Next year we have will be working on some exciting projects with Sunsport Coaching. Last week I took the opportunity to go along to their offices in Trafford to find out more about their
sports testing and coaching. Before the meeting Stu sent me a questionnaire to fill in. This contained basic information along with questions about my sporting past, medical past, future
goals and what I was hoping to gain from the Sunsport. Having been quite a good cyclist in the past I was happy to roll of a list of my palmares as they say in the pro peleton. I stopped racing just before my fortieth birthday to concentrate on my business. I must admit I had turned into a overweight middle aged bloke. As I hit fifty I thought it was time to start turning
the pedals in anger again. After a few weeks training I started to race at the Monday night ACT track league. I wasn`t nearly fit enough but managed to get by on past experience. Over the weeks I have got better and better. I am now at the stage when I can win the odd race especially if its a devil take the hindmost (when getting your elbows out is more important than speed)
and the madison races when I get a good partner. So that's the stage I am at the moment. My training has been a mixture of sessions at the velodrome mixed with steady rides around Cheshire lanes scouting for new routes for our events and doing the odd sportive event.
I turned up at SunSport Couching's offices at 9.30 on Friday morning to be met by Stu. He welcomed me and showed me through to his office. It looked like a cross between a physiotherapists,
an A&E department and a Spinning class. There was a Cyclops bike linked up to a very expensive looking machine that looked like it wouldn`t look out of place in an operating theatre and a physio`s bed. Stu went through the questionnaire that I had filled in just going over some of the answers I had written down to get a clear picture of my history.
It was soon obvious that this was not just a test fitness test but also a health check. I was soon being weighed and having my height taken. No scares there except I was a couple of kilos
heavier than I thought it must have been a few weeks ago since I had weighed myself. Stu then went on to test my body composition. ie the amount of my body that was fat. He attached a couple
of electrodes to my foot and hand. Then passed a small electrical current through my body which I didn`t feel anything this gave him an accurate figure of my body composition. Next test was my blood pressure which was a little high but I think it was the excitement of having the test. We then moved onto a grip test which gives an accurate reading of you upper body strength.
After going through the results we moved onto the actual performance testing part. Luckily I had remembered to take a note of my bike position measurements so that we could accurately
recreate my bike position on the Cyclops. After a short warm while Stu calibrated the machine we got down to the serious stuff. Stu attached a mask over my face with a tube which was attached to the large machine sitting quietly in the corner. If you`ve ever see youtube videos of Lance or Bradley doing tests then you`ve got the picture.
The actual test involved riding at increasing wattage levels for a minute at a time before moving onto a higher level until you reach your maximum. While you are doing this the machine is
working out your VO2 Peak, Anaerobic threshold and Fuel Metabolism.
V02 Peak - This is the maximum or optimum rate at which the heart, lungs and muscles can effectively use oxygen during exercise, used as a way of measuring a person`s individual aerobic
Anaerobic Threshold - Taking measurements of both your 02 consumption and C02 production in your expired air it is possible to identify your Anaerobic Threshold the point at which your
bodies energy systems begin to change over.
Fuel Metabolism - From the measurements of 02 and C02 you can determine the type fuel you use at different intensities, namely carbohydrate and fat.
Once I had sufficiently recovered from the exertions it was time for a couple more off bike tests. Firstly Core Strength which seems to keep creeping up in interviews which top pros and
I for one wasn`t quite sure of what it means. To test this you get down on the floor and do the plank exercise, if you not sure what I mean just google it. Basically your on the floor resting
on your elbows and on your toes. The idea is to hold it for a minute before moving onto the next plank position and then the next and so on. The best way to describe why your Core Strength
is important is to think of a grand prix car. OK so you`ve got a powerful engine but if your chassis is weak your cannot get the power onto the tarmac. A strong core strength will make you more efficient and increase the amount of power you produce.
The last test was Agility, just a simple test to see how agile I was. The idea behind this is the more agile you are the better your muscles can expand and contract. If you think of your muscles as pistons the longer the piston the more power it can produce. Also the more agile you are the less risk you have of injuring yourself.
Now for a cuppa. Stu put the kettle of and it was now time to go through the results. We went through in detail all the data which Stu had collated, describing in detail what all the tests were
able to identify, areas in which I could improve which I`m now there were many. I won`t go into detail as testing is a personal thing. We are all different it`s the job of the coach to identify your your strengths and improve your weaknesses. So after the second cup of tea we had worked out a training strategy that would see me though the winter months and hit next year season
It was one of the most enjoyable mornings I have had for a long time. I am probably the same as most amateur cyclist we pick up bits of information from here and there, try to put together a training plan. Unless your speak to an expert like Stu who can explain it all and how your body works and how it adapts to training were stumbling about in the dark. Its like going on a journey and setting off without a map. You will get some where but probably not where you wanted to go.
One thing that struck me about Stu was not only his depth of knowledge, his patience when I asked him questions about any of the testing but his sheer enthusiasm. He was so keen to help my achieve me goals.
So next time your thinking about an upgrade on you bike or kit in an effort to go faster or to drop your training colleagues, think about getting some professional help from someone who knows what they are talking about. We are all pros in our heads, we ride the same bikes and the pros, we wear the same kit, we compete like the pros. Now we can get the services of a professional
coach the same as the pros. Its got to be the best investment you can make for your cycling whether you want to race or to do well in a sportive. Christmas is around the corner, when the wife asks what do you want why not get her to book you in for a session with Sunsport Coaching you won`t regret it and it will open up a whole new world.
Sunsport are 5% discount on their testing and coaching services to all riders taking part in Team Torelli Sportives.
Sunsport Coaching Website