I was lucky enough to be asked by Jaguar and Team Sky to try the Bike Radar training hub at the London Bike show this week.
The Training hub was effectively a selection of suppliers of fitness products and services who collectively provided a wide ranging experience for those who bought tickets. Whilst the price of £115 may seem a bit “punchy”, some googling on the cost of doing a VO2 Max test alone can easily exceed this price.
The first section of the programme was a PowerBreathe assessment, which was described as weight training for your lungs and was an interesting experience that did feel a bit more obviously a product pitch than the other sections. The simple concept seemed to be that you can train your lungs to breathe a higher volume of oxygen. For example I managed 3.7 litres per breath and apparently athletes with training might hit over 5 litres. That extra oxygen could make a difference to your riding and to be honest, I’d not heard of the product or the concept before. If you have lots of spare cash you can buy a system that analyses your breathing on a computer in real-time (we used this) for £450 and it was pretty cool, as it showed an analysis of each breath and resistance was adjusted as you did it. I think you could certainly soon see some progress with a tool like this and to be frank it’s a lot less than a pair of carbon wheels. If I was a serious athlete, training to race at as high a level, I might consider it to add some marginal improvements to my training. As a recreational cyclist, I wasn’t totally convinced it was for me but it was fun to give it a try. Bikeradar reviewed the top of the range system not long ago and opinions via Googling seem to be mixed but then that is partly the joy of forums etc : http://www.bikeradar.com/road/gear/category/accessories/gadgets/product/review-powerbreathe-k5-breathe-link-pc-software-12-46473
From there we moved on to, what was for me, the part of the experience I had been most looking forward to (if quite nervously) – the fitness test.
Now as it didn’t involve running a mask that measured airflow, I think it was a more a VMax test (although I’ll await the results to confirm this). After a 5 minute warm up, starting at 100w, after every minute 15w was added to the resistance until you couldn’t complete the full minute without your cadence falling markedly or your heart rate going ballistic.
Now I’ve never considered myself a strong cyclist thanks to my skinny legs but I was still hoping for the best. As it turned out I thought I rode quite well up to and including the 295w level but once we clicked up to 310w, I couldn’t make the minute as my legs ran out of push. I still felt fine from a heart rate point of view but my legs waved the white flag. The reality of my riding is that’s always how it happens, mylegs run out of steam before the rest of my body. I had hoped to get above 300w but 295 is pretty close, so I’m ok with and it reinforces to me that I probably need to do more interval training to get some more strength into my legs.
After a warm down we moved on a postural assessment, a body fat measurement and a antioxidant level assessment. My posture was actually pretty good, with some advice around trying to sit straighter, it was a pleasingly short conversation. Body fat was also good at 10.9% – not really a big surprise if you’ve met me, I’m pretty skinny. The antioxidants section was quite interesting. A machine scanned my hand and rated us on a scale. According to the chap doing the test, a reasonable score started at 30,000 and as my reading was 36,000 that was apparently a testament to a decent diet and generally good health. Yay. I also learnt that if you like green tea (it’s full of antioxidants), then 3 cups a day is the “magic” amount to get the most benefit from it.
In 28 days I should receive a suggested 4 week training plan from Koolstof coaching (http://www.koolstofcoaching.com/) and I’ll look forward to this with interest.
We didn’t seem to get the pedalling analysis the website suggested we might and I guess, I’m a touch disappointed that the fitness testing didn’t appear to include a full VO2Max as the website suggested we might. Who knows, that may come in the final report, so I’ll have to wait and see. Had I paid my own money for the ticket, I might have felt a touch aggrieved about this but given that I was a guest of Jaguar and Team Sky, it was great to have a go and experience each of the sessions as an interested enthusiast. All of the people in the Bike Radar Training hub were friendly and welcoming and it appeared that bookings were high. Our two hour appointments actually took slightly longer than advertised, so from a time spent point of view – we certainly got our fair share. Thanks again to our hosts for inviting us to take part.
If you’re interested in another story on the Training Hub, Jason Veall was the chap following us around the course whilst we did our session and his story is here:
Thanks for reading and of course any info that comes through later will see this post updated.