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M Gee

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I remember when John Howard set the bicycle land speed record on the Bonneville salt flats. While there are many other nationalities that have held land speed records, there is something uniquely American about doing it at Bonneville.

Now John Howard has been coaching a 45 year old woman to top his record. And she did it handsomely, easily topping the last time it was set, 166 mph (by a Frenchman, I think).

There are plenty of articles on it - its pretty newsworthy. Here's one: https://www.wired.com/story/denise-mueller-korenek-bike-speed-record-168-mph/

I'm hoping there is some video somewhere. I saw a short clip somewhere, can't find it, from inside the lead car. I mean, there isn't a lot going on - she's pedaling like mad, and that's about it, but when you know that she is doing this at a greater speed than you've ever driven a CAR? Well, I don't know about you, but my a-hole tightens significantly at the thought.

The fastest I have ever driven one of my vehicles - car or motorcycle - was just about 100 mph. At least, my own vehicles. It was scary. Now, I did have a chance to do that in a Porsche one day, and, as I recall, we got to about 120 - and it was steady-Freddy, no problemo, cool as you please. But most normal vehicles are flat-out dangerous at such high speeds.

Anyway, another banner event for WOMEN'S CYCYLING in 2018!

Tell ya what tho - they talk about some of the crew thinking "200 mph!" in the vid. I'm thinking it will happen, and maybe not so far in the future. Can you imagine? A bicycle? At 200 miles per hour? That is 322 kph!

ROCKETTT!

 :nosebleed

 :snooty
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  • . . .He had the bit between his teeth, and he loiked the taste, mate . . .

    LukasCPH

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    I move that all speeds must always be given in km/h. Never, ever, ever in mph. :admin

    I saw the news that she'd gone 184 and thought "well, that's very fast, but I've gone that fast in a train last week".
    But she really went (almost) 300! :o :-x :S

    I don't think I've ever gone that fast in anything except an airplane.

    I've hit 80 km/h on a bike once, on a wide, straight, downhill road, that was scary enough.
    On the motorway, I've briefly gone to ~140 km/h when overtaking someone else. That wasn't unsafe, but it did feel a bit squeaky.

    And Mueller-Koronek went more than twice that! :o :pray
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    Kiwirider

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    I move that all speeds must always be given in km/h. Never, ever, ever in mph. :admin

    Agree - metrics makes so much more sense!!  :D :D

    Fastest I've been on a bike was something over 135km/h - down a really steep, 3km long hill (when I say steep - I would often put 10 min into a training buddy on that hill when we climbed it ... and I was typically doing 6 - 8 km/h!!!)

    Don't know my exact speed, as 135km/h was listed by Cateye as the speedo limit ... and all I know is that I went over that and the speedo never read again ... All done back in the days of 531 frames, paper thin tubular tyres and no helmets ...

    Surprisingly, that actually didn't feel that fast or scary ... (and I know that it isn't even in the kindergarten league compared to what we're talking about here!!!!)

    Would wonder what 300km/h would feel like - and how you could hang on to a bike at that speed. I know when I used to ride motorbikes that at 250 km/h there was an amazing wind effect on you. Sit up from behind the fairing and you just about got pulled backwards off the bike! That was all good and fun - but with 180kg of bike under you ... vs the 10kg or so of bicycle that I imagine Meuller-Koronek had .... Pretty amazing feat ...
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  • t-72

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    How on earth do they reach that kind of speed, is it a tow-in like the big wave surfers do, or have they paved a steep speed-skiing hill?
    What I don't get is ... this can't be just about aerodynamics, there's got to be power as well!
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  • Kiwirider

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    How on earth do they reach that kind of speed, is it a tow-in like the big wave surfers do, or have they paved a steep speed-skiing hill?
    What I don't get is ... this can't be just about aerodynamics, there's got to be power as well!

    Good analogy ...

    Towed in by a dragster to be able to get the gear to a point that she can turn it (wonder how many inches it is??? and what her cadence was???) ... and sits in the draft for the next 5.5 km ...

    https://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-the-wednesday-edition-1.4829798/how-this-cyclist-hit-296-km-h-to-shatter-a-land-speed-world-record-1.4829802
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  • Kiwirider

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    Here's the video of her run ... which looks deceptively easy (apart from one point where she looks about set to hit the dragster cowling!!)

