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Monday, July 25, 2005

The difference between you and Joe Sixpack is the same difference between you and Lance Armstrong

When Mike and I climbed Alp D'Huez, we discovered how big the difference was between us and Lance Armstrong was. We climbed the hill in 89 minutes, while he did it in 39 the year before. (Of course, I have the excuse that I'm a few years older than he was when he did it, but age itself doesn't account for more than a minute or two, if that --- the fact that my touring bike weighs more probably accounts for another minute or two as well)

This article confirms it. My peak is probably around Lance's bottom. He will probably never get fat and overweight, and I would never ever make even Cat 3 as a bike racer. I remember when a friend of mine bought a bike in March and was winning races by June --- it was amazing. Fortunately, the benefits of exercise cuts across genetic boundaries.

Mr. Armstrong's numbers may not be much different from other elite racers, but he has the average cyclist beat by a mile. A good recreational rider could generate about 4 watts per kilogram, which would translate to a speed of about 20 miles an hour on a flat road. Mr. Armstrong, Dr. Coyle said, would be traveling at 34 miles an hour.

"The average recreational cyclist could not get up to 34 miles an hour and if you launched them at 34 miles an hour, let them latch onto a car, say, and then let them go and said, 'O.K., keep it,' they could not hold that speed for more than 5 or 10 seconds," Dr. Coyle said.

Mr. Armstrong's VO2 max is 85 milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute. An average untrained person has a VO2 max of 45 and with training can get it to 60.

"Lance would be 60 if he was a couch potato and never trained," Dr. Coyle said. "For the average person, their ceiling is Lance's basement."

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