If you want to get fit fast..the best way to do it is to measure and learn from your ride..whether it be a race or a training ride. (There is no better post ride data than post race data because you're giving maximum effort- at least I hope so).
I use the Garmin Edge 510 cycling computer to capture all of my data. I love my Garmin Edge 510. It's been replaced by the newer 520. It's small and accurate and I can easily switch it from bike to bike. Here is the data it collects:b
- Elevation Profile
- Temperature Profile
- Heart Rate (HR) Profile (paired via ANT+ to a Garmin HR Chest Monitor)
- Power Profile (paired via ANT+ to a Cycle Ops Power Hub)
- GPS Profile (shows your route via Google Maps)
- Training Stress Score (TSS)
- Intensity Factor (IF)
- Normalized Power (NP)
- 1s, 5s, 1 min, 5 min and 20 min maximum sustained average Power
In addition to capturing all of the data, Garmin Connect will graph all of the data. Here's a graph of Power (watts) vs. Heart Rate for a 45 mile ride I did this a.m.
This is a C+ group ride of 20+ riders so a lot of stop and go and waiting. Yes, I know, a C+ ride. It's a little embarrassing when I used to ride with the A/B guys. Because it was only a C+ ride, my HR hardly reached my Threshold HR of 175 bpm...which is a good thing. My average HR for the ride was 135 bpm which is just what I wanted for a first ride back...relatively easy where I could hold a conversation the entire ride. When you can't hold a steady conversation, like a bunch of riders I noticed on today's ride, you're definitely riding in your upper Threshold or VO2 max range. This was the first ride back on my road bike in 5 yrs. I'm just glad I didn't bonk on the ride. I was out there for close to 4 hrs. in mid 80F heat.
Normalized Power for the 45 mile ride was 140w which is well below my old Threshold Power of 275w. I used to ride with the A/B groups with that power. I'm not sure I'll ever see that FTP number again (275w), at least in my lifetime..ha. But, I'm 7 yrs. older than when I achieved that max FTP of 275w. More importantly was that my Watts/Kg (w/kg) was 3.7 which is Category (Cat) 3 racing power...which aint too shabby for a 50+ yr. old. If I had to do an FTP test today, I'll bet I'd have a hard time sustaining an average 180-200w. With my current weight of 165 lbs. that's a 2.66 w/kg which is in the "untrained" racing category range. That means if I entered a Cat 5 race, I'd most likely be dropped in the race- early. That's ok though, my racing days are over. Plus, my power will build with training through the Summer and Fall. I'll have a good Winter training on my indoor Computrainer. A good goal for me would be to have an FTP of 225-240w same time next year, while maintaining my current weight. That's smack in the middle of the Cat 4 range. I'd be ok with that. With that power, I'd be able to hang with most B group rides in my area. My A group ride days are over..and that's ok too. After all, most of the A group rides were nothing more than an all out "who's the strongest rider" ride.
If you don't use or have a good bike computer, like a Garmin Edge 510, buy one. Yes, they are a bit pricey ($300) but it's a vital piece of riding equipment. The Garmin Edge 510 has been discontinued and supplanted by the Garmin Edge 520. The metric the 520 gives you that the 510 didn't was/is time in Zone. That is really a good metric to analyze post-ride. Who knows, maybe Santa will drop off the newer 520 this Christmas.
Power ON! Coach Rob