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So does size matter?

squelchsquelch Posts: 9
edited February 2009 in Road beginners
I loved watching the cycling at the recent olympics and I was struck by the range of different body types in the athletes.

Generally I tend to imagine riders as being pretty wiry, low body fat, tough stringy guys - especially road riders. But then there are guys like Chris Hoy who looks to be seriously heavily built.

Being of reasonably epic stature myself - I'm six foot four and usually around fifteen to sixteen stone - I have to wonder whether this means I might not really be suited to cycling (although I enjoy it too much to stop!).

So what's the received wisdom? Big and beefy? Slim and aerodynamic? What's the ideal build?

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  • squelch wrote:
    I loved watching the cycling at the recent olympics and I was struck by the range of different body types in the athletes.

    Generally I tend to imagine riders as being pretty wiry, low body fat, tough stringy guys - especially road riders. But then there are guys like Chris Hoy who looks to be seriously heavily built.

    Being of reasonably epic stature myself - I'm six foot four and usually around fifteen to sixteen stone - I have to wonder whether this means I might not really be suited to cycling (although I enjoy it too much to stop!).

    So what's the received wisdom? Big and beefy? Slim and aerodynamic? What's the ideal build?

    I guess it depends what type of cycling you are doing. Road riders sometimes look pretty unhealthy.. Rasmussen looks like he is straight out of a WW2 concentration camp with his top off. They have to carry their frames over huge distances so their weight needs to be low to get the most benefit. They also don't need much upper body muscle as the forces the are putting out are relatively low compared to track sprinters.

    Now look at Hoy or Staff and both are strapping lads who put out in the region of 2500 watts (and more) during a sprint race. To do that you need to be able to hold on to the handlebars pretty tight hence the developed shoulders etc..
    These races are usually indoors so wind effects are lessened and they also wear aero suits so I guess bulk doesn't have such a limiting effect as long as it is bulk in the right place.
    17 Stone down to 12.5 now raring to get back on the bike!
  • softladsoftlad Posts: 3,513
    compare the build of a 100m sprinter to that of a 10k or marathon runner. one uses explosive power and anaerobic capacity, the other relies on stamina and aerobics...
  • That makes sense, yeah. Hoy and the other blokes his size seem to have phenomenal aerobic capacity in longer races though despite their size.

    Maybe there's hope for me yet!

    :)
  • edhornbyedhornby Posts: 1,780
    squelch wrote:
    Being of reasonably epic stature myself - I'm six foot four and usually around fifteen to sixteen stone - I have to wonder whether this means I might not really be suited to cycling (although I enjoy it too much to stop!).

    Then don't stop !!! if you enjoy going out on your bike then you win every time
    "I get paid to make other people suffer on my wheel, how good is that"
    --Jens Voight
  • softladsoftlad Posts: 3,513
    unless you plan on turning pro, there is no such thing as an 'ideal build' - if you can ride a bike, and you like riding a bike, then carry on riding one.. ;)
  • squelch wrote:
    ...I have to wonder whether this means I might not really be suited to cycling (although I enjoy it too much to stop!).

    Hi Squelch, you've kind of answered your own question there IMO; if you enjoy it then you must be suited to it! You can be forgiven for thinking that because you're a big chap you can't make the grade as a cyclist (I sometimes think I've strayed onto a Weight Watchers forum rather than Bikeradar!), but I think the weight thing is a little bit overdone. There's a tendency to look at pro road riders, see that they're usually fairly little guys, and assume that that's the way you have to be to be a good cyclist. Thing is though, those guys are rather better than just good, and not many people on this forum (or anywhere else) will ever get close to that level.

    If you're just looking to be able to comfortably cover big distances, or maybe do a few sportives in fast times, then being a bit bigger than average need be no impediment to that (assuming of course you're near your 'fighting weight'; a two-stone beer gut is definitely a unnecessary impediment!). You're likely to have a higher power output than smaller guys, so while you might not be able to keep up with the whippets up the hills, you could blast along the flat all day long (and there aren't many really big hills in the UK anyway). I'm not small as cyclists go - just under 6' and 13.5 stone so technically overweight by the BMI measure - but I can clip along at a fair rate when I want to, and I still got passed on hills by chaps of similar or greater stature on last years Fred Whitton. How good a cyclist you are is determined far more by the effort you put in than the build you happen to be.
  • How good a cyclist you are is determined far more by the effort you put in than the build you happen to be.

    That's some sage advice. Of course, starting when you're five years old and being a genetic mutant helps too!

    I take your point about the level of discussion about weight here on bikeradar too, now that I've read a few more pages. It does seem to be a preoccupation, doesn't it? Still, I'm sure it's as true in cycling as in any sport that the little guys will be the first to gripe about how my height and power are an unfair advantage when, once in a while, it gives me an edge!

    :wink:
  • carl_pcarl_p Posts: 989
    A bit of muscle under the old cycling jersey will impress the honeys. I agree some cyclists look like freaks and the sun tans ....
    Specialized Venge S Works
    Cannondale Synapse
    Enigma Etape
    Genesis Flyer Single Speed


    Turn the corner, rub my eyes and hope the world will last...
  • Nice title choice :wink:

    By your height and weight you could train to compete in time trials, and shorter distance events and have some success..

    But I agree with everyone else that it douns't matter what sort of body type you have, just get out there on the bike!
  • In one of the mags I once saw a photograph of the peloton taken from overhead looking directly down on the riders, and some were twice the size across the shoulders than others.

    If you enjoy riding get out there and do it, your body shape will gradually evolve one way or another. :wink:
    Tail end Charlie

    The above post may contain traces of sarcasm or/and bullsh*t.
  • In one of the mags I once saw a photograph of the peloton taken from overhead looking directly down on the riders, and some were twice the size across the shoulders than others.

    If you enjoy riding get out there and do it, your body shape will gradually evolve one way or another. :wink:

    Yep, I agree 100%, do what ever you want to do, and follow the right diet, and your body will follow you.
  • fnegronifnegroni Posts: 794
    My advice is also to listen to your body!

    I am fairly strong, medium build, but have asthma.

    Exercise is how I am fighting against asthma, but i can't just do any sport or any regime or any diet. I need to be very methodical about what I do.

    I will never ever be able to do some things, but my body gives me the signs of what it can do, and I make sure I read those signs and improve in the areas I can.

    I like cycling, I have the strength to be a fairly good sprinter, but I lack the recovery sine that onsets my asthma. So I read this sign and adapt my training to limit the asthma effects. That's what I use exercise for.
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