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Thread: Define "elite"

  1. #1
    gunslinger
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    Define "elite"

    The basics...

    • I'm a guy that challenges me
    • I'm not a racer or outwardly competitive guy
    • I compete w/ and against myself
    • I don't care who passes me or who I pass, so long as I don't pass me! (but if you do pass me, I'll throw rocks then sit and cry)


    I very recently came back to MTBing only after having to "retire" from motocross due to injury that I simply can't afford to risk having happen again. I had my moto goals lined out and was picking them off one-by-one. That's all history now.

    Since I've got to have something to keep me going, my new challenge is to get as fit as possible. My preference is to train outdoors. Living in Utah, that's pretty easy to do. Here's what I have to train on:

    Outdoors:
    Mountain bike

    Indoors:
    Rower
    Treadmill
    Spin bike
    Weights

    Personal stats:
    Age: 43
    Weight: 190
    Height: 5'-9.5"
    Fitness level: pretty decent

    My questions:
    What would/should a 43 year old elite be able to do?
    How could a 43 year old elite measure performace w/o racing?

    I'm simply looking for a means to judge fitness and develop a set of goals to challenge me.
    Last edited by selector; 10-22-2009 at 11:34 AM.

  2. #2
    CB2
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    You can set personal goals like "I'm going to ride this loop in X amount of time", or "I'm going to increase my average speed by X", but without actual competition your just measuring your improvements over yourself.
    Nothing wrong with that, but you'll really never know if you're "elite" or not if you don't compete.
    One thing you might consider is loosing some weight; it might be all muscle but 190 is pretty heavy for a cyclist of your height.

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    Well, the definition of "Elite" pretty much doesn't matter outside of the competitive world, unless you count going out on the group rides and dominating everyone. It seems that maybe instead of aiming for a particular category of fitness, you should just try to improve your personal best at all times, and if you stick with it, you'll eventually get to the highest level you can possibly be.

    If you just want to improve your fitness, and would like some direction, you might be interested in my new approach to coaching. Check out AlisonDunlapCoaching.com and download a free sample training block. For probably less per month than you spent on gas for the moto, you can have a world-class training plan that will help you achieve your best possible fitness. If you sign up, begin with the Intermediate program - from there you can move on, at your own pace, to Advanced or even Pro if you are up to it! I guarantee that if you follow my plans, they'll challenge you. Take a look.
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  4. #4
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    In cycling, a riders performance can be measured by recording the the power generated to the back wheel. There are several devices that can accurately measure this. They vary in price (dramatically), but the most popular would be the Powertap hub. Used, wired (not wireless) hubs can be purchased on ebay for pretty reasonable prices, and would probably make a good wheel to use for training and measuring.

    The data can than be calculated based on weight (rider) and compared with the "averages" of different catagory of riders. Racing is the gold standard, but power profiling can get someone in the ballpark:
    http://home.trainingpeaks.com/articl...profiling.aspx

    There are also ways to roughly calculate power based on known resistance curves of different indoor cycling trainers (the kind you put your bike in and it applies resistance to the rear wheel). Google search etc.. or maybe the manufacturer has the data.
    Last edited by perryr; 10-22-2009 at 11:00 AM.

  5. #5
    gunslinger
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    Quote Originally Posted by CB2
    You can set personal goals like "I'm going to ride this loop in X amount of time", or "I'm going to increase my average speed by X", but without actual competition your just measuring your improvements over yourself.
    Nothing wrong with that, but you'll really never know if you're "elite" or not if you don't compete.
    Is there no rule of thumb like "a 43 y/o elite dude ought to be able to...."? Or, is it all relative to the human? The only thing I don't like about pacing me is that it means nothing. I guess an alternate would be to run sections and compare times, etc. I'm just not into racing and all it might/would involve. I know that would be the best means of measurement though.

    One thing you might consider is loosing some weight; it might be all muscle but 190 is pretty heavy for a cyclist of your height.
    I don't disagree... to look @ me though, I don't appear big or heavy. I just have quads and a thick midsection. Nevertheless, if I could loose 20lbs thru fitness training, I'd gain endurance by virtue of the training itself and speed thru dropping the 20lbs. If I could get to 170, I'd be one ripped mofo. That's not what I'm after, but by the same token, you don't see many thick elites.

    I'm looking to out run death (for as long as possible) rather than people and I want to/have to have some sort of challenge in front of me. Not to point fingers, but I just don't want to let my body go as many my age often tend to do. Having goals and the means to measure are what will help me progress. I want my 4 boys to follow my lead of fitness too.

