Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Interbike 2009 - Power - Cycle-Ops

At Interbike 2009, one of the many seminars I attended had to do with power. They called it the Power Summit, sponsored by SRAM by the fact that they rented the room.

Saris, aka the folks that do Cyclops and PowerTap, was there, displaying a whole slew of products. The things I went to look at included two new power meters and their corresponding trainers.

I felt some affinity to these new gizmos because I might have taken part in a focus group thing over the course of 4 or 5 weeks.

I really liked (both now and back during the possible focus group) the idea of a power trainer. Ideally it would have all the various adjustable fit things (saddle and bar) and allow you to control the resistance of the unit. This would allow you to experiment with your position as related to power, and by being able to step up resistance, you'd be able to do your own threshold testing.

There are a few systems out there that allow you to step up the resistance, both trainers and full fledged "indoor bikes". The trainers I've used typically slip at higher resistances, as they are relatively old designs with an inexpensive resistance unit.

The other kind of "trainer" is the one where the bike gets clamped in place, like a CompuTrainer or the like. You still get some slippage but the system seems more secure. The CompuTrainer doesn't allow you to step up resistance, although I guess you could program a course that has distinct grade changes. Not ideal though.

Ultimately, no matter what, you get slippage with any system where your wheel rolls on a small diameter roller.

What if you got rid of the roller thing? What if the resistance worked directly on a non-flexible tire? Like, say, one made of chrome-plated steel?

Oh, speaking of which...

The 400 Pro

Well, they addressed that. Check out that flywheel, with the resistance brake working directly against the wheel. Check out the massive amounts of position adjustments possible.

So what do you use on a machine like that?

You use an Ant+ Sport compatible power meter.

The Joules. As in "Crown Jewels", maybe. 2.0 to the left, 3.0 to the right.

Those are fake ones are easier to see, but you can't use them to do stuff like actually record your power and heart rate and stuff. For that you need the real thing.

The real 2.0

The 2.0 is a bit smaller than its brethren. The Saris folks optimized it for outdoor use, portable use. It fits easily on your bars, it tries not to inundate you with data, and it uses a plain black and white display to extend battery life.

The CycleOps folks talked about getting data now, comparing it to the past, and figuring out what you want to do. Or, as they put it, "knowing where you are, where you have been, and where you need to go."

One of the cool things you can do is check out your wattage on your ride you just finished versus where you've been in the last 6 months or year. Or week. Basically you don't have to go home and download everything before you figure out if you totally sucked today or if you were flying.

(That's just in case the fact that you forgot you either got shelled or you killed it on the ride.)

The real 3.0, a bit blurry.

I might have been shaking with excitement. Or maybe it was just the long shutter exposure. Or that potent margarita. Whatever, you get the gist of the thing, right? Bigger, more colors, more columns. It's made to be used plugged in, indoors. You can use it outside but it's battery will die a bit quicker.

Using the two computers, you can go and ride a course you like. Or maybe one you don't like, say, for example, a really hilly road race course.

And the Joules remember it.

Then you can go and repeat that ride on the 400 Pro.

Or, if you prefer, you can ride that same bike on your new PowerBeam Pro trainer. Inside. Again and again.

The trainer version

With a bike on it.

So what's all this mean to you?

It means that you can use a power device that uses the Ant+ Sport standard to transmit power data - those including the Ant+ Sport PowerTap, SRM, and Quarq. You can use them to record course data to your Joule and then replay the course to your PowerBeam or 400 Pro.

Wouldn't that be cool? You go out and ride some course. You can move the data inside and ride it inside.

That race you want to peak for next summer? Yep, you can train on it all winter.

Heck, if you feel like boasting in real to your friends, you can send them the file and have them ride the course - at their house.

So, for example, I could send you the Palomar file. And then you could do Palomar in the comfort of your own basement.

Or I could send you Bethel. Or you could send me, say, the "L'Etape" you did in France.

And I'd curl up and die on my 400 Pro.

At least I'd be in my basement. I could just crawl up the stairs and collapse on the couch.

I know. I'm making it seem like you really, really need to get an Ant+ Sport power unit. And an Ant+ Sport computer. And, preferably a 400 Pro indoor bike.

Well, I am.

So there.

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