    Would lvoe to know a bit more about the bike - as no obvious chain and chainrings? Some strange direct drive set up? And perhaps a mega-geared Rohloff hub???

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  • LukasCPH

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    Would lvoe to know a bit more about the bike - as no obvious chain and chainrings? Some strange direct drive set up? And perhaps a mega-geared Rohloff hub???
    The gearing is remarkably normal, actually. Photo from the article M Gee linked in the opening post:

    Normal inasmuch as it is using normal chains and chainrings.
    Not normal at all as it consists of two gears after another!

    I read somewhere (can't remember where) that the gear ratio is 66x12 (or something like that).

    Twice!
    If you calculate that to be a single gear, you'd have a 363x12! :o
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  • t-72

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    I see that the big wave surfing analogy was better than intended actually  :lol however, to keep it ehm...bike-clean I guess we can agree she used the worlds best derny?  :cool
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  • Drummer Boy

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    I'm glad M Gee started this thread, and I don't mean to be "that guy" but something about this story has bothered me from the get-go. I followed it a bit, but I just can't get my heart into it. While I can fully appreciated the daring and sense of adventure behind it, I just can't relate it to cycling anymore than a sky-diving adventure or big-wave surfing.

    She has to be towed up to speed due the nature of the bike, and she described the drafting effect as more than just the lack of resistance in front of her, but also a rearward forward push that occurs if she drifts too far back. In essence, there seems to be a cocoon of air all around her assisting in the feat. So what are we really talking about here? It just seems to be less of an on-the-bike feat, and more of a I've-got-the-fastest-air-bubble feat.

    For whatever reason, I'm just left unmoved by the story. It is interesting to note that this type of thing has been going on for a century though (since 1899!). They used to lay sheets of wood over railroad tracks so riders could draft off the back of train, only to be snatched off their bike just in the nick of time to avoid disaster. In the example below, the goal was to ride a mile in under a minute. Charles "Mile-a-Minute" Murphy did it in 57.8 seconds.






    Like so many things, what's old is new again.
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  • Drummer Boy

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    Would love to know a bit more about the bike - as no obvious chain and chainrings? Some strange direct drive set up? And perhaps a mega-geared Rohloff hub???

    According to that Wired article:
    "The compound reduction gear—essentially two drivetrains joined together—is five times larger than a conventional racing bike’s top gear"

    What's also interesting to me is her cadence. That article also suggests a top rpm of approx. 110, but based on the video of her accomplishment, she very consistently holds a cadence of 96 rpm from what I could see (assuming the video is real time) once she's up-to-speed (@ 2:15). One thing that would've been nice if is they had included on-screen speedometer readings. It's really difficult to appreciate the high speed from watching that video alone. Her relatively low cadence is also very deceptive—it just doesn't look like she's moving all that fast. It's not like the ridiculously high cadence of a track sprinter that one might expect for such an endeavor. 

    The lower cadence allowed by her gearing must also aid in her stability, but I'm still surprised to see her in a more upright MTB-like position on the bike. I would think that a more conventional road/track bike configuration would be safer and more stable—and certainly more aero from the rider's standpoint—but what do I know about such things?
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  • « Last Edit: September 21, 2018, 20:13 by Drummer Boy »

    Kiwirider

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    The gearing is remarkably normal, actually. Photo from the article M Gee linked in the opening post:

    Normal inasmuch as it is using normal chains and chainrings.
    Not normal at all as it consists of two gears after another!

    I read somewhere (can't remember where) that the gear ratio is 66x12 (or something like that).

    Twice!
    If you calculate that to be a single gear, you'd have a 363x12! :o

    Thanks - my interweb at work is problematic and wouldn't let me open that page yesterday ...
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  • M Gee

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    It's in inches, but here is a quote from John Howard:

    Quote
    “The drive ratio is 62:12, twice,” said John Howard, Mueller-Korenek’s coach, who once held the motor-paced record himself at 152 mph back in 1985. “That’s roughly 488 inches, or approximately 128 feet per revolution. She’s traveling nearly 130 feet every time she turns those cranks. It’s pretty mind-boggling.”
    [1]

    That's 12.3952 meters per wheel revolution. A 52x11 gearing, with a 700x28 tire would be approximately 9.34 meters. So it's not all THAT different. Somebody calculate the cadence she needed, wouldya?[2]

    I can kinda understand not being particularly excited over such a feat. I know there is something about tow-in big wave surfing that kinda turns me off. Except once they catch that wave . . . Both situations, though are highly risky.

