Today was the ramp test. Basically, this involved riding my own bike fixed to a turbo trainer which is a piece of equipment that held the bike rigid on a set of rollers that rotated as I pedaled. It's used for training indoors when the weather is crap and feels like riding a normal bike as there is no fake resistance.
My coach Dave is a great guy, very lean and surrounded by more certificates for his endeavours than I can count. Win after win, record after record. He's truly passionate about cycling and sharing his knowledge.
He set everything up - bike, computer, fan and then I climbed on my bike for a warm up of about 20 minutes. I was just steadily pedaling away. Nice and easy.
Then came the ramp test.
What happens is you ride whilst watching a computer screen, keeping a careful eye on the speed. You have to focus on 20 mph. You just need to maintain the speed bang on the 20 mph mark, no matter what. It starts nice and easy but then every 1 minute the resistance is turned up 20 watts to make it a little bit harder. It's weird as you don't notice the difference at all, except over time you can see your heart rate beginning to rise.
Another minute - up again, still turning the pedals smoothly. You start to realise that breathing is harder and your head starts to move about a bit more, sweat dripping everywhere. Dave shouting words of encouragement in your ear to keep you going, whilst form is thrown out of the window, as you struggle to keep on top of the bike at the 20 mph mark, until finally it's impossible, stopppppp! You just can't go any more. After a few seconds you start turning the legs again, and manage to wind down over the next 20 minutes.
"So how did I do Dave?"
"You did real well, lots of work to be done, but good start."
The results show that the power built up and up until my peak at 320 watts and a maximum heart beat of 175 bpm. Based on the results, Dave then worked out my training zones, zone 1 through to zone 6 - different zones for different training sessions.
I was really quite pleased until I read later that day that Bradley Wiggins would cruise along in a race at 450 watts. There was me flat out at 320 watts and Wiggo cruising at a much higher power than I can ever get to. OK, so I guess the pros have nothing to worry about in July.
Written by Adrian Lomas