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Testing Times for Team Felt Cycling Plus (Part 2)

| Blog, Cycling Plus | 16/04/2014 13:20pm

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. Next in line was Simon Tubb.

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!

Simon Tubb, 33, Cornwall

As I’m a recently qualified personal trainer and studying for a degree in health and nutrition, the tests that sports scientist Jonathan Robinson put us through were fascinating. I was particularly keen to find out how much power I’m able to generate as I was born with spina bifida, which means that I have hardly any muscle in my lower legs and my glutes. And, of course, tests to determine my body composition, VO2 peak and lactate threshold will give me a great idea of just how unfit I am and how much work I will have to do to get ready for the Saddleback Fred Whitton Challenge!

The test itself involved having blood taken from my finger before riding on a stationary bike linked to a power meter and computer. Oh, and I had to wear what appeared to be a fighter pilot’s mask – this was measuring how much oxygen I was using. Every four minutes, after starting at 100, the wattage on the bike would increase by 25 watts, making it harder to pedal.

At the end of each four-minute ‘step’ more blood was taken, my heart rate checked and my rate of perceived exertion noted. I felt quite comfortable at the start and I could see the numbers all going up – the wattage, my perceived effort and my heart rate. As I got to 200 watts, though, I was suddenly at my limits and I wasn’t sure how much longer I could go on. I was at 20 out of 20 in terms of my effort but I pushed through for the full four minutes. I even managed to pedal for a small time at 225 watts and then I was well and truly done!

I was glad to get off the bike and stretch my legs, and get some water inside me to start replacing the buckets of sweat that had dripped off me. The highlights of my results are now here for all of you to see – and importantly, for our coach Ben Wilson ( to use to set me the plan that will get me through the toughest cycling challenge I’ve ever faced.

Simon’s Stats

Body fat 26%

Lactate threshold power 168 bpm/112 watts

Individual anaerobic threshold power 189bpm/150W

VO2 peak 35ml/kg/min

Power at VO2 peak 250W

Power/kg 2.34W/kg

The scientists says

“Simon has a reasonably good aerobic profile, especially considering his medical condition. His focus should be to maintain this aerobic base while increasing his power output, and over time he should gradually aim to reduce his weight further.”

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: – 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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