Powerful New Year
Posted by Andrew Davidson on February 1, 2023
2023 is upon us, and with the New Year comes a sense of possibility, a chance to commit to new habits, goals and adventures. Whether resolutions are your thing or not, the fresh pages of a new calendar tend to make one wonder about the potential for the next trip around the sun. If exploring your potential on the bike is something that piques your interest, we’re here to help!
To shed some light on the benefits of adding a power meter to your trusted steed, for those considering it, we chatted with a trio of local, Alberta-based riders, with varying degrees of cycling experience. Each has recently integrated power into their riding (in the last two years) and had these helpful insights to share:
Masa Higuchi - Years Riding: 33; Road, Gravel, Track, Cyclocross, Online
Wendy Pemberton - Years Riding: 3; Road, Gravel, Mtb, Online
Marc Walton - Years Riding: 17; Road, Gravel, Mtb, Online
When did you start using a power meter and what prompted you to?
Masa - I finally caved in and bought a power meter in January of 2021. As an engineer and a long time competitive cyclist, I always knew that the data would be somewhat helpful in my training, but I could never justify the cost until just recently. Also, if I ever wanted to try Zwift or RGT indoor cycling, power data was virtually a minimum requirement to be able to use those platforms.
Wendy - I started using a power meter on my outdoor rides two years ago. It was my cycling coach who strongly recommended I do so.
Marc - I initially learned about power and power metrics riding on Zwift. After three good winters of riding Zwift and understanding power, I decided I wanted to have that info on my outdoor rides as well and got one two years ago.
What bikes do you use power on?
Masa - I use it on my road, track, and cx/gravel bikes, as well as when I’m on my trainer.
Wendy - I use a power meter on all of my bikes, including my indoor trainer bike (Zwift).
Marc - I’ve had a power meter on my road bike for two years and my gravel bike for one year. This summer I plan on adding a power meter to one of my mountain bikes as well.
What additional sources/references do you use to view your power data best (coach, training software, self-guided, etc) - and why do you like that option?
Masa - I am purely self-coached, I’ll use Zwift workouts and races at times.
Wendy - I have a cycling coach, Chaz Turmon, with Elevate Coaching. He and I use Training Peaks to post my training schedule and to keep track of all of my training data (power, watts, heart rate, rpm, calories burned, distance, speed, etc). I find having a coach and a training plan provides me with structure and accountability; both, of which, I do well with. It is also a great way to plan for upcoming race events and goals.
Marc - I use Strava as my tracking software. I have thought about a coach but at the end of the day I’m mostly just riding bikes for fun and fitness so the basic tools I have are enough to motivate me. I can be hard enough on myself, I don’t need a coach telling me I missed an interval workout or something like that. Between some of the simple tools that are available to any consumer I think combining those and some basic internet reading can go a long way, I know it has for me.
What were some of your initial insights or realizations when you started using power?
Masa - The power meter gave me confirmation of all the power numbers I figured I had been hitting forever, based on my competitors’ numbers, and my strength and style of riding. Otherwise, I use it as a monitor to make sure I don’t go too hard on my easy/steady rides.
Wendy - I learned that training can be better tweaked or dialed in more so I don’t overdo it. With power, you know what you are doing compared to before (without power). Having this data is super beneficial.
Marc - I loved seeing the power numbers increase over the months and years while using online platforms like Zwift, and it really became a big motivator to the point that I decided it was something I really wanted for riding outdoors as well.
Where have you seen the biggest changes/improvements since using power?
Masa - The biggest change has been better post-race analysis. For example, in a 2 minute hill climb, or efforts to train for a pursuit, I can tell a little more precisely if my pacing was ideal or not.
Wendy - I don’t over train because I’m not riding too hard all the time, since I can see the power that I’m doing. It’s also helped me to set training zones and, therefore, optimize time spent training.
Marc - Overall fitness has improved vastly and just an overall better idea on how to ride efficiently and pace myself in certain situations.
Do you find using power adds a sense of motivation to your rides/training/racing and if so, in what ways?
Masa - I do feel a little bit more motivation when I’m climbing tough hills or doing any high wattage intervals, just seeing the numbers tick up, and trying to hold it there.
Wendy - Using power totally provides me with motivation when I am riding, training and racing! Being a small rider, and to hit those big watt numbers, really does give me a “High Five to Me” feeling. It’s a confidence booster to see those watts go up. I always say power is a game changer and W/kg even more because it provides a metric that compensates for rider variance (size). It allows you to understand actual work accomplished compared to the other guy/gal. If my W/kg is comparable to those around, I should be in the game.
Marc - Absolutely, once you have a basic understanding of what your numbers are it’s pretty easy to give yourself a mental kick in the butt to pick up the pace on some of the days where you might want to just be lazy and cruise around. I feel like it helps me set goals on certain climbs or segments as well. A speed/time goal works sometimes, but sometimes the goal is just to ride that entire climb and average x number of watts.
In what ways has having a power meter on your bike made riding more enjoyable or enriched the experience of cycling?
Masa - After races, I can see critical sections (big cross winds, steep hills) and see what wattage I was holding on different laps, or when I got dropped, and that gives me a good indication of how much more I need to improve to be more competitive.
Wendy - I would say having instant, relative metrics while riding. I love data, love the numbers and riding with a power meter has allowed me to see the gains of training right before my eyes.
Marc - Haha I’m not sure enjoyable is the right word… As Greg Lemond said, “it doesn’t get easier, you just go faster”. That being said, my overall improved fitness has allowed me to take on bigger days and set loftier goals every single year and while it might be hard at the time, there’s nothing quite like finishing one of those days or goals and having that feeling of accomplishment.
What’s one of your proudest power moments (ex, bumped FTP up 40W in a season, did a 5min climb at 350W )?
Masa - My proud power moment is when I realized and confirmed that I have the lowest FTP numbers (in pure watts, not W/kg ) by far, compared to all my racing peers, and that the only way I ever put up any results is because of my ability to hold a ridiculously aerodynamic position, and superior tactical knowledge. So… weird answer but knowing I have the ability to get the absolute most out of my limited power numbers is kind of a neat skill to have as a cyclist!
Wendy - My last race of 2022 saw some of my best high power moments. I was excited and highly motivated during the race, based on the power data that I could see, live, while racing. I knew exactly what power I could hold, and for how long, because I knew what my threshold (FTP ) was.
Marc - I think just my overall progression in the last few years is something I’m pretty proud of. When I first started riding indoors and with power I think my FTP was somewhere around 160/170 watts and the last test I did in the spring it had jumped to 324 watts.
Thanks to Masa, Wendy and Marc for sharing their individual experiences with adopting power into their cycling journey and where it’s taken them! If you’re curious how you too can unlock more of your potential with the aid of our simplified training tools, check out our Factory Install and Ride Ready power meter options.