Originally Posted by ellenDSD
For example, the book talks about 'spinning' and 'intervals' - what? It discusses max heart rate and LT testing - say what?
Cycling is such a great sport in part because almost everyone can ride a bike, yet you can also spend years in getting better (faster/longer) at it. Even the serious training books (e.g. "Cyclists Training Bible") recommend that the first few years, you just ride as much as you can.
You've probably noticed that you can go a certain speed either in a high gear where the pedals don't go around as fast, or you can be in an easier gear and pedal faster. The faster pedaling speed (also called higher "cadence") is in general, called "spinning". It's considered good because 1) it puts less strain on your knees, and 2) with practice, you can get more power out of all parts of the "circle" that you make when you pedal. When you only push on the "down" part of the pedal stroke, it's called "mashing".
"Intervals" are a training technique when you go all out for a while, rest, go all out, rest, etc. The "all out" could be sprints or hill climbs. It's a structured way of pushing your limits.
Your limits can be measured in a number of ways, but one popular way is to determine your maximum heart rate, and then use this as a yardstick (e.g., ride at 65% of your max heart rate for 10 minutes). Thi is more deterministic than just saying "ride hard for 10 minutes".
One point on the spectrum of exertion is called the lactate threshold (LT). It is the point at which your muscles are creating lactate acid more quickly than your body can get rid of it. Popularly, it's known as when your muscles "burn". It turns out that with training, you can increase this threshold.
I'd suggest that you start out by putting these terms into google or searching these forums to learn more. I don't think books are necessary to understand the basic ideas, but to employ them in a training program is a different matter.
I agree with Taxman - just ride for now (and enjoy it!)