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Have powermeters and Strava raised the bar?
Last Post 05/12/2016 04:09 PM by Cosmic Kid. 15 Replies.
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6ix

Posts:203

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05/06/2016 12:38 PM
Although I don't race any longer, I do rather enjoy pushing my boundaries to see how I stack up to others on Strava.  I'm certainly not unique that way, and I've been able to make big improvements in my riding by adding a good power-meter to my arsenal of equipment. 

Looking back 20 years to when I was racing as a junior/Cat. 3, the general fitness level of everyone has seemingly improvement across the board. 

What is it they say about a rising tide raising all ships?  Has the ability to have virtual racing at our fingertips caused many of us to push ourselves harder than ever?  Have more advanced training methods made for more efficient and focused training?

The big question I have is this:  has winning a 1-day race against 80 of your peers (like a weekend Cat. 1/2 race) lost its luster because you only beat 79 people?  All the while, grabbing a KOM shows that you beat over 1,100 people that have ever tried their hand at a certain segment.  With the 1-day race, you just happened to be the strongest and/or smartest of the group of 80 while the Strava KOM shows you were the best regardless of conditions, competition level or strategy.

I'd love to grab a KOM around here (Asheville) because there are some stupid hard climbs and quite a few good riders like Bookwalter, Busche and the entire United Healthcare team roaming around.   That would be super cool but I still love the drama and beauty of a Spring Classic. 
Dale

Posts:925

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05/06/2016 01:24 PM
Strava and power meters have ruined everyday training rides. A group ride now consists of 35 guys riding in close proximity to each other but never actually working as a group.

Paceline? Echelon? Nah... those skills have been lost to a generation.
Powermeter? Every Cat 5 wants to know his massive wattage just like the guy working the counter at McDonalds wants a CPA and an investment advisor to let him know how badly he's doing.

I was with a group a week or so ago and 1/2 of them had earbuds, one guy somehow had a speaker (I couldn't see it, but could hear it from 10' away) blasting out misogynistic crap. I had to either ride ahead or drift back to avoid the cacophony. After a while I bailed from the group.

"has winning a 1-day race against 80 of your peers (like a weekend Cat. 1/2 race) lost its luster because you only beat 79 people?"

A) That presupposes Cat 1 status, and

B) Winning
ChinookPass

Posts:809

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05/06/2016 01:27 PM
good question 6ix. I can't really say since I don't have the time or inclination to get a power meter or use strava. Every year I think I might jump back in and do some of my favorite races but it hasn't happened yet. 2 years ago when I did a fast STP (not a race), in the last 70miles or so, I got in with a very fast group of non-racers (my guess, they weren't wearing kits) in their late 20s or so. Super smooth group, but I had to let them go with about 20 to go. Combo of power training, age, and aero wheels might have been factors.

I can't imagine that strava is as interesting or exciting as the last hour or so of a good hard race. Trying to figure out how to whittle down the field and survive in the finale is a pretty fun experience. Racing takes commitment and organization and money. It's a lifestyle and you get out what you put in. Lots more options these days. For more money, you can do a gran fondo or gravel race without having to wait around all day for your race or volunteer as a corner marshall. If you hate driving (as I do) and a cheap (that's me too!), you just pick a neat destination, jump on your bike, and enjoy the day at whatever speed you feel like at the moment.
SideBySide

Posts:427

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05/06/2016 02:03 PM
1100 people may have done the segment, but you may only be competing against 100 or 200.
ChinookPass

Posts:809

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05/06/2016 03:11 PM
Dale, that group ride sounds messed up. I stumbled upon a group ride last year that was really cool. Smallish mixed-gender group of friends doing really nice double paceline out in the country, then rotating single paceline at a nice pace. A couple of town line sprints. Split up and regroup after all hills. There was a flat tire and the organization to fix this flat was impressive. take of the wheel, one person holds it, one gets out the pump, one gets out a tube. Remove the tube keeping the wheel in same orientation so they could find the hole, check the tire... If I had the time, I would definitely join them weekly. They were wary about me sitting in but quickly saw that I knew the game and wasn't going to crash their party, so to speak. Probably the exception rather than the rule. I'm guessing where you live, a nice group that can do echelons would be a thing of beauty.
Orange Crush

Posts:1996

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05/09/2016 01:41 PM
Well I neither own a power meter nor am I on Strava which is probably a good thing because our pace up Mt Seymour for first ascent of season wasn't that impressive.

But I got up there first of our group of six by more than a minute margin (a guess since I have no clock) which earned some bragging rights among us would be mountain goats/weekend warriors.

I will close my eyes to fact that while this was happening we were collectively passed by a young chick and a tiny dude sporting a Medellin jersey (probably high on coke) both of whom made it look too easy.

Dale, what the?!?
79pmooney

Posts:1735

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05/09/2016 04:07 PM
My goal this summer is completely Strava irrelevant. I want to be able to climb anything of interest on my fix gear on the gears I brought with me without hurting myself. So if I can do that 1000' climb on the 42-20, get passed by a half a dozen studs and get home with Achilles's and knees in good shape and no pulled muscles, mission accomplished!

