Power vs Fitness

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Yesterday I did the first 100 mile ride of the year.  Well, really the first since I cracked my head back last October.  I’ve been riding a little more the last couple weeks and feel just okay riding.  Yesterday, I felt pretty strong, for 3-5 hours, but don’t have any top end, which is to be expected.

Anyway, I was looking at the power curve on Strava.  It compared the current ride you did to all the previous rides.  Strava compares the ride yesterday to all of 2017, then I compared it to 2016 and ’15.  I was riding alright and the wattage was higher because it was pretty windy, which always adds wattage.

I had the highest numbers of all of 2017 most of the day.  But I wasn’t really that bad compared to the best numbers of 2016 or 2015.  I was only 10% off those number most of the time, which didn’t seem right.

The power curve of those years is the best number I had on any ride throughout the year.  So I was comparing one ride with the best power I did in all of one year, second by second, minute by minute.  Nearly all those numbers are in races, for sure.  I haven’t raced in months upon months.

I guess my power is good.  I went hard yesterday, towards the end of the ride for maybe two miles or so.  I felt pretty great, considering I’d ridden 90 something miles already and it was still windy.

I rode most of the day in the wind.  There were only three of us, Bill, my brother and me.  I sat on for a few miles listening to the end of a disastrous KU game.   But other than that, I was mostly pulling.

I noticed, while I was riding, that my heartrate was pretty low, even for me.  I only averaged 104 bpm for the whole ride, with an average of 225 watts.  I wonder why the wattage is always lower on Strava than on my Garmin, when I finish.   I calibrated the power meter before the ride and sometimes again if we stop.

I guess my power is alright.  I’m thinking about racing on Sunday at Perry.  It is a 35 mile road race on a 5 mile circuit.  It has a pretty good climb each lap and is always windy. Probably a better start than a criterium.

If I race, I’ll be interested in the numbers.  I can’t imagine I have any race fitness.  At least compared to some of the guys around here.  If Joseph, Connor, or Alex, from the Elevate team show up, they’ve already been racing for over a month, doing incredible well.  Connor won Chico stage race and Alex was raging there too, so they are already in form.   I like it when better riders show up at training races.  Makes them that more interesting.

The whole ride.

Power compared to all of 2017.

Power compared to 2016.

Power compared to 2015.

Last two weeks.

23 thoughts on “Power vs Fitness

  1. wallymann

    seeing power-curves for talented and fit cyclists always pisses me off (tongue-in-cheek).

    your CP curve is basically +100 watts over mine between 1min and 3hr durations — 100 watts!

    the takeaways? train hard and pick your parents well!

  2. ScottO

    I have a question for you, because this just occurred to me when reading your post.

    How would you feel riding in a group in any challenging situation, like crosswind echelons, final corner before the sprint, etc, knowing you were overlapping wheels with rider with recent TBI?

    I wonder if I would give that rider more room than everyone else, for all the reasons that come to mind?

  3. TIM_G

    why the garmin power differs from strava (i’ve noticed this too):
    I think there are multiple contributing factors:
    – Auto pause on the garmin
    – Average with or with out zeros setting on the garmin
    – Strava appears to look at power over time rather than distance…so if you stop for 20 minutes in the middle of a ride, the average will have 20 minutes of zeros.

    Also, there are different algorithms to calculate normalized power. Golden Cheetah differs from WKO+ and both are different than Garmin Connect.

  4. Steve Tilford Post author

    ScottO – I hadn’t thought about that. I’d be the first to admit that I am not exactly “normal” compared to 5 months ago. But I don’t have issues riding. At least not compared to off my bike. I’ve been a tad dizzy, like 2 seconds or so, 2 or 3 times, and not for the last month or two. I asked my doctor and they said that is because I am focused on one thing and not moving my head around having my brain catch up with the vision. I wouldn’t race if I thought it was going to be any more dangerous than training. Of course, for my sake, but really for the guys I’m riding with. I’ve ridden a few rides in pretty okay size groups, with no problems. And, for sure, tons in strong winds, with is sort of a relief because the wind drowns out the ringing of my ears, which might be a permanent thing. I’m not sure I would pay attention to riding next to a guy like me, but I’m sure it will probably be the case because I’ll know pretty much every rider in the race.

  5. Fred Fredstone

    104 BPM – that’s my average heart rate when taking a dump.

    Holy crap that’s efficient pedaling.

  6. carlos

    Steve your top end and threshold numbers are great. At the risk of sounding presumtious, can’t help but thinking that you can lift up the middle a bit. even at your peak before the accident 600W for 1 min is at the low end for a cat 1 with a good sprint, especially an experienced cxer. How often you can repeat that effort is another story – you probably fatigue very little.

  7. The Padre

    Brother Steve,
    I was all inspired to ride after reading you hit 100 miles today. Walked outside and those damn Phuc-N farmers are burning like made today. We just had a week of the most beautiful Colorado Bluebird days and now its just a blueish haze of hell. Sucks!!

    Back for more indoor riding, oh joy,

  8. channel_zero

    Strava’s calculations are different than Garmin’s or Golden Cheetah’s, or ….

    It’s all approximate anyway. The GPS radios in those devices are not very accurate.

  9. Zachary

    Your HRM strap is probably conking out. Try a new battery or a different strap and it will likely be a different story.

  10. Steve Tilford Post author

    Zachary-No, my strap is fine. I hadn’t worn a strap for a long, long time and now my heart rate seems to have dropped a ton resting. I’ve taken my pulse myself and it matches up with my Garmin. I’ve seen it drop into the high 40’s coasting downhill in the middle of a ride. I get that it is pretty strange, but have no explanation for it.

    It doesn’t go as high either.

  11. paul boudreaux

    After all you’ve been through I’d say the volume alone is pretty awesome. Not sure his injury was as serious as yours, but it was pretty amazing to see Boonen have such a strong year last year coming off the head injury he had. Wishing you well once you do decide to race.

  12. Fausto

    Steve, remember that it seemed like once a year you were battling injury and at times everyone was saying you were over trained or burnt out at points. With you just focusing on the basics, and your historical fitness level, not surprised that you are already operating at such a high level. Good on ya.

  13. oluwa T

    I feel you, tried it once myself, but i was to lazy, i guess maybe because it was my first time
    Might consider going back


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