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  1. #1
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    Any More Experiences with PowerCal?

    I don't race and use Garmin HR for fitness training. Like everyone else I would like to ride stronger or hold what I got as long as I can (now into doggie years). I may get a PT but really would not like to spend the money for my level of riding just trying to hang with Saturday morning group rides. My main interest is LT intervals and steady state work. I'm pretty good at working off HR. Does the PowerCal really add any useful information over just HR if the watts are based off HR? If the HR is variable at same effort wouldn't the power vary also? Can you adjust how frequently the device is reading so it is steady and useable while riding? I've read very mixed reviews. I don't undeerstand how it can reasonably "ballpark" watts off HR if it doesn't know how fit the rider is. A Cat 3 racer at 150 lbs at HR 160 bpm will be putting out a ton more watts than a reasonably fit recreational rider at the same weight even if there max HR is the same. Some state it is very useable for my purpose and others that it is a waste of $100 if you have a HR monitor already.
    "The problem with losing your mind is that by the time you realize it's gone, it's too late to get it back."
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  2. #2
    The Slow One.
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    To be honest, I think you're better off just sticking with heart rate training, given your goals and the kinds of workouts you are planning. The big place HR training failed me was intense, short duration intervals (like VO2max), where HR lag would either make me work too hard or too easy. If my rest, nutrition, hydration, and the usual suspects were good, HR was fine as a metric for longer intervals. I still make note of it, even with power, because it indicates how my body is responding to a given effort.

    Power without analysis is nothing but an e-wang. Applying power charts designed for hardware-based powermeters to heart rate-based "power estimators" is shotgun science at best.

    Save your money. Lose a couple pounds. Ride more. You'll be better off in the long run.

  3. #3
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    Mike everytime I get close to breaking down and buying a PM I reach the same conclusion. I was beginning to "weaken again" -thanks. I'm popping on the longer grades when the stronger riders start putting out a lot of power. But besides being long in the tooth I'm at least 10 lbs too fat at 5'5'. 10 lbs less of me to get up the hillsides would help a lot I think.
    "The problem with losing your mind is that by the time you realize it's gone, it's too late to get it back."
    Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

  4. #4
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    I switched from HR training to training with a power meter recently (six months ago). I am purely a recreational rider trying to get better. The net effect between the two I find to be very different approaches. Because of heart rate lag and drift, when training with HR alone I find that work decreases over time as heart rate stays steady (e.g. you will go slower and slower at the same heart rate). Training with power has a different effect; you will put out a constant effort and have heart rate increase over time. I am mostly talking about intervals I did in the TCC program, which are generally 6-12 minutes near or above FTP.

    I can't tell you which method is better; I can just tell you the net effect (for me) of the two approaches. Hope that helps.

  5. #5
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    Thanks Kmak, useful information.
    "The problem with losing your mind is that by the time you realize it's gone, it's too late to get it back."
    Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

  6. #6
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    I have the same opinions as Mike. I just can't see how you can get an accurate estimate of power from a source that already has some accuracy issues (heart rate).

    My general opinion on PMs (I've owned one since 2008) is that there are a few key variables that trump a PM:
    -Training Plan structure
    -Saddle Time
    -Properly planned intensity
    If those things are pretty off, then a PM doesn't matter.

    For a Cat 3 wanting to move to the 2s, you should be building up to 15+ hours a week. At that point, PMs are more useful for limiting intensity, to make sure you have the proper pacing to not get cooked from the bigger hours.

    As far as HR monitors, I believe that most times that are more right than they are wrong, especially for long haul rides and longer intervals. Usually what's wrong with HR training is the LTHR number itself; that's when it's good to get a professional test for LTHR. And that number from a prof test will be good for a few years.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poncharelli View Post
    Usually what's wrong with HR training is the LTHR number itself; that's when it's good to get a professional test for LTHR. And that number from a prof test will be good for a few years.
    That is interesting. Several times in the last six months of hard training, I have gotten notice from Training Peaks that my LTHR has increased (from hard, sustained efforts over 60 minutes). What do they do in a professional test?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by kmak View Post
    That is interesting. Several times in the last six months of hard training, I have gotten notice from Training Peaks that my LTHR has increased (from hard, sustained efforts over 60 minutes). What do they do in a professional test?
    The tests were a Conconi type ramp up power test (do a search on youtube for "Conconi test" to see one). When I had these they were consistently lower (10 bpm) than doing a test on my own. I think it's because these test are so controlled and the power is delivered so evenly. The ramp up is super slow.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by kmak View Post
    I switched from HR training to training with a power meter recently (six months ago). I am purely a recreational rider trying to get better. The net effect between the two I find to be very different approaches. Because of heart rate lag and drift, when training with HR alone I find that work decreases over time as heart rate stays steady (e.g. you will go slower and slower at the same heart rate). Training with power has a different effect; you will put out a constant effort and have heart rate increase over time. I am mostly talking about intervals I did in the TCC program, which are generally 6-12 minutes near or above FTP.

    I can't tell you which method is better; I can just tell you the net effect (for me) of the two approaches. Hope that helps.
    What fitness differences have you noticed at this point?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Newnan3 View Post
    What fitness differences have you noticed at this point?
    I am fitter from training with a power meter. More accurately: I am fitter from training, with a power meter. i.e. it is the training part that is making me fitter, not the power meter. I find it less complicated to train with a power meter than based on heart rate, which may make it simpler to train. No idea if I would be in a different place fitness-wise if I stayed HRM based, probably not.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by kmak View Post
    I am fitter from training with a power meter. More accurately: I am fitter from training, with a power meter. i.e. it is the training part that is making me fitter, not the power meter. I find it less complicated to train with a power meter than based on heart rate, which may make it simpler to train. No idea if I would be in a different place fitness-wise if I stayed HRM based, probably not.
    What do you mean simpler?

    Are you following a program from one of the cycling with power meter books?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Newnan3 View Post
    What do you mean simpler?

    Are you following a program from one of the cycling with power meter books?
    First I did the Time Crunched Cyclist program based on heart rates, then bought a power meter about six weeks in and finished the program training by power. Then signed up for an on line coach through Training Peaks.

    I find it simpler to have a power number to maintain for a specified time period than to have a heart rate to maintain, because of lag and drift in heart rate. For instance, it is easier to maintain a power of 200-210 watts for X minutes rather than a heart rate of 168-171 bpm for X minutes. And by easier I don't mean effort, I mean attention. And with the power meter I know I am putting out consistent effort over a series of intervals, which I understand is important in training.

    Hope that helps.

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