The Waffle House Chronicles...

Friday, February 03, 2006

The post y’all’ve been waitin’ for!

Yesterday was Performance Test time! I was instructed to prepare for it like I would a crit. A big bowl of life, a container of yogurt, a large tea and a Dr. Pepper (and a 2:15 drive) later we got there 45 minutes early. We chilled out at a local McD’s and then went to visit Robbie.

First thing we did was take a tour of the building. I didn’t have my camera on during this but imagine two projectors and about 20 computrainers. Hanging on the wall were a couple dozen elite bikes that put my Scott to shame (Litespeeds, Serottas, Colnagos, Etc.) After that Jess took off and I changed into my cycling gear and answered a bunch of questions. Then it was bike fit time. He did say I had a pretty close fit. He then lowered my seat about a cm and also moved it forward. He thinks that will be best for endurance training and would be more comfortable when I have to add aerobars.

Next I was placed on a Compu Trainer with a Power Tap all hooked up to a computer. First thing was just to look at my overall riding look to get a good feel for it. Then I was hooked up to a heart rate monitor and the wattage was calibrated to my bike. Time for the lactic acid test. There is a more technical term for it but we’ll get to that at the end. My lowest lactic threshold is 180 watts, meaning if I ride under 180 watts it won’t affect my riding at all. We went all the way to 280 or 310 watts in 3 minute intervals. He kept pricking my blood and testing it during each interval to see what my lactic acid level is. I don’t understand it all but I don’t need to. He’ll be sending me a report of this meeting with all the information and advice and recommendations for training.

After that he gave me some water and a clif shot and told me to recovery ride for like 10 minutes. Then it was the max sprint test. All I know is he told me to sprint and I went about as hard as I could (I felt like I almost dumped a trainer that was bolted to the ground) for .2 miles. I guess my max watt output was 1278 and he told me that was excellent for sprinting and I should be a sprinter. I always knew that I guess but I am not a big fan of crits or road racing. All this wattage talk got me thinking of Power Taps and everything. Who knows, maybe a Power Tap will be part of my stable soon!

Next was the spin scan analysis. Guh! My spin scan was pretty bad. Clearly the strongest part on my body is my left quad. But is screwed up my whole pedal stroke. So my left leg did a bit more work than my right, but on top of that it made my right hamstring stronger than my left because I would push down so much on my left downstroke and pull up so much on my right upstroke. Basically I now have to do one legged intervals, a lot of them to get my legs to spin a bit better. He did say I had great muscle control, basically I could do whatever I was told without a thought and could isolate all my leg muscles so they should be easily trained.

Now on to the worse part of the test, the body composition/make-up. Turns out that all the running I’ve done has tensed up all of my leg muscles, especially the hamstrings and IT bands. They are so bad that combining that with my beer belly my flexibility in my torso/hamstring/IT band area was poor! He said that I have the common problem that many first-time runners have. So he gave me some exercises to do and said if I do those exercises 4-7 times a week I should be much better in a couple months and will vastly improve the efficiency of my pedal stroke. Finally my left leg is about 4-5mm’s longer than my right which can also cause some problems with running and riding. Great! Not sure what I’ll need to do there, will have to wait for the report.

In summary:
Strengths: Sprinting is awesome, pedaling is smooth (looking,) muscle control was excellent, strong
Weaknesses: Leg strength issues between the two legs, overweight, lack of core flexibility

He said basically if I can work on my pedaling stroke and my hamstrings & IT bands (and drop 15-20lbs) it would vastly improve my cycling. I am not a genetically gifted cyclist but could be above average if I do what he instructs.

I am now the proud owner of an exercise ball and one of those foam tubes for hip exercises. My bike fits perfect now and once I work these things out in the next couple months I should be a pretty smooth cyclist. I’ll never be a climber but should have no problem being a sprinter or lead-out man. I have good endurance but probably will never be an excellent time trialist.


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