To complete the 2200 miles of the world's most famous cycling race, riders need to consume the caloric equivalent of 25 cheeseburgers each day. Steve Mirsky reports.
The Tour de France ended Sunday with 24 year old Spaniard Alberto Contador taking home the yellow jersey. The doping scandals tarred the race, which is a shame, because what clean riders do is superhuman. They cover, and quickly, 2200 miles in 20 days. Contador spent 90 hours in the saddle during the race—the other 140 cyclists who finished spent even more time riding.
And according to researchers at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, the riders needed more than 20 million calories to complete the course. To put that in perspective, 20 million calories is what’s in about 72,000 cheeseburgers. That works out to about 25 cheeseburgers per rider per day.
When they’re on the road, each Tour rider generates somewhere between 250 and 350 watts. How much is that? If all that power could be captured, the one million people lining the course every day to watch the peleton speed by could probably run all their iPods and radios off the cyclist output. Plus have enough left over to cook up a cheeseburger of their own.