Video Review: CTS Time Trial

photo 1It’s a rainy (but warm for winter) day in Central Pennsylvania, and I wanted to get another good cycling workout under my belt for the week.  Today, I pulled out a workout I received for free with the CycleOps trainer that I was given a number of years ago:  Carmichael Training Systems Presents Train Right Time Trial.

This video was created in 2004 – prior to the time when Lance Armstrong admitted to his doping.  It was a time when most everyone in the cycling world rode on Lance’s cycling jersey coattails for their own financial gain.  Chris Carmichael, who is the founder of Carmichael Training Systems and the coach in this workout, uses many opportunities to remind you that the workout you are doing is also done by Lance Armstrong.

On a side note, I did find that when you play the workout backwards, you get to hear:  “………Laaaaaance………when done…….with….workout……………report to the…….(air quotes) vitamin center……for extra (air quotes) vitaminssssssss…..”   You would have thought that the International Doping Agency would have picked up on that…   All kidding aside, you might know that I did respect Lance and was sad to hear the admission.  Truth be told, I’d still accept an invitation from Lance to go for a spin (just reply below Lance).

OK – The Official Start of My Review

Anyway, let me step down of of my soapbox and get to the workout review.  The workout is 60 minutes long – which is a good length of time to be spinning to nowhere.  That 60 minutes starts after (what seems) 10 minutes of warnings.  Then, they review the Train Right Field Test that they suggest you take – for a baseline in the training.  (I did NOT do this.)

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I consider myself an avid cyclist but not a serious athlete.  I’m a regular guy, dad, home builder-by-day, and I like to jump on my bike as often as I can.  That being said, I’m not out measuring VO2 maximum numbers.  I have used a heart rate monitor in the past (and may try doing that a little bit this year to see if it does anything for me).

photo 4So, the extra (what seems) 10 minutes of athletic performance math did nothing for me.  It’s probably good for those number-crunching athletes who like to measure their performance for racing.  For the rest of us, it can get mind numbing.

Let me see…..take your Average Power from the CTS Field Test.  Multiply that number by .90 (if you’re an over-the-hill rider).  Carry the one.  Use the square root of the remainder to calculate the………oh forget it!  Let’s get rolling!!

Chris Carmichael gets you started with a 10 minute workout of easy spinning (90 RPM) with two 1-minute sets of higher cadence (100 RPM).  Of course, I already had a large warmup pedaling during the warnings and the math lesson, but maybe I should have waited for the actual workout to start.

I was using my new 1UpUSA trainer – and it took me a little bit to figure out what gear ratio to use.  There is no indication in the video (which is a feature I like a la Spinervals), but as the whole workout progressed, I realized that the cadence was the main focus.  After beating myself up for using a lower gear ratio than I’m used to using on other workouts I like to do, I settled in on the Small Front Cog/19 on the back for the easy spinning.

Fortunately, there were a lot of close-ups of the gearing for the riders.  I noted a lot of them were in even lower gear ratios, so I forgave myself for wimping out – even more so because they were using CycleOps trainers (main sponsor of the workout), and I know how much easier it is to spin on a CycleOps trainer than my 1UpUSA trainer.

The first main set of the workout were three 5-minute Power Intervals.  These were longer sustained efforts at 100 RPM.  I was still messing around with the gear ratio and found that I stayed in that Small Cog/19 on the back.   Geez…..I still feel wimpy doing that.  Between each of the 5-minute Power Intervals, you were given a 5-minute low cadence break.

The riders are reminded to keep a focus during the 5-minute set – focusing on one aspect only (like cadence).  I spent most of the time thinking about cadence, and I do admit that my mind wandered with what I was going to be writing.  And when I did that, my cadence did drop.  So I refocused and was able to rebound.

The second part of the workout was a 12-minute Steady State of pedaling.  There were three total sets of:

  • 2 minutes at 95-100 RPM (I was on Small Cog/17)
  • 2 minutes at 80-85 RPM (I shifted up to Small Cog/15)

It was an easier set than the 5-minute Power Intervals – but still a decent workout.

The workout ends with an 8-minute cool down period.  When you think about it, it seems like you’re resting as much as your going hard.  And that’s ok.  During the warnings at the beginning, the narrator tells you that the intent is not to go so hard to completely wear you out on their videos.  While I wasn’t completely worn out by the end of this workout, my legs felt like they rode the 18 miles that my computer told me I went in that hour (well hour + long warning and math lesson).

General Thoughts About The Workout

The camaraderie between Chris Carmichael and the riders seemed to be lacking.  There didn’t seem to be the friendly cajoling or banter that Coach Troy gives you in the Spinervals workout, and I missed it.  The riders looked like they were there to do a job, and they didn’t really look like they were having much fun.  Maybe that’s what those number-crunching cyclists like, but I prefer some personality.

Chris does a few interactions with the riders – and even pushes one rider to go super hard (whereby she has to do the obligatory determined pushing-the-pedals-hard look that says she’s serious).  It’s sort of like my wife’s serious dance face when she’s doing the Electric Slide at weddings, etc.  (uh oh.  I’ll be in the doghouse for that remark…)

photo 3Chris also does a few interviews with the riders while they’re spinning – but the interviews are nothing more than mini-endorsements of the workout itself.  “Yes.  I feel like this training is helping me out.”   Yawn.

The two riders in the back don’t get any interaction with Coach Carmichael.  Heck – they don’t even get a high definition camera for their close-ups.  They get stuck with a ceiling mounted, fuzzy shooting video camera for their few moments of glory.

Overall, if you’re looking for a high cadence workout, this one is decent.  If you can get past all of the references to Lance’s greatness (in what I believe is an attempt to ride Lance’s jersey-tails) and know that this was filmed prior to the Great Oprah Admission, you’ll enjoy it.

Ride on!


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