Saturday, June 14, 2008

Test Results: Dropping Science part 3

Upon completing my two electrolyte supplementation trials at the K-Lab, the staff was kind enough to give me my results. First of all, this was a double-blind test, so neither I nor the test administrator knows which treatment was which. Also, since this is an experiment, I don't want to give away their results (to the extent that anyone could draw conclusions from only my data) and so I will avoid revealing any information about electrolyte levels. But let's take a look and see what happened.

1) Sweat.
Normally I sweat a lot. But when I train indoors, it is always more apparent since the sweat pools on the floor. My apologies to Cameron and the K-Lab staff for having to clean this up. Since I drank about two bottles of water and still lost about a half-pound of body weight by the end of the experiment, I suppose that I may have lost a lot of electrolytes. My weight was, I might add, taken while in my shorts. Shorts that were dry prior to the trial, but totally soaked (with sweat) by the end. Meaning that I actually lost more water than I thought.

2) The ride.
I completed 22.3 and 22.6 miles on the rolling (virtual) course. I was actually surprised that both days were so similar, especially considering I felt worse on the second trial. Average wattage was about 275 both days which, based on my 68 kg weight, equals about 4 watts/kg. According to Allen and Coggan, this should place me up at the high-end of the Cat 3 ranks on the road. Sadly, I have squandered this potential. Possibly because my max power is lousy. Probably because my race strategy is lousier.

3) Hematocrit.
One of the most exciting results from this experiment is that I learned that I'm fit to start the Tour de France. Which is to say, that I would not be declared unfit to start the Tour, based on my hematrocrit levels. I started out at 42% percent on both days, lower than the 50% threshold level for pro competition and Riis' reported Tour-winning 56%. That's right, folks, I'm clean. The other interesting thing is that these numbers increased, peaking 47 and 48% at the 15-minute mark on each trial. This increase during exercise sounds consistent with something I read. But by the hour's end, things were back down to around normal.

4) Spin analysis.
The Computrainer can analyze the smoothness of your pedal stroke; however, I only got data for the general power-per-leg. As I might have guessed as a right-footed person, my right leg did about 53% of the work, while my left did the other 47%. I actually have no idea if this is good or bad. I imagined myself as the punter with grotesquely misproportioned legs from "Infinite Jest", but I figure this margin was rather slim, like a Democratic primary, and stopped worrying about it. They did tell me that this difference was smaller when I was climbing, suggesting that when I'm pedaling harder, I'm paying more attention to my pedal stroke, or that I need to pay more attention to my pedal stroke the rest of the time.

5) Calories.
I burned about 950 calories each day, which equates to about 50% of the daily requirements for a normal person (although possibly much less than a normal American person). In case this post has you thinking that I am some performance-obsessed data junkie, I must apologize. Bull City Cycling is definitely about riding hard. But Bull City Cycling is also about gratification. So when I say 950 calories, this actually equates to:
3.8 Clif Bars
9.0 bananas
6.2 Pabst Blue Ribbons
7.4 Henry Weinhard's Private Reserve
4.3 Deschutes Brewery's Obsidian Stouts (*)
14.6 ounces of Early Times Kentucky Whisky (*)
25.9 Lance Toast-Chee crackers
4.75 Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts (*)
3.5 Dunkin' Donuts' Boston Kreme donuts (*)
1.2 sticks of butter (*)
or, infinity Diet Cokes.
But Diet Coke is nasty, so I ate a stick of butter.

6) Focus.
It is difficult to ride while getting your finger pricked and having blood extracted. It is a slight motivation not to slack on the trainer when people are watching you (as opposed to when you are watching VHS tapes of mid-90s ESPN TDF coverage), but on the other hand, I felt compelled not to exert myself to the point that I would barf partially dissolved electrolyte strips. Making them clean up the sweat was bad enough.

7) Science.
Science was done. Do these electrolyte strips work? Who knows. Did I provide them with any useful data? Hopefully. Did I get a free t-shirt and water bottle? You bet your ass I did. Did I get a good workout? Yes (despite forgoing outdoor rides on two of the nicer days of the year). And did I learn something out of all of this? Possibly. I'm still contemplating the results and trying see if there's anything interesting. But if there is, you can read all about it here!

8) The blog.
Doing something stupid like this is a good way to get material to write about in a blog. Possibly too much material. (Possibly not enough material for this amount of words.) This epic trilogy has, in itself, become a test of endurance as a writer, and no doubt for anyone still reading. Therefore, I promise, more concise content. More, funnier jokes.

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