Testing, Testing…Part 2

On January 2, I went to AthletiCamps ( https://www.athleticamps.com/) in Folsom for  VO2 Max and Lactate Threshold testing. Bruce Hendler is the owner of AthletiCamps, and I was looking forward to seeing him again after following his business on Facebook for years.

The Curves Shifted Left: Lower Power in 2019

Back in 2004, I signed up for a 3 day training camp with Bruce. He had just started AthletiCamps and this was one of his first events. There were about 7 of us staying at a hotel in Rocklin. Back then Bruce didn’t have his own testing equipment, so we spent the first day doing testing at the UCD Sports Medicine Clinic in Sacramento. After a year of training since my 2003 VO2 test,  my weight was down and my power was up and I felt really happy about the 2004 result. For the next two days we did rides on the road with some intervals and SFR’s (big gear weight training on the bike) and discussed a training program tailored for each of us to improve.

Fast forward to 2019: Bruce has his own testing equipment and a really nice space in Folsom. Plenty of room, nice lighting, and a shower to clean up after sweating through a test. It is great to see him still in business and he provides a really good service for athletes (and me). He offers coaching, sophisticated bike fitting, and performance testing.

With that background, it is time to compare Rich age 62 in January 2019 with Rich age 48 in July 2004:

I’m Fatter: 

My weight was 169.6 lbs. compared to 164 lbs. back in 2004.  And my body fat% has ballooned to 20% from 15%. Looking at myself in the mirror I have a hard time believing these percentages are right. But I do have the ‘Avansino thighs’ from my Italian nonna’s family. They are pretty large and it isn’t all muscle either.

I can probably get down to 168 lbs. with a little effort. More riding in the spring and into summer should do the trick. But I think 164 lbs. is an impossible target, and an unnecessary one. From a health standpoint my weight is fine, but from a performance cycling standpoint I’m above optimal. Bruce put my ‘ideal’ cycling weight at 159 lbs., which is out of the question unless society collapses and there are food (and wine) shortages.

My Maximum Heart Rate has declined:

In 2004 my heart rate got to 173 beats per minute (bpm) at the end of my VO2 test. Last week I only reached 163 bpm. There is an old approximation of Maximum Heart Rate as ‘220 minus your age’. This is a terribly inaccurate estimate, which is part of the reason I wanted to do the testing. But there is no question that for most of us, our maximum heart rate declines as we age. I’m 14 years older and I’ve ‘lost’ about 10 beats.

My Power at key thresholds has declined:

Power at VO2 Max: 2004 was 325 watts, 2019 was 300 watts (-7.7%). Power at Ventilatory Threshold: 2004 was 270 watts, 2019 was 237 watts (-12.2%). My Lactate Threshold in 2005 was 240 watts, and now it is 215 watts (-10.4%).

I realize I’ve risked losing most of my readers by writing about all this technical jargon and doing numerical comparisons.  But for those who are still here…


The major conclusion I draw is that I need to evaluate my riding a little differently. The training zones I established back in 2004/05 are a little too high and no longer appropriate. My engine is not quite as big. So instead of thinking I should be able to do 260 watts for an hour if I ride all out, I need to dial my expectation back to 235 watts or so. My 20 minute FTP test (sorry, more jargon) is probably going to be 270 watts or lower, compared to 290.

Testing can’t turn back the clock or make you younger, but it can tell you where you are and help you set reasonable targets. As Bruce told me at the during the consultation he provides after the testing, “There is room for improvement”. Whether I make the effort or not is up to me.






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