Thursday, March 13, 2014

I've Got the Power!

Oh yeah.  I can never give up a chance to title a blog post after a lyric in an 80's one hit wonder song.  Ok, technically Snap! release the "The Power" on January 3rd, 1990, but it was recorded in the 80's.  But I digress . . . After I got my new aerobars, last year, I had my sights set on a powermeter.  It kinda went like this: I needed new chain rings.  I thought, as long as I'm getting new chainrings, I should get a new crank.  Full carbon fiber and shorter.  So if I'm getting a new crank, I might as well get a crank based power meter.  It all seemed so logical at the time.

Like the crack of the whip I snap attack

Seriously though if you're looking at a power meter, the first question is Where do I want to get my Power reading from?  You can get rear wheel, pedal, crank arm, or crank based power meters. Luckily, for me the decision was pretty simple.  I did not want a wheel based system because I want power on my training wheels and my race wheels (which I already have).  Eventually, I want it on a direct drive trainer that doesn't even use a rear wheel.  So then you are looking at the area around your feet.  I really didn't consider the crank arm PM as Jack Mott has made it his life's crusade to inform people of the fallacies of only measuring power on one leg.

Oh Canada!

So then I was down to crank vs. pedal. Again, it was pretty simple for me since I'm happy with my pedals, I only have one bike, and wanted new cranks.  So then you have Quarq, SRM, and Power2Max.   When comparing price and features, to me Power2Max looked liked the winner.  It has left/right balance, provides cadence feedback without a magnet, and has full carbon cranks available in 165mm cheaper than the others.
The contents of the box

So I spent some time trying to make sure that everything would fit together.  I went around for a while before I was sure that my frame was compatible with the crank and power meter I was looking at.  I decided to replace the bottom bracket as well, so I thought that might help it all fit together.  I then emailed back and forth with James at Inside Out Sports and decided that I would get the power meter and cranks from Power2Max and then get new chain rings and a bottom bracket from IOS and then have them put it all together.
The Lightning Crank is Uber Light

I placed the order online with Power2Max up there north of the border in Canada.  I went with the P2M Green color (shocking, I know) and 165mm Lightning cranks. They usually ship out right away.  Unfortunately for me, they were missing a part and couldn't ship it right away.  I was actually really OK with that when they offered to throw in a free bottom bearing bracket.  Since I was gonna get one anyways, that definitely saved me some cash.  It took 9 days before it shipped.  Then it sat in customs for 5 days.  I kept checking the tracking, but it wasn't moving.  Anyways, almost 3 weeks after I placed my order, I got the unit in.

The Power Meter Box

Then I took it over to IOS and had them take a look at it.  I still had to order some chain rings. We discussed it for a couple of days and we decided to go with the Rotor NoQ Aero Chain Rings.  I decided to stay with the 53/39 setup. It took another week and a half to get those in as Rotor sent the wrong ones initially.  I dropped my bike off right before a big snowstorm, but I was leaving that Saturday for a week vacation.  So when I got back my bike was ready to go.  IOS had no issues getting it all put together.  I also had them do the "Overhaul" so they took everything apart and cleaned it and replaced the chain.
Power Meter Front

Power Meter Back

It only took 7 weeks after I placed my initial order before I picked up my bike complete and ready to go!  Well almost. I raised the seat up 7mm as the cranks I'm on now are 7mm shorter (well technically 7.5 mm).  I will say this: the wait was worth it.  
My Precious
 I took it out for a spin on Saturday.  Everything was so smooth.  It literally felt like a brand new bike.  I had been reading Coggins and Hunters' book "Training and Racing with a Power Meter".  They suggested just taking it for a spin the first couple of times just to get a feel for the different power levels. Honestly, I don't even notice the difference in crank length.  I went from 172.5mm to 165mm.  So if you're on the fence about whether to go shorter or not, I say go shorter.  You can raise your seat for a better position and the cranks will weigh less.

Non-Drive Side View
Behind the Ring

I also played around with different settings on my Garmin to watch as I rode.  It's interesting to feel the 'burn' in your legs as the corresponding power jumps up.  Instantaneous power is rather jumpy, so I've been watching the 3sec and 10sec averages.  I also have found that I would rather watch average power instead of normal power.

The second weekend I had it, I did an FTP test.  I followed the protocol from the book.  Basically its a warmup, then 3x1min high cadence spins, a 5 min all out effort, and then you go balls out for 20 minutes.  You then 'estimate' your actual FTP by taking your power average for the 20min segment and multiple by 0.95.  This is because FTP is defined as an effort over 60 minutes.  So I did that.  It was pain.  Pure Pain.  I hadn't done intervals or tempo rides for quite a while so it really hurt.  But, at the end of the day, the FTP test in and of itself is not too bad of a workout.  So I got that going for me, which is nice.

So now after having it on my bike for a couple of weeks, I really like watching watts instead of speed.  Speed so susceptible to wind, turns, hills, etc.  Power is power.  I felt good about my first interval ride, where I held the power through 5 intervals very close to 110% of FTP each time.  I even felt better about my next tempo ride where I held 93% of FTP for 15 miles.  My speed wasn't super fast, but I really knew what my effort is.

The day I brought my baby home.
Before, everything was a shot in the dark, but now I know exactly how hard I'm riding.  I also plan to have it help me keep my easy rides easy.  One odd thing is that my Left/Right power always seems to show my left leg at 51% or 52% power.  Not sure why this is (or if its normal).  Maybe I should have gotten a Stages.  (If you didn't get that last joke, ask Jack Mott).

The best thing about the Power2Max Power Meter (aside from the lime green color option) is that it just works.  You install it, put the battery in, sync to your Garmin and ride.  Everything works perfectly the first time.  No issues with anything.  You can replace the battery yourself (as in you don't have to send it back to the factory like some brands).  Plus I chuckle a little to myself when I read threads like this on ST about trying to keep the magnet on their frame for their power meter.  Yes I have cadence and L/R balance.  No I don't need a silly magnet for a $1,500 power meter.

Now I can focus in on my workouts.  Set exact levels for intervals and tempo rides.  See if I'm working hard or just feel like crap.  But the biggest thing is being able to dial in my watts so that I don't destroy myself over 112 miles.  As they say there is no such thing as a great bike split if you fall apart on the run.

So watch out, Green Lightning just got a little faster!
No Caption Necessary