So Kevin, Stephen and I were in the Santa Ynez valley to catch stage 6 of the Tour of California (the Solvang time trial) on Friday. This trip was a mix of business, riding and catching the race. Kevin did a great write-up of the trip, so I’ll focus on just how good professional cyclists really are.
We picked a great spot at the 1K-to-go point of the time trial course to watch all the riders. The speeds they were carrying down the hill (and up the other side) were truly impressive. The hum of their solid disc rear wheels reminded you how fast they were going (40 mph+) as did the California Highway Patrol cars that lead/followed each rider.
Levi Leipheimer won the stage with a time of 30:40 (averaging 29.3 mph over the 15 mile course). That’s a very impressive performance, but I had no idea how impressive until Saturday.
On Saturday we rode the time trial course (same route the pros rode on Friday). I was shocked at how technical the course was. Lots of turns, gradual climbs and rough pavement. There is even a steep little hill on Ballard Canyon that really forces you to get out of the saddle and hammer it – followed by a technical little descent. All three of us came blow-away that someone could average almost 30 mph riding that course. I’ve ridden with pros before, but now I have even more respect for their skill and power on the bike. There is a reason these guys get paid to ride bikes . . . because they are good.
So I did a little more research to find out just how good they are. Gustav Larsson took 3rd in the TT and posted his power data – unreal. He finished in 30:57 and average 486 watts. Given that Larsson is 80kg, that’s over 6 watts per kilogram for the 15 mile effort.
I’ve posted Larsson’s power profile for the stage above. My peak 1 minute effort is about 500 watts, so the thought of someone maintaining that level for a 30 minute, semi-technical ride is incredible.