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Using a Power Meter for the First Time

Fellow riders, coaches, books, blogs and forums will all help you learn about power. But you don’t need to know it all to get started. Try these things on your first rides to get a feel for the numbers.

Ride at the front of a group, then at the back, and see the difference in power.

The fastest riders pedal the lightest and the least, saving their energy for when it matters.

Ride up and down a hill with the same power. What you feel in your legs and your lungs – your perceived effort – lags behind what you see on the computer.

Riding with a power meter prevents you from blowing up on a long, punishing climb, and sees you swoop past fellow riders on the way down.

Ride into the wind and against the wind with the same power. Do you notice a difference in speed or cadence or the gear you choose?

Riding at a consistent power level saves energy and reduces muscle fatigue. It’s the best way to ride a Century, Sportive or Ironman.

Shift into the big ring, get out of the saddle and see how hard you can go for five seconds.

The world’s best sprinters put out more than 9.5 watts per pound. That’s over 1600 watts for a 170-pound rider.

Use analysis software to review your results. What was your maximum power output? What was your average output?

A power meter will verify you are getting stronger and faster, regardless of the course, your equipment or the conditions.

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