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Friday, June 5, 2009

New 30 sec Peak Power Number

I have a little competition going with my friend in Omaha, Nebraska SushiJoe.

Last night on my commute I asked him what his 30 second and 1 minute numbers were in absolute wattage and w/kg. I needed a carrot. I needed something to motivate me because the headwinds were demoralizing me. Have I mentioned how much I hate headwinds? I beat his 30 second number in absolute watts and in watts per kg (w/kg)as well. When reading power data it is important to not focus on the absolute numbers so much.

Here is an example. Two cyclists are comparing their wattage output on a local hill of 1.5 miles 6% grade.

John says: "I can hold 275 watts on that climb"

Mary says: "Really? I can only hold 225 watts on that climb"

Who is the stronger cyclist on this climb? Let's take a look at body weights for these two riders.

John weighs 165 lbs or 78.84 kg

Mary weighs 125 lbs or 56.70 kg

So John's w/kg is 275 watts divided by 78.84 kg = 3.67 w/kg

Mary's w/g is 225 watts divided by 56.70 kg = 3.96 w/kg

On this particular climb, based on their weight and power output, Mary is the stronger cyclist because her w/kg for this climb is 3.96 w/kg.

An important concept to remember is that w/kg is a power to weight ratio. As you lose or gain weight your w/kg will change that seems obvious right? But far too many people try to buy their way into better climbing. If you want to improve your climbing lose weight. Typically you will continue to hold your absolute wattage output if you are shedding fat pounds and retaining lean muscle.

Above is a screen shot from Training Peaks. You will see on the left a small frame that shows a time frame and corresponding wattage. The only thing missing to make the data quantifiable is my weight. I weighed 150 lbs yesterday which is 68.04 kg.

My 30 sec peak power was 721 watts or 10.6 w/kg Sushijoe's number was 7.91 w/kg. Ok Sushijoe there is your carrot. You have to beat 10.6 w/kg.

Being an Ultra cyclist, I am a slow twitch type of rider. I rarely do group rides. It is especially important for me to work on my fast twitch muscle so as not to lose that snap in my legs.


  1. It's true... =(
    My best peak 20s power is only 5 watts higher than your peak 30s (726).
    5 second power is where I shine (if I had to pick somewhere, lol)!

  2. Well don't leave us in suspense what is that 5 second number?

  3. You guys and your fancy power meters. Sheesh... (I'm only slightly jealous here). At least I've got a pretty new bike to ride in the mean time.

  4. Yep!

    When you gonna get yours? That pretty new bike is just begging for one. LOL!

  5. Whenever the bike fun recovers from being overly depleated... The new bike purchase wasn't actually in the plans, but too good a deal to pass up. I used up all my wheel money and then some. I think I might get some riding in between rain drops today whilst pulling the burley up and down some hills on the cross bike.

  6. Buckshot-- I can't wait until you get a Power Tap or whatever power meter you decide. You will see the benefits in your training and racing in a very short period of time.

    Then you could also join in on our tri-state rivalry LOL!

  7. I loved your comparison of the two climbers. I'm about to get my own PM this week I hope, but I was wondering... given the higher power output, can we expect that the female would have beat the male up the hill if they maintained those numbers throughout the climb?

  8. KeiserM3-- Thank you for reading my blog!

    Congrats on making a decision to start training and racing with a power meter.

    The point of this example was to show that even though Mary had a lower absolute power number of 225 watts (50 watts less than John) that her power to weight ratio or w/kg was higher than John's.

    If we were to field test these two riders we would find that Mary's finishing time would be less than John's finishing time on THIS hill. And depending on their fitness level (read endurance-- as in how long she could hold the delta between John and her) it is fair to assume that Mary would be a stronger climber in distances longer than the 1.5 mile example given here.