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Archive: December 21, 2008

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revisiting stage 17

Sunday,  12/21/08  04:42 PM

Today I received an email from Adam Winer, a friend and fellow member of the Conejo Valley Cyclists riding club; he reported that "I spoke with one of my friends from San Diego...  Floyd Landis has been showing up to his clubs weekly rides to help train.  I guess these guys must really be fast!"  This started a little discussion about the type of power a pro cyclist can generate, and as a result I'd like to revisit Floyd's incredible ride on stage 17 of the 2006 Tour de France. 

In cycling this is now just called "stage 17".  You might remember, the previous day on stage 16 of the 2006 tour - another tortuous mountain stage - Floyd had bonked, giving up eight minutes and the yellow jersey and seemingly putting himself out of contention.  Then on stage 17, the most difficult of that tour, he broke away on the first climb and in an incredible performance stayed out in front all day, finishing over five minutes ahead of the desperately chasing peloton.

Floyd ended up winning the 2006 tour, largely due to that performance, but shortly afterward was disqualified because he tested positive for testosterone - on stage 17!  More about that below.

Here are some numbers from Floyd's amazing performance:

  • 5 hours 23 minutes and 36 seconds.
  • Covering 125 miles (81 miles alone in the wind).
  • At a speed of 19.3 mph/hr.
  • Hitting a max speed of 52 mph/hr.
  • Averaging 281 watts when moving for the whole ride and 318 watts over the last two hours.
  • Averaging 324 watts while pedaling for the whole ride and 364 watts over the last 2 hours.
  • At an average cadence of 89 rpm.
  • Transferring 5,456 Kjoules of energy to his Cycleops PowerTap.
  • Taking, no joke, a total of 70 water bottles (480 ml each) from the car to keep himself cool and hydrated.
  • Attacking about a quarter of the way up the Col des Saisies for 30 seconds at 544 watts, which settled into a 5-minute peak of 451 watts, which continued for 10 minutes at an average of power of 431 watts, and left everyone in his dust after 30 minutes at an average power of 401 watts.
  • Spending 13.2% of his time or 43 minutes coasting like a rocket on the descents and another 60% between 4 to 7 watts per kilogram of body weight (aka, the pain cave).
  • Holding onto 373 watts over the Col de Joux-Plane.

Rewatching that stage gives me goose bumps.  I remember vividly watching it "live" (well, via Tivo) when it happened, not knowing what was going to happen, and yelling at my TV; it was the most incredible athletic accomplishment I have ever witnessed.  Even on rewatching it doesn't seem possible that he could stay so far in front of a hard-charging peloton for so long, and I find myself tensing with anticipation even though I know how it ends.

A note about the drug test: I still believe Floyd was innocent of doping.  Nobody would take testosterone for one stage – it wouldn't help anyway - and he was clean on stage 16 (he was tested, because he had the yellow jersey going into the day) and on stage 19 (the time trial where he was tested again because he retook the yellow jersey).  Not to mention testosterone wouldn't help a GC rider anyway; it builds muscle, not endurance.  And not to mention his testosterone level was normal, it was only the ratio to something else which was abnormal.  I don't know if he was framed or just a victim of bad test process, but either way it is too bad that this unbelievable athletic accomplishment has been tarnished.

What strikes me in retrospect reading articles about stage 17 from that time is that nobody thought Floyd couldn't have done it.  Everyone knew a world-class cyclist like Floyd could put together a performance like that, if all the conditions were right and they really applied themselves.  Cycling is so mental, despite being so physical!  It was definitely a white swan...


happy winter solstice!

Sunday,  12/21/08  05:16 PM

Happy winter solstice to you, as the shortest day comes and winter descends upon us...  gray skies and rain out here, and snow pretty much everywhere else...  but I have a sunny mood for some reason.  Must be all the great food I've been eating :)

Today was an awesome day for football - did you catch the Chargers come from behind victory against Tampa Bay?  (Note: I am nominally a San Diego fan since L.A. still doesn't have a pro team.)  Or the Redskins nail-biter against Philadelphia?  Great great games.  I can't wait for the Carolina / Giants game tonight, that one should be great too...

[ Update: it was better than great.  Extremely well played between two of the best teams in the league, and came down to a 50-yard field goal at the buzzer - missed! - which sent the game into overtime.  Excellent.

Bonus points to the music director at the Meadowlands, who played Black Sabbath, Van Halen, Scorpions, and then with the game on the line for the final field goal, selected Europe's The Final Countdown. ]

Lately I've been getting a lot more LinkedIn, Facebook, Plaxo, etc requests from old friends and colleagues; everyone seems to be gardening their networks, either because they've lost their job or possibly might lose it in future.  Or [more positive spin] maybe everyone is refocusing on friends instead of work.  Anyway it's really nice, I've had several email correspondences and a nice lunch come out of it so far...

solstice at NewgrangeGerard Vanderleun: the Solstice as seen from Newgrange.  "Deep inside the world's oldest known building, every year, for only as much as 17 minutes, the sun -- at the exact moment of the winter solstice -- shines directly down a long corridor of stone and illuminates the inner chamber at Newgrange.  Newgrange was built 1,000 years before Stonehenge and also predates the pyramids by more than 500 years."  Now that is cool...

Here's a nice tip for you: make files with no extension text files.  More useful than you might think, you can just type notes to yourself and leave them on your desktop.  In Windows Explorer, select Tools | Folder Options | File Types.  Select New, then click Advanced, and associate a blank extension with Text Document.  That's it!  You're welcome...

l'hydoptere capsize!One minute you're blasting along at 61 knots, and then...  you're wet...

Cool: TTAC reports Obama will adopt 14 month old child from Israel.  About him and his advisor's monitoring the progress of Better Place, the electric car company / system you're read about here many times now.  I don't know how real they are, but they've certainly attracted attention!

Ted Dziuba: There will be no Web 3.0.  Whew.

"you're late" - Gahan WilsonAn oldie but goodie from Rogers Cadenhead: World's Oldest Person Dies (Again).  "The world's oldest person has a high mortality rate (tough job), and every time AP covers the story using the same formula: who kicked the bucket, how old was she down to the day, what was her secret for longevity, and who's now the oldest person."  A weird concept, and he's right, there will always be such a person.  In fact "when the oldest person expires, it moves the living memory of the world past a certain number of historic events, a concept I've dubbed the Line of Oblivion. Although it's a grim notion, I check Wikipedia to see what crosses the line each time the oldest person croaks."

kid of the day :)Kid of the day :)


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About Me

Greatest Hits
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
On Blame
Try, or Try Not
Books and Wine
Emergent Properties
God and Beauty
Moving Mount Fuji
The Nest
Rock 'n Roll
IQ and Populations
Are You a Bright?
Adding Value
The Joy of Craftsmanship
The Emperor's New Code
Toy Story
The Return of the King
Religion vs IQ
In the Wet
solving bongard problems
visiting Titan
unintelligent design
the nuclear option
estimating in meatspace
second gear
On the Persistence of Bad Design...
Texas chili cookoff
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
universal healthcare
triple double
New Yorker covers
Death Rider! (da da dum)
how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?
the Law of Significance
Holiday Inn
Daniel Jacoby's photographs
the first bird
Gödel Escher Bach: Birthday Cantatatata
Father's Day (in pictures)
your cat for my car
Jobsnotes of note
world population map
no joy in Baker
vote smart
exact nonsense
introducing eyesFinder
to space
where are the desktop apps?
still the first bird
electoral fail
progress ratches
2020 explained