Power Meters for Beginner Cyclists

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Power Meters for Beginner Cyclists

Postby flow.rider » Tue Sep 18, 2012 8:41 am

I'm a 34 y/o 6 week newb and..

My question is,

Would a power meter benefit a beginner if used wisely?

or maybe I should ask

Should I buy a power meter now or later?
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by BNA » Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:43 am

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Re: Power Meters for Beginner Cyclists

Postby Ozkaban » Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:43 am

the expression I've heard around here a few times is that using a power meter at this level is like paying an accountant to tell you how poor you are.

Unless you're training for something specific and under instruction of a coach who understands how to get the best out of the numbers you're wasting your time IMO. Spend the $1500-odd on a better bike/wheels/whatever and you'll be happier :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
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Re: Power Meters for Beginner Cyclists

Postby flow.rider » Tue Sep 18, 2012 12:41 pm

Ozkaban wrote:the expression I've heard around here a few times is that using a power meter at this level is like paying an accountant to tell you how poor you are.

Unless you're training for something specific and under instruction of a coach who understands how to get the best out of the numbers you're wasting your time IMO. Spend the $1500-odd on a better bike/wheels/whatever and you'll be happier :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:


I tend to think the reverse.
I dont see how wheels and better bike can really help at this stage.
What I'm after is improvement in a much more efficient manner.

I want an improved average speed and better climbing ability.
I want to be able to track my progress accurately.
I'm not taking this lightly as it is quite exspense.

I simply want to use my limited time in the most productive way possible.

As far as coaching is concerned I will consider it when I cease to improve.
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Re: Power Meters for Beginner Cyclists

Postby vander » Tue Sep 18, 2012 12:48 pm

I think Coach will be > powermeter and both together will be the best for you. If you want to make the most of your limited amount of time why wait till you stop improving. The other option is get the powermeter and get time crunched cyclist and training and racing with a powermeter which will help guide you in what to do. I agree bike/wheels etc arent good for long term gains.
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Re: Power Meters for Beginner Cyclists

Postby skull » Tue Sep 18, 2012 12:52 pm

Use a gps computer and training peaks software.

Using a power meter as well will give you more data, a coach is best used to analyse and develop training plan, but the data is still good for tracking progress.

There are some good books around that discuss training with power.

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Re: Power Meters for Beginner Cyclists

Postby bychosis » Tue Sep 18, 2012 1:39 pm

buy it later. start out with gps logging and then add a HRM and cadence.
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Re: Power Meters for Beginner Cyclists

Postby RonK » Tue Sep 18, 2012 1:59 pm

It really depends on what your cycling objectives are.

If you cycle for recreation then I can't see any real value.

If you are taking up cycling as a sport, then a power meter will no doubt be of value as you progress. However, as a beginner you need many kilometers under your wheels to build up a fitness base before advanced training methods are useful. For now you are probably better off just get out and ride.
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Re: Power Meters for Beginner Cyclists

Postby craigg » Tue Sep 18, 2012 2:07 pm

I find the power meter is a great motivator for me and yes it gives hard data that can be used to chart your progress and plan your training.

It does however need to be used in conjunction with a well prepared training plan with specific goals otherwise you're not going to get the most out of the precision data generated by the power meter. And especially if you're just starting out then heart rate based training is likely to be more than adequate.

If you're just starting out then a sensible training plan would call for a solid base - just lots of low intensity time on the bike to get used to it and to build your cardiovascular, get your muscles and joints used to being on the bike etc. After this period (say 3-6 months) you can start to increase the intensity a little, focus on raising your cadence, bike skills, pack skills, join some medium intensity shop rides etc, still no intervals or high intensity work (definitely no low cadence high intensity work as you'll likely injure or strain muscles and joints). A few months after that assess how far you've come and decide on where you want to get to. Look at your perceived strengths and weaknesses decide what you want to do and then that will flow on to your training. For example you may decide to continue recreational riding with the bunch and focus on increasing your strengths and ignoring weaknesses. If you want to race (road, track, criterium) then may need to focus more on improving weaknesses whilst only maintaining strengths.

Some good training books are Joe Friels Cyclists Training Bible, and for power meter specific stuff Andrew Coggans Training and Racing with a Power Meter.

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Re: Power Meters for Beginner Cyclists

Postby twizzle » Tue Sep 18, 2012 2:27 pm

flow.rider wrote:I simply want to use my limited time in the most productive way possible.


Buy "Training and Racing with a Power Meter" (Coggan) and "The Cyclists Training Bible" (Friel) first. If you are time limited (<= 10 hours per week), also purchase "The Time Crunched Cyclist" (Carmichael).

Once you have gotten the concepts, buy a power meter if you think it's going to be a benefit. There are a lot of people riding around with PM's who are clueless dorks and should donate them to more worthy cyclists.

