Communication With Your Coach
As a coach I get a huge amount of information from a power file, and they're so easy to email. The combination of seeing watts, speed, heart rate and cadence over time is invaluable. It answers so many questions and I can work closely with my athletes to hone in on their riding, racing and pacing skills.
I can see days when their power was low and heart rate high and tell them to back down. The best days are when athletes tell me "I couldn't get my heart rate up today during the ride" and I look at their power file to see personal best mean maximal power outputs. Those are the files I like to see very close to peak race time.
Training Load Tracking
Every athlete has an optimal training load at which they perform best. Less than optimal will not maximize performance and more than optimal is an overtraining disaster. With a power meter you can track training load and take much of the guesswork out of peaking for a specific event on a specific date.
There are several metrics you can use to track training load. The best is the Training Stress Score (TSS) calculated by CyclingPeaks software. Tally up the total TSS produced during a given period, season, month or week, identify your optimal load and track TSS produced in training to be sure you stay under that cap.
Peak Performance Planning
Using TSS as your training load metric you can compare your season-long chronic training load (CTL) with your recent or acute training load (ATL). To peak perfectly a high CTL and low ATL is desirable. With power data and TSS scores you can manipulate ATL and CTL to time your peak perfectly. Again much of the guesswork is removed.
Technical Riding Skills Improvement
Maybe you think you know how to draft, but the power meter will show you exactly where the best draft is found. Just a couple of inches can often make a 50-watt difference. This can be the difference between making the lead pack and being gapped off into a chase pack. For mountain bikers, the power meter can be used to dial in technical riding efficiently by learning how to ride the same trail at the same speed with a lower average power.
In triathlons, time trials and mountain bike races it is crucial to pace yourself accurately from the start. There's no pack to sit in and recover from early mistakes. The power meter is a huge advantage at the start of these types of events where you can have a cap set on the watts to ensure you start at a pace you can maintain for the duration.
In long distance events, such as ultra mountain bike races and Ironman triathlons, all of the pacing mistakes are in the first two hours and those mistakes are paid for many times over in the final two hours of the race. I'll bet you've never, ever heard anybody say, "I just went too fast in those final two hours." I'm sure everybody has gone out too fast at some time in some race. Unless you're ignoring your data, a power meter will prevent you from being this dumb ever again.Search for a cycling event.