..... Stumper Index
Stumper #30.
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How Good Is Your Science KQ?

[i.e. your Knowledge Quotient]

About Racing Bicycles?

Bicycle racing whether on road, dirt, or velodrome track combines a multitude of attributes of both machine and rider. The rider needs courage, mental and physical agility and stamina, experience, and the ability to bluff other riders. The machine must be well designed and maintained, and built and tuned to the rider's needs.

A young Californian can be credited with changing the face of bicycle racing in the U.S. in the late 1970s. Greg Lemond who started racing at age 14 was a phenomenon. In the California Junior Road Championships our family watched him 'lap the field' and, after changing into casual (not racing) clothes, sit calmly by the side of the road until the next rider crossed the finish line. The word in those days was that Greg had a very high 'VO2 Max' but no one discounted his determination, commitment and effort. He went on to win many races including the 1977 Junior Road Nationals, 1983 World Championship in Zurich, and the 1986, 1989 and 1990 Tours de France

The Tour de France is the world's premier road race. This year, at 3,282 km, it was shorter than last year by 170 km. It had three distinct phases: a first week of flat, fast stages across Northern France; then two weeks of tough mountain stages in the Pyrenees and Alpes before the final dash to Paris. In this race riders and their machines must be in top condition and use all the riding techniques they can to stay safe, to keep up with the peleton (the main field), and to win stages. Racing bicycles combined with the rider's position on the bike are designed to minimize road and wind resistance but even so a rider traveling at 35 to 50 km/hr can save 15-20% effort by drafting – riding in another rider's slipstream. Freewheeling on downhill stretches also saves effort. Down a 5% slope without pedaling a rider can reach a speed of about 50 kilometers/hr in a distance of 400 meters.

So, here are our stumper questions:
a) Do you think a racing tandem, which encounters more road and wind resistance than the single bike, might be going faster, or slower than the single bike as it reaches the 400 meter mark freewheeling down the same slope?

b) What on Earth is 'VO2 Max'?

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