They asked kindly, was it comfortable? How comfortable should a mask be that is strapped to your face so tightly no air could escape? It was the second part of the lab tests being undertaken by the MSc students in Applied Sports Science at the University of Winchester. The first was to establish my lactate threshold, and once this information was known they could then work out the power level at which I needed to start before riding myself into the ground in order to measure my V02 max (ability to utilise oxygen).
After an hour of prodding, poking, measuring and subjecting to me to testing at insane levels of effort I ended up with three useful numbers. Firstly how fat I am – 7% they reckon. Secondly the level of effort if I can keep below I should be able to keep going all day – 325watts seemingly (this has dropped from my peak before the summer due to spending most of the year on a single speed including riding London Edinburgh London). And finally my V02 max. This is the baseline data against which we will be measuring an improvement in performance.
I’ve also been asked by the students to keep a sleep log – apparently there is some interesting research associated with sleep and performance. Over the last month I’m averaging a shade over 6 hours sleep a night. Next they wish me to take my temperature every two hours and keep a record. I’m trying to work out how I can do this surreptitiously throughout the day to avoid accusations of hyperchondria.
Why go to all this effort? I now know we can do the distance. So this time it’s about making sure we can do it fast enough. I want to know that whatever happens we have left no stone unturned in the quest for an improvement in our performance.