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Torque
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Updated January 22, 2016 | By Bob Fugett

Powertap Quick Study

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Congratulations on getting your new power meter and going for a ride with it.

Here's your PowerTap Quick Study Guide.

First the wiki:

1) Learn the file structure for backups?

2) Find Peak Power Records by double clicking a user name on the default startup screen. Then on user information pop-up select the Peak Power Records tab.

3) Keep your own record of the PB changes, because the software doesn't keep that history, only tracks the current best. Be aware that momentary maximums are not recorded, so watch for them in every Entire Activity Details screen. Here is a sample notes format.


Everybody should take the following steps right away as soon as they begin using the PowerTap.

Immediately after your first data download find the Peak Power Records (how to find it) that the software automatically keeps for you. You don't even have to worry about putting in your weight and setting zones for Heart Rate and Power, because the Peak Power Records are an absolute objective measurement, and the tracking of these eight (8) different timed intervals is extremely useful—even without considering Heart Rate and Peak Power Zones.

These eight Peak Power Records are automatically replaced by the software whenever you beat a given interval, so make a note of them right away.

 During a workout you won't have to worry about keeping track of these intervals yourself, because the software automatically tracks your best 5 and 30 seconds along with your best 1, 5, 10, 30, 60 and 120 minute intervals.

You will, however, have to make note of your momentary power maximum, because 5 seconds is the shortest interval retained by the basic report.

You may like to keep track of other intervals for your own information, but these eight time values provide a great insight into your development all by themselves.

In any case, if you fail to record your very, very, very first ride (especially if it was an easy fun ride), you will be missing a once in a lifetime golden opportunity to establish a baseline to begin beating your own performances, which you will surely do without hesitation.

HOW TO FIND: Your personal Peak Power Records can be found by double clicking on your user name from the default startup screen in the PowerAgent Software. Once you double click on a user name, you will see a pop-up screen with user information. The final tab on the right brings you to Peak Power Records.

Keep a note of the figures you find there, and check them after every ride. They will change over time, but a history of this particular report will not be retained by the software. It will only be updated automatically with the most current information.

Here is the big fun. The 5 sec, 1 min, 5 min and 1-hour records shown can be used to gage your standing in the world of cycling by comparing your own results to the sampling of cycling performances shown by the table on page 64 of the book Training and Racing with a Power Meter, by Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan.

No need to struggle calculating your power to weight ratio. Here's a Super Simple Power To Weight Calculator which also gives you a conversion for watts to speed above a copy of the Allen and Coggan Race Category table for comparison.

Below is Mary's current history of personal bests (as of 09/29/08) which you may use as a template. Copy paste them into a word processor and go from there.

You will notice that I have added Max momentary watts (both Standing and Seated), plus both momentary and interval records for cadence rpm. We consider a sustained average cadence for 30 seconds to be very useful as an index of her improving pedaling function.

Be careful you don't fall into the trap that is currently supported by every explanation of power meter training that I have seen.

Most of the indices that people have previously used to track performance have been based on the necessity of finding alternatives to an objective measurement of true effort. Unfortunately, even the current workout programs which use power meters are saddled by processes that arose from this previous "guess-timate" necessity.

Just remember this: By the time your Heart Rate shows that you are in trouble, it is already too late to do anything about it.

For example, let's assume your best sustained performance based on Heart Rate is 175. On a time trial, you push a little too hard on a specific hill, and all of a sudden your HR monitor jumps to 183. Uh, oh.

Now lets say your 175 HR relates to a sustained 270 watt effort, and an increase to 183 bpm heart rate (which you have determined is your blow-up zone) doesn't occur until you have sustained a 275 watt effort for 33 seconds.

Wouldn't you rather control your effort by knowing you have held 274 watts for 32 seconds, and it is now time to back off or pay the price?

Using a power meter instead of a HR monitor to control your performance is a little like moving from a 12 inch ruler scaled to one inch increments to a yard stick scaled to 1/16th inch increments.

Here is a template you can use for your performance history. The current bests are in the top chart while clicking on the plus sign (+) to the left of each will take you to the history of that record in the chart below. The click access is only a slight convenience, while merely maintaining a current record vs. historic list is useful enough.

Get started on this, and later you can fine tune using all the other charts and graphs your wildest OCD dreams demand.


Levels Records W/KG per Allan and Coggan, 2006    (meth=method; PT=Powertap; CT=Computrainer)
+ date meth watt/avg wgt p/w kg Level Goal (wgt: 119)
Max Standing

+

09/06/08 PT 648 119.8

11.90

 NA

Hill Camel Farm
Max Seated

+

07/23/08 PT 619 122.6

11.11

 NA

Heritage Trail
5 sec

+

09/06/08 PT 597 119.8

10.96

Cat 5 Women (top) 610/11.09 Cat4 Wom
30 sec

+

09/04/08 PT  425  120.4

 7.766

 NA

Heritage Trail
1 min

+

04/30/08 PT 346  123.6

 6.159

 Cat4 Women (hi mid)  434/7.036 Cat4 Men
5 min

+

05/05/08 PT  236  123.0

 4.221

 Cat3 MEN ! ! ! (low)  271/4.927 Cat2 Men
10 min

+

04/01/08 PT 204 124.8

 3.596

 NA

 
30 min

+

08/16/08 PT 179 121.6

3.238

 NA

 
60 min (1-hour)

