How good are these guys anyway? by Alex Kamara
We all do it. You’re watching something on TV and trying to understand how difficult it is so you draw parallels. The cycling classics are on; we have been riding for a while now and everyone is improving and getting excited about achievements. We watch the pros on TV and inevitably comparisons arise.
“45kph average sounds impressive; but I bet if I really trained I could do it. How tough can it be anyway?”
To answer this I did some research to figure out how to benchmark the gulf between us and the pros.
I decided to use power to weight ratio. Why? Because this is the most relevant unit measure for comparison between different athletes who propel themselves (in a machine or by foot, arms whatever) using their own power. And it is a popular, well-studied metric in cycling.
And as a reference point for our group I decided to use me!
- BODY WEIGHT: (http://home.trainingpeaks.com/blog/article/why-is-weight-so-important-in-cycling-part-1)
Men’s Road Race World Champions (2001 to 2012) mean body weight per unit of height:
- Imperial: 2.15lbs / inch
- Metric: 0.384kg / cm
Women’s Road Race World Champions (2001 to 2012) mean body weight per unit of height:
- Imperial: 1.87lbs / inch
- Metric: 0.334kg / cm
So for my height of 181cm my world championship weight target is 181 x 0.384 = 69.5kg.
I currently weigh 81kg so I am 11kg over weight.
Functional Threshold Power (FTP) is measured as the power you can produce through the pedals continuously for 1hr. It is measured in WATTS. This FTP is divided by your weight to give your Power to Weight ratio.
- Pros are at 6W /kg at FTP: http://cyclingtips.com.au/2009/07/just-how-good-are-these-guys/
- This means a 70kg pro can produce 400 – 420 Watts for 1hr.
- Wiggins has produced 500W for 15minutes on the track.
- In the hardest sprint I have ever done I may have averaged 400W for 20 – 30s.
You need a power meter to measure FTP – I recently got one and did a test and I produced and FTP of 240Watts
- This means my current power to weight ratio is 240 / 81 = 3W/kg equivalent to a moderate CAT 4 rider… http://cyclingtips.com.au/2009/07/just-how-good-are-these-guys/
- If I drop 11 kg as required, my power to weight ratio will be 240 / 70 = 3.4W/kg (a good CAT 3 rider)
- In order to ride with the pros I would then need to generate another 160 Watts of FTP
- I essentially need to drop 11kg and increase my power by 2/3
- In simple terms I need to add the power of another Alex whilst dropping 11kg
Pros produce this after 200km, sleep and repeat, and repeat: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QE97iUvSHk0
So next time you are chuckling at the skinny legs and arms of the pro cyclist, just understand that these guys are machines; absolute beasts, who have dedicated everything to their sport.
- Pros are no joke
- I am not a pro
- Respect the pros