Understanding the Graphs, What They Show, and How to Use Them To Be a Better Cyclist.

What can I see on my graphs during my work out? 

There are a TON of cool features about your workout that you can view in real-time on your workout Noel Wallace - 2015-01-08T08-26-22 - Snapshot_copy1graphs. Here are a few:

·         Your Power Output

·         The load you are receiving

·         Your cadence

·         Your speed

·         Your heart rate

·         Your W prime depletion

·         Your O2 saturation and Hemoglobin(if you are  using the Moxy)

·         Your Critical Power Line (FTP)

How can the information on these graphs make me a better cyclist? 

Now that you have a visual of what exactly is going on during your ride, you can react to it and get instant feedback. You see immediately how smooth you are pedaling, and can attempt to improve that (cadence and power line – but be patient! This is harder than you may think).  You can see how you paced the last interval and how that affected your cadence, and ability to successfully complete it. You can see what is happening with your ability to recover between intervals (W Prime). Based on what you’re seeing during your workout, you can adjust to improve your efficiency, pacing and approach to better meet your goals. 


Coaches look at pedaling efficiency as something to help you gauge and improve upon using the graphs


One of the more basic, but most important elements of improving as a cyclist, is to become more efficient.  Since you can SEE your power and your cadence line right in front of you, it’s easy to determine if there are a lot of fluctuations, or if your power line stays pretty smooth.  

Take a look at the graph below.  The light blue line represents the power output and the pink line represents cadence, or rpm.  Notice how much the light blue line fluctuates?  The cadence is also not smooth…. or steady.  Since these two elements are related, the constant fluctuation of this rider’s cadence is resulting in a power output that is neither smooth or efficient.  This means wasted energy and lost momentum.

notsmooth (1)

Now, look that this next graph.  Notice how the the power output is much more steady, and follows the load very closely?  The cadence is also steady, except for one data dropout around minute 36. 

Developing the ability to pedal smoothly as well as keeping your power output more steady and consistent will save energy, and make you a much more efficient rider. If you are constantly letting your cadence drop and then chasing it back down, you are losing momentum.  To get the momentum back, you have to go harder that what you would have otherwise needed to do . All those spikes in effort will suck your energy tank dry much more quickly.

By developing the ability to maintain a smooth consistent power output, you will be able to ride longer before fatiguing.  You will also be able to ride faster at the same effort level.  


Here is another example of two wattage lines to compare

8minuteinterval noelcropped

This is an interval from a workout one of our veterans did where the rider did a really great job pacing and staying smooth during an 8-minute rising intensity effort.  As you can see there are very few fluctuations in his power line. Compare that to the next image, where the cyclist’s power during the interval fluctuated greatly.

In both of the images, Heart Rate is shown in bright red. If you look at the rise and fall of the heart rate in image 1, you can see that the cyclist is really pushing himself, and his heart rate is NOT recovering completely. Every interval yields a new high by a beat or two, and every recovery stays high by a beat or two. This is good information – it helps cyclists understand the relationship between heart rate and power output; in other words, cyclists end up working harder and harder INTERNALLY to get power OUT to the pedals.

Look also at Image 2’s green line. That’s called “Saturated Muscle Oxygen”. When a muscle is stressed, different things happen. In this case, because the intervals are hard, the amount of oxygen in the muscle is being steadily decreased. The results are individual, but once your CCD Coaches know what your highest SmO2 is, they can ‘tune’ the workout to get you in to different ‘zones’ for training. So now, we can see what’s going on INSIDE (Heart Rate, Muscle Oxygen, even Total Hemoglobin Counts), as well as OUTSIDE (Cadence, Power, Speed when outdoors).


The last example we will give you is an example of a failed interval


Looking at this part of this cyclist’s workout, we can see that this rider failed on the last two intervals shown.  But why?  Well, you can see the red line that represents their W prime reach zero.   What this tells us is that this was a successful interval and overall workout in taxing this rider to the limits of their capacity, and they did a great job in accomplishing the work required to get to that point. It also tells us NOT to expect the cyclist to recover for the last interval in such a short time. This rider would have successfully accomplished the workout goals for this day.  We don’t always want to expire cyclists’ W’ – we DO want to set goals that adequately fatigue and help riders adapt for better loads, more frequent intervals, etc.

All of this is viewable on-screen, and the Graphs complement the Dashboards.   This is one more reason why the workouts at Cycling Center Dallas are so effective; we study this, we teach and train it ourselves, and our ability to interpret this information in real-time is unique.