Powertap Pro + wheelsSo now you’ve got this Powertap wheelset that promises to make you faster and if you are anything like me you want to get out and use it straight away which prompts the question: how exactly do I use it anyway?

In short a power meter quantifies your cycling effort. This allows you to examine your strengths and weaknesses in a disturbingly accurate way and subsequently employ specific training protocols to alter your power ‘profile’.  Unfortunately it would be unrealistic for me to provide a definitive guide to these methods as they are specific to each individual (and I would end up writing a book like the many that are already available, see recommended literature).  Instead I intend to document my experiences and comments as I change my training regimen to incorporate my new powertap wheels.  I hope that by doing this I will provide a more reader-friendly insight into what it is like to start training with power, this should give you the wherewithal to follow in my footsteps whilst applying training that is specific to you to improve your performance.

My setup:

I’m using a Pro+ powertap hub which Darren has expertly built into a Strada 23mm wide clincher rim.  I’m currently running the wheels on Vittoria Rubino Pro clinchers with latex inner tubes.  This combination gives a fantastic ride which smooths out the road buzz but gives amazing grip in the corners and still rolls plenty fast enough.  I have the Brecon Beacon National Park as my training ground and the roads around here certainly test every aspect of the wheels!

I collect my vital power data using a Garmin Edge 500 computer, which I have chosen for three main reasons: It has very customisable displays allowing me to put exactly the variables I want to see where I want to see them, I can even pre-define a specific ‘workout’ for it to tell me what to do when.  It is small enough not to be obtrusive and with the GPS and ANT+ functionality gets rid of messy wires (my bikes MUST look good!).  Finally if I’m going on a new ride I can pre-plan it and the unit will give me step by step directions to follow, no full map to see but even on 8 hour ventures into the unknown I’ve not had a problem with getting lost.

Garmin Edge 500

I analyse my data using Raceday Apollo software from Physfarm.  It is a fantastic package and along with all the usual analysis has some useful inbuilt functions to calculate your critical power levels, it also uses an impressively accurate model to chart your training effect (see screenshot which shows effect of training that I have built up over 10 days or so) and predict future performance.

Physfarm Apollo Raceday Software

In the next article I will discuss the first few weeks using a Powertap wheelset in my training program. Follow the Powertap training link to continue reading.

Recommended literature:

Training and racing with a power meter (Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan)

The Triathlete’s Guide To Training With Power (Dr. Philip Friere Skiba)