Pedaling Efficiently

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by Joseph Tsui, Apr 20, 2010.

  1. Alex Simmons

    Alex Simmons Member

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    Frank, you continue to entertain.

    A power meter measures power. It doesn't pedal the bike for you. It doesn't tell you how to train. No one says that a power meter is a training method. It's a meter, not a method.

    What a power meter does is tell you whether the training you are doing is working, and to what extent (but in your world having evidence is an optional extra).

    It also enables lots of other useful things to help us get faster (such as finding ways to objectively assess ways to reduce the impact of various resistive forces, and to assess/improve pacing) but let's put them to one side for the time being.

    To ask for evidence that a power meter makes you a faster cyclist is like asking for evidence that owning a tape measure makes a carpenter more skilled. It's a nonsensical notion. Having a tape measure however might help us assess whether the carpenter did a good job.
     


  2. Fday

    Fday New Member

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    I haven't asked for evidence that a power meter makes you a faster cyclist. I have simply pointed out that using a PM for whatever purpose you want to use it for has never been shown to improve cycling outcome over other methods of assessing training load and race pacing.

    You may believe a PM to be very useful for many purposes and I don't doubt it is. Again, all I have pointed out is that there is no evidence that outcome improves more with its use than if other methods are used in training/racing.

    And, in my opinion a tape measure in not necessary to assess the skill of a carpenter.
     
  3. choffman

    choffman New Member

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    You guys, PM's are mostly just for fun. Seriously, they really can be a great tool, however for most riders who use them it's just fun (or maybe disappointing) to look at the numbers. They can help riders improve their performance, but I have yet to see many Cat 1's and 2's improve much. Most aren't using them correctly.
     
  4. Alex Simmons

    Alex Simmons Member

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    A bad carpenter blames his tools.
     
  5. Alex Simmons

    Alex Simmons Member

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    Actually I can guarantee that use of a power meter was critical for one of my clients in breaking a masters cycling world hour record. Without it we could well have made some poor choices about training, equipment and set up. Some of these factors made a huge difference in the distance covered (and since I have the data, I know exactly how much difference). A stop watch would never have enabled such analysis.
     
  6. Alex Simmons

    Alex Simmons Member

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  7. Fday

    Fday New Member

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    Ugh, two things. 1. I hadn't asked that question in this thread. 2. It is a reasonable question to ask since the two most common answers found on almost any forum when someone asks the question "how can I become a faster cyclist?" are: 1. ride more, 2. get a PM.

    So, once you have some actual scientific evidence (what you have posted are anecdotal reports and personal impressions) that having a PM actually results in better outcome get back to us all. Otherwise your "evidence" posted above is no better than the many anecdotal reports (like Swampy's) of users attributing biking or running improvement to PowerCranks use, and we all know what you think of that evidence.
     
  8. Alex Simmons

    Alex Simmons Member

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    Err - you started the thread with a title "What is the evidence....?"

    As far as my experience, well given I have evidence that the power meter enabled us to make equipment and position choices that did actually improve performance, then I would suggest it is more than anecdotal.
     
  9. Fday

    Fday New Member

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    My friend, apparently you don't understand the scientific method. Your report, while it may be convincing to you, is an anecdotal report. Now an anecdotal report is evidence, but it is not scientific evidence.

    From Wikipedia:

    "In science, anecdotal evidence has been defined as:

    • "information that is not based on facts or careful study"[2][verification needed]
    • "non-scientific observations or studies, which do not provide proof but may assist research efforts"[3]
    • "reports or observations of usually unscientific observers"[4]
    • "casual observations or indications rather than rigorous or scientific analysis"[5]
    • "information passed along by word-of-mouth but not documented scientifically"
    Anecdotal evidence can have varying degrees of formality. For instance, in medicine, published anecdotal evidence is called a case report, which is a more formalized type of evidence subjected to peer review.[6] Although such evidence is not regarded as scientific, it is sometimes regarded as an invitation to more rigorous scientific study of the phenomenon in question.[7] For instance, one study found that 35 of 47 anecdotal reports of side effects were later sustained as "clearly correct."[8]
    Researchers may use anecdotal evidence for suggesting new hypotheses, but never as supporting evidence."


    So, your results are as useful to the power meter as those of PowerCranks users who report seeing large power improvements that they attribute to using the device are useful to PowerCranks. Such reports suggest there might be a relation between use and outcome but such reports cannot prove the relationship. You may think your report is "more than an anecdote" but, sorry, it really isn't.
     
  10. bartjoosen

    bartjoosen New Member

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    If one can train with higher precision, one can train more specific.
    If one can train more specific, one can be training better.
    So training with higher precision equals one can train better.

    This is pure logic isn't it?

    BUT on the other side: training with higher precision, doesn't mean that one is training more specific necessarily!


    One time, HR monitors were used to monitor training intensity.
    But HR lags, so this isn't a really good monitor.
    So all articles which are mentioning HR monitors, are crap, as the don't use any appropriate device for monitoring training intensity?

    Fday, which scientific test would you setup to see if powermeters are better than HR monitors, or PC's, ...?
    You are breaking everything down that is not a powercrank down by saying it's no scientific evidence, but please suggest an experimental design to test for once and always which device is superior.

