DR2: Cycling in Mud

Those who know I’m crazy about bikes might also know that before starting my engineering studies, all I did was cycling around and rolling myself in mud in mountain biking competitions. I have some very fond memories of a French Cup race where there was so much mud people would slide down the slopes on their backsides. Now that is what I call mountain biking!

Sliding down hills of your bike is one thing, but how do people actually ride through mud? With the right technical equipment and some driving skills it is possible to race through mud fields. Lets analyse how the champions do it!

Riding through mud

See, those who go furthest usually have high rpm, and go as straight as possible. The bike has narrow tyres with high spikes to avoid building up mud. They shift their weight to the back of the bike to have more traction.

For those who fail, they will most likely get their front wheel stuck of slide on their sides. Some unfortunate riders will get their bikes stopped by mud blocking the wheels in v-brakes or frame.

If this kid can ride his bike through that clay puddle, than certainly we could get a bike tractor through a rice field, couldn’t we?

The physics behind it

Estimation of cycling power

Power is the rate at which energy is used (energy over time) and is measured in watts. In cycling, energy is expressed in terms of work (such as how hard you have to work to ascend a climb). It’s a constant snapshot of your work rate at any given moment. […] A better measure, especially on climbs, is watts produced per kilogram of body weight.
How much better are Tour riders than the rest of us? A contender for the overall classification can produce just above 6 w/Kg on major climbs of the race. By comparison, a domestic pro could manage a best of 5-5.5w/Kg; a good, competitive amateur or masters’ racer can put out around 4w/Kg and an untrained person would struggle to produce 2.5w/Kg. Bicycling.com

Braquets

Torque

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