Have you ever seen a power profile from a pro cyclist? Ever wonder how you match up on the Power/Watts per Kilo scale verses the pros? I have… And, it ain’t exactly pretty.
Just a few weeks ago when I was in Calgary to visit with my pal and Bikeridr Co-Blogger, Ken Hurd, we decided to do a power test using my Saris Power Tap. *** Disclaimer: Neither of us took it too seriously, given Ken had been sick and off the bike for quite a while – and we’d enjoyed some good wine the night before. But, we figured it’d still be fun, and good for a laugh. The test we chose was a 1 minute max effort, followed by an 8 minute max effort. I had done both in the past, so I had some benchmark data we could compare things too. I went first, and put in a solid effort, successfully pushing myself into that near delirious, narrowed-visioned, and slightly confused state, only races and power tests truly deliver.
- 1 min avg/peak: 447 watts
- 8 min avg/peak: 234 watts
Not terrible, for me. In fact, these kind of numbers put me within a stone’s throw of where I was fitness-wise 2 years ago, when I was training semi-regularly in prep for the TR3.
- 1 min avg/peak: 516 watts
- 8 min avg/peak: 222 watts
Not terrible either, and given how long Ken had been off the bike, and how he was still recovering from being sick as a dog, it’s darn good – must be his Nordic genes holding it together for him.
Now, that’s our data, which is really sort of meaningless without some context – where do we sit in the scheme of things?
First off, I’ll compare our data to that of a friend of ours, Tyler Waye. He’s not a cyclist at all, though. He’s more of an all-around fitness guy. He does the odd ride now and then to mix things up, but he focuses on cross-training, like weights, sprinting work and other short to mid-distance running (half marathon distance) activities. Overall, he’s probably the fittest guy I know, so how does a guy like this do on a cycling power test?
- 1 min avg/peak: 355 watts
- 8 min avg/peak: 207 watts
So, I think this gives us a pretty good idea of the ‘week-end warrior’ level of cyclist – not a racer, but a fit guy who maybe gets out for a couple solid rides a week with his mates, and likes to hammer it.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have our pal, Mike Sarnecki, aka Sarns. He definitely qualifies as a high level of athlete. He trains regularly, watches his diet and gets his ZZZZZs in. He races both XC mountain and cyclocross in the Men’s Elite category.
- 1 min avg/peak: 769 watts
- 10 min avg/peak: 355 (Mike didn’t have an 8 min test value)
And, there you go… Mike’s 10 min value is the same as Tyler’s 1 min value… That puts things in some perspective, and clearly guys like Ken and I have lots of room for improvement before we’ll be lining up against Mike at an ABA race, or Team Rapha Focus comes a courting.
Lastly, I want lace in the pro level, because isn’t that what we’re really all interested in – how do we stack up against the world’s best?
Well, this kind of comparison is unfortunately a little tricky – because the power data for pro athletes isn’t published that often, and when it is, based on what I found, it’s not based on the same time metrics. So, you’ll need to work with me a little here and do a little mathematical extrapolation and creative guesstimation…
To start, here’s a quick look at Ryan Trebon’s power. Based on a race effort at the Planet Bike USGP that lasted just over 1 hour, his avg/peak output was 424 watts! 424 watts for over an hour… I just had to say that again. Crazy! And if that doesn’t make your head spin, he also had a max power output of 1431 watts! Clearly, Trebon is a monster and there shouldn’t be any wonder he’s a cyclocross legend.
Another fun way to look at this is through the lens of watts per kilo. Take a more recent power test that I did, based on a 20 min effort where my avg/peak was 234 watts (I’ll point out that I was better rested, and hadn’t been drinking wine the night before for this one). Based on that 234 watt value, and my weight at the time, which was 162lbs, or 73.5 kilos, that gives me a watts/kg value of 3.18 watts/kg. If we take that and put it up against the data I found on Lance Armstrong’s famous l’Alpe D’huez climb in 2004, where he pounded out 6.79 watts/kg, I am once again forced to come to hard terms with my own inadequacies.
Next, let’s look at something more concrete. I found this chart that provides a broad picture of the watts/kg values for both male and female racers, given multiple time metrics, ranging from 5 seconds, to 20mins. It then provides an estimate of where those values match up in the world of cycling, using categories from ‘untrained’ to a ‘World Champion’.
I’m not sure how accurate this chart is, but based on my own limited knowledge, it’s a reasonable guideline listing a World Champ at 6+ watts/kg based on a 20 min metric, and placing my watts/kg value of 3.18 down in the area of Cat 5-4.
If you have come across any other cool published power data for pros, send it our way. We’d love to check it out!