The Physics
An encyclopedia of scientific essays

Speed of the Fastest Human, Cycling

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Bibliographic Entry Result
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Maton, Anthea, & Jean Hopkins. Prentice Hall Exploring Physical Science. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1995. "80 km/hr Cyclist" 22.22 m/s
Motor-Paced Race. Encyclopedia Britannica. Online, 1 June 2001. "Speeds may average better than 60 kilometres (40 miles) per hour in a 100-kilometre (62.1-mile) race." 17.88 m/s
Gee, Henry. Cycling Faster than Light. Nature Science Update, 1999. "World-record cyclist Bruce Bursford has clocked up an incredible 92 metres per second, by cycling on a treadmill using a customized cycle with an extraordinarily high gear ratio" 92 m/s
"Cycling." Encyclopedia Britannica. Volume V. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1984 "The fastest speed achieved on a bicycle was 204.73 kph (127.243 mph), by Jose Meiffret (France), July 16, 1962, on the German Autobahn from Freiburg, behind a car (see below Events)." 56.87 m/s
Clark, Liz. The Ultimate Bicycle. Britannia, 1996. "The idea for a bicycle to be made using the advanced materials and techniques usually found in the worlds of aerospace and FI came from Bruce Bursford himself. He has achieved a speed of 334.6 km/h on the Ultimate, breaking a previous record by a margin of 88 km/h." 92.94 m/s

Cycling is a sport, which requires the use of a bicycle. The Oliver brothers organized the first competition on May 31, 1968. In cycling sports in most cases, is a test for endurance rather than speed. The fastest speed according to the Encyclopedia Britannica was 204.73 kph in France on July 16, 1962 by Jose Meiffret. It might seem extremely fast, but that is nothing compared to the speeds achieved today with our advanced technology.

Other than the rider's training, genetic make up and competitiveness, the bicycle is the key aspect in speed and efficiency. This bicycle, called "the Ultimate", along with its rider Bruce Bursford, broke the world speed record of 334.6 km/h. This design was made aerodynamically efficient to cut down wind resistance. Just a gentle breeze? No, 90% of the resistance you feel is from the wind. This aerodynamic drag is made up of air pressure drag and direct friction, which pulls you backwards. Thus a drafting technique is used. The cyclist rides behind a larger vehicle or another cyclist that cuts through the air and 40% of the cyclist's energy is conserved. It is proven that cycling is the most efficient way of traveling because it takes only 100 calories for a cyclist to burn, for a result of 4828.03 m, while a car would die out after 85.34 m with the same amount of energy.

Aileen Chou -- 2001