There has been a lot of talk about a product from Power Balance in the world of sport recently - they have created a simple looking wristband that contains two holograms and is claimed by many sportsmen and women to improve their performance. this includes many cyclists in the Tour de France who are said to have worn the band.
The science is a bit vague - something about harnessing your body's energy and retransmtting it, in a way that in turn gives you extra energy...but the science isn't really very important, what matters is, does it actually work and will the Power Balance transform our cycling!
Power Balance themselves are at pains to point out that the wristband doesn't seem to work for everyone and they make very few claims themselves. What they do have is many professional sports people giving the product rave reviews - and more importantly actually wearing the Power Balance.
They also say that they never pay for reviews or endorsements, so every recommendation is prompted by the product itself. You can learn more about how it works, and read the testimonials, at PowerBalance.com
So far so good.They suggest that the Power Balance won't enable us to perform better than our best, but will allow us to operate at our best more often.
Is it a 'real' physical benefit? Psychological? Witchcraft? As a cyclist i'm not really bothered. If it enables me to cycle faster or further I'm happy - but only a 'scientific' test can show that.
So on behalf of the cynical cycling community (!) I have rushed out and bought a Power Balance with the intention to conduct a long term test it has or doesn't have on my performance.
The general idea is that I will wear the Power Balance on one of my regular routes - there is a route I do most weeks and will wear it 50% of the times that I cycle the route during the coming months, and document any findings in this article. Of course this will only tell cyclists whether it works for me, it doesn't necessarily mean all cyclists will have the same results!
The route itself is about 40 miles long, with about 1000 yards of vertical change, spread out across a few hills each a couple of miles long, at about 3-6% gradient. In recent months I have been quite consistent in taking around two hours and 27 minutes to complete the circuit, almost always within 30 seconds of that time.
Note: I don't 'feel' any different when I'm cycling wearing the Power Balance, but I did feel like I had more energy than normal left at the end of the ride, and i felt stronger up the later hills than usual. All in my head? No idea!
First results were surprising, especially for a sceptic like me - I cycled the route yesterday, first time with the Power Balance, and took two hours 23 minutes! To improve my cycling time for this route by four minutes is a very large difference, equivalent to making a major change to the bike. But the weather was very windy yesterday, and I have a suspicion that I was protected from headwinds on the outward part because I was in the forest, then helped by a tailwind for the return, exposed section of the route. It never usually seems to work like that but it's not impossible that was the cause of the difference.
Nonetheless it's enough to prompt my interest - hence the reason for the test over the winter months - as I say, I will post regular results here both with and without the Power Balance to get a more 'balanced' picture.
The manufacturers of the Power Balance were later shown to be conning people, so you can probably safely ignore the above!!