    I need/prefer goals that are "out there" a bit. Setting a goal that I can attain in 3 weeks doesn't work. I'd sure like to see improvement in a 3 week span, but as of now, I'd like to be a hot rod by the time I'm 45-46 (just turned 43) and to maintain that status well into my 50s-60s (relative to others my age).

  6. #6
    ganginwood
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    for starters. an elitist would never say.....
    "i don't care if i get passed"
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Aswell
    the 5th poster, ganginwoods, is correct

  7. #7
    gunslinger
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    Quote Originally Posted by ganginwood
    for starters. an elitist would never say.....
    "i don't care if i get passed"
    Sorry... I fixed it.

  8. #8
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    Best thing to do is stay away from racing. That will totally shatter any delusions of being elite. Trust me I know.

  9. #9
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    Ride a Course

    I'm new too MTB'n @ 41. Been doing it for basically 2 years. Before this I played a lot of sports like hockey, broomball, ball hockey, roller hockey and lots of Slo Pitch.
    I thought I was a good player and figured that would mean I do well on the bike.

    I have found that this does NOT necessarily work. I think technically I am very good for only being at it for two years. My motor on the other hand has lots of work to be on the podium in SPORT.

    I think the first thing you should do is go warm up at a local XC course and then try do a practice race. Really hammer. Try pick a day where conditions are good as well. Then compare your lap times to some of the race times of the different categories in your area from past races at you course.
    This will give you an idea of how fast you are !

    Cheers,
    Paul
    Last edited by Rum Runner; 10-22-2009 at 01:22 PM.

  10. #10
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    Elite means nothing if you're not racing. Physically fit or fast seem to be better terms for what you're after. Being physically fit doesn't always equate to being fast.

    Why not try a race or two? That will give you a taste of what it means to ride at even the sport level. You don't have to have the goal of winning in a specific race, for some people finishing is the goal. I've found that you'll never be able to push yourself and realize your true capabilities until you test yourself in a race. When the adrenalin's pumping, you're in oxygen debt, and the scenery's flying by... that's when you're really testing yourself.

    If you're completely against racing, try finding a group of elite class racers and attempt keeping up.

  11. #11
    LMN
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    Hard one to define. Elite generally means among the best.

    Perhaps if you are one of the top 20 XC riders in your state then you may considered yourself an elite level rider.

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    okay... so you don't want to race, but you want some non-timed metric.


    i have to say that the best approach would be to get a power measuring device and then just keep training and setting new goals that are power related (1min, 5min, 20min, etc).

    get the WKO+ software.

    another option is to get a garmin and race yourself on courses. this can be fun because it shows how far ahead or behind you are from yourself in a "virtual race" with whoever created the file.

  13. #13
    Formerly of Kent
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    Quote Originally Posted by strader
    Best thing to do is stay away from racing. That will totally shatter any delusions of being elite. Trust me I know.
    Keep in mind that we live in one of the most competitive states, if not the most competitive state in the US.

    My goal for the next couple of years is to make it to the top 5 or 7 in a Pro race down in Bend when there isn't a US Cup or World Cup race the same weekend.

  14. #14
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    Elite is a very relative term based on "who" you are comparing your performance to. I had ridden mtb's for years with friends but had never raced. I thought of myself as an "elite" based on how I rode versus my riding buddies and other locals. When I did my first race, and got my a$$ handed to me, I realized I was definitely not "elite" by racing standards.

    I now have a coach and am steadily improving, but as other racers will most likely agree, there's no real way to simulate racing speed and intensity outside of racing. I do lots of interval sessions at "race pace", and during those I go as hard as I physically feel like I can. Based on sustained and max hr though, I have never matched my output during a race in training. In my mind, there's no better training for racing, than racing.
    "Confidence is the feeling you have before you fully understand the situation".

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    Quote Originally Posted by strader
    Best thing to do is stay away from racing. That will totally shatter any delusions of being elite. Trust me I know.
    haha... aint that the truth!

  16. #16
    AZ
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    Go for a group ride , you will figure out where you are at pretty quickly if you ride with the faster guys.

  17. #17
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    dirthead: Elite is a very relative term based on "who" you are comparing your performance to.

    Cool, this means I am an elite rider compared to just about any fat, out of shape person out there. Who new?
    My rides:
    Lynskey Ti Pro29 SL singlespeed
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  18. #18
    gunslinger
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    Quote Originally Posted by perryr
    The data can than be calculated based on weight (rider) and compared with the "averages" of different catagory of riders. Racing is the gold standard, but power profiling can get someone in the ballpark:
    http://home.trainingpeaks.com/articl...profiling.aspx
    Very interesting.

