I am a 34 year old Cat 4 roadie in his first season of racing, 6ft 4in tall, 180lb. After making great strides this year and really reading a ton on training, I was thinking of making some purchases for the winter training season (going to be using the Joe Friel Cycling Bible as a guide). I currently use a CycleOps fluid trainer.
Power meter - Joe Friel recommends this as a worthwhile purchase, but it is certainly expensive ($799 for the PowerTap and $350 or so for the Polar Power Option). Is a power meter really worth the money, or, is perceived effort a fairly good approximation of effort? Additionally, is there a power meter you would recommend and why?
Computer trainer - specifically, the CompuTrainer. Again, it's the money. At $1,300 or so, a very steep investment (could be saving for a new bike). However, it appears that the quality of the indoor workout (I live in the Northeast) would be improved through the use of such a trainer. Would you go with the traditional trainer or make the investment in a computer trainer and which would you recommend and why?
Dave Palese replies:
A power meter is a very good investment. I would recommend it over the CompuTrainer, since it will give you feedback from the real world, i.e., your actual road training.
I recommend the Power Tap, (1) because it is a solid piece of equipment, and (2) because the price is right! The Power Tap, combined with your current trainer and a library of cycling videos should make logging the winter training a bit easier.
When using power, just remember not to ignore the other feedback you get from your body while training. I have been a big critic of riders putting too much emphasis on their heart rate numbers and ignoring the other messages that they are getting from their bodies. Learn to use all three intensity gauges (power, heart rate, and perceived effort) intelligently. Listen to your body and your training will be much more effective.
And remember, no gadget is a substitute for focused goals and a good work ethic.