I watched the Milan Sanremo race live a few weeks back. I left my soccer game a bit early, since cycling held the trump card on this day. The first Monument of 2012, Milan Sanremo, otherwise known as La Primavera. As you might be able to guess, they start in Milan and ride their bicycles all the way down to the coast, ending in Sanremo, which is not very far from some beautiful places in France. (And, looks pretty stunning itself!)

While I tend to shy away from too many numbers in cycling, since I think they taint the pure beauty of the sport a bit, I came across some data that simply astounds me. Simon Gerrans, the winner, took 7 hours 23 minutes and 52 seconds to ride his steed 301.8 kilometers. That distance is itself impressive. But, the fact that he did it in such a short period of time is really mind-boggling. He averaged, averaged!, 40.8 kms per hour. Jeez. And then he needed to sprint with everything in his body & spirit to just barely nip Mr. Fabian Cancellara, the Swiss Express, the Time Trial Machine, at the finish line. What a ride!

I find it hard to sleep for seven straight hours, but he pedaled like mad for over seven hours. Wow.

And then I uncovered the truly amazing part – how efficiently his body functions after years of proper training.

From watching so much cycling I can generally tell how big a rider is based on the (apparent) size of their bicycle & how they look in comparison to other lads in the peloton. But, it wasn’t until after the race that I realized Gerrans is 170 centimeters tall and weighs 64 kilograms. A wise man once told me to find a PRO of similar size and watch him ride, trying to mimic his qualities as a way to ride better. Well, despite a bit of winter weight still sticking around, I’m (nearly) the exact same size as Mr. Gerrans. Give me another two weeks of spring riding & we’ll be physical facsimiles. Cool, I thought when I found this out, I’ve been tired of watching Thomas Voeckler bounce around and fight his bike.

Gerrans’ body burned through 5629.5 kJ during his winning ride. Yes, 5600 calories. For someone our size, that is about three times what we should consume in just one day. That means he burned through three days of food in one pedal outing.

Judging by his thighs & waist, I’m guessing he’s not overeating though. It’s amazing what the human body can do when trained properly. And, have you ever tried eating while cruising along at 40 kph? Not easy!

Congratulations Simon Gerrans, and congratulations GreenEdge Cycling, home to the 2011 (Matt Goss) and 2012 Milan Sanremo champions!

**For those folks who’ve let their metric skills go slack since high school science courses: he pedaled 187.5 miles at an average of 25.4 miles per hour, while tipping the scales at 141 pounds & standing 5’7″. Truly incredible what a well-trained body can do for ya!