In tandem with the Triathlete Challenge, this month’s One-Hour Workouts will run you through the basics of baseline testing in each discipline. This week: bike testing!

The key to setting goals—and achieving them—is knowing where you are right now and where you want to go. An important first step in figuring this out is undertaking some baseline fitness tests at regular intervals throughout the year. This way, you can monitor progress and make changes if and when you need to. This bike fitness test is from former pro cyclist Tom Danielson, who is now head coach of Cinch Cycling. As with last week’s swim fitness test, it can be scaled according to fitness and experience, and as you’ll see here there are two different sets: one for beginners and one for intermediate/advanced athletes. Note that both tests will take slightly more than one hour (depending on how fast you’re riding in the intermediate/advanced test!).

The key to getting accurate results is undertaking a thorough warm-up; you definitely don’t want to just jump on your bike and attempt to hit your best efforts. This warm-up is designed to build intensity and introduces some faster, more intense riding so that you’re ready to go when it’s time for the main set.

The main set is test time, so give it your best effort—think 10/10 RPE (rate of perceived exertion). Be sure to record your average heart rate, power (if using), and make notes about how you felt, as this can prove useful when testing later in the season. Pace yourself: Don’t go too hard too soon and try to make it an even effort. Always follow the same warm-up every time you repeat the test and ride the same route. The intermediate/advanced test is a hard workout, you should expect to feel fatigued after this, so be sure to avoid higher intensity workouts either side of this session.

Once the hard work of the bike fitness test is all done, cool down for at least 10 minutes, including plenty of higher cadence, light load spinning.

Bike Fitness Test

Warm-up

20 minutes relaxed riding, gradually building to 6-7/10 RPE

3 x 1 minute fast pedaling ~100 RPM, 1 minute easy spin

5 minutes easy riding, 6-7/10 RPE

5 minutes all-out effort

5-10 minutes easy riding, 6-7/10 RPE

Main Set

Beginner:
12 minutes at best effort, 10/10 RPE

If doing outdoors, aim to find a route you can ride with no/minimal stops

Intermediate/Advanced:
Best effort (10/10 RPE) over a 20-mile flat course

Cooldown

10-15 minutes high cadence easy spinning