Great feedback everyone! Thank you for sharing your experiences. Just to add a few extra points.
Power can be a great training tool. Like others stated, it is great for indoor riding like Trainerroad or Zwift. This is a productive and cost effective way to gain experience with power.
Power meters have come down in cost making them more affordable for both trainer and outdoor riding. It compliments heart rate zone training giving you another data point for better training and racing if you know how to use and analyze the data.
However there are some drawbacks of power as well. First, unlike HR, it is jumpy and this surprises athletes. You will get a different reading constantly versus HR that gives you a more consistent reading. There is a lag with HR data, where there is not with power. Power is often best used to analyze your workouts after the fact (for example: used after a workout to understand how you executed your workout or race).
Finally, power can be very unreliable. It seems that it never works when it comes time for race day. I can’t tell you the number of athletes that come to me and state that their power meter didn’t work while they were racing. And my power meter just stopped working last Sunday during the off season spin class. It started again and then disappeared for good.
For all of these reasons, I always encourage my athletes to use power in combination with heart rate IF you decide to use power. In the end, if you are newer to the sport, it is a bigger expense item and not necessary or mandatory by any means. Perhaps you would like to start with Trainerroad for your indoor trainer riding to get used to it if you are intrigued. Most importantly I encourage you to dive into heart rate zone training since it’s such a steep learning curve. Without this knowledge, a power meter will only be a really expensive toy.
Thank you all for your feedback in this discussion! Does anyone else have experience with power that they want to share? Or heart rate/power zone training?