I was always very opinionated growing up. I spent more of my time trying to explain my views to others rather than taking the time and absorbing other people’s ideas and thoughts. This attitude was amplified when my parents tried to bestow any sort of wisdom upon me. They were always talking about how eating unhealthy things will be bad for me, and how I can hurt myself if I’m not careful enough. I could not help it though. As a child, I assumed I was invincible. Needless to say, my belief that I had Wolverine’s healing powers resulted in bad habits, and overly risky activities. For example, I had the bright idea of participating in a race down the six thousand some steps of a mountain we climbed in high school. Mistakes were made that day. For years after that I had knee pain. To this day, my knees still make a popping noise if I squat down. As I grew older, I also started noticing that even the smallest of scrapes seemed to take longer to heal, and when they did, it never seemed to disappear as quickly as before.
I have been increasingly more aware of the truth in much of the advice that I hear. For one thing, I used to be obsessed with being a weight weenie. As someone who never seems to be able to gain weight no matter how much I’m eating, it made sense to me to try and reduce as much weight off my bike as a could. While I am still partial to light components, I made the poor decision to sacrifice anything to achieve a stupidly light bike (I hit a sub-12 lb bike at one point). I never did much serious cycling at the time, so I would like to believe that my sacrifice of comfort was somewhat more justifiable than if I had put that saddle on a daily bike.
So there I am, at the rest stop on ARB’s remote ride to Temecula, which was the longest ride I’ve done on my weight weenie bike. I look down at my full carbon saddle, which saved me a glorious 179 grams, and had only one thought in my head. “Mistakes were made”. Sure, I read plenty of comments on how uncomfortable and ridiculous a saddle like that would be, but I chose to believe I knew what I was doing. While I am undoubtedly changing saddles now, a teenage me would have happily sucked up the pain and ridden the damn thing until some serious damage was done, and that area is something you really don’t want to mess with.
So suffice to say, when I was told it was a good idea to take a VO2 Max Test, I decided to take the advice. Even though I was a casual cyclist looking to start riding more regularly and seriously, my initial instinct was that a VO2 Max Test would be overkill. I was previously unfamiliar with this test as I never trained as an athlete before and I went into the test without a complete understanding of what a VO2 Max Test can do for me.
There is extensive information already out there that explains it much more scientifically than I ever could. You can even read about it on our website. But for me, the most beneficial aspect of this test is the fact that I now know how hard I need to ride to see the most gains. I never knew if I was putting too little or too much effort into my rides. Sure, it felt like I was riding really hard, but I was horrifically unfit as well. Equipped with all the data
I now have, my effort levels will not merely be a subjective guess.
By pushing you to your absolute max, the test can establish 7 different zones for you. All I really need to focus on are zones 2 and 3. It shows my power and heart rates for each of the 7 zones so that when I am riding, I can match my effort to the zone and figure out if I need to work harder. I would really only need a heart rate monitor to know my effort level. The complete test comes with much more information as well as coaching advice and data interpretation. While the test does require you to give your 100%, the information that you get out of it is so valuable. Don’t worry though, if you aren’t feeling that ambitious, you can always opt for a sub max test! While this lets you ease up a bit earlier, it still shows you your Anaerobic Threshold, and extrapolates the rest of the data.
As an added bonus, you can click on this chart on the left over here to see how you would stack up against the pros! Even though I technically should be an untrained cyclist, my data shows that I would stack up against the lower end of the Cat 5 racers. There is still hope yet for me! And if there is hope for me, there is hope for you, but be sure to commit and book your test today!