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Recently there has been much debate in the press regarding riders, and in particular Team Sky racing with powermeters. Some riders like Vincenzo Nibali (who races with a powermeter) says this nullifies the race and makes it boring as Team Sky riders are using their powermeters to pace what effort they need to ride at to catch the breakaway.
Whichever side of the fence you sit on with this there is no denying powermeters do benefit when racing…so until we are told otherwise why not use them to our benefit?
I decided to race with my powermeter for all my races this year whilst riding for the Dig Deep Coaching - Pactimo MTB Elite team. At first I thought this would be so that I could analyse the data post race and write post race analysis. I didn't however think I would be looking at it during the race and even thought about covering over the numbers.
In the end I'm glad I didn't as I have found the power to be a great tool in the 2 races I have ridden this season.
In my last race, the first round of the Midlands Series, it was a big step up in rider quality. Considering the quality of the field I still decided to stick to my game plan of starting fast which I did completely on feel. In fact, I didn't look at the power once on the opening lap I just started off fast and didn't look down until I was passing the start/finish after lap 1. When I looked down I was quite surprised to see I was only averaging 370w NP which works out as 92% of my threshold power. As I said before I know from years of training and racing with power that I can hold 95% of my threshold for the duration of a XC race. At one point just after the first lap someone shouted to me from the crowd it was a 6 lap race and not to go too hard too soon, my response of “at this pace I can go all day” might have sounded arrogant but it was based on science not theory.
10 years to the day Dan was told he would not walk again after being knocked off his bike training. The raised knee at the finish line was to make show his knees are in good working order!
The next 3 laps were all in and around 330-340 NP or around 82-85%, even at this sustainable pace I was able to open up a gap of around 30-40 seconds a lap on the second place rider. Once I got to lap 5 I was told that my lead was now 2 minutes 30 so I was able to back right off to 320W or 78% making sure I didn't make any mistakes or risk mechanical problems.
The total NP for the race was 335w or 84% so while it was by no means an easy pace I still had roughly 10% left in the tank had I needed it.
Another interesting fact was that I spent a total of 15 minutes or a total of 1 whole lap not pedalling at all but with the nature of a MTB race that is hardly a big surprise.
Like I said at the start whichever side of the fence you sit regarding the use of powermeters there can be no denying when used correctly in the knowledge of your training zones and overall FTP…your confidence and ability to race could decide if you are on the podium or not.
The full race data can be found at this LINK.
All photographs are courtesy of Simon Maskell Photography.