  19. #19
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    If you want to know where you rate among other cyclists then do a race or at least join some sort of club. Crossfit and other sites have rowing races. You can compare your time to other people your age. Everything else you can look up online. A good runner does 5k in X amount of time. You should be able to bench press X pounds, do X pushups, X vertical leap, X time doing a wall squat, X pounds deadlift, X pounds squat, etc, etc. Look it up and see how "elite" you are.

  20. #20
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    As defined by the race series here in New England, Elite are the guys that are faster than Expert (Cat 1). Some are semi-pros... they are all crazy fast.
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  21. #21
    BBW
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    To start something objective, according to the ACSM (American College of Sport Medicine) if you want to be above the 99th percentile as far as cardiorespiratory fitness level you should have a VO2 max of 57 ml/Kg/min or above for your age group (40-49)
    Do a GXT (graded exercise test) to find your current fitness level and go from there
    If you are above 99% that is very good to start with (not that will give you a podium by itself though)

  22. #22
    No. Just No.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BBW
    To start something objective, according to the ACSM (American College of Sport Medicine) if you want to be above the 99th percentile as far as cardiorespiratory fitness level you should have a VO2 max of 57 ml/Kg/min or above for your age group (40-49)
    Do a GXT (graded exercise test) to find your current fitness level and go from there
    If you are above 99% that is very good to start with (not that will give you a podium by itself though)
    I doubt that being in the 99th percentile of any measure of fitness within the general population means that person will be "elite" within a sampling of people who are all actually participants within a sport that emphasizes that physical ability. There are more factors at play to be an elite rider than VO2 max, but I think it's safe to say that 57ml/Kg/min would generally leave a rider sucking on dust on the men's side in the pro/elite category even at the regional level.

    To the OP, I think a more reasonable approach would be to find out if you are even at a "basic" level of fitness compared to other competitive participants in the sport before worrying about setting a goal to reach "elite" abilities. Who knows? You may be a gifted superstar who needs significant challenges to be worth of your talents, but then again you could also discover that within the segment of riders who actually spend some purposeful time trying to become or stay fast, that you're not even up as far as the bottom of the charts yet.

  23. #23
    gunslinger
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    Quote Originally Posted by BBW
    To start something objective, according to the ACSM (American College of Sport Medicine) if you want to be above the 99th percentile as far as cardiorespiratory fitness level you should have a VO2 max of 57 ml/Kg/min or above for your age group (40-49)
    Perfect... that's what I was looking for. As well as the GXT. I'm cool w/ achieving a number or score - that's a good enough measure - you can't BS that stuf, well if you can, I wouldn't... I won't find the podium cuz I don't have the time or desire to race - I have a full life and I'm not just about MTBing - not even close. I'm down w/ working to improve and I've got all the tools to train.

    MTBing is certainly a good outlet and very dynamic when compared to the erg or treadmill or my spin bike, but it's simply a component of a larger picture. I want to be a strong all-around athlete and multi-dimensional; meaning I can do a lot of things well. I want to be able to hammer while snowboarding, climb on the MTB, row a mean 500M, etcetera. I can't do any of them full-time, but I now know, if only roughly at this point, how to measure my fitness and all the computers (HRM, rowing/treadmill data) can be used to develop me further. If estimates put me at a high level, great. If they prove I need to work harder that's even greaterer.

    I knew when I wrote the OP that "elite" wasn't the right word because it defines a group or athletes, IMO, far younger than me; I simply didn't know the right word to use - my bad. I wanted to get the point across that I want to develop into an "out of the norm" 40something athlete.

    I found this on C2's site:

    http://www.concept2.com/us/interacti...ors/vo2max.asp

    This is a great place to start. Thank you.

  24. #24
    BBW
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    Quote Originally Posted by Circlip
    I doubt that being in the 99th percentile of any measure of fitness within the general population means that person will be "elite" within a sampling of people who are all actually participants within a sport that emphasizes that physical ability. There are more factors at play to be an elite rider than VO2 max, but I think it's safe to say that 57ml/Kg/min would generally leave a rider sucking on dust on the men's side in the pro/elite category even at the regional level.