    BTW, John Howard built up a pretty trick bike to set the land speed record at Bonneville himself, some years back. For those who don't know of him, he was one of the first in that generation of American riders that, shortly after John, included Greg Lemond, Davis Phinney, Bob Roll, etc.[3]

    Yeah, it's a paced effort, so it's not like dropping a bigger engine on a bike to bust through the wind. There is something of a pocket the rider has to stay in. The pushing effect is not that great, and would be more like a nudge to get back into the pocket of dead air.  I have to think if the rider fell off pace much, though, the turbulence behind that pocket could be enough to destabilize the rider and knock them right down.

    A lot of the effort is just building a bicycle that can do the feat. At those speeds, any normal bike would be a disaster. Tires would be gone, stability would be non-existent. They'd be so twitchy at that speed a rider would crash long before getting up there.

    So, yeah, it's not like an hour record, where the rider has to have the right engine AND the right mental discipline. I'd say it still requires a lot of both, though. Any deviance in the effort could spell a lot of broken bones. The French guy that did this in '95 broke 24 bones in one attempt that ended in a crash.

     1. from Bicycling
     2. I've got to get working!
     3. John Howard, Wikipedia
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  • « Last Edit: September 21, 2018, 16:40 by M Gee, Reason: spelling »

    Drummer Boy

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    Somebody calculate the cadence she needed, wouldya?

    Um, I think I already did that per my post above. :slow  :P

    96 rpm is what she maintained for about 45 seconds at top speed.
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  • Kiwirider

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    It's in inches, but here is a quote from John Howard:
    [1]

    That's 12.3952 meters per wheel revolution. A 52x11 gearing, with a 700x28 tire would be approximately 9.34 meters. So it's not all THAT different. Somebody calculate the cadence she needed, wouldya?[2]
     1. from Bicycling
     2. I've got to get working!

    Your calc is right for the standard bike, but a bit off for her gearing ...

    There are roughly 3.28 ft in 1 metre ... so 128 ft is approximately 39 metres per pedal rev - or about 4.2 standard bike wheel turns!!!   :o :o :o :o :o

    (I think that you may have used the sq ft to sq m conversion - as that's approximately 10:1.   :)  )

    Again converting to metrics (as I have no clue on how many feet in a mile!), I'd calculate her cadence along the lines of:
    speed = 184 mph *1.6 = 294.4 km/h = 4900 m/min
    cadence = 4900/39 = 125 rpm!!!

    That's at odds with the article ... so likely some roundings in the article for speed or the gearing is actually a bit different ... as the maths is pretty simple (but, please, someone check it ... it's end of day after a long week here - and I've spent part of my rostered day off on work, so may well be making mistakes ...!)

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  • Drummer Boy

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    Is this thing on? :slow  :D

    Her cadence was 96 rpm. So I suppose one could calculate backwards from there, but I don't understand anything to do with chain-length, etc.

    Her Cadence
    Was 96
    RPM
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  • M Gee

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    Eh, what's that you say? Can't hear ya well, too much static! Speak up a bit, eh?    ;)[1]

    OK! 96!  :angel

    Your calc is right for the standard bike, but a bit off for her gearing ...

    There are roughly 3.28 ft in 1 metre ... so 128 ft is approximately 39 metres per pedal rev - or about 4.2 standard bike wheel turns!!!   :o  . . .

    DB, I apologize, I wasn't paying enough attention! On technical grounds though, you counted the cadence based on the video. And that could easily be inaccurate either as a result of recording speed or playback speed, as you commented. So I was thinking of a calculated number.

    Kiwi is right, also - there was an error in my calcs, and I misspoke, swapping wheel revolutions for crank revolutions.

