Hire a power meter from our Test Centre and find out why all the pros are now using them. You’ll learn to target your training zones, experience fewer (if any) cramps and improve performance over multiple climbs.
Take the guesswork out of your cycling
Riding with a power meter will take the guesswork out of your cycling. Without a power meter there is no way to know exactly how hard you are riding. Since riding at the right intensity for the right period of time is critical both in racing and in training, it is easy to understand why power meters have become a must-have in the professional peloton.
Look at the recording. During the four minute period shown, the rider began a climb at close to maximum effort, reaching a peak of 700 W during the first minute before settling down to a steady 270 – 280 W during the last two minutes. At the top of the climb he turned and came back down: the power drops to zero and the speed increases.
The heart-rate curve, on the other hand, tells very little of this story. It shows a steady increase from the start of the climb to a peak at the end, followed by a steady decline.
If you work with the heart rate data only, you completely miss the high intensity interval. In fact, you have no idea exactly what the cyclist did. The same heart rate response could have been produced by a gradual increase in intensity, or by pedalling steadily from start to finish …
Why is this? Unlike the power meter, heart rate is a lagging and unreliable indicator.
Heart rate lags behind
Heart rate lags because, unlike an engine, your heart can’t accelerate immediately and it takes time to build up to its optimal level for any given effort. We can see this on the recording above. All cyclists knows that a short, intensive effort has next to no effect on heart rate. If you sprint for ten seconds then stop, your heart rate hardly changes. It is only if you repeat the sprints that it will start to build up.
Heart rate is unreliable
A number of external factors make heart rate monitors imprecise and unreliable. These include temperature, humidity, altitude, your current fitness and level of fatigue, as well as the amount of stress in your life and even the level of caffeine in your system. This means that the exact same effort can result in a significantly different heart rate on different days.
The bottom line
By measuring watts, power meters tell you how hard you really pushed on the pedals, for how long. This is the essential data you need to make sense of all the other data, and to design and stick to a training programme that will really make a difference in your performance.
There is simply no better tool to take your cycling to the next level.
Being able to manage your effort may not matter much on a single day’s ride or even a one-day race, if you know yourself well enough or if the stakes are low. On a week’s climbing in the Alps, on the other hand, your power meter allows you to adjust your effort to the right level to make it through the week in perfect shape.
We have summarised below the benefits for you of using a power meter in the Alps.
Ride precisely to your limits
Riding with power during the week ensures that you won’t push yourself – or be pushed by others – beyond your limits. Your power meter will keep you “safe”, helping you ride at a consistent level of effort that is calibrated specifically for you: neither too hard nor too easy. This is especially important on the climbs and when you are riding every day, to ensure you get through the week in good shape.
Perform better over multiple climbs
The challenge in multiple climbs is to choose the right pace up and over the earlier ones to leave you with exactly the reserves you need to “ace” the final climb. Without a power meter you can only rely on experience and guesswork. The power meter helps you really nail it.
You know what brings on cramps – it’s usually a mix of pushing too hard for too long, while not eating or drinking enough to replace the fuel in your muscles. Riding with a power meter helps you avoid this mistake. As you get to know your body better your power meter will warn you of impending danger, and help you keep to the right pace.
Optimise your preparation
Before you come to the Alps you can buy one of our power meters online to get in cycling shape, no matter how hilly (or flat!) it is where you live. Begin by measuring your body’s current cycling fitness, then use our “Ride the Alps” training plan, designed by cycling coaches to get you ready for your adventure. When you arrive you’ll be in great shape to enjoy a fantastic week in the Alps.
The power meter allows you to clearly define your strengths and weaknesses, precisely track your fitness over time, and then refocus your training based on targeting exactly those areas that will make the biggest difference. Combining power data with cardiovascular data helps ensure your training effort is always optimal.
Tell the story of your rides
Your power meter’s ride file is a day-by-day postcard of each day’s ride: the route you rode, how hard you worked, the steepness of the hills you climbed, even the wind you fought against. Presented in Google Earth, your ride file shows the graphic details that tell the story.
Enjoy the week to the max!
We’ve got great food to go along with our great rides. No worries: your power meter gives you an accurate measurement of all the calories you burn. So you can go ahead and eat the cakes, safe in the knowledge that you know you have earned them!