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Testing Times for Team Felt Cycling Plus!

| Blog, Cycling Plus | 15/04/2014 13:06pm

The Human Performance Centre at the University of Bath isn’t an obvious choice for a first date, but it was a perfect location for Team Felt Cycling Plus to get to know each other and find out just how much work they need to do before the Saddleback Fred Whitton Challenge in May. First up Rab Smedley!

The tests, carried out by sports scientist Jonathan Robinson and his team, determined our levels of body fat, our lactate threshold power (which indicates the level at which we could ride for several hours), and our individual aerobic threshold (IAT) power – the speed or power output above which lactate starts to build up significantly within the body and a power output you can hold for around an hour.

We also discovered our VO2 peak, which is slightly different to the more usual VO2 max test. “Typical VO2 max tests are quite short in duration and become very hard very quickly; this is not truly representative of the demands of longer distance endurance events or challenges like the Fred Whitton,” explains Jonathan.

“We therefore prefer to term your highest oxygen consumption reading taken over the extended lactate transition test as your VO2 peak.”  Jonathan also identified our power per kilogram of body weight and power output at VO2 peak – the power output at which we’d elicit our peak oxygen uptake and reach terminal fatigue!

Rab Smedley, 34, Somerset

“I arrived at Bath University with a mixture of excitement and apprehension… okay, I was actually bricking it as I’d undergone lab tests before as part of Help For Heroes’ Battle Back RAAM Team [Rab was seriously injured while skiing on an Army operation] and knew exactly how demanding the tests can be. The anticipation of having to endure what I call ‘underwater cycling’ – essentially riding your guts out with a rubber boot attached to your face full of sweat, snot and possibly vomit – had me slightly nervous.

Before the tests, though, it was introductions. I’m not great with names, so promptly forgot everyone’s and then had to spend the rest of the day trying to reacquaint myself through subversion – I’d sneak peeks at their charts or consent forms only to find that I had either forgotten the name 10 minutes later or read the wrong bit of paper! It eventually clicked when I picked up last month’s copy of Cycling Plus and read the first feature about Team Felt Cycling Plus – just don’t tell the editor I hadn’t seen it until then!

I was second to last to ride so could watch the other team members break themselves trying to achieve… well, it’s hard to say really as we were all going nowhere. Watching the team did start to stir up some competitiveness, and I think others felt the same. We’d keep an eye on the power everyone was riding at, how high their lactate levels were, what their VO2 peak was doing. Obviously, the sports scientists knew what this all meant but at the time it was next to meaningless to us.

Anyway, the step test started easily enough but very quickly the burden of effort dug its heels in. Deeply! I quickly found myself gritting my teeth to compete with the machine (and the team). At the end my feelings were of relief, exhaustion and disappointment. Relief that the test was over, exhaustion having pushed as hard as possible and disappointment that I hadn’t met my own perceived expectations.

With hindsight, though, I shouldn’t be surprised that I found it tough as the last three months have been particularly difficult physically. After sharing my results with the Team Battle Back sports science doctor, Dr Paul Smith at Cardiff Metropolitan University, it actually turns out that my lactate threshold is very close to similar tests of previous years, although I still think my power output was abysmally low!

So, what did this session tell me? In simple terms I have a lot of work to do in my preparation for the Fred. Both my climbing and endurance need work, and after an ankle injury in the New Year I have lost vital training time.

Rab’s results

Body fat 11.41%

Lactate threshold power 150bpm/150W

Individual anaerobic threshold power 173bpm/200W

VO2 peak 49.9ml/kg/min

Power at VO2 peak 250W

Power/kg 3.57W/kg

The Scientist Says

“Rab shows a reasonable degree of lactate tolerance but a great degree of determination. He was able to continue riding with high lactate levels in the blood for over two more stages of the step test after reaching his IAT. This will be useful for the Fred as the climbs will need some good lactate tolerance. His low body fat and weight are advantageous.”

We were tested at the University of Bath’s Human Performance Centre and the good news is it isn’t just for magazine teams and elite athletes. Find out how you can use their facilities here: www.teambath.com/physio-sport-science – and Cycling Plus readers can get a discount on a VO2 max test too! Call 01225 383636 to book, and use the code HPC15 to get 15% off a VO2 max test* *Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer or discount. Code can only be used once per person. Offer expires 31 Aug 2014

With an event like the Fred Whitton, it’s easy to make excuses if things don’t go to plan. You can blame the weather, a dodgy pie, missed training sessions, a rubbish bike, stupid shoes… To ensure that the last two excuses can’t be rolled out at least, Team Felt Cycling Plus will be looked after by Fred Whitton headline sponsor Saddleback. It’ll be supplying the team with Felt bikes, Castelli clothing, Bont shoes and Stages power meters to help them get through the Fred. We definitely can’t blame the kit!

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