The Bike, Some Tech, and a Thin Line

tour de france technology cycling
Tour de France cyclists competing within the Alps (Boston.com)

This text was initially revealed in Situation 6 of the Sports activities Efficiency and Tech Journal. 

As quickly as the fashionable bicycle was created racing shortly adopted and Cycling turned so well-liked it was included within the first Olympic video games in 1896 in Athens, Greece.  Since then it might not look like the game has reworked all that a lot to the novice fan who sometimes tunes in through the Tour de France. A two-wheeled machine with brakes and deal with bars continues to be powered by a pair of legs and probably the most bodily match Bike owner who can endure probably the most ache often wins the race. However whereas the basics and visuals of Cycling are the identical, the game has truly leveraged scientific and technological breakthroughs (some authorized, some not) to turn out to be a finely tuned and fiercely aggressive check and show of human limitations.

An argument could possibly be made that Cycling has relied on know-how greater than some other sport as a result of it totally exists due to the bicycle; which now numbers round one billion worldwide and has remained some of the efficient and environment friendly strategies of transportation since its invention within the nineteenth century.

At this time, know-how is on the forefront of the game of Cycling greater than ever earlier than. Each millimeter and ounce of a racing bike is exactly engineered and each facet of a rider’s coaching and restoration routine are analyzed utilizing GPS units, cellular apps and quite a few hello-tech devices with one widespread objective in thoughts: velocity.

Robust and Mild

tour de france armstrong tech cycling
Armstrong on his prototype Trek Madone SSLx through the 2005 Tour de France (bikeradar.com)

Main technological shifts that the bike itself has undergone in recent times have made it stronger and lighter. Within the early 2000’s bikes constructed from carbon-fibre turned a main development that might change Cycling eternally.  This materials was initially used within the aerospace business however was a good match for the biking world (when the tech superior sufficient to deliver manufacturing prices down) as a result of it has a superior power to weight ratio.

Carbon-fibre and different light-weight supplies have been so efficient in making bikes lighter and quicker that the world governing physique for sports biking, the Worldwide Cycling Union, truly made a rule in 2000 that bikes couldn’t weight any lower than 6.eight kilograms (14.9 kilos). This regulation was put in place in an effort to make sure that the structural integrity of the bikes being manufactured remained protected and to make sure that all athletes have been competing on a degree enjoying area.

Nevertheless, within the tech world fourteen years is a very very long time and because the 6.8kg restrict was instituted in 2000 know-how has outgrown this restriction. Many athletes and their groups at current Tour de France’s have been truly including small fishing weights to their bikes to make them heavy sufficient to satisfy this outdated weight regulation. This acted as a positive signal that know-how has superior faster than the Worldwide Cycling Union was capable of and is proof that developments in engineering are impacting the game of Cycling at an more and more speedy tempo.

Hello-Tech Units and Strategies

Along with improvements within the materials that the bike is constructed from, there’s a slew of excessive-tech units and strategies that cyclists use to trace, analyze and enhance efficiency. Smartphone apps and wearable units present Cyclists actual-time suggestions that calculates their tempo to allow them to know when to step on the fuel or ease up to be able to meet their time objective.  Different apps and GPS monitoring units can present riders their race path and how far they deviated (deviation could be simply a few ft or inches) from the trail that may permit the course to be accomplished the quickest.

However maybe the most important benefit that know-how has offered elite cyclists is the power to detect and mitigate drag. Professional Cycling races are so aggressive amongst the elite athletes that a few hundredths of a second shaved off of every mile over the course of a 1,500-2,000 mile race just like the Tour de France could be the distinction between a yellow jacket or a missed alternative.  As a end result, corporations are specializing in analyzing cyclists on their bikes in wind tunnels to calculate the way to scale back drag.  They achieve this by making modifications (typically on the microscopic degree) to the surfaces of cyclists and their bike and gear. This makes an necessary distinction as a result of the human physique shouldn’t be precisely aerodynamic so a lot of experience and cash is required in equipping riders with the gear that may make them reduce by means of the air with the least resistance.

