A strong performance?

english version of our blogpost about the SRM powermeter

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That is the repeatedly asked question for truth. Wether if it has been training or racing. Maybe even for the enthusiastic touringbiker, to ration it´s energy, just to have enough attention left for the beautiful countryside at the last kilometers.

Generally, everybody is measuring his condition, by gathering the data for heartrate, distance, perhaps ascent/ altimeter and setting it into relation for a ratio. „Today i trained 4 hours with an average speed (avs) of 28km/h while having an average heartrate (avhr) of 124bpm“

But why don´t we talk about cars that way: „hey, my car covered 53km, reving 4.300, in 15minutes“, rather than „the car has 185KW and a maximum speed of 250km/h“ ? (OK, that would be the pro data in case of a biker 😀 )

Data
The distance everybode is able to measure easiliy. The heartrate also. The whole put together in relation with time and maybe altimeters.

Influencing factors
What about the headwind? How about a rough street? Has it been warmer or colder? Was my bike less heavier? Had the wheels less rolling resistance? Has the winter added some weight to my body 😀 ?
All these factors and even more are influencing the needed effort enormous. The above mentioned, easy to measure values don´t deliver truly comparable values to testify the real effort and progress of the training.

Example
Distance A i usually cover within 45min. Today it took 55minutes with headwind, whilst having had the usual avhr.
several explanations:
1.
i had the same power output as usual, but because of additional work (headwind) to be done, it took proportional more time.
2.
i had a higher power output than usual, actually the additional work (headwind) to be done, would have required even more time proportional.
3.
i had a lower power output than usual, actually the additional work (headwind) to be done, would have required less time proportional.

If you would measure the strength of headwind continuous. than you would also be able to find out clearly what is the case 😀
Similar theme: i performed good in the race today, or have my opponents been weaker than usual?

This could be never answered better than with a powermeter!

Personally i am orientating myself, since i first used a SRM Crank (www.srm.de) at the end of 2007, only to the ratio of average heartrate and power.
To this ratio almost no other above mentioned factors have any influence. So you never again can cheat yourself…
For explanation 1 the performance/ power would be the same as the reference time, 2. would be higher and 3. of course lower.
Without if´s and but´s clearly to determine.

Also riders with different weight´s (systemweight = rider + clothing + bike) becoming comparable in some way by taking the ratio power to weight. Particularly impressive are the powervalues of a tdf pro, if you are able to compare that to yourself. Without a powermeter you would never experience that. If you know, how demanding it is from yourself, to produce a steady power of 250 or 300W, it sounds even more impressive, that these guys are doing 400W + for a long time…

And everybody who is training systematically, with periodization and trainingzones, can be absolutely sure, that nothing is dividing trainingzones better than wattage.

„How do i benefit from that? I ever trained refering to the heartrate, that always acted right and is easily to practice. And the SRM Powermeters are that expensive, spending the money in a trainingcamp would make me faster!“ – i heard a lot of such statements.

For sure i didn´t became faster only from using a SRM powermeter and dividing my training into different zones. At the beginning i even payed to much attention to the power in basic training and therefore it became a little too intensive. Especially in this zone you should rely more on your heartrate. That is no opposition, you still have powervalues telling you the truth about your daily condition in relation to your heartrate.
After 3 years i know a lot more about my body and his reaction to different influences, because i can detect exactly what poweroutput i had under which condition. Without guessing and speculating:

– i can do my intervalls absolutely exact and detailed (hr is changeably variable and inertial)
– i recognize if my body is struggling with a beginning infect earlier
– i can ration exactly my effort while racing (after long efforts, at stage races or intense trainingblocks, the heartrate is no longer an exact and comparable indicator)

Quality of training always beats quantity! Nobody can buy time.

Although the german company SRM is the oldest and most experienced supplier in the market, there have been other competitors. Most of them had only a short appearence because of their comparetively premature products (for instance Ergomo).
By now increasingly the big players from other market segments (Polar/ Look, Garmin/ Metrigear) follow up the theme. It is easy to calculate that this will influence and change the market for powermeters in the near future.
Already now established beside, more likely but far behind SRM, are the Powertab hubs from CycleOps ( http://r2-bike.com/Cycle-Ops-Powertab-SL-Joule) as well as the Quarq System ( http://www.quarq.com). Both are more affordable than a SRM system.
But there are some arguments against measuring the power at the rear hub, because this is not the point there the power is delivered from your body. Imagine an old lengthened chain and the powerloss it causes.
A new approach to this topic will be the system from Polar/ Look. It will directly get its measurement from the pedal axis, seperated for each side. That enables the detection of different poweroutput from the left and right leg. If you think who cares… There is a benefit not only for racers! Different power from left and right means your body has a orthopedic problem because of asymetric posture. And that again can cause a lot of trouble also aside from any bike.

And also aside from the questions of cost the SRM system is truly the „goldstandard“ of power measurement at bicycles. In terms of accuracy, assembling, reliability and handling unrivaled!

Incidently there is a new and affordable entry level system from SRM ( http://www.srm.de/index.php?option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=480&lang=de).
The actual bikecomputer at SRM is called „Powercontrol“ and doesn´t have to be purchased at all costs, because the SRM wireless cranks are equipped with the ANT+ standard and can therefore be used with any other compatible bikecoomputer. Especially interesting is this with the Garmin GPS devices, such as the Edge 800 ( http://r2-bike.com/Garmin-edge-800-gps).

Since the Bike Transalp 2010 i came to the pleasure of using the SRM mtb system ( http://r2-bike.com/srm-kurbel-fsa-k-force-light-mtb) thanks to the support of SRM. It helped me a lot during the race not to overdo, but to stay at my personal level til the last stage to Riva del Garda. A broadly analysis and some data can be found here: http://www.2peak.com/archive/jbt2010.php.

Importand and useful for starting, is a performance diagnostic. We can provide you with a list of capable contacts in germany. That will be less expensive than you are expecting.

After that, you need support and care from a company with experience for planning your training. I suggest you a system like www.2peak.com. You can book individual packages, just like your ambitions and time budget are matching. If you are the „doityourself“ type, then try this: http://joefriel.typepad.com/blog/books.html. Joe Friel is the pioneer in the area of planning with periodization.

If you have any question or need advice please contact me: ra@r-bike.de.

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