I liked this book, but I certainly did not love it. Thus the 4-star rating. Over the past summer I got talked into training for, and entering, an Ironman 70.3 event to be held in June, 2014. The woman who talked me into rehabilitating my 51-year-old body for the event has completed two full-length Ironmans at age 45 while holding down a full-time job, and she uses a power meter in her training on the bike. I went for a bike ride with her last Spring and she was killing me on the hills. I decided her way of training with a power meter might be something I'd like to learn more about. So I got a rear hub power meter (along with a device to collect the data), built it into a wheel, and threw it on my bike. Of course, this didn't do much for me since I had no idea how the power meter could help me in my training efforts.
As a kid I was a highly trained competitive cyclist. I excelled at racing on the track (velodrome) and on the roads doing criteriums. I never bulked up too much, so I could compete reasonably well in road and cyclocross events, too. However, I NEVER performed well in time trialing whether on the track or the road. What I have gathered from using my power meter, reading this book I'm reviewing, and comparing what the book explains to what I used to do when training on my bike as a kid, is that power meters are great for enabling the user to accurately classify his or her training rides as either: (1) junk miles, (2) slow endurance miles, (3) tempo or quality training miles, (4) race pace miles, or (5) sprint or super high intensity miles. Instead of classifying or categorizing your rides based on a heart rate monitor or your perceived intensity level, you simply need to look at your head device readout to see how you are doing in watts/power during your ride or study the data file when you download it to your PC at home.
I have found my power meter to be a really good training tool to use when I am riding on an indoor trainer. That is where I can easily figure out what gears I can handle and what gears are too big for me to use currently. And every gear I drop my chain onto while maintaining an average cadence of something like 93 or 95 rpm has an associated power rating in watts as long as I stay on the indoor trainer. So let's say I can pedal a 43x17 at 93 rpm on my indoor trainer for an hour and get an average power reading of 200 watts. And let's assume if I shift up to a 43X16 I'll ultimately struggle toward the end of the hour. As far as I'm concerned my tempo or quality training miles will be done using a 43x17 for a few weeks until I get comfortable with that gear. But the interesting thing to keep in mind is that I don't really care about the 43x17 gear ratio - instead, I care about the associated power number, i.e., 200 watts. That number approximates about 85% to 90% of one's race pace intensity which the authors call Functional Threshold Power (FTP). And the entire book focuses on how to test to find your FTP and then how to create training plans based on your FTP. And guess what they say I should do to figure out my FTP. You guessed it, they want me to do time trials. Ouch!!
I would have enjoyed the book much better if the focus has not been on FTP, but instead had been on the five or so power zones and how thinking in terms of those zones can really help you devise a very beneficial and economical training plan regarding your cycling exploits. I would have liked the book better if it had ignored commentary regarding heart rate monitors and using them as a training tool. This book was supposed to be about power meters - not heart rate monitors. And I definitely would have liked the book better if the authors had stuck to the topic at hand - power meters - and NOT made the book into such a marketing piece for their training and consulting company.
The book is better than just OK (i.e., 3-stars) because it fills a niche that really is not covered by a lot of books. It certainly covers the material its title claims it will, but I don't think it necessarily does a good job of educating the reader. Let me explain. My hunch is that the reader will feel compelled to go out and try to figure out his or her FTP. He might be able to figure it out. He might not? But if he or she trains properly that FTP number is going to change within 4 weeks or so. Then another test, and so on. This will work, but for me it is not the best approach to follow. And will the average reader sufficiently comprehend what is described in this book so he or she can devise their own approach? I don't think so. 4 stars!