• Bloomer Park, Rochester Hills, MI

  • Racing the Provincial's Crit 2014

  • Forest City Velodrome - London, ON

  • Larkenville Challenge, Buffalo, NY

  • Winning the Sprint at the ForestCity Velodrome

  • Track Nationals 2014: Keirin

  • Track Nationals 2014: Points Race

  • OCUP #1: Feb 2015

What do you think of when you think of a cycling "studio"? Lots of people strapped to their own bikes which in turn are strapped to trainers with someone (maybe a computer) calling the shots. Zone 3! Zone 4! UP! Out of the saddle! Sit. I have been there. I had to admit, I do not get much joy from sitting on a trainer in my basement and thus the thought of spinning in a group doesn't give me much joy either. 2-3 hours of riding a trainer in a room full of sweaty people all griping about how hard the workout is isn't my idea of fun. A little over two years ago, I joined the Forest City Velodrome in London, ON largely to get away from "spinning". I think I've done two indoor group rides since.

So, when Coach Veal put "Join indoor training camp day 3" on my training plan, I almost cringed. First, you have to understand Ed Veal and Mike Mandel started Real Deal Performance (RDP) in the back of Gears Bikeshop in Leaside (Toronto, ON) with a setup of 10 Racer Computrainers. Both Ed and Mike are experience elite bike racers. I have popped in to look around, but never bit the bullet to actually ride. I have done computer trainer workouts before. Before I joined the track, I bought my own Tacx computertrainer, and I have ridden up Alps d'Heuz, trained with Andy and Frank Schleck, etc.. but that thing has largely sat unused since. I have also been to one of RDP competitors some time ago as part of the Morning Glory Cycling club.


My experience with cycling studios has been either one of two modes:


  • Instructor is at the front of the class calling the intervals with a bunch people riding their own bikes and trainers
  • Computer running a program that change the grade - in a group environment it usually turns into a race with everyone riding a time trial against everyone else.

In both cases, it's boring! This weekend is the four year aniversary of me buying my first road bike and showing up at a cycling studio run by another bike shop. So, it is ironic that I "selected" Sat. Jan 5, 2013 to jump into a cycling class.

I was surprised after the bike was strapped into the trainer and everyone else was setup, Mike Mandel started the session with everyone going through introducing themselves and their goals. Mike then started explaining today was about climbing and we would be working on keeping our cadence up. He asked the group about what climbing means to each person.


Mike then pulled out a whiteboard and went through some of the aspects of climbing. I have never been to a cycling studio where the instructor pulled out a while board and went through some theory before the real work began. Mike explained we would be using the information during the workout part of the session. I should meation we were spinning easy getting in a good warmup during the entire time we were engaged with Mike in the discussion.

While we are fastened to computrainers, they were not the focus of the session. For the first workout, was a 45min effort including a long climb. Mike loaded up the computrainer profile for the session and hit GO. The idea was to keep the cadence around 100RPM. After the 45min session, we spun easy for 10 mins or so (the computrainer program was off at this point) until everyone was ready for the next interval set.  The next set was a 15 min climbing interval with a slightly harder grade, but a shorter effort. Because it was shorter, everyone gave a little more to cross the finish line around the same time. Like I've said, computraining workouts usual turn into races but in this case it just pushed everyone to go harder. Unlike a 1.5 hour TT effort which seems like a waste of time.  Between workouts, Mike would refill out water bottles for us and would ask if we needed anything.

The last interval sets were race intervals. 1.6km long ride with a short 5% grade to climb, a fast downhill section that lead to a 8% grade uphill finish. We did that interval three times. After each set, Mike would go over the tactics used during the race and give suggestions how everyone could improve while we spun easy collecting outselves for the next effort.




All in all, I think Ed and Mike have a unique cycling studio. The focus is more on training and getting something out of the workout, both physically and mentally, rather than just spinning randomly for 1-3 hours or slogging it would with some guy calling "ZONE3!" "ZONE4!". I would definitely go back when I'm not riding the track. I would recommend the Real Deal Performance studio to anyone looking for increase their fitness for the coming cycling season and especially anyone racing this season. These guys know their stuff.

Real Deal Performance website: http://www.realdealracing.ca


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