Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Lab Test Llama.......

V02, Lactate Threshold, face masks, blood sampling, pain, all on an indoor bike. Fun? For the most part, yeah! I got into the sport of cycling later in life, wasting those early years of athletic potential tapping keyboards, learning about the Internets (yeah, before EVERYONE knew what it was), chasing IT industry certifications, all things that would lead me to a life of crime... I mean.. a professional career in IT security.

Riding bikes was initially a bit of fun, it became a little more serious when I started racing, then stepped up a notch when I started doing alright in a few races. There have been a few setbacks along the way, collarbones snapping like twigs (x3) and a hip that wasn't up to the task of holding together when slammed into the road.... but the upward trend has continued... Power is creeping up and I'm still hitting PB's on some old Cycle2Max climbs. Throw in an obsession with equipment, being wind tunnel 'tested', chasing TTs all over the place, racing and beating a few pro riders over summer in our local crits.... the question was always there, I wonder how far I could have taken this? (Note, past tense, I'm 33 in a few months, stop asking me if I'm going to ride the Tour mum!)

After competing against me in the recent YarraTri TT and again at the Kew TTs, Dr Stephen Lane from HPTech offered to get me into the lab to see what I was made of. (so to speak, no muscle biopsies yet, phew!) I've been offered a lab testing session a while back, but never went though with it. I didn't want to know my genetic limiters, I didn't want to be told I'd never make it, I'd have only obsessed about the test and trained specificity for it. Probably a good thing I didn't do it. But the timing of Stephen's offer was perfect. I've been racing well for the last 6 months, I'm in pretty good form, so why not? Hook me up to the system lets go!

We've all seen pictures of athletes in the lab. All hooked up, it's exactly what you'd expect. The mouthpiece isn't as bad as it looks, it is also your friend, it's the only way you'll suck in oxygen once the nose clip is on. 

The test consisted of a warm up, then the power required to turn the cranks being stepped up every few minutes, through to exhaustion. The first few minutes are easy, the middle is hard work, the end is hell. I had the numbers on the screen next to me so could see the indicators of 'system overload' before my legs wouldn't cooperate any longer. Blood tests were done through every interval to check lactate levels. Usually when I finish an effort on the bike I look back and think "I could have lasted a little longer"... but not in this instance. That was all I had today. Totally spent.

"The numbers, what were your numbers!?!?!". Well I won't be riding the Tour, and mum, you're to blame! We gained some insight into why I'm doing well in time trials and races with repeated efforts (Kew Crits). That's all I'll give away for now. I have some data to go over, a few things I can add to my training schedule to maximize what I'm working with.

If you're keen to know your own limiters, I'd recommend getting into a lab and going through a little bit of pain. Head on over to the HPTech website and get in contact with Stephen if you're keen to get tested as part of his research projects.

Supporting the supporters!

Dr Stephen Lane from HPTech http://www.hptek.blogspot.com/ for the lab test and helping identify some areas I can work on.

Cycling Victoria - In particular Paul Lumsden their new Communications Manager. Paul has been reporting club races/results/photos via Twitter, Facebook, and the CV main page. I've sent Paul and Kipp a thanks already for this, but I wanted to point out their good work on here too, no doubt you've seen the increase in reports they're posting. This helps promote clubs, their events, the riders, and the sponsors of both. In turn, getting more people into competing and more people interested in following the sport (sponsors, etc).



Good point about the CSV stuff at the bottom. All positive.

Lisa said...

I've seen the increased flow of communication from CV for club events etc and think that it is AWESOME!! Definitely could see a difference.