Power to Mass, that Grand Equalizer

One of my favorite aspects of bicycling is that it is relatively agnostic to a rider's absolute size. For many of the major skills, such as sprinting or climbing, what matters most is not necessarily a cyclist's peak power, but the cyclist's efficiency.

My favorite quantifiable unit here is power (in watts) to mass (in kilograms). When discussing climbing performance, this is the most important number, and one that you can measure directly with your favorite power meter. There are two obvious ways to increase performance here: gaining strength and losing weight.

What other sport can have both a 5'0", 100lb and a 6'8", 250lb individual competing for the same prize in the same event? It's amazing, if you ask me.

The equation is somewhat different on a flat time trial course. Here, since you only need to accelerate once (or twice if there is a turnaround), what matters most is your power to drag ratio. The "densest" cyclist, the most powerful cyclist with the least frontal and total area, will have the advantage here.

Today's ride was a nice example of this principle in practice. Since I lost 45 lbs, I've become a semi-decent climber. I really enjoy being able to climb so much faster than before.