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3 Reasons to train and race with Power that maybe you haven't thought of yet

Power is the new yoga. It's trendy going on immensely popular; yields significant training benefits when used correctly; and makes people think you're cool if they know you're doing it. I started training with a PowerTap at the end of last season, and to now go without it would feel as backwards as switching back to downtube shifters.

No doubt you've heard a dozen reasons why you should consider training and racing with power, but for what it's worth, here's a few you maybe haven't come across yet:

  1. Power keeps you honest. When you set out to do a 3 hour endurance ride with 3x15 threshold intervals in the middle, knowing that you're going to have a physical record of that effort helps ensure that you stick to the plan. This is especially true when you're working with a coach, and he prescribes the workout and then expects to see the power file. And conversely, power keeps you from working too hard. Maybe you feel good enough for a couple more V02 Max bursts after you've finished the workout assigned to you. But if your coach has you stopping at 6 instead of 8 because he's aiming to peak your form for a big race, the fatigue from the extra bursts might outweigh the fitness benefits. Anticipation of the lip whipping you're about to get from him might just be enough to cool your jets, and let him do his job.
  2. There is no longer a weight penalty from training with Power. This is technically less of a reason to ride with power than it is a reason not to not ride with power. I don't mean to say that the equipment itself is negligible in weight, but everything else on the bike has become so feathery that a 15-lb race bike is well within reach even with a beefier hub or crankset. Pros, in fact, are moving to power on their race bikes for that very reason, since many of them have to add some weight anyway to hit the 6.8kg / 15lb UCI limit. And whether you care about the UCI limit or not, the fact is that racing with power and enjoying a gossamer ride up the big climbs are no longer mutually exclusive.
  3. Power allows you to race Proactively, not reactively. This is really more about the self-awareness that measuring power provides. On Stage 17, Floyd Landis attacked confidently and within himself, knowing he could throw down 544 watts for the first 30 seconds to get away, and then hang onto 401 watts for 30 minutes. He forced the race to react to him, instead of holding back not knowing if he had the juice, or going too hard, and blowing up. Riding within yourself allows you to be an active participant in the whole race, and riding the race that's best suited to your ability. You'll know going into it if you've got great 1-minute power but a modest sprint, and be sure to try for a gap well before the 200M mark. Or if you can push more watts for 5 minutes than others in your category, making a good case to try and solo off the front and hang on. And sure, some of it is about winning. But more if it is about being a part of the race - a factor in it, and not feeling like you're just being pulled along by it. This is why we train and race in the first place - to take charge and assert ourselves in an effort to separate ourselves from - not just from the pack, but from whatever mediocrity we're aware of elsewhere in our lives. We race, I think, to build our identity. And nobody's true identity is tucked safely in the peloton for the entire race, every race.

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