I've ridden bikes all of my life, some years more active than others. This year has been one of the more active ones as I've been working on getting into better shape for longer rides I'd like to do. One recent innovation is to start the ride early: it's quiet, calm, little traffic, and there is more wildlife to see in the local mountains.
My co-worker John, who commutes to work by bicycle every day (roughly 40-mile round trip) heard about these rides and expressed some interest. Normally each of us rides alone. He's near Chino Hills (Los Angeles) and I'm in Santa Monica. We decided to meet and see how it went.
We met at my apartment and rode from there. He's about 135 pounds; at one time he'd been much heavier, but riding to work trimmed all of that. I'm about 220. Up the beach we went, then turned inland to Amalfi Drive and up. It's a steady climb to around 2000 feet.
The ride went very well. Did a total of about 35 miles. John had a camera, so we'd stop to take pictures, or to look at the view, or to look at what few flowers are still in bloom up there.
After we got back, I got to thinking about what we'd done. I still think it's neat that human beings can do this kind of thing. Where does the energy come from? Then I did some rough calculations. With my bike I'm about 250 pounds, and we climbed 2000 feet, so that's 500,000 foot-pounds of work done. John is about 160 with his bike, so he did 320,000 foot-pounds. Big difference.
The climb was easy for him, it seemed; he rode at any pace I set. If I got a bit of extra energy and increased my speed, he'd easily match it, and hardly seemed to sweat at all. We rode a route I've been on several times, and we were riding faster than I usually do. I got hungry sooner than usual (when alone, I take about 4 hours to do the loop and don't need to eat anything, although I'm hungry when I get home) so we stopped for a snack on top.
All of which got me to wondering about where the energy comes from. Clydesdales are big, but presumably store more energy somehow. I just get curious about such things. Riding a bicycle in mountains, up steep hills, still carries a whiff of magic to me.