Tour of California Power Profiles

One of my rare indulgences (!) has been to equip my ‘training bike’ with a Powertap, which looks a bit like this

Measuring power directly is the new heart rate monitoring.  It allows a cyclist to gauge accurately the actual work that he (or she) is doing, rather than the bodies response to it.  Cyclists (and runners) have been monitoring heart rates for years but it does not vary linearly with effort; the effects of fatigue, caffeine and the excitement of an event all have an influence.  There is also a considerable lag between an effort and the body’s cardiovascular response.

Why measure power?  Well, for at least three reasons.  First, it can be used to accurately target training efforts, especially intervals.  Second, it can be used to gauge progress and get feedback on the success, or otherwise, of whatever training regime you are using by letting you precisely calculate useful metrics (eg, FTP more of which is later posts).  Third, it’s a very useful pacing device, for instance on  long climbs or time trials, to make sure that you don’t burn out early or simply sell yourself short.

Now there’s a fourth reason.  Gustav Larsson is going to posting his daily WKO (software to view and analyse power files) files from his rides in the Tour of California so we can see what the pros manage to ‘put out’.  My best 5 minute power, though I’ve only ever recorded one effort, was around 420W.  In the prologue, he managed 529W for just under 5 minutes.  And he didn’t win!

You can view them here.

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