I shed a small tear inside when I realized my heart rate monitor strap was dying. Barely a year old and it was dropping signal and giving me erratic readings. I changed the battery. Re-paired it a million times. Gave it a break. Gave it a good wash. Then, one cold, windy run, there was nothing. According to my watch my heart was broken. I wasn’t tearful over my faulty sensor but, on that cold, windy morning run, my watch was telling me a hard truth.
I wasn’t just shedding a tear over the death of my heart rate monitor strap. It was the second technological break-up within a few weeks and, to be honest, I wasn’t really over the first one. My last crash in December had been the nail in the coffin for my PowerTap power meter. We had a long, great relationship and it was the type of love dreams are made of.
When my partner got an upgrade several years ago and I expressed an interest in “getting serious” about cycling, I was handed down a battered 5 year old PowerTap SL 2.4 for Christmas. Together, it helped me progress from a total newbie to someone who trained at specific wattages. The number gradually got higher and higher although we always kept working towards something bigger. We did have a few bumps in the road–new bearings, battery changes, a new rim–but then came the crash of December 2014 and we just never recovered.
Things had been rocky for a while, I’ll admit, but I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel after so many years together. I had just replaced the free hub for the second time and, when that didn’t seem to rekindle the old feeling, I replaced the axel. I thought things were getting better but one bash and skid across the pavement seem to knock whatever life was left in my SL 2.4. While I was busy bandaging my wounds, I heard the worst sentence in the world:”We have to talk.”
Everyone in world knows that conversation never ends well. My partner, who had assessed all post-crash bike damage, had my PowerTap wheel in his hand. “It’s not rideable,” he said. I could barely understand what he was saying to me. “No, it’s fine. It doesn’t feel great but whatever, it gets the job done,” I replied. My classic denial was then obliterated by his “safety concerns,” which, in an effort to convince me, came with a horrifying list of possible situations that would “almost definitely” arise from riding such a compromised wheel. My face grew hot. I swallowed the lump at the back of my throat. “Just as I was getting back into full training. Just as I was starting quality work.” I couldn’t believe it. I was upset and angry. Then I started thinking of my empty handle bars. “What am I supposed to do without it?” I was sad.
It’s been over a month since the big break-up. It was strange at first, training without power, so I clung to my heart rate monitor. My hear rate monitor was all about the now, thriving off the heat of the moment, but when it left me too I realized I wanted something more. Something objective, something I could build a future with, something real. I was pining for my power meter.
I’m not quite over my broken heart yet but time has granted me wisdom: he’s just not that into you if you crash and kill him. After almost 8 years of athletic abuse, from ground zero with almost no power to aspiring to world-class watts/kilo ratios, I’ll never forget the love of my first power meter, my SL 2.4.