I really wish I'd bought the PM as my first serious training tool instead of wasting money on the Garmin. IMHO, Powertap hubs are still probably the best cost/benefit/reliability, followed by Power2Max/Quarq... but Rotor has a dual crank system coming out, and the "Stage Cycling" StageOne was announced at Interbike - it's only going to measure the left crank power but it's going to be under $1K and really easy to swap between bikes.
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Re: Power Meters for Beginner Cyclists

Postby vander » Tue Sep 18, 2012 2:51 pm

craigg wrote:I find the power meter is a great motivator for me and yes it gives hard data that can be used to chart your progress and plan your training.

It does however need to be used in conjunction with a well prepared training plan with specific goals otherwise you're not going to get the most out of the precision data generated by the power meter. And especially if you're just starting out then heart rate based training is likely to be more than adequate.

If you're just starting out then a sensible training plan would call for a solid base - just lots of low intensity time on the bike to get used to it and to build your cardiovascular, get your muscles and joints used to being on the bike etc. After this period (say 3-6 months) you can start to increase the intensity a little, focus on raising your cadence, bike skills, pack skills, join some medium intensity shop rides etc, still no intervals or high intensity work (definitely no low cadence high intensity work as you'll likely injure or strain muscles and joints). A few months after that assess how far you've come and decide on where you want to get to. Look at your perceived strengths and weaknesses decide what you want to do and then that will flow on to your training. For example you may decide to continue recreational riding with the bunch and focus on increasing your strengths and ignoring weaknesses. If you want to race (road, track, criterium) then may need to focus more on improving weaknesses whilst only maintaining strengths.

Some good training books are Joe Friels Cyclists Training Bible, and for power meter specific stuff Andrew Coggans Training and Racing with a Power Meter.

Craig


Dont always need a big base, I am a fan of reverse periodisation especially in the crit heavy sydney.
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Re: Power Meters for Beginner Cyclists

Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Tue Sep 18, 2012 8:30 pm

flow.rider wrote:Would a power meter benefit a beginner if used wisely?

If improving performance is the objective, then a power meter, used intelligently, is of value to any rider no matter their level.

The question however should be:
Is the $/time required to purchase a PM and learn to use it to a reasonable percentage of its potential better than other uses of your $/time?

I would say that at such an early stage of cycling experience, there are other priorities more worthy of the investment of your time/energy/$.

I would first learn to love riding consistently, frequently, and safely on the roads, and be able to ride safely in a group with club level riders before being overly concerned with recording data.
The data will be stored in your legs, which is where it counts.

While data can be intrinsically motivating for some, it's typically not a sustainable motivator.

I would find out first if you actually enjoy the sport.

But if keen, you could probably shop around for a second hand unit and not spend too much $. If you love it and want to progress, you can spend a bit more later.
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Re: Power Meters for Beginner Cyclists

Postby flow.rider » Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:07 pm

Thank you all for taking the time to reply.

I know six weeks is not long but on my first day after riding 35k and 70k on my second I knew that this was for me.
When I ride I feel like I am meditating at peace and a child all over again.
I rode 110 km yesterday, did 5k on the treadmill then watched an episode of Spartacus on the bike trainer.
I want more and I want to go faster doing it.

I think as a few have said there is still more to learn at this stage and I'll keep on learning a power meter is not urgent,
though I think I know what I want for Christmas.
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Re: Power Meters for Beginner Cyclists

Postby guyc » Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:13 pm

Might be worth waiting until January :)

http://www.bikeradar.com/news/article/s ... 012-35270/
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Re: Power Meters for Beginner Cyclists

Postby flow.rider » Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:22 pm

guyc wrote:Might be worth waiting until January :)

http://www.bikeradar.com/news/article/s ... 012-35270/


Good find.
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Re: Power Meters for Beginner Cyclists

Postby toolonglegs » Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:37 pm

guyc wrote:Might be worth waiting until January :)

http://www.bikeradar.com/news/article/s ... 012-35270/


Problem is you will need to know if you have a bias on one leg :P .
OP... take your time, don't become a slave to the data yet :P ... research "perceived effort", that's all I use these days and I am riding stronger than ever with nothing at all on my bars.
Just take time to build up the km's... muscles build up very quickly, all the other bits don't, give your knees etc time to build up as well... you will feel huge gains coming on quickly if you are riding 5 or 6 times a week, just don't injure yourself and lose motivation... cycling is a long term sport, the more you put in the more you get back, but it can take a year or two.
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Re: Power Meters for Beginner Cyclists

Postby flow.rider » Tue Sep 18, 2012 10:05 pm

The one leg thing was my exact first thought.

Still anything at that price is worth at least keeping an eye on.

At the moment I'm looking at getting a power tap in a pre-built wheel.
I was wondering though with a power tap/Garmin combo can I view my GPS and power data in relation with each other?
Or is this data irrelevenat and I just get a Joule 2.O?
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Re: Power Meters for Beginner Cyclists

Postby flow.rider » Tue Sep 18, 2012 11:58 pm

Joule GPS! How did I miss that?

