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How to analyze a MTB ride with Strava, TrainingPeaks and BrakeAce

I’ve lost track of the number of MTB rides that I’ve analyzed.

It’s in the thousands.

My first ride analysis software was Power Agent. This was a free software that came with PowerTap hub-based power meters. I must admit that in 2008 I really had no idea what I was looking at, but it was a good start.

Good old Power Agent! It was not bad at all 🙂

See, before this, we didn’t have ‘ride data’. At least not any that was affordable to my poor ass.

What we did have then, was HR monitors. I had heard of units that could be uploaded to the computer, but I didn’t do that or have the option. All I could really do was see my HR at the time, then see my average between button pushes. It wasn’t high tech and it didn’t really do much.

But between 2008 and 2010, I became hooked on power meters. By 2011 I had a disc PowerTap for my MTB. The next year I had the first Quarq MTB power meter.

The rest is history.

Still loving that prototype power meter!

But then what?

Well, we knew for a long time that power meters weren’t the end-all be-all for MTB.

After all, there is this massive component of MTB, broadly called skill.

Pedaling doesn’t win MTB races outright.

I mean, yeah, it definitely is priority in XC, no doubt. But in DH, it’s possible to win a World Cup race with no pedaling at all. What gives??

[Check out the research page to see the project that jump started this whole thing. We looked at coasting, pedaling, oxygen uptake, pacing, vibrations, etc. to get to where we are today]

Back in 2014 when we had started looking VERY closely at MTB

Analyzing races with a hunch

Analyzing Seamus Powell’s National Championship winning enduro race power file was a waste of time in a way.

He had trained with power for many years, and we knew he was fit. Power did tells us this, so it was 100% key to training and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

But on the race stages, there was almost NO pedaling apart from a few sprints.

These sprints didn’t win the race, but rather being fit allowed him to pump, pedal, focus on good lines, hit his braking points and ride fast WITHOUT GETTING CROSS-EYED OR TIRED.

So apart from training and making sure he was fit, we couldn’t say for certain where or why he went slow or fast.

We were left to guessing.