Power on our Bikes is an expression of how HARD you are pushing the pedals. Power is the Product of: Resistance x Pedaling Cadence
Anyone that rides a bike can feel this. The point of this blog is not WHAT you do, but rather HOW you do it. As Dr. Vigil states in Training as a RUNNER “You DO NOT have TIME for JUNK MILES”. The same holds true for time on your BIKE!!
Resistance is – a headwind, your indoor trainer, or the gear you have the bike in. Pedaling cadence is just that, pedaling cadence. As resistance (force) & pedaling cadence (Speed of Force) increase, POWER goes up. As they go down, power goes down. And of course there are lots of combinations of those two variables that can be at play.
The expression for power is watts. Just like it takes a certain number of watts to turn on a vacuum cleaner, it takes a certain amount of watts to ride a bike 20 mph.
We train effectively to get more powerful! And many of the pedaling efficiency variables that you see in Garmin Connect can help your pedaling efficiency which in turn affects your ability to produce power on the bike.
Lets go back to the vacuum analogy. The motor on the vacuum may be in great condition, but if the belt is torn, the bag is full, or there is a short in the power cable, the benefit of that great motor will never be felt. That is where the pedaling variables come into play. Lets go through the variables now.
Left/Right Balance %. This value tells you what % of the total power being produced comes from each leg. It is typically thought that values inside 48/62 are very acceptable. If numbers are outside of this range, lets say 45% left and 55% right, their becomes some curiosity as to why.
Often times the problems are at the muscular or structural level:
- Is their an injury reducing the effectiveness of one side?
- Was their a broken bone in the past on the left side causing some bio mechanical weakness?
- Is the weakness caused by current ergonomics?
It is important to note that even if a underlying cause is difficult to find, performance limitations are likely to very minimal from a left/right split that is a little bit out of balance.
Pedal smoothness measures how smoothly power is delivered to the pedal throughout the entire revolution. A value of 100% means that the power is generated evenly throughout the pedal stroke. Human beings can not score 100%, only a machine turning the crank arms can measure 100%. Values of 10–40% are common.
This measures how much of the power delivered to the pedal is actually pushing the bike forward. The typical score is going to be 60-100, and it is scored separately for each leg. The vast majority of pedaling torque happens from about 1:00 to 5:00 on the pedaling circle. This is just after your foot comes over the top of the pedal stroke and forcefully pushes down on the pedal. While this is happening, the opposite leg should be passively pulling up on the pedal on the opposite side. The foot does not pull hard or tug on the pedal while on the bike side of the pedal stroke. It is an ‘unweighting’ or gentle pull of the pedal. If the opposite leg is not pedaling in this manner it can create resistance against the opposite leg that is attempting to push forcefully from 1:00 to 5:00. Scores below 60-100 range represents a lack or torque, possibly caused by the unweighting of the opposite leg on the back side of the pedal stroke
Here in the VIDEO BELOW is some work we did at the Olympic Training Center with Noraxon and Muscle EMG. Seems complex, but it is NOT. Our Point is with a little effort you can IDENTIFY where your power comes from and recognize and correct simple imbalances. There is a cost that is not as ridiculous as it seems. Some buy a $2,000.00 Wheel, when they should really be purchasing a Power Meter and learning to ride!!!! Work on your Pedal Smoothness, Application of Torque/Power and ACTIVE YOUR GLUTES! Cycling is NOT all Quadriceps and Calves, get your GLUTES INVOLVED!