Thursday, January 6, 2011

Going Nowhere Fast

I belong to Club One.  I joined so I could go to spin classes.  I didn't go to spin, preferring to ride outside.  I paid $90 a month to not go to the gym.  When the weather turned crappy I went to spin and discovered that my cleats were worn out and I kept popping out of SPD-style pedals.  Replacing the cleats would be an enormous hassle because I retrofitted my shoes to mid-sole cleats and the cleats were practically glued in.  Removing them might damage the shoes' carbon soles.  Meanwhile, I found another gym -- a cycling gym.  You bring your own bike, hook it up to a Computrainer, and train with power.  Works great!  I quit Club One.

To make training effective, it's a good idea to get lactate tested.  So, I got tested.  Start at 100 watts, stay there for four minutes, monitoring heart rate, rate of perceived exertion, and blood lactate level (blood samples from earlobe),  increase resistance by 30 watts and do it again until lactate saturation reaches a certain level.  Mercifully, this is not a go-to-failure type of test -- my mind usually fails gives out before my body does when I do those -- you go 8-9 RPE and stop.  It turns out, my lactate threshold level is 200 watts, in other words, if I stay below it, I can ride forever provided I eat and hydrate properly.  Good enough.  Lactate saturation levels and heart rate are plotted on a graph against power numbers, allowing a coach to come up with training zones.

Armed with training zones, I go to VeloSF regularly and spin like crazy with a number of like-minded individuals.  The vibe here is completely different from typical gyms.  People are FIT and serious about cycling; there are no dabblers here.  Coaches are serious national and international level cyclists and triathletes.  You get feedback of power and speed numbers you generate in addition to RPE.  Music is good -- coaches respect our ears and age and don't play garbage.  Exercise rooms are air-conditioned and there are wall and floor-mounted fans to cool us down.  All this is terrifically motivating, which is essential because the training is hard.  I am completely wrung out after 90 minutes of structured work.  I've been at it for two weeks. 

I hope I am getting stronger.  I don't ride super early in the morning so much anymore and I don't see my friends as much, but I get three hours more sleep on the days when I used to ride early.  Also, I am doing about 15 minutes of core exercises three to four days a week.  We'll see how these changes in training affect my doubles rides.  I'd like to get PRs at DMD and at AA-8 or Terrible Two this year.


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