Getting serious at The Cycling Gym

Back in late November I dropped in to a new place near where I live

...called The Cycling Gym run by Steve Neal & Andrew Randell. It was a new thing that opened up in one of the old light-industrial buildings in my neighbourhood.

Steve, it turns out, is a long-time coach, mainly of elite mountain bikers; Andrew was a former pro road cyclist with SpiderTech and other teams, and a former Canadian National Road champion. So their bona fides were pretty good. And anyway, I knew that whatever my intentions, there was no way I was going to do any winter training on my own. So after a chat with them about the place I went away, thought about it for about an hour, and went back and signed on for 3 months. Apart from anything else, the gym was a 5-minute walk from my house. There ya go. No excuses.

Ramp test #1 face, at around 270W
The gym uses Wahoo Kickr trainers, which snap onto your regular bike, minus your back wheel (no trainer tire wear!). The whole process starts with a ramp test to figure out your starting FTP (functional threshold power), and your workout is based on that. So everybody in a given class does the same workout, but at different wattages. The Kickrs are hooked up to PerfPro Studio, which monitors your wattage output, cadence, heart rate and sometimes other stuff like SM02 (using a little device that measures muscle oxygenation).

What I get back from this after every workout is an absurd amount of data (emailed to me immediately after the workout). Average Power, Max Power, Work (in kJ), Aerobic Decoupling Factor, Normalized Power, Intensity Factor, Variability Index, Training Stress Score, Relative Intensity (RI), and times in Power Zones and Heart Rate Zones, among other things; and lots of charts and graphs to help make it digestible. Theoretically, I can track my progress in all kinds of ways, but I'm looking for is a combination of greater power, the ability to sustain higher wattages for longer, and then doing higher wattages at a lower heart rate for longer.

Generally I'm there three times a week, with the weekday workouts starting at 6 am. This means getting up at 5:15am, which I actually do eagerly. That, if anything, should be an indicator of how sick this all truly is.
...and that was today's workout.


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