In the past month, I've done a 60 mile loop three times. At 11 miles, there is a gentle 4 mile 1000' climb, a fun descent, about 4 miles of fun rolling, descending road, then the rest is flat or small hills. Fiirst time, I brought a bunch of cogs figuring on a lot of stops but not pushing it. Oops! Forgot my wrench! 43-16 only! Pushed on and made it, but man was that hard! Since then I have done leaving the house on a 17, swapping to a 15 for the descent and fun rollers. Yesterday I did a full half the ride on the 15. Feel great today.

I just looked at Cycle Oregon's website re: the Week ride. Looks like it is not sold out. I shouldn't spend the money, it is a 33,000' week with two massive climbs. But I want to do this fixed! It looks like I could if I trained carefully and that I am on track. And at 63 yo, they won't be many more opportunities, And this the country I couldn't ride in '11 when I accompanied CO with my arm in a sling. (Broken collarbone - rideable but painful and not too smart. Multiple broken ribs. CO would not have wanted me riding on the minimum levels of opiates I would have demanded! It would be day 6 before I could go 5 hours without opiates off the bike and that was a LONG time.) Talk me out of it, guys!

Ben
SideBySide

Posts:427

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05/09/2016 05:44 PM
Wait, you are asking us to talk you OUT of it? I think you came to the wrong forum. If you think you can do it, and think that might not be possible in the future, then you MUST do it.

Orange Crush

Posts:1996

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05/09/2016 06:36 PM
Back to OP, there's two questions there.

One is more advanced/focused training and increase in fitness compared to 20 years ago. Absolutely this has happened and power meters are part of that mix to bring focus. You can see that everywhere, including in pro ranks. Joe Pro packfiller is a much better cyclist than 20yrs ago. Drop a badass like Hinault in current peloton, he won't nearly make the same impact as he did back in the days, the domestiques will haul his ass back all the while watching their power meters Froome style. Good for training but ban the damn things from group rides and racing I'd say.

Second question is the Strava craze versus winning a Cat 3 race. As Dale said, its making for some funky dynamics on the road with every Joe Schmo upping the pace at random moments just cause we've entered another virtual Strava segment. I'd say this one has lowered the bar...significantly.
Red Tornado

Posts:148

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05/10/2016 11:58 AM
Pretty much agree with the general sentiments posted here. Power meters/Strava have gone a long way towards killing a fair amount of the teamwork and cohesiveness of the typical group ride. Lots of folk in my neck of the woods are always obsessing with their numbers in stead of enjoying the ride, or better yet, paying attention to what they and the other riders are doing. Yeah it's nice to be able to push yourself harder nowadays and be able to see/quantity the results easily, but sometimes it does seem like it's taking over. Personally, I do not own a heart rate monitor or power meter nor am I on Strava. I ride/train in the old style, using the good ole' "sensations" in my legs and the rest of my body.
Last time I mentioned the word "echelon" while with a group riding into a cross wind, I got a bunch of blank stares...... One guy (a very fit/strong Strava junkie) actually asked, "Why would we want to mess around doing that?".
Dale

Posts:925

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05/10/2016 10:33 PM
RT, same here. We do a Tuesday evening race and had a race last year with a stiff wind. When we had the wind at our sides I got an echelon started and it lasted exactly one rotation before every one of us was stuck in the gutter.
Cosmic Kid

Posts:2146

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05/11/2016 09:20 AM
Meh...lack of riding knowledge has long preceded power meters and Strava. Always amazes me how people don;t know which way to rotate in the wind. Everyone wants to pull off with the wind, not INTO the wind. The inevitable mess 6-7 riders down the bunch is downright scary.

I love my power meter, but I simply don;t look at it during a group ride since it has little value. You either hang or you don't. Doesn't matter what the PM says....if it feels easy, I simply do more work. Post ride analysis, however, is a different issue. Lots of good data to mine....

Strava....don't get me started. Just got on it this year and I am already tired of it. First of all, all the segments are complete bullschitt now. yeah, some guy did 34mph for 6 miles to take a segment. Ummmm...bullschitt. the fact that people are actually putting their Garmin's on their dashboards and driving segments to get the KOM is mind-boggling.
Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!
Red Tornado

Posts:148

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05/11/2016 10:01 AM
I'm not 'dissing power meters/HRM's or anything else. They all have their place, especially if you are a racer or marathon rider and need to continuously improve and make educated decisions about how to structure your training. But like it's been said, there's a time to monitor your numbers and a time to just ride. I don't race anymore and just don't like the feeling of being "chained" to a device. I have multi-function speedometers on my road bike & MTB. Nothing on my SS road bike/commuter.
Nick A

Posts:523

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05/12/2016 08:01 AM
Also, a no power meter, nor Strava guy. My thought though, is racing isn't a power meter test. I mean, you can ride sitting up, no hands, into a headwind and certainly have a higher wattage than the guy next to you in the drops. Also, you can beat somebody to the top of a hill, but it might not be in the least amount of time. There's the psychology of attacking, which is not necessarily the most efficient way up the hill.

All that being said, I have a Polar HRM with speed, distance and cadence. I check it out as a "guide". Sometimes wanting to stay above a certain speed up a long steady climb, or keep my HR below a certain number for the same climb, etc.

Nick
vtguy

Posts:298

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05/12/2016 02:46 PM
I actually enjoy using Strava. I no longer race, and most of my rides are early morning solo efforts. Knowing that Strava is keeping an accurate record of my rides keeps me honest about performance (or lack of same). Plus it's fun to compare notes with friends whose riding schedule is different than mine.
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