Watt Weenies, the Grouse Grind, & Athletic Data Dumps

There is a timely Gina Kolata (she’s becoming a must-read for me) piece in today’s NY Times about how athletes are increasingly becoming data junkies, from heart-rate monitors to power meters. There is even a name for people overcome with this sort of thing, “watt weenies”. (A few friends and I created a now-defunct online company a few years ago to service these people. Darn, early again!)

Anyway, I just spent way too much time in the last twenty-four hours looking at data I put together analyzing completion time by power output for a hill climb (the Grouse Grind, a steep 853m of vertical in 2.9km of trail) near Vancouver, British Columbia. I’ve been trying to figure out why my times are so bad lately (I used to be able to do it in 39 minutes, and now I struggle to complete it in 45 minutes). Is it my weight? Age? Power output? So I’ve been buried in performance data, looking at the relationship between higher power outputs (two minutes faster every 25 watts) versus the impact of losing weight (12 seconds faster every pound shedded), and so on.

For better or worse, Gina pretty much wrote about me in her piece today. Watt weenie. Ouch.


  1. I am surprised she did not mention this Polar product in the article…
    If an all in one cycling package is what you are interested in go no further than this is gizmo…
    I have been using this for a few years and love the software to graph it all. This does everything including power and will graph it all for you.
    There are better power meters out there, the Polar one is not quite as accurate as others — measuring the chain tension — but it will certainly suffice.
    The ultimate cycling tool is the SRM. It think you can even hook up HR as well. All the pros use this one.

  2. The downside of all this data (I have an SRM) is that it’s easy to start sacrificing riding time for playtime with the data – which is a key reason for leaving the SRM on the TT bike.