I need more power …

If I am to complete the Whistler Gran Fondo this year in reasonable time, then I need more power.

Last winter I trained with a heart rate monitor. My Suunto watch has a built in “personal coach” that told me when, and how hard to train. By the time I got outside on my bikes again, I was noticeably stronger, faster, and better prepared for the cycling season.

I will continue to use the heart rate monitor but this winter I’m focusing on becoming more powerful, and to do that, I need to objectively measure my progress, or lack there of.

Enter the power meter.

I workout using a Keiser spinning bike which has a built in power meter. It measures the power delivered to the pedals during the workout, and calculates the average wattage for the session.

What are good numbers for these tests? I’ll try to remember they are relative, and my goal is to improve, not to become a professional road racer.

The above video demonstrates 3 fitness tests for cyclists –

  1. Sprint Test – peak power (watts) over 6 seconds from a standing start
  2. Maximum Aerobic Test – average power (watts) over 3 minutes
  3. Functional Threshold Power (FTP) Test – average power (watts) over 20 minutes

They help cyclists monitor their fitness level, and subsequently manage their workouts. In particular, I’m interested in the FTP test. It measures a cyclist’s ability to sustain the highest possible power output over 45 to 60 minutes.

These are my test results on January 17, 2016:

Sprint Test – 603 Watts

Maximum Aerobic Test – yet to be completed

Functional Threshold Power (FTP) – 301 watts x 95% = 286 Watts (Most pro cyclists produce about 200 to 300 watts on average during a four-hour tour stage and will average 405-450 watts at their threshold.)

The real measure of a cyclists climbing ability is their power / weight ratio. Lighter riders with the same ratio are able to climb faster. It makes sense. So, the best method of improving climbing ability to is to generate more power, and lose weight at the same time. For those of you who have tried, this is easier said than done.

Power/Weight Ratio – 286 watts / 80 Kilo = 3.6 Watts/Kilo (For men, 3.6 w/kg is about on par with a strong Cat 3 road racer of the same weight.)

These are my baseline numbers. I have no idea if they are accurate. This was the first time I completed these tests, and I’m confident I will test better next time now knowing what to expect. Nevertheless, this is my starting benchmark. Every month, until Gran Fondo day, I will complete these tests, and modify my training accordingly.

My goal is to increase my power / weight ratio. I’m shooting for an FTP of 325 watts and a watts/kilo of 4.3 watts. This means a lot of heavy lifting, regular repeat hill climbs, and fewer calories in the months ahead.

Stay tuned as I outline how I plan to do this, and the progress I’m making.