 +

08/16/08 PT 174  121.6

 3.148

 Cat3 Women (low)  191/3.473 Cat3 Men
120 min

+

04/26/08 PT  154 122.8

 2.759

 NA

 
Cadence Max

+

03/15/08 Pol  173 125.8

 NA

 NA

Heritage Trail
Cadence Interval

+

09/14/08 PT  159/33s
171 max
118.8

 NA

 NA

Big V Florida Flats
    PT          



 

------------------- ARCHIVED GOAL PERFORMANCE HISTORIES -------------------

  date meth watt/avg wgt p/w kg Level Goal (wgt: 121)
Max Standing

 

09/06/08 PT 648 119.8

11.90

 NA

Hill Before Camel Farm

 

09/04/08 PT 627 120.4

11.46

 NA

Heritage Trail
  08/09/08 PT 623 121.8 11.25

 NA

Heritage Trail
  07/22/08 PT 611 121.6 11.05

 NA

Heritage Trail
  02/08/08 PT 578 124.6 10.21

 NA

Clearwater Bridge
Max Seated
  07/23/08 PT 619 122.6 11.11

 NA

Heritage Trail
  07/08/08 PT 617 120.8 11.24

 NA

Heritage Trail
  07/15/08 PT 614 122.8 11.00

 NA

part HRT 5 sec P.B.
  05/11/08 PT 600 125.0 10.56

 NA

chase b/p on Bob's Hill
5 sec

 

09/06/08 PT 597 119.8

10.96

Cat 5 Women (top) 610/11.09 Cat4 Women
  07/15/08 PT 592 120.8 10.61 Untrained Man (bottom) 610/11.09 Cat4 Women
  07/08/08 PT 568 120.8 10.34 Untrained Woman (top) 610/11.09 Cat4 Women
  06/07/08 PT 552 122.0 9.954 Untrained Women (mid) 610/11.09 Cat4 Women
  04/17/08 PT 535 122.8 9.585 Untrained Women (bot) 610/11.09 Cat4 Women
30 sec
   08/12/08 PT  420  121.4  7.611

 NA

Heritage Trail
   07/22/08 PT  411  121.6  7.436

 NA

Heritage Trail
   07/10/08 PT  404  120.4  7.394

 NA

Heritage Trail
   04/30/08 PT  403  123.6  7.173

 NA

 
   04/05/08 PT 396 127.6  6.828

 NA

 
1 min
   04/30/08 PT 346  123.6  6.159  Cat4 Women (hi mid)  434/7.036 Cat4 Men
   04/06/08 PT  333  124.8  5.870  Cat4 Women (low mid)  
5 min
   05/05/08 PT  236  123.0  4.221  Cat3 MEN ! ! ! (low)  271/4.927 Cat2 Men
   05/04/08 CT  236  123.4  4.207  Cat3 MEN (low)  repeat outdoors w/PT
   04/30/08 PT  214  123.6  3.809  Cat3 Women (low mid)  231/4.2 Cat3 Men
    03/13/08 PT 211 125.8   3.690   Cat3 Women (low)  
10 min
   04/01/08 PT 204 124.8  3.596

 NA

 
30 min

 

08/16/08 PT 179 121.6

3.238

 NA

 
  04/22/08 PT  171 122.6

 3.069

 NA

 
60 min (1-hour)

 

 08/16/08 PT 174  121.6

 3.148

 Cat3 Women (low)  191/3.47 3 Cat3 Men
   07/26/08 PT 172  121.2  3.122  Cat3 Women (low)  191/3.47 3 Cat3 Men
   04/26/08 PT  171 122.8  3.064  Cat3 Women (low)  191/3.47 3 Cat3 Men
   04/22/08 PT  159  121.0  2.891   minus 1 line, Cat3 Women  164/Cat3
120 min
   04/26/08 PT  154 122.8  2.759

 NA

 
   04/05/08 PT  147 127.6 2.534

 NA

 
Cadence Max

 

 03/15/08 Pol  173 125.8

 NA

 NA

 
Cadence Interval

 

09/14/08 PT  159/33s
171 max
118.8

 NA

 NA

Big V Florida Flats

 

09/11/08 PT  156/33s
164 max
119.2

 NA

 NA

Heritage Trail

 

09/05/08 PT  155/30s
161 max
119.6

 NA

 NA

Heritage Trail

 

09/04/08 PT  153/31s
167 max
120.4

 NA

 NA

Heritage Trail

 

09/03/08 PT  151/30s 121.2

 NA

 NA

Heritage Trail

 

08/28/08 PT  150/34s 120.6

 NA

 NA

Heritage Trail

 

08/12/08 PT  137/40s 121.4

 NA

 NA

 
    PT          

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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