe­ti­tion.

“Rid­ers who took pac­ing ad­vice and fol­lowed it im­proved their po­si­tion over the course of the race”

The Haute Route events are mar­keted as the tough­est cy­clo-sportives in the world. Think of seven straight days in the moun­tains of the Tour de France and you have an idea what these am­a­teurs are try­ing to do.

Big sur­prises

From our sur­vey of the com­peti­tors in the pac­ing com­pe­ti­tion, we found that: • Less than 50 per cent of rid­ers had

a coach. • For the one and three-day events, many

rid­ers did not have a train­ing plan. • More than 50 per cent of rid­ers have a

power me­ter. • Less than half of the rid­ers with a power me­ter had done a Func­tional Thresh­old Power test (see page 12). Some didn’t know what the FTP test was. Some rid­ers had never up­loaded their data and as­sumed that what was on the screen was all there was. • Many rid­ers did not fin­ish within the time lim­its, even though those lim­its were quite gen­er­ous.

An­other take­away that wasn’t a sur­prise, was that the rid­ers who took pac­ing ad­vice and fol­lowed it im­proved their po­si­tion over the course of the race and fin­ished strongly each day.

Verve Cycling has also in­sti­tuted the MYPOWER pro­gramme based on two years of grass roots re­search with Haute Route rid­ers. This gives us a won­der­ful in­sight into the changes that oc­cur when rid­ers ei­ther get a true and pre­cise power me­ter for the first time or change to the In­foCrank and seek to im­prove.

This pro­gramme, avail­able on­line at mypower.verve­cy­cling.com, has now been opened to all of those in­ter­ested in im­prove­ment in cycling per­for­mance and en­joy­ment on the bike.

It seems rea­son­able that if you are in­vest­ing so much in tech­nol­ogy to as­sist you to im­prove on the bike, then you should at least fol­low some sim­ple steps to get the most out of it. 1 Buy a proven power me­ter that is both true and pre­cise. Av­er­ages are not good enough for any­thing in life and cer­tainly not for mea­sur­ing your power. What you re­ally need is the true num­ber dis­play­ing for each and ev­ery pedal stroke, only then can you make a cor­rect di­ag­no­sis. Ex­cel­lent data is re­quired for gen­uine im­prove­ment and com­par­i­son.

2 Make sure that you can truly mea­sure both of your legs. Even if you are per­fectly bal­anced to­day, you won’t be the day or month af­ter your next ac­ci­dent and prob­a­bly not af­ter your next en­durance event. Bal­ance is not the main thing, you want to know your ped­alling ef­fec­tive­ness for each leg – truly mea­sured, not an al­go­rith­mic es­ti­mate. Once again, with true, ac­cu­rate data, you can di­ag­nose prob­lems and cor­rect them. 3 Up­load your files to a pro­gramme that doesn’t strip out any data – at least do that first be­fore you up­load to social me­dia-type pro­grammes. When you need to an­a­lyse data, you’ll want all of it and it must all be di­rectly com­pa­ra­ble. I’m of­ten asked to re­view per­for­mance data and give a di­ag­no­sis, but I hate to do it if the data is de­fec­tive or key in­for­ma­tion is miss­ing. You don’t go to a doc­tor and ask what he feels might be wrong – you want to have data on your blood and other lev­els. 4 If you don’t wish to use a coach, then put aside a bit more read­ing time. You need to un­der­stand some ba­sic prin­ci­ples and work out how to put them into ac­tion. Your im­prove­ment is al­ways your re­spon­si­bil­ity, so coached or not, you should try to un­der­stand some of the key as­pects of mea­sur­ing power.

“Do all your ex­er­cises (a bet­ter word than in­ter­vals) with the aim of fin­ish­ing bet­ter than you started”

5 Don’t be­come fix­ated on terms such as FTP, but un­der­stand their idea and lim­i­ta­tions. We ask all rid­ers if they know their FTP and many do, but many don’t know what FTP ac­tu­ally is and what it means in prac­tice. Acronyms and sci­en­tific terms are only of use when you un­der­stand how to use the in­for­ma­tion you’ve gained. 6 Get in charge of your power me­ter and don’t be a slave to num­bers. Your Crit­i­cal Power num­bers are there to beat, not to prac­tice aim­ing at. Crit­i­cal Power is not nec­es­sar­ily a tested num­ber, but the out­come from your train­ing on dif­fer­ent days and over dif­fer­ent times. It also re­flects real world power – what you have and what you don’t have, and changes reg­u­larly. Get in charge of it and im­prove all your CP num­bers with spe­cific train­ing – when you get this you are ready for a big step up. 7 Do all your ex­er­cises (a bet­ter word than in­ter­vals) with the aim of fin­ish­ing bet­ter than you started. When your ex­er­cise re­sults start go­ing down, take a break. Con­sider any ex­er­cise or in­ter­val a fail if you can­not fin­ish stronger than you started. Form (your pedal stroke) is very im­por­tant and once it gets ragged, do­ing more in­ter­vals is a waste of time and en­ergy and doesn’t lead to im­prove­ment. 8 Un­der­stand that cycling em­ploys skill as well as force, but when you mea­sure the force (torque) truly, then the rest can be eval­u­ated. Think po­si­tion, bike fit, fit­ness, ped­alling ef­fi­ciency, cor­ner­ing and much more. The more cor­rect base data you have, which is di­rectly com­pa­ra­ble to your own and other rid­ers’, the more that can be fed into your im­prove­ment. When you im­prove, en­joy­ment fol­lows and that’s what we like to see out on the road. Verve Cycling, the man­u­fac­tur­ers of the ac­claimed In­foCrank, is the of­fi­cial pac­ing con­sul­tant to Haute Route and as­sists any rider with pac­ing ad­vice at the events.

Bryan Tay­lor is the pres­i­dent of power me­ter brand Verve Cycling and per­son­ally at­tends the Haute Route events to as­sist am­a­teur rid­ers, in­clud­ing MYPOWER rid­ers, achieve their op­ti­mal out­come. He has also rid­den nu­mer­ous Haute Route, Tour Transalp, and one-day events over the past decade and more.

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