Help me understand Strava power curves...

Check out the attached power curve, it's composed of two screen caps from the same ride, stacked on the same image.

Apparently on the ride in question the cyclist rode at:

  • 291W for 12min 55s
  • 270W for 9min 10s

But presumably if you can ride for 291W for 12min 55s, you also rode at least 291W for 9min 10s  ... right? ... 🤷‍♂️  

What are these dips? How am I meant to interpret this data?

I would expect power curves to either be flat (usually a result of ERG mode on a trainer) or constantly falling as the time period increases.





4 comentarios
  • This has always puzzled me as well. I don't see how it would be possible to have anything but a level or descending curve 

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  • This is a common "issue" among many different apps that display a power curve.

    How I understand it, and I'm thinking out loud here. A power curve isn't your power sorted by highest to lowest. It's based on best periods of time.

    So if your best 9 consecutive minute effort ended with you at 270W. Maybe the 10th minute of this stretch dropped substantially. But you had another stretch where your best 12 consecutive minutes ended with 291W

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  • It's exactly as Jay L describes it, and you can see it easily by clicking on the curve. It's always a consecutive portion of the ride and that portion will be highlighted. The rising curve doesn't have to come from a completely other portion of the ride by the way: If you have a high effort, low effort and then a high effort again, the power average beginning from the first high effort will drop in the recreational part and rise again in the second high effort.

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  • Hello Jay,

    The resultant power value over any 'consecutive minute effort' is the average of instantaneous power over that period, not the 'final value'  (The final value, if you could define one, would be the integral of the power over that time - i.e. Joules.)

    With this in mind, 12 consecutive (and contiguous) minutes that you averaged 291W over, will by logic, include a 9-minute period that you averaged at least 291W also.

    It is true that in many cases find a 9-minute period in that 12minutes that averaged less, but the power plot is defined as a plot of maximums. Following the same logic it can also be said that if there is a 9-minute period with less than 291W average (in that 12min) there will also be a period with higher then 291W to account for it.


    I think you're confusing the power curve with instantaneous power here (which isn't what Jay or myself are talking about)

    Not sure though, it's a hard topic to discuss ...

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