    Bart
     
  11. jollyrogers

    jollyrogers New Member

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    I look forward to the logical sequels to your cycling question:

    "Swimmers, what is the evidence that using the pool clock when timing your laps is superior to ignoring said clock"

    "Track runners, what is the evidence that timing your laps is superior to running by feel"
     
  12. Fday

    Fday New Member

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    Setting up a study to determine whether using a PM has generally better results than using something else for feedback would be difficult as there are a lot of variables involved and improvements come slowly so a study would have to last a long time and probably involve a lot of participants to generate statistically significant results. A good study has to keep all the variables, except the one being studied, the same for the period of the study. And, a better study has to keep the variable being study blinded to both the participants and those doing the study. It would be possible to do I presume but very difficult, cost a lot of money, and since we are not talking about saving lives I doubt such a study will ever be done.

    However, as I have pointed out before in this thread, the fact that current world champions do not currently use PM's (and, in fact, have abandoned their use) suggests that if there is a benefit it will be quite small. What is especially damning is a world champion abandoning its use for something as simple as perceived exertion as a feedback device.

    My problem with everyone touting this device as being clearly superior is that PM's are generally fairly expensive ($1,000-$3,000). I guess if your resources are unlimited then, who cares? But most do not have unlimited resources and most want to spend their money where it will do them the most good from a performance perspective.

    So, how much benefit can the average cyclist expect to see from a PM purchase? The evidence suggests, not much, when compared to other, much cheaper, alternatives. To those who think it is a lot, I simply ask where is the evidence to support that contention?

    Regarding your precision question. While one might expect more precision to be better one has to ask when does more precision stop making a difference? Would a PM that measured watts to a precision of 0.1 watt be better than one that only measured precision to 1 watt? or, 10 watts? or 25 watts? Does the $5,000 SRM model give better results than the $1,500 model? I doubt it. So, that is the question. While one might think that the improved precision of a PM should result in better outcome it is a reasonable question to ask if it really does?
     
  13. jollyrogers

    jollyrogers New Member

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  14. Enriss

    Enriss New Member

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    I look forward to the sequels of your own ridiculous hyperboles.

    "Divers, what is the evidence that using a judging panel's score is superior to testing your FTP?"

    "High jumpers, what is the evidence that using a bar at a measured height above the ground is superior to timing your flying 200?"

    Races aren't won by numbers on a powermeter.
     
  15. jollyrogers

    jollyrogers New Member

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    What hyperboles? I never said races were won by numbers on a power meter. That's a Frank Day strawman argument.

    A power meter is a means to measure training dose and objectively gauge improvements in fitness - one of the variables over which an athlete has a reasonable amount of control. Timing laps in the pool or on the track - or measuring the height of a high jump bar are similar ways of gauging whether or not what you are doing is working. I never participated in track and field; don't jumpers usually measure the height of their jump?

    No clue what you are talking about re: diving.
     
  16. Alex Simmons

    Alex Simmons Member

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    I choose my friends carefully. You ain't one of 'em. :D

    I can quantify quite precisely the level of improvement in distance wholly attributable to the choices only made economically possible by having the power meter data, in particular through application of formal field testing protocols at the venue used for the event*.

    I have also quantified the amount of improvement that came through training/fitness change and through improved pacing. I am not claiming that having a power meter meant these aspects were better or worse than training without one, although I believe it to be the case (especially when I help a guy break a world record with an average of 8.5 hours/week of training).

    * The other alternative was of course was to spend a bucket load on multiple interstate visits to the wind tunnel which, when tunnel time and air fares are considered, would have been the cost of multiple SRM track power meters.
     
  17. fergie

    fergie Member

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    Hmmmm, go away to NZ Road Champs for a week (more success BTW) and it's on like Donkey Kong. Frank Day the king of regurgitating the same old snizzle over and over again to confuse the punters.

    Riding velodromes requires a highly variable pace. Speed goes up in the bends and power goes down and vice versa on the straights. In the pursuit final of a NZ champ one rider was down to 320 watts in the bends and peaked at 530 watts on the straights. Hence the use of a higher cadence to handle the rhythm changes that happen every 4-6sec each lap.

    If someone thought riding an hour record on a set cadence or holding a set wattage they would show a massive misunderstanding of the dynamics of riding the track. Training on an erg at a set power would show a poor understanding of the optimal ways to prepare for a track event.

    There is plenty of good research showing the benefits and weakness's of many forms of training and methods of feedback. Power meters allow one to determine the stimulus for propulsion of the bike. If one can produce a greater stimulus for propulsion of the bike then one knows that the training is working. We have numerous studies that show there are better forms of training and certain types of training while effective should be used sparingly hence the need for periodisation and he know that certain training methods or tools do not increase the stimulus for bicycle propulsion (like Gimmickcranks or weight training).

    People may think they get stronger using Gimmickcranks or doing weight, taking Beta Alanine, wearing compression tights, wearing lucky red socks, abstaining from sex for 3 months before a major event, praying to your major deity of choice but I have a whole Psyc department library at my disposal which may suggest that what we think is the worst form of evidence or support for an argument. What real proof do you have?
     
  18. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    I don't think that Frank has ever said races are won by power numbers but he has said that they're won by time...

    I think someone just lit a match under your strawman claim... ;)
     
  19. fergie

    fergie Member

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    Frank tends to bury his head in the sand over matters of power. It's the stimulus for bike propulsion that we can measure easily and the one main thing he has never been able to show improves the ability to propel the bike forward among others. His efforts to discredit power meters and training by power data are sad, lame and at best mildly amusing.
     
  20. jollyrogers

    jollyrogers New Member

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    Frank has implied that others believe that races are won by power numbers, then proceeds to argue that races are not won solely by power numbers. Unfortunately, neither I, nor Alex, nor anyone else that I've seen has ever claimed that races are won solely by power.

    "Strawman" means misrepresenting your opponent's position and then arguing against that misrepresentation e.g. arguing that races are not won solely by power meter numbers when no one has tried to say that such was the case.
     
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