Yes, if you simply go out and put the same amount of power out as you normally do without the lotion, where you would normally hit that lactic threshold, but now you are just no longer getting sore, perhaps, that will stunt any growth or improvement. maybe, I don't have the answer to that but I think in theory, you are just going to go as hard as you can and if this stuff makes you go 11% faster before you reach that lactic threshold, then great, you just went faster for longer before the burn. But in theory, your legs will perceive the same amount of burn and exhaustion but they are just propelling you faster while they do it. I used this stuff for the first time on Sunday and beat my long year standing PR on a popular Sprint going into a headwind with only a one man lead out and then KOMd a climb out of a bunch of ravines that has been contested by over 4000 riders. I have been riding theses segments almost 300 times over the past few years, usually with large fast group rides and it took all this time, the first day i used this lotion, to beat my old PR by 2 seconds and KOMing another segment while just riding with one other dude.
Yes I still hit a lactic threshold but it just took longer to hit and I was able to power through longer. But, I didn't use the lotion after the ride so I was sore the day after and I had a bad crash last wednesday so I don't know who much of the hurt is from which but I was sore yesterday and still sore today. However, I just wouldn't have been able to push that hard without the lotion and now my body is "adapting" to that workout. I think it's the same theory with steroids in that they don't automatically make you stronger, they just allow you to lift more weight but the strength you gain after, is still real. And I am sure there is a scientist out there who will tell you that even with the lotion flushing the lactic acid, your body is still doing the work even if you aren't working harder and just pushing the same power as you did on rides before you used the lotion, or maybe your point is valid and by using the lotion, if you train with the same previous power as you did before, you might be blunting any adaptations in the body but again, I think the main point is that you are simply putting out more power than before and just moving that threshold higher like you might have done in your first year of training. For instance, if you were doing Zwift workouts based on an FTP of 270 and those were a challenge, then if you are using the lotion you might want to move that FTP up to 300 and your legs will then perceive the same effort with the same lactic acid build up and recovery soreness but you were simply able to just push more power while doing so. It doesn't completely eliminate lactic acid buildup or DOMS. That's my take on it anyway and as I said, I have only used the stuff once but there was a noticeable difference in my perceived effort, on that PR I was shocked to see the time as I didn't even feel like I was going at 100% and that is a spot that 99% of the time I ride it, unless I was simply the lead out guy, I was trying to beat my PR and this time I felt I worked half as hard as usual and still beat my time by 2seconds.
The climb on the KOM was still an effort that hurt but a KOM on a climb is different than a PR on a sprint so. ANd maybe this one ride isn't enough data to make a snap judgement but it sure felt like I had put in an extra year of training. And again, I was still recovering from a bad crash from 4 days ago. So two things that I have sort of noticed, I did put "some" on Saturday and didn't really go hard at all due to the group I was with so I didn't notice much of a difference but I later found out you need a sliver dollar sized dollop for each leg. On Sunday I used that amount and it was night and day. However, upon some reading, I also sort of found out that perhaps a magnesium deficiency can make this less effective. And while a TT should be noticeable to a degree in that it's just you and your power, and not necessarily a faster or slower race pace (though elevation and wind could alter results), I would think it would be hard to judge one race from another. My segments I have done almost 300 times, in much better case scenarios than what I had on Sunday but still got several PRs and a KOM. The difference was just as big as the first couple or rides after I bought deep carbon wheels.Also, I think in one of the studies they had a hard time finding a performance benefit in a one hour time trial. So really the place you would expect to see more improvements are in situations like a Crit where you are constantly exploding in an almost interval type fashion. And for the one hour time trial, while one study found no actual performance benefit, the company still claims it's an effective recovery aid afterwards. So while perhaps not making you faster in a long time trial, it can make you less sore the next day and ready to go again. ANd the studies on sodium bicorbonate in general, are fairly sound and established. But for me, putting just a little bit on really didn't do anything noticeable, I had to really lather it up and rub it in deep and hard in a massage type fashion. You can't just wipe it on like sunscreen or moisturizing lotion. And I agree that my 1-1/2 rides with it can't really be a good "study", especially since putting just a little on seemingly did nothing (although I was able to get the best time for the day on some of my segments including a boat ramp with stronger guys, nothing was a PR). It wasn't until the second day where I put a full silver dollar sized gob on each leg where I noticed the difference. And I had also taken a magnesium supplement as well. Not sure how sound the science is with the magnesium but I am just saying I did take a supplement and a lot of people unknowingly have magnesium deficiencies. Not saying there's a definite connection but some of the things this lotion does sort of supplements the things magnesium can do for athletes as well. I also sort of link it to beet juice to a degree though a bit different as the beet juice affects by exertion effort and cardiovascular system more than my muscles but it's not that i feel faster with beet juice, it's that I feel less fatigued for the same efforts when I have beet juice. But you aren't going to rub this stuff on and all of the sudden be Peter Sagan, you still have to really push it to notice a difference. I think it only really aids in max efforts, same as beet juice, I don't notice if I have or haven't had my beet juice on a long steady tempo effort, it's the max sprints and climbs and harder efforts where I see the benefit. And in a TT, you don't really hit Z5 in short intervals, it's a steady pace where I think the studies have shown this cream is less effective in increasing performance.
I would use it on a ride that you do often and compare your PRs in the sprints and climbs on those rides and see if you notice the difference. Or maybe on a fast group ride and try hanging on the wheel of a guy who can generally drop you or that you have always failed to beat in a sprint and see what happens. Also on that KOM, I was neck and neck with the fastest guy on our team and while he did pull earlier in that section, he can still normally drop everyone on that climb after, this time I beat him up the climb.
I'm still never going to beat that guy in a race head to head but this seemed to put me closer to his abilities that what I otherwise would be.