The first episode of Humbled
made it painfully obvious that, shock of shocks, Brendan Fairclough has a thing or two on me when it comes to bike handling skills. You know, Mr. Fairclough of World Cup racing fame, a handful of blistering movie appearances, and some Rampage absurdity... Okay, maybe no one was surprised. But I've always wondered how a normal guy like me - a guy who rides a lot but who doesn't do much more than the odd push-up or three - compares to a full-time professional racer when talking about strength. I mean, these guys are ordinary, average people who just happen to know how to ride a mountain bike really, really fast, aren't they?
If we're going to talk about strength, there's one dude that immediately comes to mind: Yeti's Richie Rude. He may only be twenty-three, but the American already has a Junior World Championship downhill victory and two Enduro World Series overall titles on his résumé. Oh, and arms bigger than my legs. And, legs bigger than my torso. Surely it's all just beach muscle, though.
Richie, along with Aaron Gwin and a few other fast names, has long worked with Todd Schumlick of PerformX Training for his off-the-bike grind. Schumlick covers everything from a bio-mechanic assessment, dynamic reflex exercises, nutrition and goal setting, and of course more traditional weight training and wattage work, but since I'm not aiming for World Cup or EWS wins (lucky for Richie), we focused on comparing the latter two talking points.
Filmed and edited by Peter Wojnar
You'll have to watch the video to see how I fared against Richie at each test, but it's safe to say that the Yeti phenom has me covered and then some. Let's take a simplified look at the bike test that was done on a Concept2 BikeErg machine:
The maximum wattage test is a ramp-up effort rather than a simple all-out sprint, which would result in higher numbers. Richie threw down 571 watts (0.765 hp) while I managed to squeak out 407 (0.545 hp). That means that Richie was putting out a whopping 40-percent more power than I was able to - I could do squats and lunges every day for the rest of my life with Richie on my back and still not close that gap. Next, we took 90-percent of our max wattage numbers and held that figure for as long as possible; Richie could hold his 514 watts for 1 minute and 2 seconds, whereas I could hold 366 watts for just 49 seconds. So, not only is Richie putting out a lot more power, he's able to sustain it for 26-percent longer than I could manage.
Okay, let's find out what the difference would be in the real(ish) world. Assuming that Richie and I did the same 90-percent test (holding 90-percent of our maximum watts for as long as possible) on level ground, and taking into consideration each of our weights, and that we'd be riding the same 26.4lb bike, he'd manage to cover 805.4 meters or smash it out for 62 seconds at 12.99 meters/second. What about ol' lowly Levy? I'd be 267 meters behind Richie because I can only manage a distance of 567.4 meters at 11.58 meters/second for 49 seconds.
Better put, Richie would be just shy of two and a half football fields ahead of me. So much for my beach muscle theory, eh?
Richie vs Levy on the Concept2 BikeErg