Went to Brady Irwin over at Science of Speed, who was kind enough to
poke, prod, and torture me test my blood lactate and VO2 MAX.
The test was conclusive; I’m old, fat, and slow. Apparently, this corresponds to a VO2 MAX of around 38.4 and a lactate threshold at a heart rate of 155bpm.
I’m a fan of American Flyers, so I expected a cheering crowd, a surprisingly amazing performance, and an invitation to a pro team. (Thanks for going behind the screen to chuckle, Brady.) Instead, I spent twenty-three minutes lurching at the pedals of a Racermate Velotron while Brady flashed back to the Twilight novels with regular bloodsucking from the fingers on my left hand. Pedal three minutes, the power goes up, and here comes the poky-blood-thing. In between bloodlettings, I attempted to eat the plastic apparatus that so lovingly collected my breath and rather-copious drool. Twenty-three of the longest minutes ever.
Afterward, I was allowed a break, which meant I should hurry up and pee, then get back on the bike and spin some more. I did well at part of this, but it didn’t affect my score.
Then, it was more drool-collection. Unfortunately, without the incentive of the pointy stick, I did not pedal as well. Brady showed me a timer that taunted me with eight minutes. Eight. I can ride for eight minutes…of course I can. David beat 23:14 and he was on a TREADMILL. Eight minutes.
Eight minutes is a LONG time.
Every minute, the power went up. Surprisingly, my legs felt fine. Brady said I could stand if I needed to, but I remained seated. The clock ticked by.
At around 6:30 (325 watts), I noticed something was broken. My legs were going, no problem. Breathing IN was easy. Breathing OUT was tough…damned tough. I was drowning in my own waste CO2. Nothing I did would get it OUT of me. I kept gasping more IN, but the breath just stuck inside me. I pushed and shoved it out…6:45….6:50…
I gave up at a couple of seconds after seven minutes, when panic set in. I’ve never felt that sort of panic before. I was fine, moving strong, legs feeling good, but everything inside of me suddenly stopped, turned to look me in the eye, and said, “You’re going to DIE.” I stopped, a minute short of the goal I KNEW I would hit.
I ripped off the mask. My legs felt FINE, but the rush of cool air…IN….OUT…IN…OUT…just heavenly.
Brady was awesome. While I stumbled around in an endorphin-haze, he printed out my results, made some calculations, and spent a good hour with me, analyzing the data. It was enlightening, encouraging, and educational, to say the very least. The personal attention provided by Brady and Science of Speed was exceptional. Everything about the procedure was professional and impressive. I walked away with LOTS to think about, including new goals and aspirations, plus metrics to help me get there. It has helped me develop appropriate, attainable goals for my cycling and overall fitness, something that I have rarely ever been able to quantify.
Unfortunately, I was no David Sommers; I did not amaze anyone with my untapped athletic potential, and I only have a Hell of the West Leader’s Jersey because I bought one. That said, Brady DOES sort of resemble a young Kevin Costner.