Why Monitor Your Cycling Performance?


WHY MONITOR YOUR CYCLING PERFORMANCE?

Monitoring your cycling performance has been a field of study that, in recent years, has been made more and more available to the everyday cyclist. The benefits of observing your cycling performance are unbounded and with an extensive range of tech available for all cycling levels, there has never been a better time to focus on your fitness.


Turning Performance Data Into Gains

The advance in cycling computers in recent times has meant that the exclusivity of elite performance data such as heart rate monitoring and VO2 max is now available to everyone. These data lines are vital in attaining a clear indication of a riders cycling performance, both on a fitness and a strategic level that combine to improve an individual’s holistic performance. Whether you are brand new to cycling, or a seasoned sportive rider, the desire to perform better is in the blood of every cyclist.

HEART RATE MONITORING

The idea around heart rate training has become a popular topic that is reaching out to a wide market, so much so that it has become a common area of discussion. These developments have meant that heart rate monitoring devices can now be found for a very reasonable price and, in turn, the world of heart rate training has become more accessible. Although heart rate is becoming a more accessible method of training, it is important that a training plan is put in place to utilise your training effectively. If certain measurements are not made to calculate how you should go forward with your training, your performance may not increase as quickly as you would like it to. Heart rate monitoring is a zonal method of training which requires you to train in different zones according to your resting and maximum heart rate. According to the Association of British Cycling Coaches recommend a zonal system with six tiers:

 

ZONE ONE (60-65% of MHR) – long easy rides, improves combustion of fats

ZONE TWO (65-75% of MHR) – basic training zone, longish rides of medium stress

ZONE THREE (75-82% of MHR) – development of aerobic capacity and endurance with moderate volume at very controllable intensity.

ZONE FOUR (82-89% of MHR) – for stimulating pace when preparing for a race

ZONE FIVE (89-94% MHR) – raising anaerobic threshold – good sessions for 10-25 mile TT

ZONE SIX (94-100% of MHR) – high intensity training to increase maximum power and speed.

 

One of the main advantages with using your heart rate to train and increase performance is that you can tailor your training to the direction you want to improve in. Cycling training regimes can be suited to your needs, for instance endurance training for sportive riders or increasing weight loss prospects through targeted training.

 

 

CADENCE IN CYCLING

Cycling cadence data has long been used as an indication of how a cyclist is performing, and even a tool to help retain power and reduce fatigue. Relatively simple and inexpensive to record, a cadence sensor can be attached to the crank arm and the data can be fed straight to your device for in-ride performance information. Improving your cadence can also improve your efficiency.

 

 

POWER METRES

Recent shifts in how the cycling community measure their performance has meant that power metres have become a lot more popular and widely used, not only in the pro-peloton. Considered now as “the most effective tool you can get to go faster on a bike” a power metre allows you to measure your output directly and see, very precisely, your training progression. There is one draw-back however with the use of power metres – the price. Starting at around £600 for a crank mounted devise, the world of power metres is a fairly expensive one, however if bought into could take your training to a whole new level.

 

 

It's Not All About Super Technical Data

Spending hours working out your heart rate Zones or meticulously planning a training schedule is one thing, however the simplest forms of training analysis can sometimes be the most rewarding. The natural and undoubted feeling of getting fitter and fitter can be the most gratifying experience of all, and something that can be evaluated very easily and with minimal cost. The ability to cycle further, with a higher average speed may sound a primitive form of analysis but is a clear indication that you are getting fitter. This sign of increased fitness can be achieved through any bike computer or fitness tracker.

 

If you want just the fundamentals from a cycle computer, then distance can be a really good marker. If you can cycle further than your last ride, without feeling as tired afterwards and you can recover quicker, that’s your body’s way of telling you you’re getting fitter and your performance and nutritional plan is working to your benefit. Similarly with speed averages, if you can cycle with a higher average speed than your previous ride, then this can be an indicator that you are gaining power, strength and fitness.

 

Social Fitness Networks

The rise of social fitness networks such as Garmin Connect and Strava, healthy competition either between your friends or other like-minded cyclists can help improve your fitness, achieve your goals and share with people just like yourself. On both the Garmin Connect and Strava platforms, features such as ‘Segments’ will automatically record sections of your ride that have a leader board that other like-minded cyclists have completed. Furthermore, if you ride a Segment the fastest on the leader board, you will get a King Of the Mountain (KOM) which creates some healthy competition among your fellow cyclist. This social element can be an easy way of finding out how you are achieving with regards to your fitness within the cycling community.

Garmin Connect and Strava, among others, can also be used as a personal platform to view and store your performance data for later use and training planning. A further advantage of these platforms is that your data can be uploaded via Bluetooth and you are able to view your data easily from your smartphone.  See your progression immediately for each training session to achieve your goal quicker.

 

 

Listen to Yourself

Monitoring what your body is telling you is also an important aspect of your cycling experience. Keeping an eye on how you are performing will tell you a lot about how you are reacting to your training regime, and go a long way in helping you be reactive to your training plan. This will ultimately help you see improvements faster and reach your end goal quicker.

 

 

Recommended By Cycle Surgery

 

BEGINNER

 Cateye Velo Wireless+ Cycle Computer

The Cateye Velo Wireless+ Cycle Computer offers a great entry to the cycle computer. Although not GPS enabled, the Wireless+ does what the name suggests and enables you to gain performance data wirelessly via sensors attached to your bike. Featuring all the performance data you need to get you going and start recording your training and boasts some great functions such as a carbon offset function and auto power saving mode

INTERMEDIATE

Garmin Edge 25

A brand new model for 2016, the Garmin Edge 25 boasts incredible value for money for the amount of technology you get in this discreet, super lightweight unit. Featuring all the necessary data that you need to take you riding to the next level, this tiny device also is heart rate enabled meaning, heart rate data can be observed when connected with a monitor. Some fantastic features are also found on the Edge 25 including GLONASS enabled so better signals can be had, even under dense tree coverage.

ADVANCED

Garmin Edge 520/1000

At the highest level of GPS bike computers, the Garmin Edge 520 and Edge 1000 represent what can be achieved when pushing the boundaries. Featuring performance data capabilities that pro athletes use to train for that next race win, both these units feature heart rate and VO2 max that will take your training to the next level. The Edge 1000 also includes the benefit of OSM mapping enabling you to have turn-by-turn navigation you ride.