How to take advantage knowing Power Rating


New Member
Sep 1, 2012
I'm just a novice cyclist but lately became serious with a grp of friends where we raced against each other in social. I used Strava app and it indicates my Average Power. I hv read a few articles in goole trying to figure out what is that and I still don't quite get it. I understand if 2 riders output are the same and riding the same route and every thing being constant, the one with the lighter body weight will hv an advantage esp. when riding uphill. I believed there are alot of analysis going on being the scene and knowing your rival will gives an advantage with instruction given by the Team Manager (something like that if I'm not wrong).

So on a social competition, where loser buy dinner and drink, and everyone of us has access to peep at each others Power Rating in Strava, at the end of the day after knowing all these datas, in layman's term, how can I take advantage of it. Or how can i improve, know my weakness and how to overcome after knowing my Power Rating.

Or lets say a new comer av Power rating is 300W for his last few rides and mine can never exceed 200W (assuming not the same route), does it means no matter how hard I train, its no point to take up a challenge against this new comer. So I better prepare to buy drinks and dinner anyway?
Strava's power numbers are a wild guess estimate. They do not account for drafting, wind, sprints, body composition, or anything else. Just a rough guess of someone of your approximate weight burning kilojoules over a course of that length and grade, with longer courses being more accurate due to more smoothing over time.

Training with a power meter is a whole other story. It's a much more exact way of prescribing workouts and analyzing past ones. It's accurate down to the second, so every time you stomp on the pedals or stop to adjust your shoe tightness, it's recorded.

The Strava power numbers might be useful if you ride the same courses under the same weather conditions and compare them over time to see if you are improving (of course, the time would tell you the same thing), but they are not going to give you an advantage over anyone else.
.....just to add

When I first started following a couple of pros it took me a little while to realize those that are using a PM and those that are not. If the cyclists is using a PM there will be a lightning bolt by the power output number.

The first pro that I was tracking I did not realize this and just assumed that he had a PM until I started tracking the second pro with both in the Tour of Utah and noticed that the one that was not using a PM had power output almost twice the value of the one using a PM. From stage to stage the power number was all over the place and most of the time seemed to be over exaggerated.

Bottom line is if you do not see the little lightning bolt graphic just ignore the power values.
+1 on both posts above, don't take Strava power too seriously unless the rider actually had a power meter on their bike in which case you'll see the lightning bolt icon as Felt describes. Otherwise the Strava estimated power is worthless in many situations.

But power as something to measure for a cyclist and a way to track training and racing is very, very useful assuming those power measurements are accurate. Basically it's the same as being able to measure Horse Power (HP) of a car to determine exactly what the engine was doing in different situations. How much power you 'need' to travel a certain speed in different situations depends on many things including the total weight of rider, bike and all kit, the terrain, the wind conditions, the air pressure, whether folks are drafting or not, tire rolling resistance, etc. so for the same power some riders in some situations may travel faster or slower. But still knowing what the rider's 'engine' was putting out for different durations and basically knowing what a certain rider's 'engine' is capable of putting out over time as they train is really useful information for guiding training and for assessing how well that training is working. Ideally we always want to be improving our 'engines' and power measurement is the most direct way to see if that is actually happening.

I think my power meter was one of the best training investments I've ever made (along with the Allen & Coggan book to learn how to use it). I just don't think the estimates that Strava makes are very useful.
Ever since Strava and RidewithGPS show calculated power I have rolled my eyes a few times when friends without PM's tell me, "that last ride we did was great. I averaged 350 watts for the ride." My real number for the ride would be around 175 AP and I was right there with them the whole time. I just bite my tongue and smile. (oh and I have a Strava KOM or two on days where I was last in my group up the climb) /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif

What I do like about Strava is observing other things.
The two pros that I follow I am looking at training and racing schedule and miles. Just to get an idea of training load (days and hours). Not that I could mimic, but I am just curious and it is interesting to watch.

I am also watching a local Cat 2 using a PM. Interesting a few weeks ago I saw his data riding from probably his home to a local hill climb doing 4 repeats at a pretty good intensity, then cycled over to where they do Tuesday night crits, he raced a few laps and then rode home. I can tell you the place he did the repeats if I were to squeeze out four I would have wanted my car at the base of the hill so I could drive home. It is a pretty steep 2 mile climb. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
Felt_Rider said:
(oh and I have a Strava KOM or two on days where I was last in my group up the climb) :)
That can happen if the local arrow of time is antegrade to the Universe's arrow of time. Did you notice any disorienting time reversals?
Strava power calculation is OK; but I think it is mostly for entertainment value. My guess is that it would be fairly accurate for long climbs when you have the correct weight entered. Its easy to trick and can be wildly off for short segments or when wind and drafting are issues. Downhill segments also appear to be inaccurate. Its funny, some average rider around here has a nearly 1000W 10 minute power as calculated - my guess is that he added an extra 0 to his weight?

Around here, KOMs are won on windy days or by riders hiding out in a pack and then sprinting to the finish.

The better way to use it is to track your own performance on segments. It allows you to see each effort you have made on that segment. You can also use it to compare raw times between people on a particular segment.

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