The Good life
As a full timer back in the day, I used to spend my winters preparing for the season ahead in Perth Australia.
Mainly because of the relatives I had based there but it was a super good place to train, plus the weather was mint.
Riding down the freeway bike path in shorts and jersey, on a November’s morning at 8am looking at the people sitting in traffic is something I’ll never forget.
Ahhh the freedom.
As the years and seasons passed by it was always the same.
Chris Froome syndrome
Until I started doing a Chris Froome on it.
I soon stopped noticing the scenery and became completely fixated on my stem, Watts became my obsession.
I had the gold standard of power meters the SRM power meter.
This device had the power to give me an unbelievable amount of confidence, yet it also had the power (pardon the pun) to demoralise the crap out of me.
You see some days the numbers just aren’t there. Period.
While I am a massive advocate of science, analytics and the power meter industry in general, I do believe it has the ability to train a very important skill out of new coming bike riders.
The ability to listen, feel and interpret what their own body is telling them.
The Problem With Numbers
The quantification of numbers can contribute to the loss of appreciation of why we started bike riding in the first place.
The love of freedom and the simplicity of the wind blowing through you’re hair.
As a sport scientist, I’m at the forefront of the movement of our sport into a new ‘sciency’ era for want of a better phrase.
That said, I’m a huge advocate of having at least one-day a week numbers free.
I even named mine.
“Numbers free Friday”.
When you’re new to the sport and you have a power meter it links in with the Strava mentality.
I.e. the unrealistic expectation that in every subsequent session, you’re going to see pb’s.
Sorry guys the PB trend slows down after a while believe me and they come along a lot slower.
This naturally means disappointment is all too frequent, creating stress and unwanted anxiety.
Power meters are a cyclist’s tool to better performance guys.
Yet the power meter owns so many riders.
You are, with a want for better phrase, the power meters bitch.
The best way forward
Learn how to use one! Understand that some days the numbers are not there.
Other times, just like getting away from your phone or respective spouse for a few hours, leave the Garmin in your back pocket.
At the moment people look at my bike and they all, without exception say,
“What happened your Garmin?”
Or my favourite… “Are you on strava”?
No I’m not on fucking Strava.
I currently just want to ride my bike and enjoy it before I start any plans again.
So I leave it at home and take in the scenery and enjoy the friendly banter.
This completely freaks guys out.
The way forward
While I believe in power meters and I do think to progress optimally you do need one, you also need to learn how to listen to what you bodies telling you.
Don’t just go home because your 10 watts off your FTP according to the power meter (sometimes yes, as you might be ill!).
But some good hard honest efforts are key and once you perceive the effort to be as hard as it should be you will cause an adaptation stimulus.
You race by feel so you need to know how to train by it too.
Key is to remember a power meter is your tool, use it accordingly!