Friday 26th April 2019

Lawson Craddock Shows the Toll of the Tour de France with Whoop

Lawson Craddock Shows the Toll of the Tour de France with Whoop

Lawson Craddock Shows the Toll of the Tour de France with Whoop
Lawson Craddock riding in Stage 5 of the Tour de France with his red-and-white striped Whoop strap on his right wrist. (Photo credit: Jered and Ashley Gruber)

During the first stage of this year’s Tour de France, Lawson Craddock’s bike hit a water bottle near a feed station on the course. Craddock crashed, suffering a bloody cut above his left eye. Even worse, x-rays taken at the end of the day showed a hairline fracture of the scapula in his left shoulder.

Craddock, who told cycling reporters that he was “raised Texas tough,” remained in the race. He received medical clearance to ride so long as he can tolerate the pain. Thanks to a unique partnership with Whoop, cycling fans are getting an unprecedented glimpse of just how hard his body is working to survive this most grueling Tour.

Before the race began, Craddock agreed to publish the biometric data gleaned from his wearable strap. His resting heart rate is typically between 38 and 42 beats per minute. Through the first six stages of the Tour, it averaged over 50 bpm.

“Those are big indicators that your body is working overtime just to get back on track,” Craddock said in a phone interview following Thursday’s Stage 6.

His recovery scores have also been affected, as the pain has impacted his sleep. Whoop rates recovery on a scale of zero to 100, and his average score was only 38 through the first six stages, and as low as eight on the first day.

Lawson Craddock’s cumulative data from Stages 1 to 6. (Courtesy of Whoop)

Craddock, who is part of the EF Education First–Drapac p/b Cannondale team, agreed to release his data long before he knew he would crash, of course. A self-professed “data guy,” he wanted to share his experience with others, giving a sense of the toll cyclists undergo while pedaling 3,351 kilometers (2,082 miles) over 21 stages with only two rest days in between.

Whoop reports an athlete’s strain on a scale from zero to 21, and Craddock’s average strain through six days has been 19.3. He logged an average racing heart rate of 137 bpm while traveling 611 miles and an elevation gain of 30,800 feet—and the Tour hasn’t yet reached the mountain stages in the Alps and Pyrenees.

“That’s something that people would never know otherwise, the strain that we put on ourselves day in and day out for 21 days,” he said. “It’s truly remarkable. It blows my mind what the human body can do.”

In Stage 5 alone, Whoop estimated that Craddock burned 5,200 calories while on his Cannondale bike, with five Category 3 or 4 climbs contributing to a stage elevation gain of 9,658 feet. That stage was worth a 20.5 strain score—out of 21—while his heart rate peaked at 183.

Lawson Craddock’s Stage 5 data. (Courtesy of Whoop)

After the crash, Craddock had difficulty sleeping, putting him at a recovery deficit. Following Stage 4, Whoop recommended he sleep 10.5 hours to catch up; he slept 8 hours, 43 minutes, which was at least more than he had on previous nights.

“My shoulder’s still in quite a bit of pain, but I can tell that the days when I can log great sleep, those are the best days I’ve had [racing] on the Tour so far,” he said.

Lawson Craddock’s injured eye and shoulder. (Photo credit: Jered and Ashley Gruber)

Craddock didn’t start the Tour at max recovery, either. Early wake-ups for flights and doping control interfered, as did other obligations that come with such a major sporting event.

“The few days running into this, I had absolutely awful recovery,” Craddock said. “That wasn’t necessarily something I was quite worried about yet. I think it was really interesting to see the stress around the Tour de France.”

Craddock began wearing a Whoop band about a year ago after asking his team doctor about the one on his wrist. Realizing its potential, he said, “I don’t think I’ve really taken it off since.” He called the strap an integral part of his preparation, especially after his 2017 cycling season was derailed by overtraining. Craddock had trouble finding the right balance of hard work and recovery until he was able to track those scores and his heart-rate variability. Research published in the journal Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine in 2016 said that HRV has great utility “in setting the optimal training loads leading to improved performances.”

After his injury, Craddock set additional motivation to finish the race by using the Tour as a way to raise money to repair the Alkek velodrome in Houston. That’s where he got his start in the sport, but Hurricane Harvey badly damaged the facility last year. Craddock pledged to donate $100 for every stage he finished and asked others to chip in what they could—as of Friday morning, the total raised was close to $66,000.

Craddock is glad his journey has resonated with so many people and hopes his experience can encourage others to take up cycling in whatever fashion suits them.

“That’s one of the most beautiful things about this sport,” he said. “You can be a four-year-old taking the training wheels off. You could be a 26-year-old racing the Tour de France. Or you can be an 85-year-old riding around on an e-bike. They may be different levels, but they’re technically the same thing all around.”

Related

  • Disc Brakes Will Debut at the Tour de France 2018

  • Sports Betting and Biometrics Will Push the Publicity Rights Envelope

  • Whoop’s Past, Future: An In-Depth Conversation With CEO Will Ahmed

  • Whoop Launches $30 Monthly Membership

  • Cycling Agency Will Dismantle Bikes To Detect ‘Techno Doping’

Must read×