How To

Five ways to judge your effort

Feel, HRM, power meter, Garmin Connect, and Strava

Power Meter

Used religiously by most professional cyclists for both training and racing, a power meter is widely regarded as the ultimate tool for judging effort and performance. Unaffected by things like weather conditions or fatigue, the measure of power (in Watts) correlates to the exact amount of force that the rider is able to apply to the pedals. And since cycling is a power-to-weight sport the more power you can produce for a given weight the faster you’ll go.

If you like the idea of judging your effort with power then be prepared to analyse the post-ride numbers to get the most from it. pic: ©Media 24

Using a power meter from day-to-day will soon give you a general understanding of what power your body can produce for a given ride intensity and time, but for serious riders looking to improve their performance that’s where the story begins. It’s all about analysing and interpreting these numbers and then tailoring training specifically to increase this power – so be prepared to learn how to crunch the numbers, or have an experienced coach that can help with the analysis and planning. If you’ve yet to undertake a fitness test but are keen to know what they may entail then you can see first hand in this video from a day at Torq Fitness.

Once you know your power-zones then power is a no-quibble gauge of effort. In some respect power-meters have been blamed for making professional racing less exciting and more calculated. In the past riders would go on feel and instinct, but today a team can control the peloton by sitting at a given power output, watching the number of Watts displayed on the little box on their handlebars, knowing that it’s impossible for a lone rider or breakaway to survive.


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