Imagine riding your bike from the start of the Tour de France. You would have to bike 20.6 miles up to the peak of Col du Galibier in the French Alps in order to get there. There are more than one big climbs in your day. You can take on the famous Alpe d'Huez climb after facing the peak of Col de la Croix de Fer.
I might not be able to finish Stage 12 on the healthiest day of my life, because the winner will need five hours to finish the ride. In the 24 days of the tour, Stage 12 must be completed.
I have modeled the Tour de France for nearly two decades using terrain data and the laws of physics. I can not comprehend the physical capabilities needed to complete the race. Only a few humans are capable of completing a Tour de France stage in less than an hour. They are able to do what the rest of us can only dream of because they can produce huge amounts of power. The rate at which cyclists burn energy is referred to as power. The winner of the Tour de France will burn more than 200 Big Macs.
To make a bicycle move, a Tour de France rider transfers energy from his muscles, through the bicycle and to the wheels that push back on the ground The more power a rider has, the quicker they can put it out. A watt is the rate of energy transfer. Compared to most people, Tour de France cyclists can generate enormous amounts of power.Advertisement
A fit recreational cyclist can put out up to 300 watt on a regular basis. Cyclists in the Tour de France can produce over 400 watt per hour. The pros are able to hit 1,000 watt for a short time on a steep uphill.
Not all of the energy that a cyclist puts into his bike is turned into motion. On downhills, they have to fight gravity while climbing.
All of the physics associated with cyclist power output is incorporated into my model. A Tour de France winner needs to put out an average of about 325 watt over the course of the race. If they could produce 300 watt for 20 minutes, they would be happy.
Cyclists get all this energy from where? That's right, food, of course.
When used for activities like swimming and 40 percent efficient in the heart, your muscles can be as efficient as any machine. My model uses an average efficiency of 20 percent. I can estimate how much food the winning cyclist needs by knowing how efficient they are.
Cyclists in the Tour de France burn an average of over 6,000 calories per stage. Racer will burn close to 8000 calories on some mountain stages. Jam rolls, energy bars, andgels are some of the treats riders eat to make up for their lost energy.
The Tour de France winner weights only 146 pounds. Tour de France cyclists don't have a lot of calories to burn. They need to keep putting food into their bodies so they can keep going. If you watch a stage of the Tour de France this year, you can see how many times the cyclists eat.
Under a Creative Commons license, this article is re-posted. The original article is worth a read. The Conversation's newsletter is available here.