    To the OP, I think a more reasonable approach would be to find out if you are even at a "basic" level of fitness compared to other competitive participants in the sport before worrying about setting a goal to reach "elite" abilities. Who knows? You may be a gifted superstar who needs significant challenges to be worth of your talents, but then again you could also discover that within the segment of riders who actually spend some purposeful time trying to become or stay fast, that you're not even up as far as the bottom of the charts yet.
    Just re-read what I wrote...... "to start with", "objective", "will not give you a podium" AND most important for his age group since he will not compete against 21 year old cyclists

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by serious
    dirthead: Elite is a very relative term based on "who" you are comparing your performance to.

    Cool, this means I am an elite rider compared to just about any fat, out of shape person out there. Who new?
    Kinda, I guess. What I was really trying to say is that in any mtb race series you have the Cat 3's, 2's, 1's, and Pro's. I would call the fastest Cat 1's and Pro's "elite", for that group. But if you took those same racers and put them in a World Cup XC race, they'd get lapped. So if we say "elite" is only the absolute fastest of the fast, then there are only a handful of people that fit that definition.

    Let me use another sport as an example. Here in Phoenix, there are 2 pro triathletes (1 male, 1 female), that win virtually every regional triathlon they enter from sprint to half IM distance. I would call them "elite". They both have full time jobs and that provide the majority of their income. When they race against "real" pros, who make a living racing, they get worked. So where do you draw the line between elite and really really good? That's why I was making the reference that "elite" is relative to the group. Within a group of truly elite athletes, there will be separation as well.

    I know, I'm making it to complicated, but I'm really bored at work.
    "Confidence is the feeling you have before you fully understand the situation".

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by selector
    The basics...

    • I'm a guy that challenges me
    • I'm not a racer or outwardly competitive guy
    • I compete w/ and against myself
    • I don't care who passes me or who I pass, so long as I don't pass me! (but if you do pass me, I'll throw rocks then sit and cry)
    .
    If this is a multiple choice test, I'll pick d (specifically the part in brackets) as the comment that was not made by the same person.

    Find a few different loops and keep track of your results. Don't expect to always improve due to weather, trail, your 3 Fs (fitness, freshness, fatness) and other factors, but look for a trend of faster times.

    Quote Originally Posted by selector
    IMy questions:
    What would/should a 43 year old elite be able to do?
    How could a 43 year old elite measure performace w/o racing?

    I'm simply looking for a means to judge fitness and develop a set of goals to challenge me.
    Again, one who only wanted to compete against himself wouldn't care what the definition of elite was.

    Perhaps in this case, elite should mean 95-100% of your genetic potential.

    If you really want to know though, I believe this has already been suggested. You either have to race at least once, or at the very least, find a race loop/course (GPS is a good tool for this) and ride it on your own, so that you can compare your results to others posted online. Careful, though - this can become a bit of an obsession:

    Race Related

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Circlip
    I doubt that being in the 99th percentile of any measure of fitness within the general population means that person will be "elite" within a sampling of people who are all actually participants within a sport that emphasizes that physical ability. There are more factors at play to be an elite rider than VO2 max, but I think it's safe to say that 57ml/Kg/min would generally leave a rider sucking on dust on the men's side in the pro/elite category even at the regional level.
    Well said.

    There are many factors involved, from a pure fitness standpoint (let's leave technical and mental ability out for now), and VO2max is just one of them. However, as stated, if you're at 57ml/kg/min, you're bringing a spork to a gun fight.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by BBW
    Just re-read what I wrote...... "to start with", "objective", "will not give you a podium" AND most important for his age group since he will not compete against 21 year old cyclists
    Nothing wrong with the info you provided. The OP has also since re-stated his question to be geared more toward level of general fitness within the population. However, when asking the original question as it was phrased on a forum entitled 'XC Racing and Training" a reasonable person would expect to see responses provided in that context. I'd guess it would not be unusual at all to have racers at the top of the Sport/Cat 2 class in just about all the age groups be at or above the "excellent" level defined by that chart, not even getting into the Cat1/Expert or Pro racers.

    Your comment about 21 year olds isn't particularly on the ball either if you look at the ages of a typical group of "elite" level competitors within endurance sports including XC racing. I race against several 40-ish riders who would be way off the VO2 max chart you referenced, although admittedly 40+ is really pushing the age boundary even for the top tier of riders in that age bracket to still compete effectively at a top regional level, though not impossible.

  29. #29
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    To the OP: you're local and not that far from me. I'd love to go out riding with you. Anytime really as I unfortuneately don't have a job right now. I have raced in the local intermountain cup (www.intermountaincup.com) and did o.k.. Really I'd just like to show you around. Like one of the other posters said, if you raced on one of the local courses just by yourself and compared the times to the actual race, you might know where you stand. Just a thought. We also do group rides although tonight will be the last hurraah before winter. Pm me if you'd like to go. (oh, I'm also into dirt biking so if you still use that as an outlet.....)

