Training, racing, gear, facial hair styles and thoughts from my push to become an elite cyclist.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Power Output, Part 1

Posting power data is like pulling your pants down at the doctor's office- no matter how impressive you think you are, it still never looks like much when you put it out there for everyone to see.

I've been in caught in the riptide between the ebb and flow of my training program and I've felt oddly disconnected from my bike. My race results have been OK, but I've expected better since I put in such a solid training block. This season I've been squarely mid-pack, slightly better or worse depending on how I felt on a given day. I haven't really had any great races yet, and with only three to go it better come around soon.

Work has been stressful, life has been busy and I've been distracted. All of those things piled onto a general feeling of burnout made me feel like I was ready for my season to be over. I was signed up with 150 of my closest adversaries to race the 3 field at Northampton. Given that my new carbon race wheels weren't enough to make me excited to race I decided to skip it. As soon as I made that decision I felt a sense of relief and that I had gotten my weekend back. Three weekends in a row of prep, driving and racing is hardly herculean, but it was starting to wear me down.

When I got out of bed this morning I was more excited to fix the drainage in my driveway than I was to go for a ride (more on that later). 300 pounds of sand and two hours worth of raking and shoveling later I had made some progress and I was begrudgingly ready to go for my ride.

The forecast was for mid-to-upper 40's and clear, but it never got above 39. It's November in Vermont, so anything can happen. It could be 30's and a foot of snow or 60's and sunny. It's what we call stick season since there are neither leaves nor snow. Usually it's when we get a brief respite from tourists and have our state to ourselves for a little while.

I rode north to Stowe and was treated to some scenic views of the snow-capped Worcester range and Mansfield. I've never been to the Alps, but the backdrop of the snowy mountains against the green grass of the valleys makes days like today a rare gift that can only be appreciated if you live here full time.

Somewhere on the road today I got my stoke back. I remembered that one of the main reasons I ride is for the sense of clarity where all of the background chatter goes away and I can slowly untie the knots in my subconscious. The sad part is that my power chart doesn't show that. My hilly route meant that my average speed was...less than 15 miles per hour. Yikes.

Power output is only one measure of a ride. What you saw, what you thought, how you felt were also part of the experience even if you can't pick them out of the torque, heart rate, cadence, wattage or speed that were recorded.

Today I needed to recharge, and the Powertap was just along for the ride. I didn't break any records, and realistically my effort was far from my best. Next time I'm grinding away on the rollers through 10 x 1 minute intervals at 400-whatever watts I'll remember today. Maybe then I'll have a better power graph to whip out.


  1. "Posting power data is like pulling your pants down at the doctor's office"

    That was great! Those graphs look like fun regardless... posts like this make me want to get one of those fancy gadgets though.

    Are these 2 lines of power data from the same course? HR? But who cares when your riding around in the Green Mountains! Fooled the Von Trapps into thinking it's the Alps.

  2. The top line is my best recorded power output for each timeframe, and the line below it is what I managed on Sunday's ride. Pretty much all of the stats are unimpressive for that ride (even though it was absolutely awesome), so I picked that snapshot to show that I was pretty far from my best.

    Silly Von Trapps, two last names are so "old world". They've been here for over fifty years and you'd think they'd realize that Americans only think it's cool to have two last names if they are hyphenated. The only guy I knew with two last names knew what was good for him and moved to Europe.