Friday, October 30, 2009

Speed & Power in Italy DVD Review

Over the past several years I've trained a lot indoors. I've tried watching training videos, but never got much out of them. I don't want to watch a video showing people riding on trainers, with someone barking out instructions like I'm in a spin class. I'd much rather watch something that tries to get my mind away from the fact that I'm sitting in my basement. I always watch something while I'm riding indoors: TV shows, news, sports, movies, bike races. All those things serve to keep my mind from dwelling on the mundane and sometimes painful workout I am trying to complete.

Recently, for a change of pace I decided to watch a DVD called "Speed & Power in Italy" by Global Ride. From the description I could see that this would be a simulated hour or so fast ride through Italy finishing with a 10 minute climb. Perfect. I usually ride about an hour, with tempo and threshold being my bread and butter. I started up the DVD in my laptop, cranked up the volume to 50 and put the ear buds in place. Some day I'll have a big wide screen down in the man hole, but not yet.

The video starts out in Venice floating through water with coach Matty Reed starting you on a brief warm-up, while Vivaldi plays in the background. After a couple of minutes the road ride begins as you ride with a couple of riders on some narrow Italian roads. The classical music was only for the brief warm-up and is replaced by some more upbeat instrumental stuff. I pedaled along watching the two riders as they cruised along through picturesque country side, passing through villages, with plenty of pedestrians, cars and other cyclists to make it interesting. The picture quality was excellent, by the way. The coach gave instructions, occasionally asking you to increase your speed or heart rate. One thing I liked was that the coach encouraged you to react to changes in terrain, as if you were in the group on the screen, so if there was a short steep hill, you were encouraged to stand. Too bad there were no stops.

The pace was never slow once the warm-up was done. I rode mostly hard tempo at 270 to 290 watts. At about the 45 minute mark, we hit the final 10 minute climb on a twisty narrow road, with zero car traffic, but several other cyclists. My virtual group ride passed several riders on the climb, which helped motivate me to stay near my threshold all the way to the end. I rode that final 10 minutes at 308 watts.

I’ve watched this DVD twice now, and could see myself watching it several more times this off season, especially during sweet spot workouts. It was fun and engaging to watch during my workout and enhanced the indoor riding experience. I was able to stay mentally focused on riding, without being bored at all. This is very different than watching something like a movie, which makes the workout tolerable by causing you to mentally disconnect from your workout.

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