    So here's is a calculation for today, hoping I'm paying a bit more attention:

    For 700c: a 52/11 gearing is a 4.73:1 gear ratio - so 4.73 turns of the wheel per one turn of the cranks. Meters traveled depends on tire size. I picked out 700x28c since we are most familiar with standard road bikes. If Lukas' calcs are right, and I think they are, her gearing equates to a 363x12 gear, giving her a gear ratio of 30.25. A 16" bicycle tire will have approx 1.2 - 1.3 meters of circumference. And a ratio of 30.25 at 1.2 meters gets us a development of 36.3, which is close to the calculated 39, and serves as a tidy cross-check. Calculating the other way, 128 feet = 39.0144 meters, divide by a gear ratio of 30.25, and we get a wheel/tire circumference of 1.29 meters. Ok so far.

    As just noted, one turn of the cranks = one "cadence" = 39.0144 m for Meuller's bike.
    322,000 meters per hour = 5366.667 meters per minute.
    Divide that by the development of 39.0144, I get 137.556, which should be the cadence required to reach that speed with those gears and wheels.

    BTW, I totally agree that the video would be much improved by having a speedo and real elapsed time counter included in the display. A forward view wouldn't help any, as the salt flats are so barren that their is no visual reference.

    Based on the assumption that John Howard and Denise Meuller are rational people, I have to also assume they have good reason to go with the smaller tire size. And, since they commented in one of the news stories that those tires and wheels were chosen because a normal bicycle wheel would not withstand the rigors of that speed, I have to conclude that building a 700c wheel that WOULD withstand such speed would result in a less practical weight for the wheel, and thus the smaller wheels. Could be other dynamics to do with wheel size as well. I know there are guys in the motorcycle forums that chew over numbers like these (wheel size) all the time. It's like coffee and eggs for breakfast - a daily routine!

    Two useful sites for such numbers:

    http://www.bikecalc.com/gear_ratios
    https://www.cateye.com/data/resources/Tire_size_chart_ENG_151106.pdf

     1. Must be the long distance connection.  :lol
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  • Drummer Boy

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    137.556 rpm vs 96 rpm? Is that what we're talking about?

    That's a huge discrepancy and one that I don't believe could be accounted for by inaccurate video speeds. The footage looks relatively realistic. That much of an error would be more evident from her overall movements, etc.

    Let's make this much simpler:

    Her cadence was 96 rpm.
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  • Kiwirider

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    Let's make this much simpler:

    Her cadence was 96 rpm.

    You're right, we should make it simpler ...

    From the Wired article:

    Then Mueller-Korenek will release the tether, and Holbrook will accelerate to around 130 or 140 mph, monitoring Mueller-Korenek’s nonverbal communications via a camera: nods to accelerate, head shakes to back off. A color-coded series of lights on the back of the dragster will show Mueller-Korenek how far they’ve gone, and how much track is left.

    To secure the record, Mueller-Korenek—now pedaling around 110 rpm—will have to hold 168 mph between mile markers 4 and 5, where the timing traps measure her average speed. As Holbrook accelerates, the cyclist will push 700 watts for more than a minute to stay inside the draft pocket behind the dragster’s fairing. That’s about what a Tour de France sprinter produces in the final minute of a stage.


    So, subject to M Gee setting her speed at 200mph/320km/h, looks like our calcs aren't so stupid as you're trying to make out. Also matches the count that I got for minutes 2 -3 in the video of about 105 ... which I admit was a bit hairy, since she wasn't riding a completely consistent cadence ...
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  • M Gee

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    . . .
    So, subject to M Gee setting her speed at 200mph/320km/h, looks like our calcs aren't so stupid as you're trying to make out. Also matches the count that I got for minutes 2 -3 in the video of about 105 ... which I admit was a bit hairy, since she wasn't riding a completely consistent cadence ...

    :fp
    The 200 mph / 322 kph was postulation! But then I went and used the 320 in my calcs. No gold stars for me. :(

    184 mph = 296.119 kph, so that nets a required cadence of 126.55. Which fits with the Wired description (@ 168 mph cadence was 110). And is closer to DB's count!  :nosebleed

    And kudos to you both for going to the trouble of trying to count cadence from the video!

    You know, when I read that Wired article, I totally missed that paragraph - I didn't see the wattage calculation at all. That does put it into perspective tho!

