Spin Baby Spin

These days, I don’t just ride outside, I joined the gym downstairs and have been taking spin classes for about a month.
The Spin trainer Rachel (who also owns the gym), is incredibly hard core. She’s in great shape (so much so that’s it no big deal for her to teach the spin class and then turn around immediately and teach the core class. She’s done Ironmans and ultra-marathons. Basically she’s nuts, but in a good way. Don’t beleive me? Check out her bio.
Rachel also runs a serious state of the art fitness program for cyclists. It helps that there are so many Schwab employees who are into cycling and training for various rides. In class, we ride CycleOps Pro 300PT bikes. I know that doesn’t mean much, but just know that they are top of the line. The basic difference between these bikes and other spin bikes is that they tell you what your output is in watts so you can tune your training not to your heartbeat which is variable but to wattage which is testable. Each class is geared to your personal threshold. There’s a chart on the wall where you can find your 100% threshold and then see what output you should be at during various parts of the class.

How do you find out your 100% threshold? Well you test for it. And today was the test. I didn’t know about until the beginning of the class, and I shouldn’t have been testing myself today. Considering how much riding I did this past weekend (around 200 miles) this should have been a recovery day. That was the plan going in, but I couldn’t help myself.
The test goes like this. After warming up for about 15 minutes, you crank the resistance up to a point where you can steadily hold an 85 cadence (that’s pedal strokes per minute for those scoring at home) for 2 minutes. Then for 8 minutes, you hold that cadence steady at 85. At the end of 8 minutes, you look at the stats, check your average wattage. Then you do it again. Take the two scores (which should be similar) and average them and you have your 100% threshold.
For the first one, I was still in my recovery mode plan, but just for shits and giggles, I kept the cadence steady at 85 and came up with 156 average watts. Then on the second time, I tried to test for real. During the first two minutes, I found a resistance that I thought I could hold for 8 minutes (I was a little off on the high side and had to keep adjusting) and pulled 229, which is close to exactly what Rachel said I should be shooting for (220-230). Then just for fun, after a little warm down, I cranked the resistance up as high as I could take it and pedaled like a madman to see what my maximum exertion is and it came in at 708.
In and off themselves, these numbers are fairly meaningless, but they should provide me with a nice baseline judge my progress as I train and get stronger. We have another test on Wednesday which should give me a more accurate threshold reading as my quads (hopefully) won’t feel like someone has been pounding them with a jackhammer.

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