Twice weekly, Kenneth Phey will embark on bicycle rides to keep fit. Each time, he chalks up about 20km to 30km on his two-wheeler. While the engineer loves the sport, he has no inkling of the fitness level required to be considered elite.
Now he does.
The 46-year-old was one of 12 participants at yesterday morning's OCBC Get Your Body Cycle-Ready workshop. It is one of the build-up activities leading to the OCBC Cycle event on Nov 18 and 19 at the Singapore Sports Hub.
The two-hour session, conducted by Singapore Cycling Federation head coach Adrian Ng, was held at the Singapore Sports Institute with the physiological tests done at the Human Performance Laboratory.
There, participants were required to pedal at full steam for six seconds, 30 seconds and four minutes, with recovery time in between, on a Wattbike cycle ergometer to measure their power output.
A second session was done at the Performance Gym, where participants went through tests to assess their strengths and to have their scores benchmarked against international athletes.
"I found out that the power generated by myself is about 20 per cent of that produced by a professional rider," Phey shared.
"I was curious about the fitness of the top cyclists and these tests helped me to realise that what you see on TV is way harder in reality.
" The session was useful because I now have measurements to benchmark my own fitness."
As Ng revealed, it takes phenomenal fitness that combines both explosive power and bags of stamina to join the elite realm of Tour de France cyclists.
While a cyclist can floor the accelerator pedal in a six-second burst, it takes serious endurance to maintain maximum power over four minutes.
"Our national cyclists can sustain peak power for four minutes but a competitive male elite can hold that for 20 minutes," the 36-year-old said.
"Only a handful can hit this benchmark. It is not a simple case of quitting your job, training full-time and dreaming about competing in the Tour de France. The elite is truly an exclusive club for the fittest in the world, they have stronger hearts and lungs that fuel their muscles at a different rate.
"For the social cyclists, these tests can help them understand that there is really a big difference between recreational and international-level competitive cycling. And they can put these benchmarks into their training programme to improve themselves."
And that is the biggest takeaway for Haroon Rafiq Sindhu, an IT specialist who is set for his second outing in the 42km ride at the OCBC Cycle.
The 36-year-old said: "The figures helped me to gauge what level I'm at as a cyclist. It was a really intensive session and, even though I went all out, I realised that I am not really conditioned to be a competitive cyclist.
"The instructors were very helpful and gave us printouts of the readings. Hopefully, I can come back again next year and show improvement."
•Registration for this year's OCBC Cycle has been extended to Oct 31. Sign up at www.ocbccycle.com