    I'll go see if her website has an contact info, and I'll send an email, if I can, ask her about this.

    Edit: Facebook page has the same vid, but more info. https://www.facebook.com/FireCycle/

    THIS vid:

      is very informative. It shows the John Howard attempt, so we know this guy (Howard) knows what he's talking about. It shows the Rompelberg accident and later successful attempt. Rompelberg was Dutch, not French, btw. The accident footage is informative, too. He just somehow manages to move out of the slipstream, and gets literally blown away. I'm pretty sure, from looking at the footage, the at least one of the leg fractures was complex (displacement occurred). Quite probably more were, but we can't see them. Project Speed has an email - I'll send them a note.
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  • « Last Edit: September 22, 2018, 19:56 by M Gee »

    Kiwirider

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    184 mph = 296.119 kph, so that nets a required cadence of 126.55. Which fits with the Wired description (@ 168 mph cadence was 110). And is closer to DB's count!  :nosebleed


    Its actually closest to the 125 rpm that I calculated a couple of posts back ... which DB tried to tell me I was an idiot for calculating and not listening to him when he kept saying (incorrectly as it turns out) that she was only pedaling at 96 rpm ...   ;)
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  • Drummer Boy

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    Before I launch into my intended post, I will say that it is a bit disappointing that much of the info being discussed hasn't been made more readily available by the people behind this project. I mean, the whole thing really does come down to the numbers, and clearly they put a tremendous amount of science into this.

    So why not have more on-screen real-time info? And for that matter, why only one camera on the car and apparently nothing on the bike or helmet for a different perspective on the experience? This kind of endeavor would seem to beg for such documentation. They are, after all, going for a World Record.

    As I originally stated, however, this type of thing doesn't really capture my imagination all that much. Providing more info and imagery with which the viewer could further immerse themselves in the undertaking might help though. Too bad they couldn't place evenly-spaced pylons, or some sort of marker,  along the course to give a better sense of speed as they pass by. Oh, well.

    Now on to my main contribution...
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  • Drummer Boy

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    First off, I haven’t the slightest idea why some of you are taking this so seriously and getting so defensive.  Maybe I should’ve included more emojis in my post? And I never called anyone "stupid." I was just trying to be helpful.

    It appeared that you were jumping through hoops with the calculations, and I thought I would just make it easier by providing a few less variables. If her cadence is known, then it should be considerably easier to reverse engineer some of the other numbers.

    Secondly, I’ve no idea why you’re quoting the same Wired article that I already referenced and trying to use that against me in some way as if I hadn’t read it. I even specifically made mention of their 110 rpm estimate. And that’s exactly what it was—an estimate. To quote the quote that was already quoted, and that I assume we all have read:

    Quote
    To secure the record, Mueller-Korenek—now pedaling around 110 rpm—will have to hold 168 mph between mile markers 4 and 5.
    Two things:
    1) The word “around” is an approximation.
    2) The phrase “now pedaling” is speaking in the future-tense of what the author predicts will occur. It’s not a recap of the record-breaking ride itself.


    Now, since all we have to go off is the video itself, I will present an accurate breakdown, based on that video, of exactly what her RPMs were. I haven’t the slightest idea of how ya’ll are coming up with your numbers, but based on that video, I am supremely confident that my numbers are correct.

    How can I be so certain? Because this is what I do. I’ve spent my entire life studying and understanding rhythms and tempos. I actually get paid to have a grasp of this stuff.

    In the world of music we refer to it as bpm, or Beats Per Minute. Same exact thing. Because I’ve done this my whole life, it tends to come as second nature. I can spot someone’s cadence, be it on a bike or running on the road, and usually guess accurately within about 2 or 3 clicks what their cadence is. It’s just something I naturally do to amuse myself from time-to-time, and to sharpen my skills.

    This is why I’ve never needed a cadence indicator on any of my bike computers. I can, within a few seconds, determine my own cadence quite easily. Once I’m pedaling steadily, I can reference that tempo against any number of songs or familiar rhythms inside my head that will tell me what the tempo is. It’s sort of like someone who can spot a certain make or model of car at a distance. They have mental markers with which to reference a whole slew of variables in appearance. It’s easy for the trained eye. Same thing with tempos—it’s easy for the trained ear.

