The Governor: Power or No? Is a PowerMeter the correct tool for you?
In short: not necessarily, but don’t tell the power gurus I said that. Power is, simply, a tool that can help us ride smarter and faster. But like any tool, we need to understand not only how it works but also how to use it. For example, I know what a hex wrench is. I know where to stick it (usually), but I can mess up a well-tuned bike fairly quickly with it. And that’s the rub – you have to think about how to use the information the PowerMeter provides. Or not. It’s always fun just to look at some numbers when you are riding. But those are some expensive numbers if that’s all they are there for.
So why invest in expensive numbers packaged in a wheel, hub, crank, pedal, chain, or wind (long story). First, though the amount of Power created for a given period of time depends on the individual, the amount of force and velocity to create a watt is the same individual to individual. In that sense Power is very precise because it’s a measure of work, unlike Heart Rate or Perceived Exertion. You know when you are creating force, when you are not, and for how long. Perfect. Second, that perfection can help you create very precise training zones. These zones then allow for precise efforts to train specific systems. Of course, all of this is predicated on you knowing how to delineate those zones and how to train in them. Third, the PowerMeter can function to regulate or govern your workouts. For example, you know instantly if you are going too hard. It can also work as a carrot to push you to go longer than you thought was possible. Fourth, if you are able to use Power when you race, you can gather some very important information about your racing style and weaknesses.
If you want Power, can afford Power, either like expensive numbers or know how to organize those numbers, then Power is great. However, if that’s not you, then Heart Rate and Perceived Exertion can also work. You will need to know the vagaries of those things also, but it can work.