General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Explain power, in normal terms? Rss Feed  
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2012-10-03 8:07 AM

Subject: Explain power, in normal terms?

I'm a beginner cyclist and curious about power.  All the info I find is so complex that it makes little sense to me.  I want to use the virtual power training on once I get my new watch and gear, but I'm not sure what it will do to help me since I don't know what power actually measures.

So does more power = more speed?

I use strava now and my rides usually average 130 watts.  I know that strava power is probably way way inaccurate, but since all my rides are about the same, it is a very basic measuring point for me.  But does this power number take into account headwinds?  Because I don't think it does.  Do real power meters, the ones on bikes, account for headwinds?

I'm also confused as to 5 min power and 10 minute power.  Why are these important points to note.

Also, I'm faster than my friend, but his average power numbers on strava are higher than mine.  Is it because he lives in a hilly area, while I ride in the flatland? However, my flatland area is all farms and windy as heck.  He rides in town where there is very little wind.  This must make a difference, right?

Then, how do you increase your power?  What types of training is best.  I typically do two days of sufferfest vids, one day of about an 1:30:00 trainer ride, and one long ride outside (40-50 miles).  Should I be cycling everyday, sort of like running, in order to get better?  And if so, what type of cycling workouts will help if I do it everyday?  I don't have hours and hours to go and do huge rides each day.  Basically I have an hour.  Will just simple spinning for an hour help, or do I should I do a sufferfest daily?

2012-10-03 9:13 AM
in reply to: #4438310

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Subject: RE: Explain power, in normal terms?
2012-10-23 1:19 PM
in reply to: #4438310

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Subject: RE: Explain power, in normal terms?

In super basic terms:

Power (watts) is how hard you are working. Strava is actually somewhat accurate on climbs but way off on flat sections. 

Speed is relative based on a variety of factors including, terrain, weight, wind, rolling resistance.

HR is a measure of cardiac output. How many beats per minute. While HR loosely tracks to effort, it can vary based on current health, hydration level, sleep, medication, etc.

2012-10-25 11:46 PM
in reply to: #4438310

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Subject: RE: Explain power, in normal terms?

Simply put, a power meter is a dyno for your bike.

In automobiles, power is measured in horsepower

On bikes, it's measured in watts or joules per second.

In reality, these are just different units for measuring work per unit time. using simple conversion factors, you can convert your bike power numbers to horse power, just know that they will be much less impressive seeming numbers.

So power numbers on a bike are simply your 'horsepower' numbers for your bike's engine. depending on what gear you are in, what cadence you're pushing, and what sort of grade you're riding on, among other factors, you can expect drastically different speeds at the same power.

The usefulness of power is that no matter what your speed, cadence, or gear, at a given power you are always expending the same amount of energy and therefor giving the same amount of effort, whether you are climbing a monster hill or burning up the asphalt on a flat.

In fact, from your power numbers, with a few conversion factors and the time spent riding, you can directly convert to calories of energy expended for a given effort.

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