Using all these training tools allows you to collect and then download the data to online platforms such as TrainingPeaks, Strava and RidewithGPS where you can review, analyze, and share where you went, how hard you rode, and the training improvements you have made. By capturing and reviewing this cycling data, often alongside a coach, you can make informed decisions as to what your training schedule should look like next week, how to improve your weaknesses and capitalize on your strengths, and how you can modify your route to better suit a workout, or to plan a big adventure.
Learning how to build and load routes onto your cycling computer is a powerful tool. It eliminates the need to stop in order to look at the map in your pocket or on your phone, it gives you information on turns, gradient, and surface type, and provides confidence when riding in unfamiliar places. In a race situation, having the course loaded onto your computer allows you to track your progress, plan for the next big climb and navigate when the race course signage isn’t sufficient.
There are loads of benefits to training with data, however, there is a point where you just need to turn it off, or at least tune it out. Having too much data can be overwhelming, take the fun out of riding, and consume a lot of time. It is important to use data to inform our riding, but not to control it. Knowing what your efforts feel like, rather than relying on what the power number or heart rate on the screen is, is an important skill to learn. Try turning off the screen that shows these cycling metrics next time you head out for a fun endurance ride. Just ride, have fun and capture (but don’t worry about) the numbers.