Nowadays almost everyone is obsessed with stats and figures . For many there is no such thing anymore as going out training on the bike . There has to be a programme and corresponding figures .
Heart rate used to be the main determination of training intensity and performance but now it has been overtaken by power and watts as power measurement devices have become more affordable and accessible .
Figures have become all important , Vo2 max , threshold , 10 second wattage now mean much more than the old ‘ my legs feel good today’ and performances have improved as training time has become more efficient .
This is a good thing but must always be kept in perspective . When responding to , or attacking in a race , the worst thing a rider can do is to look down at their screen to glance at their figures . Riders seeing a number which is close to their ‘max’ take these figures on board and gaps open up , in the wrong direction . Your max on the day of a test may not be your absolute max in race conditions two months later .
2 riders not obsessed with figures are Mark Cavendish and Sean Kelly .
When Cav was working under the BCF system the head coach Simon Jones was unimpressed with the young rider who was not achieving the desired figures . In tests Cav was not putting out good enough wattage numbers so on paper he was not going to achieve much . He has proven those tests wrong in the biggest possible way .
These tests are not a new phenomenon . Back in the late eighties teams had begun testing their riders and analysing the figures . Sean Kelly was at the height of his career and winning more of the biggest races than any of his contemporaries . He was the greatest cyclist in the World at the time and during one test session the coaches were perplexed . They asked how he could be winning so much when his figures did not correspond to such results . Kelly sat back and said ‘ that machine measures power , heart rate , Vo2 max and all that , but what it doesn’t measure is how much pain you can suffer ‘ . Their question was answered !!!