Question: I use the stationary bike at the gym but I don’t know what the “watts” counter does. What’s a watt? — Steve C.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: A watt is a measurement of the power you’re producing. It tells you how much force you apply to the pedals over time.
When making an attempt at the hour record, pros can produce between 400 and 450 watts for a full 60 minutes. Pro riders who are hammering up short hills can generate more than 600 watts. Sprinters tally well over 1,000 during their surge to the finish line.
Watts can be measured while riding in real conditions, on a stationary bike at health clubs or on high-tech home trainers such as the CompuTrainer.
There are any number of power meters available today for your bike. Typically, they are either based in the hub of your rear wheel, or based in “strain” gauges located in your pedal spindles. At least one option is a computer-based model that uses complex data readings and calculations to compute your power numbers.