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke
    Keep in mind that we live in one of the most competitive states, if not the most competitive state in the US.

    My goal for the next couple of years is to make it to the top 5 or 7 in a Pro race down in Bend when there isn't a US Cup or World Cup race the same weekend.


    Ummm, I'd have to disagree with that, California and Colorado pretty much dominate all aspects of cycling if you look at quality at all levels not just elites.
    "Do not touch the trim"

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rivet


    Ummm, I'd have to disagree with that, California and Colorado pretty much dominate all aspects of cycling if you look at quality at all levels not just elites.
    No way, east coast riders rule all levels

  32. #32
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    Defining "Elite" is about as productive as defining "a sport." Either would make a great conversation while sitting around a campfire with a keg of beer nearby. Good luck with it though.
    Oh sh!+ just force upgraded to cat1. Now what?
    Best thing about an ultra marathon? I just get to ride my bike for X hours!

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlliKat
    Defining "Elite" is about as productive as defining "a sport."
    Nearly as productive as your ph'cked commentary...

    I got what I needed.... later.

  34. #34
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    FWIW, when I was racing XC, "Elite" was the category between Pro & Expert.

    As far as power measuring devices, you might want to wait until Q1 or so of next year as power measuring pedals are supposed to become available. Should be way cheaper than the competition &, supposedly, offer the accuracy of the gold standard in power measuring devices, SRM, @ +/-1.5%. Here's the link.

    If you'd like an inexpensive alternative in the meantime try eBay. I just bought my first used power measuring device there as part of a Polar S720i set. It's wired but that's actually a plus for me as I intend to use a front dynamo hub which due to its electromagnetic field tends to cause interference with wireless signals.

    Steep learning curve but definitely worth it for the price. Eventually I'll make full use of it's capabilities but right now I'm just getting used to it.

    Another FWIW, I used to ride with a former FL motorcycle XC champ & his bike handling skills were excellent. Not only that, so was his fitness. He moved up into the Expert category quite quickly. All by, pretty much, training on his own. He wasn't coached & didn't have any sort of regular training program that I know of. He just rode his ATB. He's about 5'8" & 160lbs & took up ATB'ing as rehab for his ACL injuries.

  35. #35
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    Elite is what you see when you look at my Avatar! Yeah, that's me tearing it up like only a handful of people in the entire world can do. J/K, elite resembles NOTHING that can be seen in my Avatar. Well, maybe the trail itself. To the OP, it sounds as though you just want to be really fit. You can do that through just riding and following a good diet. If the only person that you are interested in beating is yourself I would do as others have suggested and get a Garmin GPS cyclocomputer. You can track yourself on a given route/trail and then train to beat yourself. I know that you said that you aren't really interested in racing but maybe you should consider trying out an endurance race. The number of entrants is usually pretty large and it "seems" that there is usually only a handful of guys that are actually racing to win. Most are just challenging themselves to make it to the finish.

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    I should've mentioned that it's been reported that the Polar PM (Power Meter) can be inaccurate in different cogs/chainrings. Not an issue with my setup because I'm using an IGH (Internally Geared Hub) so the chainring & cog sizes are fixed. As I wrote in my earlier post, this is my first PM so I don't have any point of comparison. But, for right now, at least, I'm not really that focused on absolute accuracy. I just want to get a sense of my power output &, perhaps, relate it to my HR.

    Here's a link to an online review of PMs.

    There's also a book "Training and Racing with a Power Meter" that has a chapter devoted to compariing the various PMs. Just keep in mind that the book was published in 2006 so the comparison may not include current offerings. It's a highly rated book & relatively inexpensive.

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    I'll define elite for you:




  38. #38
    mtbr member
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    Motivation...

    I know you said he got what you needed in terms of metrics but it sounds to me that what you are really looking for is motivation to stay in shape. If that's the case, you should really reconsider on XC racing. If you have a local race series, the time commitment isn't any greater than just going for a ride and I can tell you there's no bigger motivation than getting passed by a bunch of guys in sport who look like they shouldn't be able to pass you.

    I race mainly for the motivation factor. All winter when I'm hauling my ass onto the trainer, I'm just thinking I don't want the guys who were slower than me passing me next year and during those really hard efforts I'm dreaming about passing that one guy who's always just a bit faster than me. The upside is I keep getting fitter every year and when I'm not in a race, riding is a lot more fun. I can ride longer, faster and clear more obstacles every year.

    Just a thought.

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