VO2 Max: Tested

Posted by on Mar 10, 2010 in Bike | 5 Comments

I’ve long wanted to have my VO2 Max tested. And yesterday I finally did. Admittedly, going into the test I was fairly nervous – I wanted no excuse to extinguish the delusions of grandeur that I so energetically pursue. And while a poor result would not inherently do that, it would scientifically confirm my own suspicions of mediocrity. It is one thing to relate to Don Quixote, and an entirely different thing to actually act like him. But I went anyway. And when Aaron Stites said “pedal”, dammit, I pedaled!

The results?

Encouraging. At least enough so that those delusions are not completely and utterly off base. But still, delusional nonetheless. However that is hardly enough to warrant them ceasing to egg me forward, prodding me from race to race and season to season. That ever undulating pursuit of the fantastic. And so onward down that illusory path I will continue. But beyond the mildly pleasing results were numbers and feedback that exposed inefficiencies and weaknesses that were heretofore unrealized and therefore unrectified. But now, with the bright light of scrutiny and (hopefully) diligently corrective application I can eliminate them, sending them into the oblivion where bad habits and wasteful pedal strokes go to wither and die. Indeed, those annual ambitions are starting to take form and shape, slipping out of the void of vague and ambiguous thought, and finding their way onto paper and into the dangerous realm of hearts and minds.

It’s going to be a most interesting summer.

There were, naturally, some rather useful questions answered during the test. Namely, and foremost in my mind was just how effective and useful a winter of ski touring-as-training has been. Those days, coupled with a skate ski or occasional road ride were the foundation of my off season cross-training. And while I had specific direction, there were days when I set that aside in favor of simply chasing powder. And it was a chase. Without fail our dawn patrols were quietly competitive, especially on those days when certain race-minded tourers were in the group, floating up the dark skin track in the nebulous form of a bobbing head lamp. That is, at least until that contrail of light vanished around the next ridge or over the looming horizon. And so, to be able to answer that question in the affirmative – that yes backcountry skiing is good training – is to add a small amount of justified satiety to my winter mindset. In other words, cross training works – physically, but mentally as well. However, my legs are lagging behind my heart and lungs, but only just. And that is not completely unexpected. I am entering the 2010 season with fewer hours on the bike than ever before. and yet, as fit, if not more so, than ever.

As I have already said, it’s going to be a most interesting summer.

In the meantime, I have my marching orders. More bike time. Better nutrition. Better pedal strokes.

There is but one foreseeable problem: it’s snowing in the mountains. And with a temperamental snow pack finally starting to settle down and behave, there are posolutely more skin tracks to follow, and turns to draw in untracked, creamy Utah snow. But I rest easy, knowing that those efforts are paying dividends – or at least they will down the road, when the suns of July and the dusts of August have us longing for the bitter chill of dawn patrol.

By the Numbers:

Age: 32
Weight: 173. I fluctuate a lot between 169-174. Aiming for 165-168 for “race weight”
BMI: 25.5. Yes, according to BMI I am “overweight”. But then, BMI on its own is ridiculous.
Body Fat: 12% Would love to shed 1-2 points off this.
Max HR: 185
Anaerobic Threshold (BPM):  168
VO2 Max: 62.7

A noted thanks to Aaron Stites at Peak Fitness & Performance who conducted the test, and spent a considerable amount of time afterward explaining the results with me. It was a highly productive experience.


  1. Dave B
    March 10, 2010

    Adam, I’ve thought very seriously about getting this done this season, do you feel you walked away with a lot of good information that will help you in your season? Did you couple the VO2max test with a bike fit to make any adjustments?



    • Grizzly Adam
      March 10, 2010

      I think it was pretty useful. The big gain for me was ID’ing the inefficiencies in my stroke and also in my recovery rate. We did a few minor bike fit changes, but will revisit that when I have both bikes on hand. It was a nice way to focus my training on certain areas, and to get a clear picture of what has or hasn’t been working.

  2. UtRider
    March 10, 2010

    Major props for publishing your data. It seems that most of the local riders who have had this done keep the results private. I think it’s very cool that you put it all out there for people to see. Of course, your number is quite good so that makes it easier. Regardless, well done. I for one certainly appreciate your willingness to share. I did this when I was in high school and ended up with a number in the 40’s.

  3. Jeff Higham
    March 11, 2010

    Did you do any MHR testing on your own before the official test (riding at max effort for 20 min on a gradual hill and so forth)? If so, how did your previous MHR compare to the one produced by the test?

    • Grizzly Adam
      March 11, 2010

      I have done a little of that, but based on races and other workouts from the past couple of years, the max heart rate result was no surprise. It’s been at 185 for quite some time. I think I got it up into the 190s a few years back during the Le Mans run at Moab. But that was fear driven…. like the running of the bulls.

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