You've learnt to push yourself harder on a static bike through these test protocols? You might think of your vo2 as a 'peak' rather than a 'max' from the first test. Maybe you are closer to a true max this time.
Used to see similar sorts of things when I was more of a lab rat in Norway.
Oh and your idea of detraining is probably not what the researchers had in mind!
My thoughts exactly Tessa!
both of the above
basically you have tapered.
I mentioned some of these options to the leader of the project (she popped in wearing her scrubs - just finished some op I think). She was going to contact the group exercise physiologist for his thoughts...
Tessa - not sure 3 x bike test over 8 weeks would normally see much improvement? The 2 previous times the test gradually got harder, this last time it was steadily increasing in effort then very quickly went impossible - like I was cycling in treacle, over about 15-20 pedals strokes.
As a runner with a high VO2 max, it can take a bit of practice to get the most out of yourself on a bike when you are using a smaller overall muscle mass in a different way. It is certainly plausible that the 3 tests have helped you to do that, whether they have or not I don't know.
I think at this stage I defer to rholmes, but not sure if she reads your log.