When you ride a bike, in order to get anywhere, you have to pedal.
When you pedal, two things happen:
First, you burn energy in your body, which is measured in Calories, or if you have a power meter, it's measured in KiloJoules.
When you burn that energy, you generate Power. Power is measured in Watts.
Generating Power by burning Energy is what gets you down the road, whatever your reason or destination. When you burn more energy, you generate more power. And when you generate more power, you travel faster, further, and stronger. Most recreational cyclists can generate 100-200 watts, or 1 to 2 incandescent light bulbs, for an hour. At the Tour, they can generate 350-500 watts or more! Can you imagine?
It really is that simple. Burning energy, to generate power, is what gets you healthy and fit. When your body adapts, well, you get to burn MORE energy, generate MORE power, and get MORE FIT! I won't say it's a limitless cycle, but it's part of what makes bicycling so much fun, and it's my favorite part of being a coach - seeing people's bodies and spirits change through fitness, done by measuring energy, training to improve power, and sticking with it!
The cyclists at the Tour de France burn a LOT of Energy, but that's because they need to generate a LOT of POWER! People can spend a lot of money on fancy wheels, light and aero bikes, and cool shoes and helmets, but in the end, if you really want to be a better cyclist, you need to:
Burn more Energy
Generate more Power
Recover from these efforts, so you can adapt and do it again!
We'll discuss energy and power again later, but for now, just remember this fundamental: Burn energy, generate power, get more fit.
Repeat ad infinitum!
Cycling Center Dallas and Online Bike Coach have been pioneers in helping regular cyclists understand the benefits of training with power, and measuring energy in an accurate way. Download our app and register for a class today, so you can see it for yourself!