Technological practices like this have had a big impact on Cycling. The quickest common velocity of the Tour de France winner in 1903 was 15.9 mph. In 2013 it was 25 mph. 

Doping, Tech and the Thin Line

Like the connection between the bicycle and racing during the last century or so, blood doping and its use by cyclists has remained the identical in idea however continued to be superior by science and know-how.  Regardless that advances in know-how drastically elevated velocity and effectivity over the historical past of racing, riders have nonetheless seemed to realize an additional edge with doping. 

doping science technology cycling
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Doping is using banned efficiency enhancing medicine and there have been quite a few instances and strategies in some type all through the historical past of Cycling.  None extra publicized than the blood doping saga with Lance Armstrong which forged a darkish shadow over the game of Cycling and put the successes of all riders into query.

Blood doping works by growing the variety of purple blood cells within the bloodstream so as to improve an athlete’s capability to ship oxygen from the lungs to muscle tissues. This enables muscle tissue to carry out at larger charges and improve an athlete’s general endurance.

It’s no secret that Cycling’s status was broken by means of efficiency enhancing medicine in current historical past and many cyclists who took these medicine, Armstrong most noticeably, have been banned from the game and have been labeled as cheaters and frauds. 

However there’s a very skinny line between doping and utilizing know-how to realize a bonus. A line that’s value additional examination.

Cyclists who doped acquired an unnatural and synthetic efficiency increase. Nevertheless, one might argue that technological developments are simply as synthetic with boosting athletic efficiency and can also be unfair when cash determines entry to technological assets.

Despite the fact that injecting know-how into the game of biking isn’t bodily dangerous or as morally unsettling when in comparison with injecting PED’s into cyclists, one ought to cease and take into consideration the efficiency enhancements which are made attainable by know-how. It could actually definitely be argued that the aforementioned technological developments give athletes the identical unfair benefit that doping does. So wsick there ever be a level the place know-how propels cyclists to a degree that’s deemed unnatural or unfair as a result of it creates a degree of bodily efficiency too far past that of a common human being? Society basically and the Worldwide Cycling Union definitely believes this to be the case with efficiency enhancing medicine. However why not know-how? Why is a breakthrough in carbon fiber know-how that permits a bike to be lighter and stronger, subsequently making it quicker, not seemed down upon in the identical approach that a new sort of efficiency enhancing drug that permits athletes to ship extra oxygen to the muscle tissues is?

The distinction is that doping has very critical well being dangers for many who use them. The greatest arguments towards doping spotlight the antagonistic negative effects that it causes in athletes and the issues it poses for youth when Cycling position fashions are taking unlawful substances. However the argument towards doping doesn’t appear to be solely derived from the bodily maladies they trigger. In any case, the proverbial “asterisk” that accompanies doped up athletes doesn’t reveal that an athlete doped and accepts the bodily penalties.  As an alternative, the asterisk symbolizes that they competed unfairly and labels them as “cheaters” and “frauds” and says that they’re performing “unnatural” acts to athletically advance.

But when we really adopted this “unnatural” strategy then all athletes would have an asterisk subsequent to their identify as a result of all athletes are responsible of utilizing know-how and science to get probably the most out of their innate talents.

Finally, each tech and doping propel athletes to bodily ranges that they might not obtain on their very own however society is okay with one as a result of it doesn’t trigger bodily hurt to the consumer.  Cycling occurs to be the right sport to look at makes use of of know-how and doping as a result of it’s an excessive endurance sport reliant on a machine that checks people capabilities. The slightest edge over an opponent is of utmost aggressive and monetary worth and tech and doping can every present it. 

So the subsequent time you watch Cycling or see a bike owner on the aspect of the street, take into consideration the modifications the bicycle has undergone all through its historical past and the game it created that concurrently displays our ingenuity and ethical ambiguities.

With its true technological breakthroughs and the shadow of PED utilization, Cycling is the perfect sport to look at this conundrum and mirror on what we as a society think about a suitable scientific or technological development.

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