    All that being said, when I’m approaching something like this video, I always double-check my intuition with facts. How? Simple: a tap-tempo metronome. I don’t have to actually “calculate” anything. I can watch the pedal strokes, tap my metronome in-time with the pedals, and quite easily ascertain the precise rate of rotation. It’s quite easy, for me. It would likely prove more problematic for someone who isn’t used to tapping a button accurately, and steadily in-time with a corresponding image or sound, but again, I’ve spent more hours, days, weeks, months, years, than I care to think about doing just that. Drummers practice along to metronomes all the time. One’s ability to accurately play along to click-tracks and other pre-recorded sequenced material is crucial if one expects to be taken seriously in a professional musical setting. And there is very little, if any, margin for error in my profession.

    So, now that I’ve got my pointless resume out of the way, let’s move onto the numbers, shall we?


    @1:00 her cadence is 76 rpm.
    By 1:30 her cadence has increased to 81 rpm and remains close to that for about 10 seconds before increasing more rapidly up to 88 rpm by 1:45.

    By 2:00 her cadence begins to reach 96 rpm, with some very minor oscillating until it quickly evens out. This is what I was referring to! This is the cadence at which she spends the most time—nearly 30 seconds.

    Now @2:30 there is a brief period where her cadence does reach a top speed of 99 rpm, but that lasts less than 10 seconds, and that is as fast as she’s ever pedaling in that video. Period.

    @2:40 there begins a steady de-acceleration for about 20 seconds until there is a very noticeable and much more obvious decrease back down to 90 rpm @3:00.
    This decrease continues steadily until her cadence is as slow as 68 rpm when she finally unhooks @3:19.

    Make of it what you will. But I’ll just leave it at that, now that the fun has been taking out of it. Either way though, I can assure you, I just don’t give a flip. This is child’s play to me.
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  • M Gee

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    . . . something like this video, I always double-check my intuition with facts. How? Simple: a tap-tempo metronome. I don’t have to actually “calculate” anything. . . .

    So, now that I’ve got my pointless resume out of the way, let’s move onto the numbers, shall we? . . .

    Not pointless at all! Loved it! Well done! Actually, sorry it took the fun out for you, as you just made the whole thread MORE fun, afaic! I think I may have read in some thread somewhere, sometime, that you actually play drums, but it didn't stick in my memory - so the "resume" was quite beneficial.



    Post Merge: September 23, 2018, 14:21
    Before I launch into my intended post, I will say that it is a bit disappointing that much of the info being discussed hasn't been made more readily available by the people behind this project. I mean, the whole thing really does come down to the numbers, and clearly they put a tremendous amount of science into this.

    So why not have more on-screen real-time info? And for that matter, why only one camera on the car and apparently nothing on the bike or helmet for a different perspective on the experience? This kind of endeavor would seem to beg for such documentation.  . . .


    I wrote them an email, and mentioned those very thoughts, as I thought this was an excellent idea. If they want to, I'm sure they could get a video editor to add a speedo and a cadence meter display to the video.
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  • Kiwirider

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    Now @2:30 there is a brief period where her cadence does reach a top speed of 99 rpm, but that lasts less than 10 seconds, and that is as fast as she’s ever pedaling in that video. Period.


    Ok, so lets give you the benefit of the doubt and say that she maxs out at 99 rpm.

    Let's also say that John Howard is right when he says that each pedal rev moves her 128 - 130 ft per pedal stroke. (Let's average to 129 ft - for maths simplicity.)

    Now, if my googling is correct, there are 5280 ft in a mile - right? (Apologies, I was born in a metric environment - so have no ideas of things like that ...)

    That means that, if you are right, she is covering 99 x 129ft per minute - which is 12771 ft - which is the same as 2.42 miles.

    If we convert that to miles per hour, we get 145 mph ...

    Which is 39mph less than she has been recorded as travelling ... and, by your reckoning, she only hit that for 10 seconds, whereas the record is for her average speed over those couple of miles ...

    So, please help me understand how that can be (the maths is dead simple - so I know that it's not a problem there) - and help me account for the "missing" 39 mph ...

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