It seems like every year there are numbers coming out of the Tour de France that beggar belief. Not in a “hey, they are doped to the eyeballs” kind of way, more a “holy clinging skin suits Batman, that was fast” kind of way.
Last nights team time trial was the perfect example. Apart from the fact that the Aussie team managed to win the event which is more awesome than a kangaroo riding a bike with an emu on its it back at Bondi Beach! The stunning thing of note for mine was the fact that they managed to average over 57kph. 57kph, how fast is that really on a bike?
Today, I set out to see. I have obviously gone at greater speeds before, but that is usually at a place like Cambewarra Mountain where you have a few kilometres of 6% downhill. Today’s challenge was to see if I could crack 57kph on a 800m downhill at about 3%. I can already hear the Beach Road crew scoffing. Yes, for those guys that have a roasted bee for Sunday lunch and consider a gel a meal, it is probably not much of a feat. For someone of my age, size and ability, this was going to be a challenge.
I put on my brand new knicks that are, lets just say, snug. Expensive skin suit be damned, a pair of knicks a size and a half too small are just as snuggly. No cycling cap to catch the wind. Bare armed and bare legged, I took off with the number 57 in my sights.
This is the sight as I top the rise to begin the 800m plunge back to sea level. Into the big dog and I am away. The wind is whistling in my ears. I click it up another notch. Over some loose wet gravel gives me a moment of tightening around the rear exit. The slope levels out, I push harder. The last bit of downhill I reach for the drops and hold my breath. I don’t dare look at the Garmin. The result?
Close, but no yellow jersey for me.
It really gives me some perspective as to how fast these guys go. Yes, I realise I am on a crappy aluminium bike and that with 95kgs on top of it, is about as aero as an opened parachute, but these guys did that speed over 25kms, with a couple of lazy corners thrown in. It impresses me.