Now, the final test. This needs to be a high cadence test. So, go 15 rpm's above the self-selected to get high cadence. Once completing this test, you can compare all three together and see at which time interval you are the most efficient. Efficiency incorporates the max watts you produced, the average watts you produced, your max heart rate and average heart rate for each time interval. For the 1-minute test, was your max HR higher for the high cadence as compared to self-selected, but the average watts were lower? So, you need to look at the whole picture when comparing the 3 tests side by side. And guess what? Some of them will be so similar that it's a toss-up to which is better. If Average watts and average HR are very similar, than I look to the Max watts for a tiebreaker. If that is similar (within 15watts), then I look to actual distance covered and see which is greater. If all are still the same, then go with what you think, but be prepared to test this time interval again in 4-6 weeks.
So, now you should a clear picture (or spreadsheet) ;-) of your cadence, power and heart rate for each time interval. You should be able to now see which cadence is more efficient for 1 minute and all of the rest of the time periods. Now, you ask, why is this important? It's important because there will be many times in a race or training ride, in which you will have a good ballpark idea of how long an interval will be. This way you can select the correct gear for the upcoming effort and know that you are maximizing your effort. Know that there is a 30 second out of the saddle burst you have to do on every lap? Know you are going to attack 100 meters before a corner and then accelerate hard for the next 2 minutes? Know you have a little rise in the road that you have to pop over? Got a 40k TT coming up? Now, you can select the right gear for each situation.
The other side of this is that you find out what your weaknesses are regarding cadence also. If your watts fall by 30-40 watts when riding in a bigger gear, than you might want to start incorporating some low cadence/high force workouts into your routine. If your watts fall by 20-30 when spinning a smaller gear, or if you know you have trouble with little accelerations, then maybe you want to incorporate some fast pedaling intervals into the equation.
By Testing your cadence you now have a baseline and a place to go. Time to start working on those weaknesses. Testing your optimal cadence now allows you to really figure out where you can improve your power output at different time levels.
How to use your power meter in training
When you have your wheel circumference measured, and make sure to measure it exactly with your weight on the bike and correct tire pressure in the tire, then you are ready to go training.
The first thing you'll notice is that your power is highly fluctuating. Andy Coggan, PhD, has coined the usage of the word "stochastic" to describe cycling. This means that cycling is highly variable and not quite random, but darn close. So, you spend plenty of time not pedaling, pedaling a whole lot, pedaling with a huge wattage and also just kind of noodling along. Lots of things will affect your power: wind, hills, type of rider(s) you are riding with and many more things.
So, if your power output is highly variable, then how are you going to train in some certain range of power?
Well, a lot of times, you're not. You simply just won't be able to hold a steady range of power on the terrain that you are riding. There will be too many external influences that won't allow you to ride in a specified range.
However there will be plenty of times that you will be able to. In order to do this, you'll have to plan for that and really get yourself psyched to go out and do a workout based on power. Other times, you are going to use your power meter as a retro tool, a way to view the info on your ride after the ride is over. Both are valid and should be used. Sometimes, you think you are pedaling 90rpm, but when you downloaded the data from the power meter you find that you were only pedaling 85rpm. The power meter download allows you have this retro-look.
Training Opportunities in which to train using your power meter.
* Trainer- Easy to regulate your wattage as there are no external influences.
* Flat Roads- utilizing a specific wattage protocol
* Time Trials -Pacing tool and to select the best cadence.
* Hill Climbs-Pacing tool and to select the best cadence.
* Specific Intervals and training protocols.
* "Race Winning Intervals"
Each of these have many ways in which you can use your power meter.
For a time trial, you will use it as a pacing tool, and make sure you are not exceeding a certain wattage during your time trial and therefore blowing up and losing valuable time.
For a hill climb, you will be able to push a certain number of watts in order to maintain the highest pace you can sustain in the climb. You will also be able to adjust you cadence in order to see you power go up and then also see your HR go down.
What to look at in your Downloads.
First things first, take off as much smoothing as possible in the software program. You really need to look at the true data and not smoothed data. Get used to seeing the real data and tell all your friends how many watts you really produce and not some guesstimate based on your smoothed data.
* Periods of significant efforts. For example: A 15 minute interval that you did at Sub LT HR.
* Significant fluctuations in power and count them.
* Cadence when you have time periods of high power output.
* How many kilojoules of energy did you put out?
* MAX wattage, and average wattage for selected duration of interest.
* Heart Rate at significant time periods.
* Try to pinpoint areas of a race that have significance and look at them to see what made or broke that part of the race.
* Look at the area of time that you got dropped and see what happened. Maybe your cadence was too low for 10 minutes before. Maybe your pedaling stroke became sloppy as you got more fatigued and your torque got too high compared to the power output.
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