TrainRight Fitness Testing
After doing a bit of research, I decided to sign up  for coaching at in January. And since then, I've been following their training advice faithfully, in the sense that I have a lot of faith that I will see big improvements.
This faith is very important, you see, since I haven't done much in the way of riding the past 6 weeks. The big problem (aka "excuse") has been that the weather for January ranged from wet to "weather reporter standing around in blowing rain". I have my rain bike, but there's no much light on weekday nights, and I don't ride in 30 MPH winds. But the skiing has been good on Sundays...
About three weeks ago, I finally broke down and ordered a Kinetic fluid trainer, which is the company lunchroom analog of real riding: it's like real riding, but misses a few of the finer points. I've only ridden it once, but my guess is that I'll put a fair number of hours on it.
Last week, finally, the weather improved. I got in a 24 mile Wednesday ride with my Cascade group in 38 degree weather, and the forecast was good for the weekend.
That meant that I wouldn't be able to put off my fitness test any more.
One of the reasons I signed on with TrainRight was Carmichael's assertion that most athletes are unfocused and work out too hard, and I was looking forward to having some guidelines for how hard to work out. But to generate those guidelines, their system needs some data, and you generate the data for fitness test.
The test format is simple: find yourself a 3 mile flat-ish course, warm up before, and then do two three-mile maximum effort time trails, with 10 minutes of recovery in between. I choose East Lake Sammamish South from the Marymoor entrance, loaded my bike and stuff up, and drove to the park.
Driving to Marymoor is a bit of a wimp manuever - it's only about 3 miles from my house - but with it being my first test and the temperature hovering at 34 degrees, I thought I might need alternate transportation back home. I got to the parking lot, put all my clothes on (undershirt, jersey, arm warmers, leg warmers, shorts, socks, shoes, booties, over jersey) and my gear (hat, helmet, sunglasses, gloves, camelback), and started warming up. Or trying to warm up. The only thing that saved me was the bright sunshine.
After the warmup, I headed over to the course, zeroed out my computer/HRM, and started out. The goal is to get to your top speed in about 45 seconds, but it took me a bit longer. I got close, but I didn't want to go anaerobic, and it took about 90 seconds before my heart rate stabilized in the mid 150s and I could ramp it up a bit more.
This is where the pain started. In the "Double E half-hour of pain...", I peaked at around 161 BPM, which was painful, but bearable. That was for half an hour, and I needed to push a little more on this one, which I thought would take around 10 minutes. So, I kept my heart rate at about 163-165.
You may be asking, "How can 163 be that much different than 161 - it's only two beats per minute!". I was asking that as well, in an attempt to distract myself from the rather significant difference. I don't know the physiology of it, only that it hurts. The course I picked out was a good one, however - it has a few rolling hills to it, and you need to shift up or down to maintain your cadence. If I didn't have that to focus on, it would have  been much harder.
So, three miles come, I spin out for about 6 minutes, turn around, come back, and then do it the other way. This time I knew what was coming, but I did it anyway.
So, the results were:
Attempt #1: 9:55, 18.2 MPH
Attempt #2: 9:10, 19.6 MPH
I think the first one is slower because of my cautious start, and perhaps not being fully warmed up. I had hoped for a bit faster, but my fitness isn't great right now.
This gives me an endurance ride limit of about 140, which means I'm supposed to spend 95% of my time below that ceiling. That seems pretty comfortable.
After the ride, in what I hope will be a rare display of very bad judgment, I went on a group ride with some friends. Some more talented friends. After about 20 miles of fast and hilly riding, I begged off and spun home.
I'm going to try to be better about following the program, and I'm looking forward to seeing what gains I'll make in the next 6 weeks or so.
Oh, and my Polar 720i is great for this sort of thing - I could reset it at the start of a run, then just go and ride and pull any numbers off later.