Well what do you know, I did find the setting for wattage displayed and it was set to 3 second average. This is appropriate outside or anywhere else that involves a regular ride, but not for structured workouts. And I’ve been to this menu before and never noticed this setting, nor have I have been able to find any discussion of it online. It seems weird that it wasn’t put in the more accessible rider customization menu “T” key accessible.
At any rate, if you’re not riding a structured workout it probably makes little difference, and when you say power drops to zero, if you’re set to 3 second average what you really mean is that it eventually falls to zero, and likewise it eventually comes up after you start riding, which as I said on normal rides is probably fine, but not for structured workouts where changes in wattage are demanded by the program.
This all begs the question of what moron thought it was a good idea to use an 3 second average power display during a structured training event? Averaged power display is not for training programs where power changes need to be measured instantly. This should have been changed to instant by the structured program when the ride started.
Here’s the rub, in a structured training event when you’re say doing 200 watts and the program suddently says hit and maintain 300 watts you won’t get a real power reading for at least 3 seconds, by which time you’ve probably overshot the requested power level (as I have), trying to get there, because the 3 second average tells you you’re not there (when in fact you are).
The first second of the change in power only contributes 33% to what’s being reported to the cyclist, so even if I did get my power to 300 watts as requested it’s not reported as such until all the old contributing watts are flushed out and replaced with new data at the 300 watt power level. This is why 3 second average is bad for structured training because it lies to you for the amount of time that the averaging takes place. And in structured training this is unacceptable.
For example, in week 3 day 2 of the FTP builder the program instructs you to hit 200% ftp for 10 seconds. Well in the 3 second averaging world you’re not getting to the requested wattage for 3 seconds, which is almost a third of the time you’re asked to hold it for, and likewise on the downside, the program is complaining that you’re not reducing your power output enough after the 10 second burst because…you guessed it…3 second averaging.
In structured training 3 second averaging is really inappropriate. When the program says get to and hold X number of watts it’s not saying get to and hold X number of watts in 3 seconds. In the example above where it’s a 10 second period that’s a significant amount of time where watts reported isn’t accurate.
It’s no wonder there were problems with power oscillations above and below target, the watts reported to the rider weren’t timely, and in structured training they must be timely. I don’t know who decided that this was a good idea but you can ask any coach and I think they would agree that you can’t use 3 second averaging in structured training. Why it isn’t disabled when the training starts is beyond me.
The other thing here is that the settings for this are in a weird menu that’s only accessible in ride, which is a little odd, like how the starting / stopping of the program is still kind of stupid. In what world do you start the program (start the ride) before you access the menu to make changes or adjust settings? This is all a$$ backwards IMO. Menu comes at the start of the program where you make all choices (including world and route) before riding. Further, why some user parameters are set at the zwift.com website and some are set in ride this way is beyond me.
At any rate this made a significant improvement to performance, it was much easier to maintain and control wattage with the reporting as instant. It doesn’t address why this isn’t discussed anywhere and why I couldn’t find any documentation about it.