I hope you’re not asking, “Floyd who?” This year’s Tour de France has provided enough white-knuckle thrills to last me for a couple of years. It seems like the mass media coverage is somewhat diminished from the Lance era, though I’m gratified to note that NPR has been doing regular coverage. Melissa Block even managed to score an interview after Thursday’s stage 17, where Landis attacked on the first climb and spent 130Km with his nose in the wind to claw his way back into contention for the yellow jersey.
I don’t usually visit www.bicycling.com (home of Bicycling magazine), but fortunately a friend pointed me at Allen Lim’s reports from the tour. Lim is a physiologist who works with Landis as well as the TIAA-CREF team, and has posted some of Floyd’s power data, as well as his analysis. On-bike power meters, first developed over a decade ago, have become very popular among pros and have trickled down to the amateur ranks over the last few years. As it happens, I use the same type of power meter that Floyd does, so I couldn’t resist comparing Floyd’s power data from his gargantuan effort on Stage 17 to my power data from a 100-mile ride (not race) that I did last weekend.
|Distance||200.5 Km||165.1 Km|
|Avg. Speed||37.175 Km/h||29.7 Km/h|
|Max. Speed||83.7 Km/h||69.8 Km/h|
|Avg. Cadence||89 rpm||86 rpm|
|Peak 30 s power||544 W||398 W|
|Peak 30 min power||401 W||205 W|
|Energy expended||5456 Kj||3247 Kj|
My observations on this lopsided matchup:
- Floyd’s average power for 5+ hours was roughly what I can sustain for an hour, assuming I get to fall over at the end of that hour and maybe take it easy the next day.
- My 30s power wasn’t near my best-ever. In the last month I’ve actually put out over 570W for 30 seconds…but not in the middle of a 200Km mountain ride after three weeks of racing. Since Floyd did a lot of riding alone during this stage (and not a lot of attacking or covering attacks), I assume his 30s peak isn’t near his best either.
- His 30min power was about what I can put out for 2 minutes (and again, probably nowhere near his 30min max).
- He used about 70% more energy than I did. An interesting aside: as things turn out, kilojoules expended is a pretty good approximation of the dietary calories required to supply the energy. So he was burning about 1000 calories an hour.
This reinforces just how highly talented and trained these Pro Tour riders are, dope or no dope. I’m just not from the same planet, physiologically speaking. I’m absolutely cool with that, but the numbers really drive the point home.
Another interesting note is that Landis reportedly took 70 water bottles (each with a roughly .5 L capacity) over the course of his ride. He probaby dumped most of those over his head, but that’s still about 30 L more than I managed to consume in slightly more time. Of course, I cramped up toward the end, so maybe he’s onto something. Must be nice to have a team car following you with a big cooler full of bottles…