Goodnight.
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Re: Power Meters for Beginner Cyclists

Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:22 am

The Garmins pick up the ANT+ signal from most modern power meters.
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Re: Power Meters for Beginner Cyclists

Postby twizzle » Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:39 am

toolonglegs wrote:Just take time to build up the km's... muscles build up very quickly, all the other bits don't, give your knees etc time to build up as well...


+1, ramping up too quickly can cause all kinds of problems, I had two years of winter knee issues when I got serious, the added pressure of knee warmers triggered chondromalacia. Of course, I'm an old-ish fart, so injuries go with the territory.

I still find 110km to be a long ride, pretty amazing to be doing those kinds of K's after a few months, methinks the OP wasn't sedentary to start with. But until the VMO builds up, knee problems are likely.
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Re: Power Meters for Beginner Cyclists

Postby flow.rider » Wed Sep 19, 2012 1:39 pm

twizzle wrote:
toolonglegs wrote:Just take time to build up the km's... muscles build up very quickly, all the other bits don't, give your knees etc time to build up as well...


+1, ramping up too quickly can cause all kinds of problems, I had two years of winter knee issues when I got serious, the added pressure of knee warmers triggered chondromalacia. Of course, I'm an old-ish fart, so injuries go with the territory.

I still find 110km to be a long ride, pretty amazing to be doing those kinds of K's after a few months, methinks the OP wasn't sedentary to start with. But until the VMO builds up, knee problems are likely.


I've always walked and never owned a car.
I've jogged on and off for the last few years.
A 20 km walk on the weekend is common and even my 5 y/o son keeps up, with cake and coffee (for me) at the half way.
Apart from that I'm not a huge eater though I eat a little more since I gave up smoking 6 months ago.
Its the giving up smoking that let me afford the bike.
Win win!

To be honest though 110 km wasn't hard. I just kept going till I hit 50km then I knew I'd have to get back some how.
I found out in the first week from going to hard that I have to pace myself.
This I learnt from sanding houses by hand as a plasterer. Its like running a marathon with your arms and losing 2 KGS of body weight in a day was pretty normal for me.

I did get knee trouble after 3-4 weeks so I took a full week off bought a real road bike and got a proper fit.
Knee feels great but Im keep am eye on it.
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Re: Power Meters for Beginner Cyclists

Postby nickobec » Fri Sep 21, 2012 5:39 pm

I was recreational/causal cyclist who purchased a power meter (powertap elite+) 18 months ago to improve my performance.

I can not train by HR as I am on beta blockers. My HR for climbing the same hill with the same power will vary between 100 and 150 depending on when I took my tablets, the time of day and how much exercise I had already done.

In the 1st 12 months armed with my power meter, a copy of Allen & Coggan's Training & Racing with a Power Meter and Golden Cheetah, my FTP had improved from 175 to 215 and I was confident to go racing. Took a couple of races to find my feet, started dominating that grade, now up in the next grade and having to work hard & my FTP is now around 235.

My thoughts:

I have been pretty lazy/lax/unstructured with my training. If I hired a coach or even stuck to a good training structure based on "Training & Racing with a Power Meter" & Joe Friel's "The Cyclist's Training Manual" My performance would be much better. So yes a power meter will improve your performance, how much depends on you.

The Powertap elite+ is a heavy hub 625g and makes a heavy wheel set, I would be looking at something lighter (like a Pro) if I was you for when/if you want to race and/or climb. Me I have just built a new racing wheelset with a G3 hub laced to a 50mm carbon clincher rim, with my 38mm carbon clincher front wheel a full 1kg lighter than the Elite+/ Mavic Open Pro stock wheelset (which I had to rebuild the rear after breaking 5 spokes)

You don't need a Joule any ANT+ compatible Garmin will do the job
Last edited by nickobec on Fri Sep 21, 2012 7:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Power Meters for Beginner Cyclists

Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Fri Sep 21, 2012 7:10 pm

Pithy Power Proverb: "The power meter is a tool, not a bolt on motor"
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Re: Power Meters for Beginner Cyclists

Postby flow.rider » Fri Sep 21, 2012 11:30 pm

Alex Simmons/RST wrote:Pithy Power Proverb: "The power meter is a tool, not a bolt on motor"

Confucius say watt?
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Re: Power Meters for Beginner Cyclists

Postby foo on patrol » Sat Sep 22, 2012 7:24 am

flow.rider wrote:
Alex Simmons/RST wrote:Pithy Power Proverb: "The power meter is a tool, not a bolt on motor"

Confucius say watt?


He say ain't no easy way to getting fit. :wink:

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Re: Power Meters for Beginner Cyclists

Postby Ken Ho » Sat Sep 22, 2012 8:29 am

Foo, I think you missed the joke flow was making.
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