Thursday, 23 May 2013

The Anti-Power Movement

In the past few weeks the new trend for idle Internet hands has been to speak out about power meters and their negative influence on competitive bike racing. From professional journalists through to your weekend warrior, they're all on board. We can't all come up with original thought provoking content, so it is easier to latch onto the coattails of some anti-Team Sky commentary and chip in with self-qualified minimal/non-experience with said technology.

"Power meters are ruining racing" - No. What is ruining racing is the drugs, Pat McQuaid, the UCI, Pat McQuaid, the corruption, Pat McQuaid, the race radios, Pat McQuaid, the lack of funding, and Pat McQuaid. To blame power meters for your lack of entertainment is ludicrous. "Sky are just looking at their numbers banging out a tempo". Why not blame the other riders for not attacking them and pushing them past their limits? "Because they're at their limits".... So they'll have to train harder, smarter, employ cutting edge sports science? Maybe with the help of pow..... oh hello, we've just looped back on ourselves.

"Peloton robots" - As in US Postal juiced up to their eyeballs in a team time trial? NO! That was entertainment! The new table thumping issue is that the (hopefully) clean peloton are applying a little science to their endeavours to squeeze the last few 0.1% out of themselves.

"I ride on feel, power is a waste of time" - Great. We're all pushing the pedals for different reasons. If you don't want to get into the number crunching, fine. If you don't want to enter into a w/kg pissing contest, no problem. What you can't do is deny the effectiveness and influence power has had on cycling performance in the past 25 years. A few quotes in an article by Rachel Neylan over on CyclingTips:

    “Power meters have provided new insight into demands of competition and the relationship between training and race relevant fitness.. allow the coach, trainer and athlete to better evaluate how the preparation process is influencing fitness.” Dr David Martin (AIS)

    “ power meters have been my primary scientific tool as a cycling sport scientist. Like a microbiologist has a microscope and a doctor has a stethoscope I have had my cycling power metres.” Dr David Martin (AIS)

"You can't ride without your numbers, you're tied to them" - My own experience says otherwise. I've had my power meter read too low during a TT, I've even had it drop out on the start line. It was an inconvenience, nothing more. Did it influence the result? No. If a rider is dropped in a road race or crit because they don't want to 'go into the red', this is user error. In the IT world this is known as PEBKAC (Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair), maybe in cycling it would be PEBRAP (...Between Rider And Pedals).

Although, when reading the any anti-power article, Twitter post, or Facebook update, I still think PEBKAC best sums it up.

But who knows, the UCI could agree with them. After all, they've banned aero drink bottles, regulate our sock height, and are now banning shoe covers. Banning power meters can't be far off?

Relax... this is fake!

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