Staging Your Personal Tour de France
You may feel like the most inactive person in the world, but it is possible to achieve your own Tour de France victory
By Dulce Zamora
Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD
Your heart races, breath shallow from excitement, and sweat moistens your back. The road ahead looks ominously mountainous. Could a bicycle make it up that high? You don't doubt it for a second. Without a thought to the danger of falling, you go full steam ahead -- with your cheers -- along with other spectators of the Tour de France.
Throughout the three-week competition, millions of viewers follow elite cyclists through some 2,100 miles of French terrain. People root for their favorite contender and stand in awe of these amazing athletes. And for good reason.
"This is the athlete cream of the crop for bike racing in the world today," says Bob Roll, author of The Tour de France Companion. He should know. He was a member of the first American team to participate in the legendary race.
Tour contestants have three times the lung capacity and half the resting heart rate. The typical Tour de France contestant reaches a maximum heart rate of above 200 beats per minute on a regular basis, compared to almost never for any other segment of the population, says Roll.
Don't worry if you feel sluggish next to these guys. Mother Nature handed them their remarkable physiology. They were genetically predisposed to have narrow shoulders, large legs, and relatively skinny arms -- the ideal profile of a competitive racer.
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